Friday, the Chinese government attempted to address the reported $500 million gold farming industry, said to employ some 400,000 workers, in the form of a ruling on the exchange of "virtual currency" for real world cash.
Officially, China's Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce said that in-game monies "will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services." That could potentially put a damper on the burgeoning industry of accumulating in-game assets in World of Warcraft, then selling them for yuan, dollars and pounds to people with too much money on their hands.
The Chinese government also defined that "virtual currency" include "prepaid cards of cyber-games," which may be able to be cashed in for digital funny money.
According to a release from the two bodies, "using virtual money for gambling will be punished by public security authorities, and minors may not buy virtual money." The Chinese government hopes to curb gambling and illicit trade, as well as money laundering via virtual money.
China Bans Gold Farming [Information Week]