Itemku — Breaking the rules for profit

Making money from selling in-game item for profit is almost always something that’s fundamental in every online game that exist nowadays. But that doesn’t necessarily means it’s always legal.


Quick Review

Itemku logo accompanied by it’s company slogan.

Itemku is a startup from Indonesia that is considered to be up-and-coming, they recently secured an investment from a Korean VC called “K Run Ventures” (Read more). Their business model mainly revolves on taking a commission of sales that gone through their sites, and the sales that went through that sites are mostly in-game items such as cosmetics and in-game currency.

It looks like a promising startup on the surface, but it’s build on a very problematic foundation. They’re violating Terms of Service (ToS) of game developers in regard of in-game item selling.


Taking a quick look on how game developers make money.

Game developers usually have 2 methods of gaining revenues.

  • Charge money for the game
  • Sell In-Game items.

Let’s take a closer on the 2nd method since it’s what Itemku mainly revolves on.

Selling in-game item is extremely popular with online game nowadays. It attracts an enormous user base while still being able to get money from it. The money come through the form of microtransactions in which player pay real money for cosmetics, in-game currency, etc.

The item that you get from those purchases can usually be easily traded with your friends using their built-in trading system. This system is exploited by many players to earn profit.

You see, most micro-transactions usually involve a degree of gambling/game-of-luck built into them. The rarer an item gets, the more expensive it will be.

Of course game companies want their users to keep buying until they get a rare item, but it’s not rare to find a person that sells an item for real money. Some would argue that it’s better to directly buy an item with real money instead of gambling your money in those in-game micro-transactions. This is what leads to the exponential growth of the in-game item trading.


The problem with Itemku.

To prevent continuous losses, game companies usually have a rule to prevent in-game item selling for real money. Take an example, Growtopia

Growtopia, one of the game where there’s a policy against real world money trading which is violated by Itemku and it’s users. Recently acquired by Ubisoft.

If you check Itemku’s website you can clearly see that there’s a lot of users that are selling Growtopia’s in-game currency (World Locks) which is clearly a violation of the game term of service but there’s no indication of Itemku opposing the selling of this items.

Conclusion

Itemku is a part of Indonesian’s e-commerce startup boom that have shown great potential but sadly they have little to none attention to the policies of game developers. This will not only damage game developers profit but might also lead to a pretty interesting battle between this e-commerce site vs game developers. With that in mind, I hope Itemku can consider their next step giant step with extreme awareness of this.