IGE (Internet Gaming Entertainment) was one of the largest services company buying and selling virtual currencies and accounts for MMORPG. During its peak time, it had offices in Los Angeles, China (Shanghai), and headquarters & customer service centre in Hong Kong. IGE was one of the main monopoly in virtual economy services, also known in the MMORPG industry as 'secondary market'. Members of the gaming community were often critical of IGE, as its services 'may' allow players to break rules in online games. After its reformation in 2007 by Jonathan Yantis, IGE remains one of the top leading virtual currency providers as of today.
IGE was founded in 2001 by Brock Pierce, a former child movie star, and Alan Debonneville. They met each other while playing Everquest and decided to form IGE. Pierce was the main inverstor in the company while Debonneville was managing the operations. Brock Pierce was also the co-founder of the controversial failed dot-com Digital Entertainment Network (DEN). Media reports claim that Marc Collins-Rector is a silent partner in IGE. IGE initially used an address in the city of Marbella, Spain, where Collins-Rector and Pierce shared a villa until it was raided by Interpol in 2002.
In January 2004, IGE acquired its major competitor, Yantis Enterprises, who was then run by another controversial secondary market figure, Jonathan Yantis for $2.4 million and 37% share of the company. The collaboration didn't last for long and Yantis later sold his shares back to IGE in exchange for 22 monthly payments of $1 million due to conflicts and disagreement.
IGE's parent company, RPG Holdings, purchased Allakhazam.com in November 2005, as announced in May 2006. Allakhazam is a popular MMORPG community site for a wide variety of games that IGE's services cater for; however, the site continues to pride itself on not supporting the trade of virtual currencies in the real economy, typically breaking and/or removing any links to sites (including IGE) that perform such trades. This marks the further expansion of this company's presence in online gaming communities. This purchase followed that of ThottBot.com. As for today the site has had a significant drop of users but still remains popular with some MMORPG games.
Red flags started to raise during late 2006 to 2007 for IGE in all areas. One of the founders Alan Debonneville was forced out of the company. There were a lot of tension and conflict between Pierce and Debonneville, as well as within the board. Later Debonneville sued Pierce for various reasons related to an investment made by Goldman Sachs a year earlier, which Debonneville ended winning in a settlement.
IGE tried to restructure its upper management team by recruiting new executives which lead to poor management, increased overhead and inappropriate investments. Moreover, after a great deal of controversy and opposition from MMO companies, IGE began to lose revenue due to the frequent deletion of accounts involved in trading. In 2007, a lawsuit was filed against IGE by Antonio Hernandez for "substantially impairing and diminishing collective enjoyment of the game."
During the final months of IGE leading to its reformation, the board of directors decided to sell the company to their former partner Jonathan Yantis. IGE's parent company was then renamed Atlas Technology Group Inc, which is owned by Yantis, while Brock went with Affinity Media. During this time, the remaining employees with IGE in their customer service centre in Hong Kong were asked to choose which company they wanted to go with. At the end, however, all of the employees were dismissed. Through the announcement of the new company, IGE escaped the unpaid debts (more than $500,000) of their Chinese suppliers. The staff in the Shanghai office was fired by IGE, which thus lost its leading position in the Chinese virtual economy industry.
Affinity Media was said to be one of the parent companies of IGE, though the company no longer has any ownership stake. Affinity Media's senior vice president of business development John Maffei, noted that "we’re no longer in that business." Affinity retains control of Allakhazam.com, Thottbot.com, and has since purchased Wowhead.com.
Like for all the other in-game currency traders, the vast majority of IGE's revenue comes from buying/selling World of Warcraft gold. Its website traffic, and allegedly its revenues, have been declining since 2006 due to the increased competition from the in-game currency traders based in China and the constant bombardment of anti-real-money trading measures by Blizzard Entertainment, the publisher of World of Warcraft.
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