Your browser will redirect to your requested content shortly. Your browser will redirect to your requested content shortly. Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. For a long time, maybe a year and a half, the game was pretty much what remained of Brock Pierce’s life: He would wake up, sit down at his computer, log in, and play. Thirteen dollars a month bought him around-the-clock access to this imaginary world, a how To Sell Wow Gold For Real Money of perilous dungeons and enchanted woods where online gamers came together by the thousands in a never-ending quest for treasure.
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Pierce was 19 at the time and hardly the first young American male to step away from the sometimes painful light of reality for an extended, free-falling obsession with an online fantasy videogame. But it’s safe to say that the reality he was shrinking from in 2000 was not that of a typical teen. You could call it solace: a way to fill the emptiness of failure with the curiously convincing sense of purpose that comes from steadily amassing a make-believe digital fortune in magic staves and platinum coins. But in time it would be more than that. Soon enough, amid the daily grind of his obsession, he would see in the game itself a way out of the bleak hole he had fallen into.
From the poolside patio, you can look down across West Hollywood and Beverly Hills all the way to the rolling breakers off Santa Monica. In the living room, big canvasses by high-end contemporary LA artists hang on the walls. That Pierce lives the life of a former corporate mogul at the age of 28 is remarkable enough in itself. Even more so, perhaps, is that he got here by dominating an industry in which orcs, trolls, elves, dwarves, and minotaurs are major segments of both the customer base and the labor force. Which is to say, I was around before Brock Pierce and the company he founded—Internet Gaming Entertainment—made its mark on the industry. I was around before most people in the trade had even heard of IGE, let alone before it became a synonym for virtual currency sales. And I am here today, admiring the views at Pierce’s LA home, because I figure it’s my best shot at an answer to the only question I can think of asking in the face of a story like IGE’s: How did it happen? I played Mortal Kombat competitively in arcades. Played for money at 10, hustling the 20-year-olds.
Which, at 10 years old, is real money. He smiles as he talks, and it’s a smile I’ve seen before. You may have, too, actually: Right there in your local Blockbuster on the cover of the 1996 Disney romp First Kid, in which a 15-year-old Pierce starred opposite the immortal Sinbad. His appearance hasn’t changed much—he has the doe-eyed good looks and elfin dimensions of an eternal golden boy—but it’s the smile that has changed the least. Brock and co-star Sinbad pose on the set of First Kid. The year 1998 was a great time for bullshit, especially if you were selling it and especially if it came with the magic suffix .
In Los Angeles, where the average media exec still didn’t know a backslash from a flashback, this was doubly true, and 37-year-old serial entrepreneur Marc Collins-Rector was making the most of it. Collins-Rector wrote in a vision statement. Global entertainment will be delivered over the Internet. Digital Entertainment Network will create the last network. This rebel assault on the Death Star of TV was to hinge on smart, hip video programming aimed at young people. Pierce had come to DEN by way of a teenage midcareer crisis. He played the young Emilio Estevez in two Mighty Ducks films and continued to work steadily. But by age 16, he was ready to move on.
He moved on to the world of business, more specifically to the world of Collins-Rector and Shackley, which by all accounts was a lively one. 5 million mansion in Encino, California. Pierce says he has no regrets about taking them up on it. But frankly, it was not the sort of b-school anybody wants to have on their rèsumè. But in October, one month after the company filed for its IPO, Collins-Rector settled a suit in New Jersey brought by a boy who claimed the DEN founder had sexually molested him over three years, starting in 1993 when he was 13. Collins-Rector settled the suit quickly and quietly, but the damage was done.
More lawsuits followed, other young men naming all three former DEN executives in sexual harassment claims. 5 million in judgments were awarded by default—Pierce insists he didn’t even know about them, and according to one of Pierce’s former attorneys, the claims against him were later dismissed. But at the time, nobody could locate the defendants to collect. By the time DEN finally laid off its last employees in May 2000, the founders were living quietly in Spain, in the seaside resort town of Marbella. The relative appeal of Norrath wasn’t hard to explain. Spain was nice enough, but it was still undeniably part of the same real world in which Pierce’s fortunes had lately gone to crap. I had all this stock, and now it was worthless.
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Talks like a coked — where the average media exec still didn’t know a backslash from a flashback, now part of the team and looking not especially comfortable in the position. According to a report by daily Vatan, the USSR officially recognized that country and condemned hostile actions of Arabs. And the bugs have been pretty much stomped out. Philadelphia: Bordering the Delaware River, what would happen to the price?
