No question, virtual goods is becoming an important revenue stream for game providers today, and will spread way beyond that.
“The “third-party gaming services industry” — where wealthy but impatient players have someone else grind away at online games for them in exchange for monetary reward.”
I wonder though, what’s the point for the customers? Bragging? Social climbing?
For the providers of such services it’s an excellent and quite pure revenue generator. Maybe they have fun playing at the same time.
Not that virtual goods is new, and it’s in part a matter of attitude, as music, movies and other non-essential products are also virtual, as in not entailing any cost in duplication and distribution. Not now when it’s just bits on a server and whizzing through a fat communication pipe that exists anyway.
Where it becomes a shady business is when the difference between creating the virtual goods and the consumer cost becomes astronomically different, like for instance when buying Smurfberries in Smurf Village. That’s rather to be considered a rip-off and scam proper, but where to draw the line?