Monday, July 28, 2008

IGE, THSale and Friends: Gold Seller Revenues in 2007





How much money is there really in gold-farming and who's actually making it? mmOverload have posted a great article on the issue. Let's have a look at it.

A lot of very general estimates have been floating around since the first time values were placed on the virtual currency market of Everquest. However, little information was available on the revenue of individual sellers.

We went ahead and used PayPal ratings as well as internal data to estimate the revenue of the biggest gold sellers in 2007.

Gold Sellers by Revenue in 2007
This list offers an overview of the top sellers, their estimated revenues as well as affiliations. Further details about ownership and affiliations are listed below.

This list offers an overview of the top sellers, their estimated revenues as well as affiliations. Further details about ownership and affiliations are listed below.

  • THSale (29.50 Mio) -> THS International

  • WithGames (9.45 Mio) -> THS International

  • Lewt (9.02 Mio) -> Lewt Inc.

  • Brogame(8.91 Mio) -> THS International

  • IGE (8.12 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • OFORU (6.92 Mio) -> Oforu Inc.

  • SwagVault (6.84 Mio) -> SwagVault eBSS

  • TeamVIP (4.71 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • Igsky (3.82 Mio) -> IGSKY

  • Guy4Game (3.06 Mio) -> Our Networking

  • IGXE (2.30 Mio) -> Igxe Inc.

  • UOTreasures (2.11 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • EZGaming(2.07 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • MOGS (2.04 Mio) -> Mogs Ad.

  • Itemgarden (1.70 Mio)

  • GamerKing (1.61 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • MySuperSales (1.18 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • MMOshop(1.13 Mio) -> Atlas Technology Group

  • Power-level (1.12 Mio) -> The Sesame

  • ShatteredCrystal (1.07 Mio) -> Shattered Crystal LLC


Total revenue of the top 20 shops in 2007: 106.68 Mio

Please note that this nearly exclusively covers the Western RMT market, while other major locations - e.g. South Korea and China - have not been included.

Structure of the market

Not all of those shops are actually independent. Below you'll find a list of the parent companies who actually own these. shops. There are two major groups who own a significant market share of those, while the rest of the market is divided by smaller groups and shops.

In addition most shops also operate a significant number of smaller outlets that are used for testing search engine optimization, creating an image of competition that does not really exist and to increase their overall exposure. We thus also included a listing of known outlets of individual shops, though this list is far from complete:

The Big Fish

The two biggest companies in RMT are THS International and Atlas Technology Group. After a buying spree the two companies account for more than 60% of the revenue of the top 20 online shops.

THS International (Estimated yearly revenue: USD 47.86 Mio)

  • THSale (29.5 Mio)

  • WithGames (9.45 Mio)

  • Brogame (8.91Mio)


Sites operated by THSale:

  • www.thsale.com

  • www.withgames.com

  • www.brogame.com

  • www.4urpower.com

  • www.cheapest4ffxigil.com


The phenomenally negative track record of the THS International owned shops is amazing in its consistency. This three shops see more customer complaints than all other gold seller outlets combined - from both, suppliers and customers. However, this did not seem to have any negative effect on their growth.

Atlas Technology Group (Estimated yearly revenue: USD 20.93 Mio)

  • IGE (8.12 Mio)

  • TeamVIP (4.71 Mio)

  • UOTreasures (2.11 Mio)

  • EZGaming(2.07 Mio)

  • GamerKing (1.61 Mio)

  • MySuperSales (1.18 Mio)

  • MMOshop(1.13 Mio)


Sites operated by Atlas Technology Group:

  • www.IGE.com

  • www.ItemRate.com

  • www.TeamVIP.com

  • www.TopGameGold.com

  • www.MySuperSales.com

  • www.Ezgaming.com

  • www.MyMMOshop.com

  • www.UOTreasures.com

  • www.L2Treasures.com

  • www.GuildwarsTreasures.com

  • www.UOTreasures.com

  • www.EQTreasures.com

  • www.DDOnlineTreasures.com

  • www.CoHTreasures.com

  • www.WoWTreasures.com

  • www.LOTROtreasures.com

  • www.Sltreasures.com

  • www.SWGtreasures.com

  • www.AATreasures.com

  • www.Fftreasures.com

  • www.EQ2Treasures.com

  • www.VanguardTreasures.com

  • www.VanguardDepot.com

  • www.ALtreasures.com

  • www.WOW4CHEAP.com

  • www.Smaugs.com


Atlas Technology Group is the new holding company for IGE's gold selling operation. More information about the setup is available in our IGE article.

Team-VIP has traditionally been IGE's preferred outlet when it came to search engine "optimization" (read: spamming). Keeping their main domain 'clean' this purchased shop was used in blackheat SEO tactics.

Other groups in the market represent a much smaller share:

Lewt Inc. (estimated yearly revenue: 9.02 Mio)

  • www.Lewt.com

  • www.D2legit.com


OFORU (estimated yearly revenue: 6.92 Mio)
  • www.Oforu.com

  • www.Mygamestock.com


Mogs (estimated yearly revenue: 2.04 Mio)
  • www.Mogs.com

  • www.Game-Frenzy.com


IGXE (estimated yearly revenue: 2.30 Mio)
  • www.Igxe.com

  • www.ffxi-gil.com

  • www.Online-Game-Store.com


Not only a 2nd tier, but already a 3rd tier market
Gold sellers are often referred to as secondary market for MMOs. It's interesting to see that there's a solid tertiary market, one that caters to the gold-farmers: Wholesale online retailing of game time cards and codes. Farmers and resellers located in developing nations often face access problems for new games and game time cards. They effectively have to rely on partners in the primary MMO markets to buy games and subscriptions for them.

One such shop is Shattered Crystal - listed as number 20 on our list. While technically not a gold seller, it's safe to assume that a significant part of their business is supplying farmers and resellers alike with the necessary supply of game accounts and subscriptions. Specializing in a niche market, they created a firm business model. Shattered Crystal belongs to former UO gold seller, RMT affiliate and account trading specialist MarkeeDragon (their main business has not been included in this report).

The Making Of
How was this list calculated? We monitored the PayPal ratings of
different shops throughout the year. Since most of them rely on PayPal as a sole payment provide, those figures are quite accurate.

In addition we considered average transaction values, customer retention and recurring revenues in order to calculate the estimated overall figure for 2007.






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