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MMOG Currency Seller Owns Media Network ? 268

Posted by Zonk
from the this-is-not-a-reality-I-am-comfortable-with dept.
The interview on Okratas we mentioned yesterday was mostly funny. Game currency seller IGE responded to the honest (if ham fisted) questions of a reporter with harsh marketroid speak. A reporter at Warcry responded with his own reactions, expressing publicly some of the distaste the average MMOG player has for IGE. Since then threads started last week in various online communities have started to appear on online news sites, shedding some more light on uncomfortable realities about IGE. Namely, that the currency seller apparently owns gaming media outlet OGaming. Read on for more.

Ogaming is a hub site much like Warcry, with a sub-site about most of the major Massively Multiplayer Games out there. Some enterprising /whois work by the original author of the WowCensus thread led him to realize that OGaming was registered with the same street address used for IGE's New York Office. OGaming's registration information was updated on the 10th, and now displays the name and address of a proxy registration service. Further damning is the thought that at one point a page on the Ogaming site claimed to own Thottbot.com, a universally respected and utilized tool for World of Warcraft in-game information.

The page that once claimed this (an advertising page) is now blank, with the words "under construction" displayed there. The Internet Archive's last update for ogaming.com is this time last year, so there is no way to check on the authenticity of that claim. If it is true it's disquieting to say the least. Thottbot is a massive database of in-game quest, item, character, and drop frequency information. Thottbot's information was gained through the goodwill and work of World of Warcraft players. The popular UI enhancement, Cosmos, included a plugin that sent information from the user's playing experience back to Thottbot. This included locations of enemies, the types of loot dropped, items the character had, and other specific details. While Thottbot claims to only keep information that is pertinent to other players, with the revelation that they may be owned by the disreputable IGE their trustworthiness is out the window.

This revelation didn't stay quiet for long, with MMOG sites CorpNews, Grimwell.com, and Allakhazam all creating discussions of their own about this weighty topic.

The authenticity of this story is hard to prove or disprove at this point, with the OGaming.com and Thottbot.com domains having a proxy listed under their contact information. But if it's hard to believe that IGE would go to the trouble of owning a media outlet and a popular plugin, think again. Garthilk writes "Cindy Bowens, community manager for Sigil Games online and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, outlines their stance on secondary market items, and how they deal with IGE. Most interesting is the fact that IGE approached Sigil, and had offered to cut Sigil in on the revenue that IGE might make in the future."

Update: 02/15 20:07 GMT by Z : Drey pointed out in the comments that, at least for the time being, Google still has a cache of the page listing Thottbot as an Ogaming site.
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MMOG Currency Seller Owns Media Network ?

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  • by jbellis (142590) <jonathan.carnageblender@com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:01PM (#11679907) Homepage
    Huh, I just re-read the interview to be sure, and it seemed to me that IGE was quite reasonable in their responses. Even the "PR mouthpiece" ones.
  • Re:Bad day for IGE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by YomikoReadman (678084) <jasonathelen&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:05PM (#11679948) Journal
    On those things, yes. However, SoE has never been truly vigilant about enforcing ToS[1], and Square-Enix wasn't either when I was playing FFXI.

    In addition to that, now that they own Ogaming, they can essentially live off the ad revenue from there, and even if they lose out on an MMO or two, of which WoW will likely be the one to really enforce ToS, they'll still roll along, skimming off the top from sales in games where nothing is done about the blatant ToS violations.

  • Reputations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flibuste (523578) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:09PM (#11679993)

    I still don't understand what makes IGE disreputable

    They have found a niche market where they can make a lot of money. If it works, fine. Nobody's being harmed or spoiled - they are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?

    They sell in-game content, which purchase the game provider prohibits? Well, fine again, don't buy it if you don't want your game account cancelled.

    For all the rich idiots that buy 100 gold in World of Warcraft for 45 USD. Fine again! Have fun! Spend your money!

  • Re:Non-player (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flibuste (523578) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:14PM (#11680046)

    people with lots of real-world money can achieve in games what normally takes hard-working players a long time to accomplish.

