SOE itself collected revenue by charging for use of the Exchange. A nominal $1 fee was levied to keep spurious auctions to a minimum, while completed auctions netted the company 10% of the closing price. Over 50,000 auctions were opened during the first year, and nearly 40,000 of those were completed. Revenue for the company, for the first year, was $274,083, with the majority of that unsurprisingly coming from commissions on completed auctions. By far, most auctions were of the 'instant sale' variety, with only 9,421 auctions being of the more traditional format.
Every month, roughly 1500 players participated in commerce on the Exchange, with a total of 9,042 players registered for the service by the end of June 2006. This is roughly 25% of the player base across the two servers SE serves. The average spending per customer over the first year was $143.25. Demographic data collected in the course of using the exchange indicates that, generally, younger players are selling goods to older players. 34-year-olds spent the most as a specific age, accounting for $39,000 in sales. Players older than 33 and younger than 38 accounted for the majority of the purchases, with buying power declining rapidly at 39 and older. 22-year-olds are the most active sellers, with $45,000 in sales. Sellers are active all the way up through the age of 38/39, but 18-22-year olds are by far the most productive.
The majority of all sellers and buyers are physically located in Northern California. California is also the most active state for buyers and sellers, accounting for $326,349 in purchases and $294,975 in sales. Other states active on the Station Exchange include Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Arizona, New York, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri. The most active traders in a single city reside in Levittown, PA. The town accounted for some 1,121 buys and $13,513 in sales. Individual sellers at the top of the list showed a surprising income level. The top seller participated in 351 auctions, and made out with $37,435.47. Number two on the list was close behind with just a few hundred dollars less in profit and roughly one hundred fewer auctions. Every seller in the top 25 on the Station Exchange made in excess of $10,000. Purchasing power on the Exchange is predominantly in the hands of men, who accounted for over $1.5 million in spending on the site.
Auctions themselves were primarily of coinage, though characters were a valuable commodity as well. Auctions for characters by far netted the most profit per auction, with the average character going for roughly $90. The average price for a single piece of platinum was an astonishing $7.35. The single largest platinum transaction was worth $1,666, and the highest price a single plat fetched was $497. This spike in value occurred after the introduction of a new Station Exchange server, an event that significantly increased interest in the SE and has kept volume on the service high since.
Character auctions fetched as high as $2,000 for a single character, and none of the top 20 character auctions went for less than $1,000. All of the most valuable characters were one form of elf or another, the most-played set of races in the game. Character class did not apparently figure as much into sale price, though the most popular class (the Berserker) drew considerably more money over the course of the year than some other classes.
Character advancement time on the two Station Exchange servers did not seem to be significantly impacted by the introduction of RMT to the game. Characters at high levels on a Station Exchange server are (on average) wealthier than their counterparts on non-SE servers, an indication that coin purchasing via the exchange has risen the average level of wealth.
[Sony Online has also provided us with the full version of the White Paper, written by Noah Robischon - please click here [.DOC version] to download it.]