This article was co-authored by Ifrah Law Associate Nicole Kardell.
We are living in a virtual (or perhaps “augmented”) Pokémon explosion. You can’t get away from news of public craze over Pokémon Go. Players young and youngish have made the game today’s most popular app, outpacing Twitter and Tinder download rates. In less than ten days from its release, estimates are that almost 26 million Americans are playing the game. What’s more, SurveyMonkey intelligence predicts retention and revenue numbers for the game at unprecedented levels.
But as the sun rises on Pokémon Go, the sun is setting on another recent online gaming craze, Counter Strike: Global Offensive skin betting. CS:GO, the eSport that popularized skin betting, effectively shut down the practice for the game two weeks ago. CS:GO game maker, Valve, cut ties with skin gambling sites in response to the increasing scrutiny over skin betting and several recent class action lawsuits.
Those witnessing the growth of Pokémon Go and the end of CS:GO skin betting may ask whether a secondary market in Pokémon Go will fill the void of CS:GO skin betting. Could a new industry arise allowing bets or wagers in Pokémon similar to CS:GO skin betting?
As secondary markets are already in the works, betting may not be far behind. Plus, Pokémon Go has the elements to invite secondary markets: The game allows players in app purchases to enhance gameplay and players will be able to trade or share these within the game with other players.
Social games facing legal challenges include Big Fish Casino and Castle Clash. Games at issue allow players to purchase coins or tokens that, based on the results of a casino-style game, could result in enhanced play. Importantly, the games makers’ terms use state that players cannot redeem prizes for real world money. However, secondary markets have come up allowing people to buy or sell their gaming accounts for real money. These secondary markets formed the basis of plaintiffs’ complaints that the social games constituted unlawful gaming.
In no event may you trade any Virtual Content for “real” money, any other good or service outside of the Service, or any promise to provide certain products or services whether in-Service or outside the Service. Any attempt to trade outside the Service, to trade a prohibited item, or to make an offer to trade items where the trade is contingent upon an event (e.g. the outcome of a PTCGO match) may result in your PTC Account being suspended or terminated.
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