    Sad to say, but it sounds just like the real life. Replace "game" by "university" and you get one such example.

    So basically, people blame IGE for being just one more company servicing the "rich people"? I don't see any difference with what I see everyday in the capitalist world.

  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:14PM (#11680052)
    I use the cosmos XML UI enhancements without the thottbot plugin but I do use the thottbot.org website for lookups.

    Why does it matter who owns the thottbot site? It's my understanding that you can look at the plugin and see that it's not sending any extra information back to thottbot.org such as login or password.

    Ultimately the worst case scenario I see is that the owner could start charging for access to the sites content that the players have built. Big deal, someone will start a new site.

    I personally like the fact that blizzard has really cracked down on people selling gold and items. Selling accounts to me is not as big of a deal. I'm betting blizzard doesn't like this though. If I was completely done with the game, and would never play again, I would have no problems selling my level 60 shaman account.

    Am I missing something?
  • Hey, Children! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [lacitpx]> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#11680063) Homepage
    One day, you'll grow up and move out of mom's basement. On that day, you'll see that the real world is not fair. People who wine about it generally get crushed.

    You may consider it unfair that I can spend an hour on e-bay and get an item that took you months to earn.

    I consider it unfair that I have to work 50+ hours a week.

    So, I'll make you a deal: You spend 50+ hours a week doing something else besides Fishing and Skinning in WoW, and I'll stop spending real money for virtual items.

    They say there's a PA for every moment in your life:

    http://penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2004-12-3 1

    But look at this as reality. You and I started the day it went live. Now you have a nice mount and I just made 25.

    Your unfair advantage is that you are willing to play constantly.

    My unfair advantage is that I have a good job.

    Until there is a law that says the world has to be fair, I guess we are both fucked.
  • by agraupe (769778) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#11680067) Journal
    If people with more money than brains want to be parted from it, in exchange for in-game items and money, then so be it. I don't see anything wrong with this. If there were a flood of super-good items as a result of too much farming, it is only a loss for the people selling them. If everything becomes hideously expensive in-game, then everyone will be able to sell everything for the same hideously expensive prices. The most crucial thing to remember, IMO, is that everyone can do this: it's not like one organization is getting Blizzard to give them free items. I say it's perfectly ethical to make money off stupid, rich people.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by captwheeler (573886) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:23PM (#11680139)
    IGE is like eBay for online games (like World of Warcraft.) You can arrange to pay real money, and get in-game items or 'gold' from other players. The cash payments are made outside the game, the items are transfered in-game between players.

    The game makers universally ban this sort of sale:

    If you were playing risk, would you want your opponent to 'buy' ten armys from third player? Companies also can't regulate the sales to ensure fairness, and don't want any liability issues; like a DB error deleting an item someone paid cash for.
    Some players argue buying in-game items is fine:
    The in game items are yours, and you can give them to any player for whatever reason you want, including cash payments. Why is it be OK to give a sword to my friend, but not a stranger? How does using money, rather then an in-game barter, or plain altruism, change this?
  • Re:Reputations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot.fridaythang@com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:30PM (#11680200)
    I'll bite.

    As the interviewer in the previous article (which I believe this article summary links to) compared it to, if we're playing monopoly and I land on Boardwalk, I owe the owner (lets say it's you) $2000 with a hotel. Not chump change. But if I can turn to the banker and slip him five *real* dollars in exchange for $5,000 Monopoly dollars, I have violated the rules of the game (possibly, depending on your reading of 'no gifts') and undoubtedly violated the spirit of the game.

    Likewise, MMORPGs are designed to have a specific amount of money in the economy and a specific number of items, distributed in a specific fashion. While the amount of gold in a game is effectively infinite (if you spend time 'farming' you can sell items and drops for as long as you want) it is assumed that the ammount of gold/items you have will at least somewhat relate to the amount of time you've spent playing. This does not take into account gifts or guilds helping new members out, but friends giving a couple gold is not going to effect the economy on the same scale as someone buying 100,000 gold off eBay.

