Live Gamer Interview
The WarCry Network
September 30, 2008
WarCry: Please introduce yourself and explain your role at Live Gamer.
Andrew Schneider: My responsibility is to understand the needs of players, publishers and developers and provide them with a well balanced business solution that will improve gamer experiences and offer a new revenue stream to publishers.
WC: Give readers a thumbnail sketch Live Gamers’ mission.
Live Gamer enables a complete marketplace solution for the player-to-player trading of virtual objects and items for real money. Through our partnerships with leading publishers and developers worldwide, players now have a convenient, secure, and reliable outlet both in game and via the web to exchange virtual goods and objects.
WC: What precipitated the foundation of Live Gamer?
Mitch Davis (founder and former CEO of Massive Incorporated) and I founded the company after recognizing the need to create a legitimate and sanctioned marketplace for the buying and selling of virtual items for real money. We saw the market had grown – based on enormous consumer demand – to a reported $2B industry worldwide. Unfortunately, however all of that demand was being channeled towards black and grey market operators, outside of game publishers’ control or consent. The result was a bad experience for both players and publishers. We founded Live Gamer to give players a way to transact securely and safely in a marketplace that is both sanctioned by game publishers and within their terms of service / end user license agreements.
WC: Describe the backgrounds of the staff of Live Gamer.
We’ve been fortunate to hire a fantastic team of people out of the interactive entertainment and game industries, as well as the financial services sector, to bring a unique solution to game makers. Our team’s combined experience has allowed us to provide worldwide publishers a solution that is secure, scalable, and straightforward to integrate, as well as easy to use.
We take a holistic approach to the virtual item trading market. We build on a strong technical foundation but with an emphasis on a helping publishers create a balanced, itemization-based business strategy, addressing regulatory compliance, delivering an innovative feature set and developing community outreach programs to optimize the experience overall. The mix of talent we’re proud to have attracted provides a great foundation for the software and services that make up the Live Gamer Exchange.
WC: How do the various staff backgrounds provide expertise for this type of venture?
Our team has deep experience in the financial services, gaming and interactive entertainment industries. This makes our team uniquely qualified to provide the best overall solution for a marketplace, which needs to take the safety and security of our publisher and end users into account. We bring to the table a full set of technology and services along with an interface that will appeal to and match how people play the games and worlds in which the Live Gamer Exchange is available.
WC: Of which games is Live Gamer an active part?
We are currently operating the Live Gamer Exchange for Sony Online Entertainment’s EverQuest II. This was the first title to launch on our platform. We’ve also announced support for SOE’s Free Realms and The Agency. Other publishers we are supporting include Funcom, Acclaim Entertainment, GoPets, IAC/GarageGames’ InstantAction.com, Interzone, and True Games Interactive. We will soon be announcing other publishers as well.
WC: Explain how the process works.
Buying or selling a virtual object or item is extremely simple on the Live Gamer Exchange. We provide a rich set of capabilities to allow users to browse for characters, items or currency easily and quickly.
Once you narrow your list, you can sort by a number of different parameters to refine the results and find the item you are looking for and compare prices and other details easily.
Once you see an item or character you are interested in, a simple click gets you an extremely detailed view of all the stats for the object or character.
To bid on an item you will need to be a member of the particular game (Everquest II in the screen shot examples) as well as a Live Gamer registered user. The purchase experience is just as easy and streamlined as is the entire selling process. Once the sale has been completed, the new object or item is transferred directly to the buyer’s inventory for them to use right away.
A significant advantage of having the Live Gamer Exchange integrated directly into the game server allows for a seamless experience on both the buying and selling side. The inventory meta data is available right in the exchange windows for easy review and comparison.
WC: How does Live Gamer ensure the security of the transaction and the transfer of purchased items?
Our many team members from the financial sector bring with them a tremendous amount of domain expertise on dealing with e-commerce transactions. Much of the technology and methodology is proprietary so we’re not able to go into much detail.
WC: Have there been any instances of buyers/sellers being “cheated” by the other party?
The Live Gamer Exchange is integrated with the game server so once we have verified the transaction we are able to move the virtual asset from seller to buyer seamlessly – this make the overall experience much more convenient and much more secure and safe.
WC: If so, how has Live Gamer dealt with these issues?
We are a purpose-built company dedicated to offering a robust, safe and secure marketplace for publishers and end-users. We deal with these issues through technology, expertise and experience.
WC: What have been the greatest achievements since the launch of Live Gamer?
Building a company and a product from the ground up and getting to see that product accepted and embraced by both publishers as well as end users – it’s been a enormous amount of work but we have a great team that loves what they do. We are all extremely passionate about the Live Gamer Exchange, the opportunity to be the first to create a legitimate marketplace and the game industry in general.
WC: What have been the biggest challenges and how have those been addressed?
We decided to tackle a fairly polarizing issue in the game industry and have taken great care to understand the sensitivities by working closely with publishers to create a balanced solution. The opportunity is to give players the better experience they demand and deserve and offer game publishers a solution that takes back what they lost to gold famers.
WC: What future plans does Live Gamer have? New services, etc.?
You can count on constant innovation with a dedication to safety, security, transparency and fun.