Prior to joining President Donald Trump’s administration team, Steve Bannon led another life: working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs Bannon he poured $60 million from the bank into the popular online game, World of Warcraft.
A company called Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) traded virtual currency in MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), which it happened to do so with Blizzard Entertainment’s popular World of Warcraft.
According to a report from the Australian Financial Review, Bannon believed that he could make easy money through the process of ‘gold-farming.’ This is a process which sees players acquiring a large amount of in-game currency, which can then be utilized to upskill and provide their characters with the necessary equipment to advance in the game. Some players who had acquired this in-game currency or gold were trading it for real cash, which Bannon noticed.
In a report from Wired in 2008, there were countless gold farms springing up around China that were supplying IGE with a consistent supply of virtual gold. However, these Chinese companies were being exploited with workers only being paid around $4-an-hour to collect virtual gold from World of Warcraft, which IGE then subsequently bought in bulk. IGE then proceeded to sell it to players who wanted to advance in the game, but didn’t want to spend time searching for the in-game currency.
Yet, in an attempt to give IGE the legitimacy it required, Bannon wanted to add Goldman Sachs to the company’s venture by investing $60 million into it.
As the Financial Review adds, though, it was during this stage that World of Warcraft’s parent company, Blizzard Entertainment, was shutting down gold farmer accounts that were taking the game away from genuine players.
IGE also found itself facing a multimillion dollar class action lawsuit after it was alleged that IGE were ‘diminishing’ the enjoyment for honest World of Warcraft players.
For many people around the world, online gaming where you can acquire in-game virtual currency has remained a popular pastime.
While games such as World of Warcraft have long found ways in which to sell their gold with gaming providers continually searching for ways to keep the money flowing, it remains to be seen whether in-game economies are the future.
In-game currencies within games are certainly gaining popularity and will continue to be a source of entertainment for the majority; however, if one person has attempted to dry up in-game currencies to make a quick buck out of the system, who’s to say others aren’t doing it, taking the game play away from honest players?
Featured image of World of Warcraft cosplayer from Shutterstock.