According to a Marketwatch report, Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, which is 40% owned by Internet giant Yahoo!, has officially announced a parntership with MMO in-game item trading firm IGE to offer IGE-sourced items on Alibaba's Taobao online trading platform.
This move is particularly notable because online auction site Taobao is a major competitor to eBay in the Chinese markets, and eBay has restricted a great deal of MMO item selling on its own Western auction sites, following game publishers' enforcement of their own license agreements which allegedly forbid such sales.
In fact, a drastically decreased number of recent auctions
for World Of WarCraft
gold on eBay still take place in North America, with sellers attempting to exploit a possible EULA loophole by declaring: "You are paying for the time spent to acquire the gold in the game, and Blizzard Entertainment has no right to contact ebay to terminate this auction." However, it seems that Alibaba has less of an issue with overt selling in Chinese markets, although the identities of the MMOs to be traded were not initially revealed by Marketwatch.
MMO item trading firm IGE, which, according to its own website, "operates the worldís largest secure network of buying and selling sites for massively multiplayer online game (MMOGs) virtual currency and assets on the Internet", has come under fire in recent days for its business practices, with U.S. print magazine PC Gamer refusing to carry advertisements from all 'Gold Farmers', and specifically referencing IGE in its announcement of the move.
In an article on the subject reprinted on PC Gamer sister website Next Generation, PC Gamer EIC Greg Vederman commented: "Lately, 'gold farming' companies such as IGE and Power Leveling... have begun running ads in magazines like ours. For the record, PC Gamerís official stance on these types of companies is that they are despicable: not only do they brazenly break many MMOsí End-User License Agreements, but they all-too-often ruin legitimate playersí fun."
Vederman concluded: "After months of behind-the-scenes talks with our sales department, Iím extremely proud to announce that starting with last monthís issue, PC Gamer will no longer accept ads or ad dollars from Gold Farmers. Screw them." However, many other U.S. magazines and websites continue to run advertisements from IGE, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, has been expanding aggressively, and also owns U.S. MMO game information site OGaming.