In a recent joint press release from China’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Commerce, the country announced that it will no longer tolerate the trade of real goods for virtual ones. The circular released by two ministries stated that, “the virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services.” In defining what constitutes “virtual currency,” the ministries’ also included prepaid game cards, making the reach of this legislation a fairly wide one.
The new rule will be enforced by “public security authorities” and comes on the heels of the government’s increasing fear that the rising rate of conversion between virtual and real money will soon have an impact on the country’s economy. And this fear may not be all that irrational; after all, China boasts the most internet users in the world with 298 million. In addition, the virtual money trade market hit several billion yuan* after rising 20 percent over the previous year. With such a large market, its no surprise that they want to set a few more rules.
So what does this all mean for you? Well, for one thing, it could mean less in-game inflation for your favorite MMO’s (if it really does prevent gold selling). It could also be a bad thing, if you were one of the buyers that is. Less gold-sellers means less competition, less competition means increasing rates, maybe even beyond what you can afford, and that could mean that you might actually have to -gasp- earn in-game money yourself. One final issue is that more and more countries are laying down legislation on the virtual world, which was once highly unregulated. Right now, the internet is one of the last bastions of non-censorship (whether that’s good or bad is for you to decide) but there are plenty of people who’d love to change that and each new virtual law could be a small step in that direction. Luckily, this one was a very small step.
*1 yuan = 0.14634 U.S. dollars or 0.103912519 euros