    So, in a sense, people *are* being harmed by such 'reselling' of in-game items, in the very broad sense that it throws off what was hopefully a carefully planned economy, put in play by the developers.

    In a more down-to-earth sense, farmers disrupt my ability to play the game. Ignoring the fact that I think it's "unfair" (a very subjective term, I admit) for someone to buy the latest Sword of Pwning +10 from eBay, the item was obtained by killing monsters, and thus preventing 'real' players (another subjective term) from killing them and obtaining the items/gold.

    World of Warcraft (the MMORPG I am currently playing and thus most familiar with) solves this partially by implimenting 'instanced' dungeons, where every party in the dungeon gets their own 'instance' of the dungeon, with seperate monsters and such. This allows each party to fight through without the posibility of running into other players. While this is a great sollution on a small basis, it does not prevent a gold/item reseller from farming in a high-traffic area, or an area with important quest-related NPCs.

    On an entirely different issue, saying "hey are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?" is just stupid. Even if you don't think selling items/gold from MMORPGs on eBay immoral, saying that it's moral because it's *legal* is disgusting. I am in no way comparing selling a WoW item to any of these things, but slavery, preventing women from voting, segregation, preventing blacks from voting, husbands beating wives, and torture have all at some point been legal. Again, I am *not* comparing MMORPG item reselling to any of these things. Merely pointing out that legality does not indicate morality, nor the other way around.

    Just my thoughts.

    -Trillian
  • Re:Non-player (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:32PM (#11680220)
    I don't see any difference with what I see everyday in the capitalist world.

    And that is exactly why so many are opposed to IGE and other such operations. When you start blurring the line between game and reality, you lose a lot of what makes a virtual world so exciting to begin with. I want to play a game, not log into "DnD sponsored by EBay". IGE, farmers, sweatshops, etc. just suck all the fun out of the experience for me. Particularly when you're talking about an RPG, as most MMOs claim to be, introducing such real-world influences just corrupts the feel of the world. I mean, roleplaying doesn't have to mean using "thee" and "thou" all the time, but it seems to me that at a bare minimum, you would "play the role" of a character within a fantasy world. When that character starts making financial transactions with beings from another dimension, and when the finances of the player have more effect than the actions of the character, it just doesn't appeal to me anymore.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:33PM (#11680231)
    How is that a problem with IGE? It sounds like the game's screwed up if it's possible for 30-40 people to prevent anyone else from getting the item.

    If play like that is against the TOS, then the GMs should enforce the TOS. If it isn't against the TOS, then maybe it should be.

    If the GMs aren't enforcing the TOS, then maybe people should just stop playing the game.

    Sounds to me like this is a problem that the developer should be able to solve, not something that has anything to do with the market for in-game items.

    Basically, it sounds like people are actually complaining against in-game griefing, not people selling items outside the game. Selling items outside the game should be OK. In-game griefing should be solved by the GMs in-game. If it isn't, then the players should simply quit playing the game, if the GMs aren't doing their job.
  • Re:Reputations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flibuste (523578) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:35PM (#11680252)
    I agree with you but..

    I'm tired of the game worlds being full of a bunch of 3rd world slaves farming stuff to sell.

    This is the effect of living in the leasure society we're in. I'd rather the 3rd world sitting in front of a computer and play online for farming virtual money than have them be paid 10 cent a day to make my next (left) shoe at the expense of the health of a 10-year old.

    Farming for gold is the worse of two evils IMHO.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:36PM (#11680260) Homepage
    Let me get this straight. Because there's someone that is performing perfectly ethical and legal activities which disagree with the twisted gamer philosophy and political bent (IE, that this is wrong), we're having a smear campaign of sorts on slashdot, pointing out his legit company in the field which can now be DoSed and who knows what by those that are immature enough to bitch about something this trivial?

    Urg. My head hurts.
  • by Goronmon (652094) * on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:44PM (#11680396)
    I mean, really, when it gets down to it, its the way MMOG's are designed that creates a situation where IGE is a bad thing.

