Betrayed! Lindens Phuck Gaming Open Market!

by Alphaville Herald on 27/08/05 at 2:01 pm

Why do I rob banks? Cuz that’s where the money is.
Willie Sutton

There aren’t a lot of online institutions that you can trust, but Gaming Open Market has always been one of them. Readers will recall being introduced to GOM by the Herald two years ago, and how GOM came to the rescue of Urizenus when the rest of his virtual assets were seized by EA in December 2003. Since then we have followed GOM through a number of crises have seen the company eat losses in an effort to protect their customers. All along, Linden Lab was encouraging GOM to develop their market, establish credibility and trust for their trading system, and integrate it into Second Life. But now, apparently seeing a nice juicy market there for the plucking, Philip Linden and Co. have decided that they want in on that business, and reportedly plan on mimicking the architecture of the GOM site for their *own* currency exchange (note to Linden Lawyers, we didn’t say ‘steal’) and writing one click access for Linden dollars into the user interface. Why? For the good of the newbies of course, according to LL. Yeah sure, that and one dollar will buy you membership into Gullible Idiots Anonymous.

This is a rapidly developing story and we hope to talk at length with our friend Jamie Hale about this. In the meantime, readers are encouraged to visit the GOM forums discussion of the matter. The discussion includes a long explanation of the situation by Jamie, part of which is reprinted below.

From Jamie Hale’s post on the GOM forums:

LL called us up last winter and wanted us to come to SF to talk about integrating GOM into the system somehow. We were extremely excited about the prospect. It was something that Cory and I had been batting back and forth for a while. The trip turned into job interviews. There was all sorts of talk about having us work for them, helping to manage the in-world economy. We told them about all the cool things we were planning to do with the site, and about all the even cooler things we could do if we had direct access to SL databases. The data alone was enough to make us giddy.

When we returned, we didn’t hear from them for two and a half weeks. When they did respond, they made it clear that they didn’t want any more remote developers. This was okay – it’s their choice. It sucked, but that was okay.

Instead we talked about other ways to get them what they wanted: better access to the market for everyone.

We talked contracts and APIs, but it was clear that a decision had been made after our trip that LL was going to have an internal market one way or another. The way Philip was talking made us feel backed into a corner. It was then and there that we realized that this company, with millions of dollars in the bank, could easily hire developers to build what we had, and with their access to SL users’ billing info, could easily blow our market out of the water. When we were in SF, they told us of an internal policy of theirs not to compete with their customers, but in this particular case it seemed they were willing to break the rules.

We complained bitterly that if they were going to take what we had built, that we should be compensated in some way. We had laid the ground work. We had done the R&D. We had taken the risks. All the while, LL stood by and encouraged us. And now that we had proven that the market could work and that people would use it, they wanted it. Philip argued that compared to their regular billing, the market would barely contribute to their revenues so that GOM wasn’t worth much of anything to them. We explained that without their intervention, at our current growth rates, we were on track to be making enough money for Tom or I to actually take GOM on full time. He didn’t seem to care.

“The Offer”

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