Korea: Virtual Currency Just As Good As Cash

Gamers in South Korea may be dancing in the streets, as the government has now ruled that game currencies can be legally converted into real world cash. The only catch is that the money cannot stem from "luck-based" online gambling titles such as Poker or other card games. Still, this could mean that MMO players could earn a living online, killing beasts or other players and snagging loot to cash in for real world bucks.

But while purchasing and selling virtual money is nothing new across the globe, the South Korean Supreme Court's ruling specifies that virtual currency is the equivalent of real-world money. Unlike gambling, players of MMO's--and other games using in-world currency--earned the virtual funds through skill and hard work. Therefore, it's argued that gamers have a right to convert their hard-earned funds.

According to The Korea Times, the decision stems from a recent acquittal of two gamers indicted on charges of illegally earning real-world cash by selling in-game currency (Aden) within the MMORPG Lineage to other gamers. The duo racked in nearly 20 million won by selling 234 million worth of Aden; the virtual funds were traded at a ratio of one million Aden for 8,000 won.

But the new ruling also has a drawback: the government plans to get its fair share of tax. In September 2009, the government ruled that profits from the trading of virtual funds should be subject to 10-percent value added tax. Unfortunately, gamers in the States may never see a legalized cyber funds exchange simply because of tax and security issues. Many subscription services currently ban players for selling in-game funds for real-world cash.