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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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  • Ogaming and Thottbot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LearningHard (612455) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @02:52PM (#11679790) Journal
    Ogaming ownd Thottbot for world of warcraft also btw. So IGE owns Thottbot which has information on almost every player ingame. To go even farther Thott setup Thottbot and worked on Cosmos in closed beta which means IGE has been in closed beta.

    Frankly this looks very disturbing to me. I'm not saying IGE is going to break into accounts. I'm saying they are getting lots of information they can sort to find the best spots to farm various items and then use that to flood the market. I for one will not be using thottbot any longer.

    • As some one who doesn't play these sorts of games, I'm a little confused about the issue here. What are these people doing wrong?
      • Re:Non-player (Score:2, Informative)

        by YomikoReadman (678084)
        IGE hasn't specifically done anything in violation of the TOS. However, they provide a sell point for people within the game to sell items and ingame currency for real world currency.

        As you profess to play MMOs, I'll assume you've read through the Terms of Service(ToS). Unlike a shrink wrap EULA, this is a perfectly binding, legal contract which you are required to follow in order to use the service. One of the common, yet usually unenforced clauses is that you will not resell ingame content as it is p

      • They exchange game currency and items for real money. I.e., people with lots of real-world money can achieve in games what normally takes hard-working players a long time to accomplish.

        It's an arrangement that works out well for the buyers, but is annoying for other players. I actually knew someone who ago (before they banned it) determined that he was making about 5$ an hour selling Everquest stuff on Ebay.
        • 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.

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

            Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on.
            • Re:Non-player (Score:3, Informative)

              by Surlyboi (96917)
              Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on.

              Sadly, there's no such thing as a level playing field in Universities either. If you're rich and stupid, you can get by in any University. I've seen in in the Ivy League, I've seen it in the Pac10. Does is suck? Of course it d
            • Re:Non-player (Score:3, Informative)

              by flibuste (523578)

              Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on

              Obviously you never had to work full time to pay your studies. That is where the analogy is. Some are rich enough to provide few efforts to get the same thing that poorer people cannot afford without huge efforts.

              It's also a

              • Yep, it always killed me when I was working 20 - 30 hours a week and going to college to pull B's C's and D's when my rich friends would drive their Beamers their dads got them to school, and get straight A's because they had the *time* to get straight A's.

                I think thats a good analogy :)

              • PLEASE. Stop making excuses for people who have to work in college.

                I (and all of my friends in college) worked 20-30 hours a week, and took 15-18 hours per semester for four years. (Plus 6-9 hours per summer session, and fulltime employment at the same time).

                I also maintained a 3.9 GPA and am *very* successful at what I do. As are my friends.

                If you didn't get the grades you thought you'd get in college, look towards yourself. Stop blaming others, or talking about how it was too hard or impossible because
              • Actually, I worked 20-30 hours a week doing tech support for a major ISP throughout my four (ok five, but I have reasons) year engineering degree.

                And yes the students that didn't have to work did have better grades then me. But it didn't make them more successful then me post-graduation, because what I learned from my work experience and my ability to work 70 hours a week without sweating it made it possible to move ahead of the others in my university once I hit the job market.

                Here's an adjusted analogy:
          • 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.
      • I play WoW regularly and I really don't see the problem here either. They've used a wide network of volunteers to build a comprehensive database of all the items, quests, creatures, and NPCs in the game. Sure, IGE could use this data to set exchange rates, but they could get it anyway, even if someone else was behind the project, because all of their data has been made available to the public.

        Anyway, with thottbot's site claiming to run 40 servers, I'm suprised nobody tried to follow the money sooner.

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

        by Doc Creep (855754)

        Thottbot [thottbot.com] is a very useful web site containing data about in-game items, quests, monsters, classes, player profiles, skills, etc. in World of Warcraft.

        How did they get this data? One of the more popular add-ons for World of Warcraft is called Cosmos [cosmosui.org]. One of the many features of Cosmos is a plugin to Thottbot so that information that your player sees gets uploaded to Thottbot to improve Thottbot's data - if you see monster X at coordinates Y,Z and no one else has, Thottbot now knows that monster X can p

        • Somewhat related was that 800 accounts across all the servers in FFXI were banned last night, mainly for participating in currency selling along the lines of what IGE does. Some of said accounts were most definitely tied to IGE.
      • Re:Non-player (Score:2, Insightful)

        by captwheeler (573886)
        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

      • >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
    • I for one will not be using thottbot any longer.

      Not use, or not contribute to?

      There's no advertising on the site, so they aren't directly making money from it. In fact, every map burns bandwidth, so every person who uses it without contributing is a loss for them.

      I remember bandwidth issues during Open Beta, and I figured that for them to handle access from a portion of 5,000 players to a portion of 500,000 (or whatever) the original guys just bought space on someone else, or had it donated to th
      • by Xzzy (111297)
        > There's no advertising on the site, so they aren't directly making money from it.

