First of all, I’ve always taken a different view of selling virtual property than most. Let me propose this to you:

Say Jim, Bob, and Joe all have a traditional Sunday afternoon golf game. All three are relatively low-maintenance fellows (read: rednecks) and have the same quality clubs, carts, and whatnot. After all, with over half their income devoted to the pursuit of drunkenness, that doesn’t allow much room for improvement. Not to mention the fact that they all share the same 50 hour a week job at the construction plant, and the greens close right after work.

Suddenly, Jim wins the lottery.

At first, everything’s still the same for the boys. But gradually, Jim realizes that his clubs really do look a little shabby. And that seminar by Jack Nicklaus is looking pretty appealing too… before you know it, Jim is on his way to being a golf pro, not because he’s spent extra weekdays practicing his game, but because he’s invested more money into it.

Bob and Joe begin to resent Jim for this, and start sneaking away every Sunday instead of picking him up in the 1973 Ford. Jim, however, doesn’t care. He’s moved beyond them. He is, so to speak, on the next level.

This, to my mind, is very comparable to online game property. All players have a desire to excel, but not all players have the time and resources to perform that. Brad McQuaid said it best himself when he said (ugly paraphrase): “The main resource in MMOGs is time.”

In fact, you could almost look at eBay as another path of advancement, the next resource outside of time.

I don’t think it’s possible for game companies to harness money as a resource and remain popular. But some have tried and some are still trying.

I can’t refute the fact that eBay breaks the EULA of EverQuest. But I can understand an argument that it’s based on an invalid philosophy.