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Gold farming and trade of in-game MMO items is a $3 billion industry, according to a new World Bank study. That wealth is produced by 100,000 people, mostly in China and Vietnam. The study also claimed that gold farming, which accounts for 75% of all virtual goods sold, and item selling could help improve conditions in poor countries.
While $3 billion isn’t much in the grand scheme of the global economy, the payment structure of most virtual item farms is surprisingly equitable to the individual farmers. In a typical transaction cited by the study, over 95% of the cash reaches the country where farming is occurring; 45% of that reaches the individual farm and 23% of each dollar sold reaches the individual farmer who collected the item or gold. Compare that to the $70 billion-a-year coffee industry, which only sends back $5.5 billion annually to the countries that farm the beans, and an ever smaller amount reaching individual farms and farmers.
30% of the gold farming is being done by humans working in shifts and manually controlling a character, while 50% come from bots. Stolen and hacked accounts make up the remaining 20%. The study only takes into account the kinds of transactions done through third party suppliers and farmers, not micro-transactions built into games.
[Source: infoDev via BBC]
Apr 11, 2011
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