        They are ironing out an advertising system. I caught a banner ad a week or so ago, and whatever poor server was serving them up quickly choked because the whole site was grinding to a halt.

        30 minutes later the ads were gone and thottbot was responsive again.

        Do a dns query on 'ads.thottbot.com'. ;)
    • They (IGE) sell items, accounts, and gold for various games including World of Warcraft. This is expressly against the ToS Blizzard makes you sign. Blizzard has cancelled several auctions and sales through ebay and other sources but have done nothing about IGE's business. IGE's owner at one point in an interview mistakenly admits to having contact with the developers and producers of several of the games they deal with. To me this makes me think maybe there is collusion between IGE and some game publishers.
  • Bad day for IGE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @02:53PM (#11679802) Journal
    I'm a regular FFXI player. I just noticed an announcement regarding the suspension of accounts of known violators of the TOS on PlayOnline (the DRM-client-thingy that FFXI runs through). So I log in, do a few searches and not one of the usual known gil-sellers on my server is online. I wonder how badly this is going to hurt their margins.
  • by Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @02:53PM (#11679813)
    ... a faint trace of Brownian motion disturbs the surface of a tea-cup a billion trillion light years away.
  • 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.
  • by Drey (1420) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:01PM (#11679912) Homepage
    Google's cache still has the page which is now mysteriously blank.

    http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:s7q2fzgQjeM J: www.ogaming.com/data/2115~VIPClub.php+thottbot+oga ming&hl=en
  • by Telastyn (206146) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:03PM (#11679931)
    So, let me get this straight...

    People will try and exploit other people for profit.
    People will release closed source software that does more than advertised.
    People in MMORPGs are asshats, and cause the more honest MMORPG players harm.

    Right. Thanks for the heads up, I -never- would've known...
  • Conspiracy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:04PM (#11679940) Journal
    If everyone gets banned off ebay within an hour of their MMORPG item listing, but one seller mysteriously has 10 pages of gold selling on every sever, what do you think is the case. Especially considering the amount of gold being sold would be impossible to obtain without the main company creating it. Also consider this seller is selling this same style for two different MMORPGS(DAOC/AO).

    My only guess is that some MMORPGS give selling rights and items to select individuals for a deal. I've done the math, the market this guy had was $100,000 a month, so it wasn't so trivial a company would ignore it.

    So don't be suprised if these sellers are actually 'financed' in virtual goods by the MMORPG companies themselves. The key is that they don't want the public to find out or it could negatively impact the MMORPG's image.
    • Re:Conspiracy (Score:3, Interesting)

      This reminds me of something that happened in Ultima Online a while back.

      Some time ago, a GM, who went by the name Darwin, was creating millions of gold and selling them on eBay. Eventually, he was discovered because there was no way that any one person could have so much gold on so many different servers.

      He was fired right after the news broke.
  • 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!

    • I take it you never played lineage 2?
    • Re:Reputations (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot@frMENCK ... com minus author> 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
      • Thanks for your answer. That makes a lot of sense!

        On an entirely different issue, saying "hey are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?" is just stupid.

        What's stupid? It's legal - is all! I cannot change that! And I am not commenting on wherether it should be or not.

        Even if you don't think selling items/gold from MMORPGs on eBay immoral,

        Being "moral" has nothing to do with laws, and that is in many case unfortunate. I am not arguing about the morality of it.

        saying that it'

        • Ethics and Morals (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wtrmute (721783)
          Actually, you're confusing ethics and morality. Morality is what society says is right. Therefore, society as a whole frowns on, say, cheating on your boyfriend/girlfriend, and calls it immoral, even if there's no specific law against it (cheating on your spouse, OTOH, is another matter). Ethics, however, is the province of what is actually right or wrong, irrespective of society. Because people typically do not agree perfectly on what is right or wrong, one person's view of ethics will be different fro
        • You're right. I jumped the gun by making assumptions about what you thought, and I'm sorry.

          What I took from your originial post was that there shouldn't be any fuss because it was legal, and I was objecting to that concept. I still stand by what I said, but I do appologize if I went beyond that and misrepresented what you said and, from rereading your original post, do think I went a bit too far.

          -Trillian
      • 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.

        If this is really true, then inflation is simply inevitable. The amount of cash in the game always increases because the total amount of time players spend in game always increases. Unless the number of players increases accordingly, inflati
    • Re:Reputations (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ewhac (5844)
      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?

      Sounds disquietingly like the morality of a spammer.

      Schwab

      • Re:Reputations (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flibuste (523578)

        Sounds disquietingly like the morality of a spammer.

        Or other corporations. Whatever they are: PROFIT!

        And I agree, it's disgusting logic, but it is the way it works in our world, isn't it? You cannot deny that fact, like it or not.

  • IGE: The MMMORPG. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:10PM (#11680005)
    MMMORPG: As in, "Meta-MMORPG".

