RMT is now LEGAL in Korea!

Saving Money The MMORPG WayImage by LotusMonger via Flickr
When you deal with Real Money Trading (RMT) within an MMO, you're likely to get a permanent ban (permaban) from the game, unless you play in South Korea.

The MMO world has been abuzz with the news that a court in South Korea has just ruled that converting in-game money to real money has been deemed legal after two Lineage players did some business and got caught:
The two allegedly purchased “Aden,” cyber money in an online multiplayer role-playing game “Lineage,” worth 234 million won ($207,558), which was lower than market price, through game item-trading Web sites.

Then they allegedly resold those purchased items to some 2,000 other players and earned about 20 million won.
However there are some details that the RMTers should follow before dealing business:
  • Players cannot cash in if they used bots or macros (good luck detecting that!).
  • The article also notes that Korea passed a law that the government will collect a VAT of 10 percent on these types of transactions... given the alleged trading volume of $1 Billion or more per year, that is real money in these fiscal hard times. This may have even more impact on game companies in terms of record keeping and reporting.
As expected a lot of people (players and non-players alike) have had negative reactions to the ruling:
Parents' associations and anti-gambling activists criticized the decision, arguing it may set a bad precedent for the younger generation. Others said it will provide fresh impetus to the online game business.
However, some are embracing the thought that game developers/publishers will be earning more:
"The ruling has brightened the future of the Korean game market," said Prof. Chung Hae-sang at Dankuk University. "So far, the industry's growth has been interrupted by tough regulations."
The global scene is worried because most of the MMORPGs (like NCSoft games: Lineage 2, Aion, Guild Wars, etc.) comes from South Korea. Does that mean gameplay changes in the international versions will be in order? Will this improve in-game economies? How will this affect the booming Free-to-Play market (F2P)?

The face of MMORPGs surely has changed...

Korea Supreme Court rules virtual currency convertible
Ruling to Boost Sale of 'Cyber Money'
Supreme Court acquits two in cyber money game case

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