    I mean, loot is pretty darn predictable in most online games, after playing a for a bit, you know what items drop from what creatures, and for the most part, the best items drop from a single mob that can be killed over and over again. If the predictability of loot drops were removed from these games, that would go a long way towards keeping set-ups like IGE from becoming too important.

    Plus, you have games where the entire structure of the game is built upon "The longer you play, the better your character becomes." For people with full-time jobs, its hard to play at the same level as someone who doesn't need a full-time job or has free time for other reasons. If someone can afford to throw down $20 for an in-game item that might take him 3-4 hours to get otherwise, there really is not anything wrong with it, I mean, it is just a game after all.

    In the end though, this is only a big deal if IGE is somehow manipulating the information in a way that player's wouldn't want. You can't just assume that because they have connections to Thottbot that they should automatically be proclaimed as "evil."
  • Re:Hey, Children! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by jbich (819618) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:54PM (#11680528) Homepage
    People like you should be shot.

    I think you missed the point entirely. It's not that we whine about it being unfair exactly, it's that we like the game.
    I also have a good job dickus. I also work 50, 60 hours a week, dickus. And I also can't play the game all the much. But guess what? I still work at getting items and improving my character with what ever time I can afford. If someone offered me an item for some real life cash I'd tell him to stick it, because -- oh oh here's a freaking reality dose for you buddy!! -- it's NOT ABOUT HAVING THE ITEMS, it's about GETTING THEM. It's about PLAYING the GAME, not WINNING it. Life's a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION ... to shamefully rip off a quote.

    People like you take away a bit of the fun in the game, and THAT'S why we're pissed. Because cheaters suck. Period. And yes, I consider something that violates the tos cheating.

    I don't even understand your mentality on this: Do you like weilding a big stick? Or you do you like getting the big stick and then weilding it? That sounds like a compensation issue to me bro.
    Is it a big deal if you're only lvl 25 with crappy armor? Who cares! The point is whether or not you're having fun!

    Hell, I roll new toons all the time because I have more fun at lower lvls, with no cash and crappy armor/weapons/spells.

    People like you should be shot.

    I hope Blizzard bans you, if you're on WoW.

    Ok. I've said my piece. You can Mod me Down now.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:57PM (#11680560)
    "How is that a problem with IGE? It sounds like the game's screwed up if it's possible for 30-40 people to prevent anyone else from getting the item."

    Oh, sure, go ahead and be all sensible and such.

    This is Slashdot, remember. If you are going to go posting AC, at least have the decency to make your post inflamatory and riddled with idocy.

    Damn kids these days.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ad0gg (594412) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:03PM (#11680609)
    "Now whether this is bad or not depends on how much you care. If you say "its just a game" then consider it as frustrating as waiting in line at say... McDonalds. You have 11 kids in front of you, and they think its real cool to keep you from getting your food by ordering a glass of water, getting it, then getting their buddy in 11th place to let them cut in front for another glass. Unless of course you slip them a buck to get to the front of the line."

    I think most people would leave McDonalds and goto another establishment that didn't allow that sort of activity. Maybe you should follow my analogy and do the same.

    Also you analogy is flawed. It be more like fishing and having people camp a fishing hole. No one is cutting in line(immoral) in the game, they were there before you. Point of the game is gather items and advance, there is no moral obligation for them to allow you a chance to advance.

    Also if they didn't sell the items for real money but instead traded the items for other items in the game would you still be complaining? Trading items is perfectly legit in the eyes of the people who run the games.

    Is it cheating when I put more money in the arcarde games so I can get extra lives and beat the high score? Is it cheating when I buy some guys oscar award off of them? Is it cheating when I pay extra $50 for the FastPass at amusement park so I don't have to wait in lines? Is it cheating when I pay extra for first class and get to board the plane before other people? Is it cheating when I buy a $500 super softball bat that allows me to hit the ball 30% farther than anyone else? Is it cheating when Ferrari Spends 500% more than other guys in F1 in order to come in first place? Is it cheating when you hire a tutor so you can pass a class? Is it cheating if I donate $25,000 Hollywood bowl allow me to purchase tickets before everyone else and giving me priority parking? Is it cheating when some millionaire buys his way into space while 100s of people try to become astronauts?

