I am not sure I agree with Edward Castronova of Terranova. What I mean to say is that while his notion of ‘exodus recession (increased virtual spending contributing to recession as it reduces spending IRL)’ is extremely interesting it fails to note that thanks to the increasing ‘freemium’ model of games and social network development much of cash spent in a virtual world is very often purchased with cash earned in the real world. It starts in the real world economy and ends up there too, with the virtual world simply as a service purchased.
This is not the case, of course, in a number of large MMOs (*coughWoWcough*) where although purchasing gold is possible it is still entirely possible to make ‘satisfying purchases’ in Azeroth using only gold earned in game. If this trend were to increase (which seems unlikely since even Blizzard are moving to a freemium model) I would be more comfortable with the point above.