Apparently consumers just love microtransactions so much that EA has decided to put them in every game it makes going forward. Those ideas sprang forth from the mouth of CFO Blake Jorgensen today during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference - as reported by GameSpot.
The PBS Idea Channel has launched its latest episode on YouTube which focuses on virtual currency and the future. The latest episode is called "Are Bitcoins and Unusual Hats the Future of Currency?" and focuses on the popular virtual currency and the commerce that occurs in virtual spaces like Team Fortress 2.
It also explores some of the problems that can occur when your currency might be one tick away from a clever hacker figuring out how to put those virtual coins in a virtual bag with dollar signs on it..
En Masse Entertainment and Bluehole Studios announced that their massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tera soon be switching from a monthly subscription plan to free-to-play. While the exact date for this switch from paid subscription to free has not been revealed, the companies say it will happen sometime in February.
Valve Software has launched the Steam Community Market in open beta, allowing Steam users to buy and sell in-game items using Steam Wallet funds. Sale items can be listed on the Community Market page or in players' personal inventories. Currently only Team Fortress 2 is supported and only consumables and tools can be sold at this time.
As the beta goes on, Valve plans to allow other items to be sold in Team Fortress 2 and to add the Steam Community Market functionality to other games. That will start to happen early next year.
A new report from research firm Newzoo, the "2012 US Country Report," comes to the conclusion that the U.S video games market spending grew one percent, or $21.9 Billion, in 2012. The report also notes that, of the 157 million gamers in the U.S., 86 million spend money on games. Time spent on games in the US is also up significantly: 26 percent versus 18 percent for Europe.
A federal antitrust complaint filed by virtual-currency and payment-processing provider Kickflip (doing business as Gambit) claims that Facebook destroyed its business when it took over the virtual currency used in games on its social network. Prior to that move, Kickflip claims that it was a "leading virtual-currency and payment-processing provider to software developers that published games on Facebook and other social networks."
Microsoft has apparently decided that it will not use Microsoft Points - the popular currency of the current Windows Marketplace and Xbox Live - in its upcoming Windows 8 Marketplace for software purchases. Instead it will simply use U.S. dollars or whatever the currency of choice is in different regions. In previous Windows 8 beta releases Microsoft used its Points system for all video purchases and rentals.
NCsoft informed subscribers to its super hero themed MMO City of Heroes that it will begun issuing automatic refunds to paid subscribers and players with other outstanding account balances beginning on September 26. The company announced, much to the chagrin of current subscribers that it would be shutting down the game as part of a company-wide focus. Customers with recurring subscriptions plans as of September 1st or who purchased in-game currency after August 24th will also receive full refunds through their "original method of payment."
Sony Online Entertainment has announced Player Studio, a new program for its EverQuest MMO's that lets players create in-game items that can be sold in the marketplace of their favorite online game. The company also announced two new expansions: EverQuest: Rain of Fear and EverQuest II: Chains of Eternity.
If you were wondering why ArenaNet seemed so heavy handed when it banned some 3,000 accounts for exploiting an in-game vendor, here's your answer: the Guild Wars 2 in-game Trading Post. Thousands of players being able to buy really, really, low and then sell really, really, high (whether it be the actual items or the components you get from breaking items down) probably mucks up the game's economy...
The Trading Post went live yesterday after a brand new update. Basically it allows you to auction off your little baubles in the game for in-game currency.
According to internal data released by Facebook, the number of Facebook subscribers who play games has increased by more than 15 percent over last year. According to the largest social network in the world, 235 million people play games on Facebook, up from 205 million. Facebook claims that this growth has mostly been driven by its new App Center feature, which has helped in driving install and return play rates upwards.
According to a tweet from the official Twitter feed for Xbox Live Rewards, future achievement points earned by Xbox 360 players will reward players with MS Point rewards. According to the tweet, Microsoft will begin rewarding players for unlocking achievements with MS Points:
"We've hit 50,000 followers, which means it's time for an announcement! Coming Fall: a new way to earn Rewards based on your Achievements!"
Valve Software has enlisted the expertise of famed economist Yanis Varoufakis, who will work in a variety of roles for Valve related to the virtual economies of its line-up of games that feature micro-transactions. Varoufakis will mostly serve as a consultant to Valve as it shores up its virtual economies. He will also use the various economies in Valve's games as test beds for various economic analysis that he claims are not possible in real world economies.
