Cash trade in free-to-play online games

Lin Holin Lin, Chuen-Tsai Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The rapidly expanding ''free-to-play'' online game payment model represents a huge shift in digital game commercialization, with cash payments for virtual items increasingly recognized as central to ''free game'' participation. In this article, the authors look at implications of this trend for gameplay experiences (especially in terms of immersion, fairness, and fun) and describe a fundamental shift in player self-perceptions as consumers rather than members of a gaming community. This change is occurring at a time when the line separating game and physical worlds is becoming less distinct. The new business model entails a subtle but significant reduction in consumer rights awareness, which explains why some members of the greater gaming community are negotiating a new sense of fairness and arriving at a new consensus regarding legitimate gameplay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-287
Number of pages18
JournalGames and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2011


  • cash trade for virtual goods
  • commercialization of digital media
  • fairness
  • free-to-play
  • magic circle

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