Posted Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST by Dick Ward
If the suit is successful, there could be implications for similar virtual currencies.
If you've played any Facebook games recently, you've probably noticed that to buy anything in the game, you're required to buy Facebook Credits, instead of just getting to spend normal dollars and cents. This practice, according to the two law firms that are looking at the issue, may be a violation of U.S. antitrust laws. As Gamasutra's Eric Caoli explains it, "Companies cannot force customers to purchase a product they do not want in order to receive an unrelated item they actually want."
Derek Newman and Brian Strange are the two attorneys taking on this issue and they've set up a website to inform the public of the problem. They say that not only does this practice elbow out other virtual currency businesses, but it negatively affects both the game developer and the end user.
Even if this investigation reveals that nothing illegal is happening, the campaign will certainly raise consumer awareness. This could, of course, have some impact on other platforms that exclusively use virtual currencies. We're looking at you Microsoft!
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