I find security issues facing games pretty interesting; PlayNoEvil is one of my favourite spots for discussion about security related issues. Gamasutra sat down with Gene Hoffman, CEO of Vindicia, a billing and fraud management company, about the issues facing MMOs and ways to mitigate those issues. Of particular concern are the RMT resale markets (if it exists), and chargebacks. And what of the mingling of real and virtual economies? Hoffman has this to say:
These are real economies. In fact, they get much closer to the raw creation of economic growth than many national economies as these "virtual" economies prove quite convincingly that wealth isn't capital or labour but instead knowledge and creativity. Building a working infrastructure to support capital inflows and outflows in a trustworthy manner is very much a core problem we want to address.
In many ways we're facing the merging of intellectual property and "cash" into one entangled entity. When someone steals a virtual thing they've stolen real value. Cash was created in many ways because barter was hard, and cash creates prices. However if prices are now known in some exchange rate, the virtual good that was stolen is a bill denominated in the exchange value of that good in the first place.
With credit card fraud, stolen card numbers, chargebacks, and other security breeches an increasing problem, we'll no doubt see more and more focus on what can be done to prevent fraud in its many forms (though Steve at PlayNoEvil seems to harbour doubts that companies really pay enough attention to security and fraud issues, especially when it comes to implementing successful and cost-effective solutions that don't cripple usability for the consumer).
Vindicia's Hoffman On The Science Of MMO Fraud [Gamasutra]