Over the past few years, both gamers and nongamers alike have been baffled by the premium prices commanded by in-game items in Second Life. Just this past November, an English teacher became a real-life millionaire by selling virtual property in the life sim, which has become so popular that congressmen are using it to hold virtual sessions. So-called "gold farming"--the practice of creating in-game currency for real-world sale on auction sites--has become so prevalent, sweat shops devoted to it have opened up in China and other Asian countries.
Over the weekend, though, the most popular auction site on the planet began removing listings for in-game items--with one major exception. Though it now prohibits the selling of in-game items for World of Warcraft, EverQuest II, and other massively multiplayer online role-playing games, eBay will continue to allow sales for items and property in Second Life.
Speaking to GameSpot sister site News.com, eBay spokesman Hani Durzy explained the logic behind the apparent double standard. "If someone participates in Second Life and wants to sell something they own, we are not at this point proactively pulling those listings off the site," he said. "We think there is an open question about whether Second Life should be regarded as a game."