  • Re:So....do you? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CoderBob (858156) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:06PM (#11680643)
    Ditto the hard-core player who just doesn't have time to play...

    Every reason I've seen can be condensed down into one of the following:

    1. Lack of time
    2. Need to feel "leet"
    3. Lack of motivation

    Now, for #1:
    The only potentially legitimate reason. I've got a 50 hour a week job, so I can sort of sympathize here, but I have the mentality of wanting to earn the rewards myself, and am willing to grind away at it until I do. If that means only doing high-level instances (in WoW, for example) on weekends, so be it.
    #2: I have no sympathy here. I don't respect any character, high-level or not, cool "leet" items or not, if I can tell they don't know squat about cooperating in the group correctly, which is exactly what occurs time and time again with things they didn't earn "in-game". these people, along with those who can't generate a chat message that is even somewhat based on real English, go in my Ignore list. They are also dropped from the group about as fast as new pop singers come out...
    #3: A friend of mine uses this, actually. He just doesn't want to take the time to do it. He has the time, just feels it better spent elsewhere. He also jumps from MMORPG to the next quicker than a used car salesman changes pitches. Can't say I can back this one, but hey, at least these people usually don't stick around long enough to cause in-game economy problems.

    Of course, this is just what I've noticed, so I'm sure others have different views of things. After all, I'm only one of the many, many, many WoW and EQ players out there.

  • by sumbry (644145) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:10PM (#11680700) Homepage
    I haven't played a MMO since SWG first hit, so I'm just now gettting what Thottbot, IGN, etc is... but here's my question:

    If paying real money for in-game items is cheating, then isn't using an out-of-game utlility to locate items in-game also cheating as well?

    Both involve doing something out-of-game that affects what's in game... This seems to me like the pot calling the kettle black!

    Obviously, since Thottbot is an add-on, not every player has it. So even though it's a free add-on, it still unfairly gives some players an advantage over other players, which is essentially what's being argued.
  • Hey cynical child! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:19PM (#11680847)
    Hi Troll, I'll bite :-)

    One day, you'll grow up and move out of mom's basement. On that day, you'll see that the real world is not fair. People who wine about it generally get crushed.

    What you're saying is that it's unfair in the real world that other people have more time available than you to spend playing MMORPGs. Grow up sometime soon will you, you're the one whining about the real world. Your response to this unfairness in the real world is to cheat in the virtual world (where your ability to cheat is actually governed by the same inequalities in the real world) and so through your own selfishness extend these real world inequalities (that you whine on about) to the virtual.

    FYI: I myself haven't lived with my parents for many many years (more than you I'd say judging by your immature post) and I'd be willing to wager I work more hours than you do - I don't have a subscription to a MMORPG anymore because I simply don't have the time - hasn't that occured to you?

    The unfairness is indeed that you don't have the time to play so much as other people - but does that give you the right to cheat - no. You do however have the right to stop playing and find something else to do with your time.

    With light of your selfish, socially backward behaviour I hope you get crushed sooner rather than later.

    What people are upset about is that in a virtual world that they are paying to take part in people are breaking the rules, detracting from their enjoyment and effectivley ruining the game. That's the thing about playing games - it's an escape from the real world, why is it any different for a MMORPG?

    That means that through your socially-unacceptable behaviour (in either the virtual or real world) you are depriving others of their fun and the hard earned cash that they've invested in a subscription. Now thinking about this means that you're actually depriving people in the real world of their resources (to you obviously a subscription to a game world is trivial, to some (many?) it's the vast proportion of their expendable cash).

    There is a law in the virtual worlds that says that it has to be fair - it's a law layed down by god if you like (where god is the creater and contoller of the world eg, Blizzard). The reason they do this is because they want people to play in a fair system as that's where the enjoyment comes from.

