Over the weekend I got on to try to break my streak over at PokerStars (but more whining on that another time). I was in a 2k tournament and we were in that "Under 1 minute before the game starts" time and an observer started asking if anyone wanted to sell play money chips.
I thought it was a joke, but the guy seemed serious. He was offering, if I have this right, about $12US for 500,000 chips. I'm not sure which sadder; that he was buying up fake chips to sell/use or that my reaction was "Oh look, a gold farmer in PokerStars".
He quickly left and we went on to play our game, but it got me thinking. Like EQ, WoW and other games that have an economy and system that has a currency seems to attract people who want to convert that currency into and out of real money. EQ decided to open its own store to do this (mainly because they finally realized the potential earnings they were losing *snicker*), WoW is trying to stay on top of it by banning and chasing Farmers, and Second Life tossed the whole idea to the wind and has people making a living from converting fake currency back into real money.
Aside from Second Life, the attempt to control the market has resulted in secondary markets that influence the original one. Give you an idea of what I mean; in WoW I am pleased to report after buying my 100g mount, 12 levels later I have close to 60g. It's taken me that long to get the money from questing, using the auction house and selling to NPCs. You can shoot over to a website and buy a thousand gold for $50-$80. Quick, simple, no time spent.
If you want to look up the pro's and con's of this type of transaction I'll let you hit google for it. The simple answer is that the quick influx of cash into a character who didn't earn it destabilizes the economy in some way. A quick google lands a few sites selling chips this way. Which leaves me wondering how the games are or have changed at PokerStars.
Time will tell. I wonder what PokerStars stance on this is.