With the arrival of Gifting, where players can now purchase items on the ingame Crown Store (currency/cosmetic store) with real currency for their friends, Community Manager Gina Bruno noted in 2018:
To clarify, trading an in-game item for other in-game items is allowed; trading in-game items for real-world money or other out-of-game items is strictly prohibited.
This was quite the clever play as essentially players could "sell" or "buy" ESO gold legally or rather within the guidelines of the Terms of Service while putting pressure on illegal gold sellers/buyers outside of the Terms of Service. In the meantime, Zenimax Online Studios garnered the profits (quite literally in the millions). It is not clear how much of an impact Crown selling or buying had on the previously highly active botters between a rise in bans and a rise in Crown selling/buying.
With the approval of Zenimax Online Studios, Crown selling and buying skyrocketed among the playerbase on every platform and server leading to the creation of Tamriel Crown Exchange which prominently sold at standard rates with a robust broker system on both PC/NA and PC/EU. Furthermore with a rise in PvE carries, Crown buying and selling also rose.
Later, the creation of World Crown Exchange, Crown Black Market & Crown Network (PC/EU's sucessor to Tamriel Crown Exchange) led to the four servers becoming the main exchange Discord servers for Crowns with a few other small servers thriving including a Russian-speaking server.
What is clear was the impact on the ingame economies as guilds also resorted to Crown selling and Crown Store prizes to maintain and hike up Guild Trader prices. Indeed, Rawl'kha Traders on PC/NA even experienced troll bids that won for several weeks.
The long-term effects of Crown selling/buying remains a concern although due to the nature of ingame gold sinks, rates and ingame economy, nothing too serious has occurred as of the year 2020.
Rates typically fluctuated between 100:1 (Gold to Crowns exchange rate) to 300+:1 on PC/NA while rates soared above 300:1 on PC/EU due to population and supply/demand differences as of 2020.
Rates typically stayed stable at around 100:1 (Gold to Crowns exchange rate) to 150:1 on Xbox/NA, Xbox/EU, PS4/NA and PS4/EU as of 2020.
Certain items on the Crown Store are not giftable to other players including Skyshards. Houses are giftable as of the Markarth DLC or Update 28.
Regardless of whether you're selling or buying Crowns, be wary of doing so in Zone Chat as there are scammers. It is advised you take screenshots and also make sure to communicate with your buyers or sellers from Zone Chat or other stranger-danger places in the game as Customer Support can help you in case you do get scammed out of your Crowns or ESO gold.
If you don't want to take the risk you can check out the following Discord servers that are verified by ESO University to be safe:
Want a safe, easy place to buy & sell (gifted) Crown Store items? WCE's Discord has thousands of members and millions of Crowns traded, and it's growing every day!
Buy and sell at whatever price you wish. No complex rules. Your safety is ensured by our feedback system and optional brokers and reimbursement fund. Click the banner above for the Discord server!
Want to buy & sell Crown Items, but don't want to deal with regulated prices or risk getting scammed in zone chat? Then join the CROWN BLACK MARKET Discord for PC-EU server!
In our Open Market, you're able to make your own choices & prices, whilst trading in safety! Plus, we are backed by some of Tamriel's top Trading & Social Guilds! Sound good? Then click the Banner to join us Today!
Are you on PC/EU and want a consistent/reliable source of buying or selling your Crowns? Click the banner above to join the CROWN NETWORK Discord!
Crown Network is the successor to Tamriel Crown Exchange EU and has a set exchange rate for all European players to buy and sell Crowns. 100% safe, no risk and always there for you.
PC/NA Crown Exchange server, just like Crown Network it also has a set exchange rate for players to buy and sell Crowns at backed by a Broker system.