5

Me and my friends play WoW, LoL etc(online games)..

Is it legal to sell in-game items for real money? I know it's a small case and probably won't be chased after but in terms of law, is it perfectly legal?

In the games terms and conditions it states that it will result in a ban of the account. Can game developers sue me for providing the service or is the ban of the account their limit?

  • this point has been argued when the CSLoto scandal started shining a spotlight on the CSGO Gambling sites. one side argued has that the sites aren't really gambling because the skins that are used to gamble with aren't brought or sold with real money. however the means to get the creates to get skins do cost money and third party sites can be used to sell of the skins or real money and only recently has Valve (after years of ignoring it) announced that the gaming sites using their API to allow steam users to use their account are in breach of the User Agreement – Memor-X Aug 5 '16 at 11:44
  • (cont.) with that being said once this these gambling sites have been dealt with chances are we'll see what happens to the third party sites that sell CSGO Weapon Skins for real cash and whether or not Valve plans to stop them by refusing access to Steam's API or if they allow it with certtain conditions – Memor-X Aug 5 '16 at 11:46
3

The answer to this question would also heavily depend on which country the transaction is occurring.

Supreme court of South Korea ruled in July 2009 that exchanging virtual currency for real world currency is legal, even though doing so was against the game's terms of service. Consequently, players cannot be held legally liable for trading their virtual currency into real money if the game is being serviced in South Korea. This however, does not mean the company cannot suspend your account for doing so. Likely, other countries have different laws about this type of transaction, which you should look into.

Source: Official ruling of the case (in Korean)

  • 1
    Whether or not it's legal; players can be prohibited from selling items; they can be ejected and banned from the game if they violate the prohibition. Similarly, if a bar owner prohibits card playing in his bar and throws you out for violating the ban, it makes no difference whether card playing is legal or not. – Tim Lymington Jul 4 '17 at 9:48
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    The question being asked is "Is it legal to sell game items for real money", not "Can the company suspend your game account / service upon trading your virtual currency into real currency", which the answer to the latter question would be "Yes they can". But whether you can be held legally liable or not depends on which country you are from. I'll edit the answer to make this point even clearer. – l46kok Jul 4 '17 at 20:46
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    Answering questions too literally can inherently make them less useful. Most countries do not have specific laws prohibiting this, but just saying "it's legal" without pointing out the other factors that actually govern the practice is a poor answer. Selling items in a game that breaks a license will likely lead to civil cases when those items get confiscated, or might even lead to fraud cases for someone who knows the practice frequently leads to the buyer losing both the item and their money, but continues doing it anyways. Exchanging virtual currency for real is not at all the same thing. – animuson Jul 4 '17 at 21:26
  • By that logic, the question is practically impossible to answer. Aside from legal issues, what happens in practice is too situation and country specific. It's true that in countries like US, this may lead to civil cases if the seller is exploiting the system, whereas in countries like China, players are almost never banned as selling items for real money is a very common practice. Elaborating on such details would make the answer unnecessary lengthy and irrelevant. Since OP was already aware that such actions are in violation of ToS, it would only make sense to answer his specific question. – l46kok Jul 4 '17 at 22:30
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Not a lawyer and not a heavily researched answer.

You do not own the game, rather, you own a license to use the game software. The license will specify the ways in which they allow you to use the software, and they will typically reserve all other rights. This most likely includes the right to profit from game in any way. Your selling of in-game items would, in that case, be a violation of the license and they would have recourse according to the license and/or the law.

If they can show you profited from their property, they are probably entitled to compensation. There may also be relevant statutory damages for violation of the license, although I am less sure about that. I am way out on a limb here but by violating the license terms you might be engaging in copyright violation (since you are only authorized to have and use the copy if you abide by the terms) and therefore you might be on the hook that way; see e.g. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/504 for an idea of what you might be looking at if they decide it's worth their effort to pursue.

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It depends on the user agreement of the game.

For example, in league, you may not sell your account and trading (e.g through mutual gifting of skins) is forbidden iirc.

In WoW, Dota and CSGO you are allowed to market in game items.

It 100% depends on the EULA of the game.

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Not really. It depends on the terms and conditions, game policy placed by the developer and signed by the user i.e you on the game. We all sign license and agreement at installation don't we

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