Sony Online Entertainment is to offer a new service that allows EverQuest II players to buy and sell items, coins and characters securely.
The announcement was made on the game's official website by John Smedley, president of SOE. He revealed that the service is named Station Exchange and will go live in late June, adding that it's not designed to be some kind of Sony-run shop.
"All we are doing is facilitating transactions," said Smedley. "We are NOT in the business of selling virtual goods ourselves."
It works like this: you use the in-game email system to confirm you want to sell an item, which removes it from the game world. The next step is to visit the Station Exchange site and set up an auction so people can start bidding.
When the auction is over, the winner gets the item and the money is paid into the seller's PayPal account, minus a service charge. This charge will be a percentage of the transaction price, but it's not yet clear how much.
Sony says it will be introducing new Exchange-enabled servers, and will conduct a poll to find out if this is something players want. Existing servers may be Exchange-enabled too, depending on demand, and players who want to join an Exchange server can transfer their characters for free.
The new service marks a departure from Sony's traditional stance on item buying and selling - i.e., it's wrong and bad.
But Smedley said the decision had been taken because EQII customer services spend too much time sorting out the victims of fraudulent transactions, and because everyone's doing it anyway, basically. Oh and something about pushing the envelope. You can read his full statement here, and find the new site at stationexchange.com.