    Finally just because the world isn't fair that makes it neither moral or ethical for anyone to exploit that.

    The same holds for anyone in a position of power (yup, money gives power so in this case you) be that person a CEO, president, judge, monk or infact a corporate identity either. You can read many slashdot stories to see how upset people get about abuses of power.

    In your case this exploitation is made even worse by the fact you're simply doing it for your own pleasure.

    Please go away and find some other form of entertainment that doesn't involve depriving others of theirs until you've grown up enough to realize that the whole idea of a MMORPG game is it's somewhere people go to escape the real world and play together on an equal footing.

    You're evidently young and have plenty of expendable income, it's not like you have no choice - why not spend some of that time with real people in the real world - or they dislike you're air of selfish arrogance as much as me?
  • by Damana Mathos (825898) <thomas@thomasrice. c o m> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:22PM (#11680881) Homepage Journal
    >What are these people doing wrong?

    If they are violating the game's rules, then you could say that is wrong.

    In the greater sense, I don't think they are doing anything wrong. They are providing a valuable service for those who want to enjoy the content but don't have the time to do so.

    Some people suggest that buying in-game items or advantage is somehow unfair or inequitable. I would argue that these games take a long time to play, so the fact that I work full time and have little time to play whereas some players can spend a lot more time in-game is also unfair.

    So some have more time, and some have more money. I don't see a problem with people trading one for another, especially when it has next to no impact on other players in-game.

    Some may complain about how farming converts games into a "queue" system where you wait your turn. WOW have solved some of this with bind-on-pickup items and instances, as has been previously mentioned.

    I'd say the blame for any problem beyond this must be placed on the game designers. I mean, it's pretty obvious by now that people will try to sell in-game currency and items, isn't it? It isn't exactly a new service that should take designers completely by surprise.

    - Thomas.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vicviper (140480) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:28PM (#11680957)
    How is that a problem with IGE? It sounds like the game's screwed up if it's possible for 30-40 people to prevent anyone else from getting the item.

    It is a problem only in part with IGE. From what I can tell, IGE is sort of like an item/money/account broker. Where they make their Real Life money from the transfer of In Game items/money/accounts. While IGE has claimed in the past that they don't employ others to retrieve the in game items, they certainly do facilitate the sale of these items no matter how they were obtained. In truth, it's the griefers who are the most noticable effect of the service that IGE provides.

    Selling items outside the game should be OK.

    I disagree because the world in game is affected directly by the amount of cash a player has outside the game. I see these types of games as closed systems where advancement comes with skill, and time invested.

  • Re:Non-player (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:40PM (#11681119)
    The real problem I see in WoW:

    Although there are a number of money-sinks out there, most of them are one-time deals which means that eventually you burn through them.

    And your access to gold seems to increase expodentially as you level, which means that eventually there are going to be a number of bored level 60 players with an entire vault full of gold, 're-rolling' or just leveling up alts and dumping obscene amounts of money out for equipment.

    You are right, Blizzard has put in place things that I hope will retard inflation in game, but I wonder if that will actually slow it or just build it up behind a dam that will eventually break.
  • Re:Hey, Children! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:46PM (#11681183)
    Your unfair advantage is that you are willing to play constantly.

    My unfair advantage is that I have a good job.

    Until there is a law that says the world has to be fair, I guess we are both fucked.


    If you don't have the time to play the game, you should not be playing the game. If you're buying items using RMT (Real Money Trade) you are making it more difficult for the player legitimately playing the game.

    Please get off your high horse of having a good job. I have a pretty decent one as well, but I don't buy items using RMT. I spend the insane amounts of time to earn the items because I want to play the game. Your obtaining the items through RMT causes inflation of the going price of the items, unavailability of the items through legitimate means due to monopoly camping, and a ruined experience of the MMORPG for everybody in the game.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:49PM (#11681220)
    Right, because a person who spent three straight weeks levelling up and buying virtual gear is far more virtuous than somebody who worked some overtime as an Ambulance driver and used the extra cash to make a game character as good or better than it would have been if he was a jobless loner.
  • Re:Non-player (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:06PM (#11681544)

    Also you analogy is flawed. It be more like fishing and having people camp a fishing hole. No one is cutting in line(immoral) in the game, they were there before you.

