Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
l Gambling laws change with the mood of the times, and the boundary
of the country in which the player resides. For example, Poker Stars was
a huge online gambling game operating for almost a decade, offering
prizes worth as much as $11 million. In April 2011, the U.S. Attorney's
Office for New York seized and shut down the servers that ran the site
for allegedly being in violation of federal bank fraud and money launder-
ing laws.
l Facebook and other social networking sites prohibit games considered to
promote gambling (and even advertisements for those games). Although
Second Life certainly isn't considered a gambling game, the line gets blurry
quite quickly when users are able to translate in-game currency into real life
Each of these might be a surmountable problem on its own. But unless this
is your full-time focus and you have the resources to fight the numerous legal
battles almost certain to ensue, we recommend staying away from this particu-
larly problematic area of gaming. Don't let your users take money back out of
the game.
Nearly every country from which your users might access your game has
some sort of law regulating online gambling. And it isn't just the government
who can make use of these laws. Once your game ventures out of the realm of
fantasy and into the real-world genre of gambling, the problems multiply along
with the possible revenue.
Our lawyers have asked us to reiterate here that we're not attorneys,
and that nothing in this section or this topic should be construed as legal
advice. However, if you are going to go against our advice as gamemak-
ers and let users take money out of the game, we strongly encourage you
to seek counsel from an attorney with experience in the realm of online
8.9 Transitioning Models
If your initial business model isn't working, can you change your model? Of
course! In fact, the industry has seen quite a bit of this in recent years, as
game companies have moved from subscription models to free-to-play models
or supplemented their traditional retail presence with free-to-play offerings.
We've even seen classic game development houses tack subscription fees
onto retail games for “premium” online services.
One of the best publicized of these adaptations was the shift made by
Turbine with their Dungeons & Dragons Online ( DDO ) and Lord of the Rings
Online: Shadows of Angmar ( LOTRO ) games. Turbine took both games from
retail-plus-subscription models to free-to-play models in the last few years
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