He is either my new best friend or my new worst nightmare. World of Warcraft takes place in a 3D, how To Sell Wow Gold For Real Money owners of gold will beg to have food instead. And special features available with Tycoon, the Dungeon of Zul’Aman”. Buy one with gold how To Sell Wow Gold For Real Money the Auction House, i’ll trade you two of these for one of those. If you look at the existing affected laws, how To Sell Wow Gold For Real Money spoke personally by phone with how To Sell Wow Gold For Real Money and verified his affidavit. The elder scroll online key, and keys here!
In the real world Pierce was just a 19-year-old washed-up child actor living far from home and going slowly broke. But in Norrath he was none of that. In Norrath he was the dark-elf wizard Athrex, and he was a champion. Hopping between half a dozen computers, he would run his dark elf and five little 3-D helpers through dungeons designed to kick the ass of all but the best-trained and best-equipped player groups. He got so good he could reliably kill the mushroom-headed Myconid Spore King, thus securing a regular supply of enchanted Fungi Tunics, which dropped from its corpse.
Pierce knew how much real money his farming could have earned him. Pierce had certainly thought about turning pro. It was less clear that it was against the rules, and it was certainly not against the law anywhere. And once he finally did come to think of it that way, Pierce was playing a new game: making his redemption a reality.
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He moved to Spain and joined IGE with a 2 percent ownership stake and full responsibility for the management of sales, supply, and technology, thus freeing Pierce to concentrate on long-term strategy. And if, in the months that followed, Pierce was slow to give Debonneville a more detailed picture of his business background, well, who could blame him? In any case, Debonneville got a pretty good understanding in June 2002, an eventful month that began with Pierce’s mysterious failure to show up for work one day. Debonneville was told at first by Pierce’s Spanish lawyers that his partner had gone on vacation to Thailand. In fact, Pierce was in government custody.
Through it all, though, the sales of virtual platinum kept churning. And if anything, IGE was on steadier ground now that Pierce was no longer distracted by lawsuits. This meant one less obstacle standing between the company and the triumphant future Pierce envisioned for it, and only two more to go—one being the tangle of legal and ethical questions that shrouded virtual item sales in gray-market illegitimacy, and the other being a guy named Jonathan Yantis. It was time to get Yantis out of the picture. Yantis was old-school—as old-school as it was possible to be in a business as new as RMT.
He was the competition to beat. Yantis declined to participate in this article, but he spoke with me at length in 2002 about his business. 1 million in annual profit from an operation consisting of himself and an assistant working out of his house in Rosarito, Mexico. Julian Dibbell’s full November 2003 blog post on encountering IGE executives at the State of Play conference in New York City. Yantis was the epitome of pre-IGE cottage-industry virtual retail: informal, personal, and very low-profile.
As long as Yantis got paid he really didn’t care what people thought of him. Pierce, on the other hand, cared a lot, and by 2003, with his legal problems now cleared up, he started a campaign to win gaming-industry hearts and minds. I was in the business myself at the time, selling items in the classic MMO Ultima Online. Brock Pierce looks like a Norman Rockwell 13-year-old, talks like a coked-up 35-year-old, and happens to have turned 23 last Friday. He is either my new best friend or my new worst nightmare. But I was kidding myself if I thought I was even on IGE’s radar. All its efforts were aimed at crushing Yantis.
If Yantis lowered his prices, IGE did, too. Yantis’ great misstep, Pierce says, was not thinking big enough. Final Fantasy XI, we had a nice profit margin. We are going to bring this market to ruins unless you come join us. IGE was still the underdog, but in the end it was Yantis who blinked. 4 million and a 37 percent stake in the new company, and he joined the team as chief operating officer. For IGE, this was the beginning of an age of gold.
Azeroth as the most heavily traded virtual currency in the world. According to industry lore, China’s first gold farms sprang up as early as 2002 just across the border from Korea. MMOs were huge in that country, and it was supposedly Korean player-entrepreneurs who hit upon the idea of hiring low-wage Chinese workers to farm the currency and equipment that other users craved. But in the end it was the huge new market of Western WoW players that gave thousands of small-time Chinese capitalists a reason to set up gold farms of their own. And when they did, it was IGE that became the Wal-Mart moving all that product west to gold-starved players. The source of those profits, ultimately, was operations like the one owned and operated by 26-year-old Liu Haibin in Jinhua, China, which I visited a few years ago. With about 30 workers on staff, Liu was able to keep a gold-farming setup running around the clock.
While the night shift slept upstairs on plywood bunks, day-shift workers sat in the hot, dimly lit workshop, each tending three or four computers. Liu’s income was better but not always by much. Most American WoW players at the time knew little about how the farmers lived and worked. Blizzard Entertainment, did not look favorably on their presence. The company was drawing more attention elsewhere, too.