California-based start-up Sparter has released a beta exchange platform designed to enable global 'Gamer2Gamer' (G2G) trading of virtual currencies.
The platform provides an online marketplace where players of massively multi-player online games can buy and sell virtual currencies. Games currently supported include DOFUS, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lineage II, The Lord of the Rings Online, MapleStory, Silkroad Online, Star Wars Galaxies and World of Warcraft.
Dan Kelly, chief executive officer of Sparter, says: "Gamers in North America and Europe spend more than a billion dollars a year on virtual currency. This market is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, but all of this trade moves through inefficient B2C companies who overcharge for transferring digital currency from one gamer to another."
By connecting gamers with each other, he says, Sparter eliminates the middle man from the transaction. The Sparter platform includes features such as escrowing of buyer funds, reliability ratings based on actual transactional data, and price charts that show market trends. Users can also check the wholesale prices for several external B2C sites.
Kelly says: "Our typical seller is a gamer who has earned enough to cover his monthly game fees. The potential to earn some cash while enjoying a great game is likely to extend subscriptions and attract new consumers, growing the overall market for developers and publishers."
The company has moved to fill a space vacated by eBay, which earlier this year began restricting trading in virtual currencies, in part because of trademark concerns.
In an effort to overcome resistance from virtual currency operators, Kelly says Sparter is in talks with developers and publishers to deliver in-game functionality at partner Web sites.
Dan Kelly is a former SVP of business development at THQ. Sparter chief technology officer Boris Putanec was a founder of Ariba. Other executives come from eBay, IGN, Expedia and PeerLogic. Sparter’s lead investor is Bessemer Venture Partners.