Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
8.8 Why You Should Avoid Giving Players Real
Money
Gambling might seem like the most obvious way to make money from social
and mobile gamers. For the house, some margin of win is guaranteed. And
the human monkeys have shown that they love to pull the lever and watch
the wheels spin in the hopes of winning something , even when they under-
stand just how unlikely that win might be. Gambling is popular, it's revenues
are predictable, and even the simplest of games seem to attract startling num-
bers of players.
Unfortunately, as tempting as it might be to build a virtual casino on
Facebook, we can't advise it. There are several games that have made money
by enticing users to pay into their system in the hopes of getting real money
back out of the game. Hundreds of online gambling sites have done so in the
past (just try to find an unregistered domain with the word “Poker” in it, for
instance).
Second Life and Small World both allow users to create and sell virtual
goods to other users and to convert the in-game currency back into more
commonly traded currencies. These are not gambling games, though. Second
Life gives users the ability to model and craft 3D goods and even to keep
the copyright for their designs, then sell replicas of these creations to other
users who can use the creations to outfit their virtual houses. Although it
uses its own form of currency, called Linden dollars (L$), these dollars can
be exchanged for U.S. dollars and other currencies. Second Life 's GDP has
been reported as being as high as $64 million. Blizzard has even dabbled with
the idea, suggesting that they might allow users to sell user-created content
( StarCraft maps) for real money. So why isn't this a good idea?
There are a variety of legal complications in almost every territory from
which your users might be able to access your game as soon as they start
being able to make The first concern is that it becomes very easy for your
users to become litigious. The minute they feel that you are not giving them
money that is rightfully theirs, you could find yourself in a complex, multi-
party lawsuit. Rather than simply pestering you for a refund of their purchase
price, you might instead find yourself accused of fraud, or worse:
l Most countries have laws that state that when you create a marketplace for
selling goods, you retain a level of responsibility for those goods. Just as the
owner of a shopping mall isn't allowed to turn a blind eye to the water pipe
shop that is actually dealing drugs, game developers who allow the sale of
virtual goods for real money have a legal obligation to police what is sold. If
a user creates a painting of child pornography and sells it or “borrows” the
logo of a popular clothing brand, and your game doesn't actively prohibit or
discipline this type of activity properly, you can be held legally responsible.
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