“World of Warcraft” Turns Digital Treasures into Cold, Hard Cash

Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind online role-play hits “World of Warcraft” and StarCraft,” recently announced that the new release of sorcery game “Diablo III” would allow players to sell virtual wares for real-life dollars.

“Unlike Zynga’s monopolistic role in selling accessories to players of FarmVille and CityVille, Blizzard promised to let players set the market for enchanted weapons and ready-made characters while collecting just a flat listing fee on each transaction,” reports Fast Company. “The company had single-handedly legitimized virtual currencies in one fell swoop, an act which promises to transform gold farming into a growth industry for the bottom billion and inspire virtual heists rivaling anything in the real world.”

Gold farming refers to “in-game gold, items or services for real currency,” according to Fast Company. A World Bank report in April estimated “third-party gaming services” took in around $3 billion in revenue in 2009.

“After weighing the pros and cons (mostly cons) of gold farming as a development tool, the report’s authors concluded that ‘one clearly positive thing about the gaming services industry is that it has activated thousands of young people from very modest backgrounds to create employment for themselves as digital entrepreneurs,’” reports Fast Company.

The publication went on to add that four South Koreans and a Chinese-Korean were arrested by Seoul police last week for facilitating the creation of phony virtual currency through a group consisting of 30 North Korean hacker.

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