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If you are working on MMORPG, Battle Royale, Card Battle and MOBA titles, I believed you always come across with the dilemma of whether to make your game items tradable among the players. After talking to some of my friends who are game developers, they always have the concern of game economy and the possibility of ruining the balance of the game because it feels like you are allowing the players to “pay to win”.

But before we go into that, let’s just drill into what really mean to you as a game developer when you are allowing that to happen in your game.

#1: Improved Players Life Time Value

Based on a study that was conducted to 1000 gamers in the US [1], they found out that 60% of them believed that they are more likely to spend money on game items if they can be freely transferable and 62% of them think that transferable game items actually make spending money on them more worth it. What that really tells you is that by unleashing such features in your games, you are not only benefiting the players who do trading regularly, but you are also converting the players who did not purchase game items to finally make their first purchase.

#2: What About Diablo III’s Auction House

The Diablo III’s auction house is an in-game marketplace that allow players to trade their game items among each other. But, before concluding that the idea of making game items tradable a failure, we must first understand how the game works. Diablo III is basically a game where you fight, gain better game items, fight better enemy and repeat. Imagine if you allow the game items to be freely tradable, players can actually “pay-to-win”. If that happens, it’s game over for your game. So, this is a prime example of tradable game items done wrong and you should be aware of whether is your game suitable to have such feature to begin with.

#3: Additional Revenue Stream

Let’s face it, your players still find ways to trade their game items, resources or even giving up their game account just to do that trade. How do they do it? They do it at the “black market” out there, exposing themselves in all sort of risks such as fraud and scams. Now, rather than letting them do it illegally, why not legalise and regulate the trading, empower your players with the ownership of game items and take a cut out of the trade?

#4: But… It Is Too Difficult

However, in order to enable such features, you need to consider the following:

  • Security
  • Speed of Execution
  • Double Posting
  • Transparency

So you actually need totally different set of skillsets and expertise to enable game items trading in your game. You not only need to keep track of the game items ownership, make sure the trade can be executed in real-time, make sure no one can jeopardise the system just to name a few. How cool if this can be done easily!


In 2018, the gaming industry is already a huge US$140b market and still growing extremely fast [2]. Free to play titles amassed 80% of digital games revenue [3]. So from these statistics, we can already gauge the importance of game items and game resources in value creation and revenue generation for you as a game developer. Now, it is your take to catch this opportunity.

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