Friday, 22 October 2010

Is playing with virtual currency gambling? Zynga and virtual currency.

An interesting article in TechCrunch on a move by Zynga to patent virtual currency.  Whilst the question of virtual currency and whether it can be patented in an interesting one, I was more interested in a couple of quotes within the patent application.   Zynga state that “in some cases, players want to play gambling-style games, but without the regulated gambling aspects” and that “one advantage of the approach described herein is that virtual currency can be used to purchase virtual items, but neither the virtual currency nor the virtual items can be transferred or redeemed in such a way that would be considered gambling proceeds.”  So purchasing $100 of virtual poker chips with legal currency and winning $200 of virtual currency isn’t considered gambling.  The first thought that sprung to mind was if such gambling and casino style games were designed in such a way that they payout in virtual currency more frequently and thus make the game more fun, then could this lead to more people moving to regulated gambling sites to try their luck?