According to the Korea Times, South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) announced plans to ban the trade and sale of commercial in-game items in order to keep teens from wasting time. This ban will be across the board and will affect everything from free-to-play MMO titles to mobile games. Basically any game where you can buy virtual items will no longer be able to operate effectively in the region.
Blizzard is beefing up security ahead of the launch for the real money auction for Diablo III. In a post on the official forums over at Battle.net, Blizzard detailed some of the security changes that have taken place to ensure that people's very real money associated with their accounts will remain safe and secure.
The short explanation is that users will now have to use an authenticator before adding any funds to their balance and when sending funds to their real money auction house accounts.
CCP Games said last week that it would not interfere in the player-created EVE Online in-game event "Jita Burning." The event that was planned for months by members of the Goonswarm alliance, and on Friday thousands of ships converged on the Jita trade hub for a massive and violent attack. The trading center of the EVE Online universe really was on fire.
Blizzard Entertainment released details on the "real world money" and in-game gold auction houses today for Diablo III. The in-game gold auction will open on May 15 when Diablo III officially launches, followed a week later by the in-game auction house that lets players buy and sell virtual items, consumables and game gold for cold, hard cash. Today via its official FAQ for the auction houses, Blizzard detailed what it will charge players for various types of transactions.
According to the latest data from research firm NPD Group, an estimated 40 percent who have played a "freemium" game that offers an upgrade option in-game have spent the money to buy the "full game." The data comes from NPD Group's "Insights into the Freemium Games Market report." The report uses data from 6,000 individuals it surveyed including both children and adults. The report notes that women and girls are more likely to play freemium games than men, but are less likely to spend money on these types of games.
Alexander Gianturco, the EVE Online player who mocked a suicidal player during a live stream of a panel at the EVE Online FanFest last week, announced that he is resigning as the head of the player-run, in-game government (thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip). Gianturco was the Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management (CSM).
A company called Gametek LLC has filed several lawsuits in the San Diego federal court alleging infringement on US Patent No. 7076445, which relates to virtual currency and purchasing virtual goods or content. The company has filed suit against several companies including Six Waves, Crowdstar, Rock You, Electronic Arts, and Funzio.
The lawsuit explains the patent as:
You wouldn't know it at first glance, but EVE Online creator CCP Games is a money making machine. According to an Industry Gamers report, the company managed to rake in $66 million in 2011 - we assume - solely from its space-themed massively multiplayer online game EVE Online. The company, which is based in Iceland and is privately owned and operated, did not disclose details on its earnings.
Developers whose platform of choice for game deployment is Facebook say that the social network's mandatory payment system ends up being a "twenty percent net tax" and seriously hurts their margin of profit.
"We thought conversions would go up and be around 15 or 20 percent,” said Kevin Chou, Chief Executive for Kabam, “But it turned out to be around 5 to 10 percent, meaning that we’re taking a 20 percent net tax.”
According to new research by the Boston Consulting Group, the Internet economy among G-20 nations is expected to nearly double by 2016, reaching an estimated $4.2 trillion (up from $2.3 trillion in 2010). In addition to that astounding figure is the projection that nearly half of the planet's population will be connected to the Internet — with 3 billion users in 2016, up from 1.9 billion in 2010.
According to several outlets - most notably Inside Mobile Apps, Microsoft is rumored to be considering dumping its Microsoft Points currency that it uses on Xbox Live Marketplace for real world dollars. Transaction will allegedly be shifted over to real world dollars instead. Naturally transactions would use the currency of the region a given account is in.
Live Gamer has managed to raise $8.5 million in funding, according to a TechCrunch report. The new injection of cash comes from Charles River Ventures and Kodiak venture Partners, and takes its total investment to date to $30 million. Live Gamer is an e-commerce company that gives its 48 million users access to its micro-transactions and virtual goods sales services for various online and social games.
New research released by Newzoo digs a little deeper into the lucrative Chinese and Korean online gaming markets. The research focused on the 190 million Chinese (76 percent) and 26 million Korean (60 percent) consumers ages 15 to 50 - who make up the majority of those who play games in those countries. Newzoo found that both countries were passionate about MMO games, with 100 million MMO gamers in China and 8 million in Korea. While both countries enjoy games, players in each country have different preferences when it comes to social and mobile gaming.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Zynga's latest IPO filing reveals that company CEO Mark Pincus will have "super voting shares" so that he can maintain control of the company. Basically Pincus's shares will carry 70 votes per share, as opposed to regular shares which will give stockholders one vote per share. While Zynga's five venture capital investors will hold a larger combined economic stake than Pincus, he will hold a larger percentage of the company's votes.