    It's more like buying all the food within a week's journey, and then selling it to people for outrageous prices. This is very immoral.

    You're analogue is flawed, because

    1. There's no other fishing holes - in real life there are.
    2. In the gameworld, the "fishes" are absolutely vital for fullfilling your purpose in life (gaining power). In real life they aren't.
    3. These people didn't just happen to be there first. They purposefully made a public resource scarce so they could release it a little bit of a time for a fee. This is immoral. It is analoguous to someone who lives in the desert hiring a bunch of thugs to keep anyone from getting into an oasis, just so he can sell them water (which he took from the oasis, just to make it more outrageous).
    4. Don't we already have enough psychopathic jerks screwing everyone else just to get a bit more for themselves in real life ? Do we absolutely must have them in the virtual worlds as well ?

    Point of the game is gather items and advance, there is no moral obligation for them to allow you a chance to advance.

    Actually, as a matter of fact, people do have the moral obligation of taking into account the consequences of their actions have on other people, and to try and minimize any negative effects. People who do not follow this obligation are called psychopaths (which, according to dictionary.com [slashdot.org], means "A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse").

    So yes, there is a moral obligation for them to allow you a chance to advance.

    Furthermore, don't forget that they aren't just refusing to help you (which would be within their rights to do) - they are actively keeping you from advancing (which you could do just fine without their harassment), unless you pay them a certain amount. This is Mafia tactics.

    Also if they didn't sell the items for real money but instead traded the items for other items in the game would you still be complaining? Trading items is perfectly legit in the eyes of the people who run the games.

    "Trading items" and "creating an artifical shortage in supply by keeping anyone else from getting to the item just so you can sell it" are a bit different, don't you think ?

  • Re:Hey, Children! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:43PM (#11682178)
    Ah, the "your argument doesn't matter" defense. Look, I appreciate that you are very proud of your career and what you see as your gratuitous level of maturity. But, of course, until you can stop picking on people and taking out your gripes on their lives, you're not mentally out of the fourth grade yet.

    Is it unfair to buy something that someone else had to work to get? Not in the real world - I go buy a chair, I don't learn woodworking and do it myself. But, guess what, this isn't the real world, no matter how hard /you/ whine about it.

    It's a game. It is supposed to be fun, and a system where you invest time and effort for a reward (plot, story, items, whatever). And don't say, "it doesn't hurt you". There's a cogent post above that explains why out-of-game markets for in-game items poses a real threat to the structure of the game (in a word: farming).

    Why do people buy these items? Because they aren't willing to invest the time (even in WoW, which is a much friendlier game from a time perspective)? So, why don't they just get it more slowly? Because they want it now. Because they don't want to be left behind, put at a disadvantage. Just play the damned game!

    Stop rationalizing and attacking people who're trying to make an honest buck/Two-Handed Sword +1 in this world. Two "fuck you"s don't make a right.
  • by Lachek (584890) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:44PM (#11682198)
    The issue with IGE is not that they are selling virtual goods and currency, be that legal or not according to the license agreement they signed. It is my belief that the majority of /.ers would be quite hypocritical if they started frantically pointing fingers at EULAs and calling witch (when was the last time you followed an EULA, or even bothered to read one?).
    The issue is that IGE and Thottbot may be connected at the hip. As the poster pointed out, having a 99% up-to-date database of EVERYTHING in the game (and I mean EVERYTHING - if you haven't visited thottbot.com, do so now, it is a truly amazing project) is a huge benefit to a virtual currency trader. Now, even that may very well be defended, as thottbot as well as the plugin for thottbot provides useful services that I wouldn't mind someone profiting from, BUT -
    there has been no transparency in this process. Users who use the thottbot plugin believes they are gathering information for a community of users, while in fact they are gathering information for a private company with a profit motive. They may be gathering more information than they believe. They are, in effect, deceived and taken advantage of.

    If the allegations are true, then the guy will lose all credibility - people will stop using IGE and stop gathering intel for thottbot. If he had come out immediately and said "Feel free to use our UI plugin to gather intel for thottbot. If you like it, why don't you show your support by buying some gold at IGE?" this would not have been a problem.
  • by Otto (17870) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:11PM (#11682594) Homepage Journal
    The problem here is basically one of game design. Most games that suffer from the unending inflation problem would have eventually suffered from it anyway. Methods of cheating can make the situation occur faster, as can ebay type trading of items for real-world money, but the problem exists regardless of these aspects. And if the game would designed with some real thought put into it the problem in the first place, it wouldn't happen.

    There's little difference between the game economics and economics in the real world. And that simply is that when you have too much frickin' currency or other "value" lying about, then prices go through the roof.

    Most MMOG games have added trading of gold and items between players, as well as sometimes making it easy for players to set up their own shops and such, but without careful monitoring of the background economics of the world, inflation is inevitable. Especially when wealth is automatically generated.

    First, think of the economy as a closed system. You have so many items in the game and you have so much wealth in the game. Prices remain relatively stable, based mainly on rarity of the items and rarity of the currency. Adding *anything* to this system causes a change to the system as a whole:
    -Adding more players to this closed system increases demand thus increasing prices.
    -Adding more currency to the system increases the prices, as gold is now more common, and prices increase to take that into account.
    -Adding more items to the system causes prices to drop, as the rarity of each item is reduced.

    In some of these games, no actual thought seems to have been given to the concept of balance.

    If the amount of cash currently in the world gets too high, you have heavy inflation. To balance it off, you need to remove cash from the world.

    Ideally you do this through cash sinks, such as one time upgrades, or by having methods whereby people have to repair their equipment occassionally (which is a temporary measure only, as the value from the cash is really converted into the extended life of the equipment they're using), or by some other method which encourages people to spend that cash. Or you reduce the amount of cash they get from battles. Or eliminate cash creation from battles entirely and have monsters get their cash by defeating players with cash and stealing theirs. This basically just moves cash around instead of creating it from nothingness.

    Items are forms of value too. Have items get destroyed every so often. That shield won't last forever, you know. Armor wears down over time. Swords don't stay sharp forever. That sort of thing. Force players to discard items for better/newer ones, and make 'em pay for the priviledge. Wearing down items is removing value from the world as well, so make sure you have it there to balance out whatever value you're adding to the world.

    Of course, in order to avoid inflation from increased demand, you need to add cash/items to the system when new players come into the game. So just randomly add some set amount of cash/items to monsters whenever there's added players.

    Allowing infinite cash holdings is no good either, as a few strong players with nothing better to do can take control of your economy. Implement taxation on player owned businesses. Implement armies of tax collectors with muscle from the local king to go beat up and steal some cash from the richest players. Hell, run a revolution if you have to make it clear to the users that they need to band together to defeat the evil rich bastard up on the hill that's fucking up the game. Whatever it takes to redistribute that wealth away from the rich.

    Done properly, this sort of thing will eliminate problems with off-game auctions, because wealth being redistributed in the game won't cause inflation problems.
  • by SenorAmor (719735) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:31PM (#11682853)
    IGE owns Thott which has a huge database of characters and a LOT of information relating to those characters. IGE looks at the information and sees patterns. Patterns of people fighting in certain areas. Patterns of people getting drops from certain areas. Patterns of people NOT getting drops from those areas. Using this data, they know exactly what to farm and what to market (advertise) to the masses. IMO, this is no different than spyware generating popups on your computer. It's immoral, underhanded, and sneaky. I, for one, am glad this was brought to my attention. While I've always had the thott plugin disabled (as I always thought it was like spyware), now I know there's an underhanded company behind it, and I'll be sure to suggest to everyone I meet to disable it.

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