    Let us take for example you invite your friend and myself to your house to play Monopoly . I land on park place and buy it. Your friend then lands on Boardwalk. I offer your friend 5 real life dollars to sell Boardwalk to me, and he does. I now have an in game advantage. Does this behavior undermine the spirit of the game?

    It undermines the spirit of the game "Monopoly". It does not undermine the spirit of the meta-game being played by (in this case) Parker Brothers against other board game manufacturers. If being able to buy Boardwalk for $5 makes Monopoly more fun to play, odds are greater that I'll buy Monopoly. (And if it makes Monopoly suck, I'll be less likely to buy the game.)

    IGE (and SOE and Blizzard) are all playing the same MMMORPG, the object of which is to use the MMORPG market to make RL money. MMORPG Producers sell the ability to play WOW, SWG, EQ, EQ2, and so on. IGE sells the ability to more easily play the aforementioned properties.

    If the MMMORPG were a game of Monopoly, I would start with representations of sheep (gamers), squares (producers such as SOE or Blizzard), houses/hotels (properties such as SWG or WoW), credits (dollars), bling (in-game loot, in-game credits), and bits (software).

    The market has yet to the extent to which folks like IGE make MMORPGs "more" or "less" fun. Consequently, MMORPG producers are still experimenting with the question of whether to ban eBaying for credits, or to encourage it. (An interesting question: how many dollars would you have paid SOE for a Jedi out of the box, rather than craptastically grinding your way through a year and a half of, umm, craptastic grinding, only to find... well, more craptastic grind at the end of the tunnel?)

    The MetaMMORPG - how to get the most bucks from the gamer, while not completely eliminating the fun and thereby killing the goose that laid the golden egg - has just begun. Game on.

  • 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?
    • > 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.

      Nope, because the bit that actually submits the data is a binary executable. Not within the reach of average users to identify what that program is doing.
    • Somethings:

      The thottbot add-on is obfuscated, meaning that while you can still figure out what is being sent, you'd have to spend alot of time working on it to be sure.

      I don't believe in selling items or characters when the company running the game specificly prohibits it. But I do consider contributing to game sites that work similar to thottbot simply being a good citizen.

      I contributed to both sites that had plugins to allow them to collect data. Now I only contribute to Alkazam. I don't like people wh
  • Hey, Children! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical.gmail@com> 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.
    • If I had mod points, I'd mod this guy up. He's a little inflammatory, but underneath it is a nut of truth - that the people complaining are basically those that have tons of time and nothing to do with it, and those using the service have money because they work their asses off. I can basically only play WoW on weekends. I am level 23 and happy with my progress - I don't play every weekend and I don't play all weekend. WoW has some built in properties to limit farming anyway - the best equipment comes f
    • Hey cynical child! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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 che
      • 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.

        There is no such thing as equal footing in these games. Generally whoever plays more will be better off. Sure, you can say that one day you'll get sword of pwning, but by then sword of pwning +2 will be out. No one is on equal footing in the game world just like in life.
    • Re:Hey, Children! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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'
    • Who said that any of this is about fairness?

      For me, it's about not contributing to a company I despise. In my past experiences, IGE has done everything they can to monopolize the economy and ruin the game for anyone who doesn't buy currency from them. Why would I knowingly want to support (directly or indirectly) a company like that?
    • One day you'll realise that MMORPGs are serivces, and as such they have a right to set terms. They can disallow the selling of in game items on externals forums if they want. They are fully justified in canceling your acocunt without refund, and possibly even suing you for partaking in this activity.

      However, that aside, here's what I really want to know: Why would you pay someone else to play a game for you? That's what you are doing, you realise. When you buy items, gold, etc you are paying another person
      • In games it's not the destination, it's the journey. I mean for single player games I could just order my system to play the ending sequence and be done with it. Well that's not the reason to have them, the reason is for the entertainment that leads up to that ending. It's just a minor payoff. I don't play a game because it has an awesome ending, with nothing inbetween, I play it because it's a fun ride, and if the ending sucks oh well.

        Exactly!

  • 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.
  • So....do you? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flibuste (523578) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:18PM (#11680084)

    Among all the slashdotters having high opinions on that topic, WHO actually has the experience of using such a "service" to advance in a game?

    As a hard-core player who just doesn't have time to play, I'm curious what exactly you really gain from it. Satisfaction? Time? What?

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

      by CoderBob (858156)
      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 i

  • 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.
    • IGE is helping people circumvent a contract they agreed to. The contract specifically states that stuff (goods and currency) in-game cannot be sold for real currency.

      Legal? Probably. After all, IGE didn't agree to the contract, they're acting as a middle man.

      Ethical? Not in my beliefs. Helping someone break a contract they agreed to is not ethical, and is no more ethical than providing an alibi for someone who is cheating on a spouse. Assisting someone in breaking a lawful and binding agreement is n
    • I fail to see how intentionally violating a EULA is either legal or ethical.

      It's obvious that you have no experience with IGE and it's "farmers". They dominate an entire area 24/7 griefing legit players and monopolizing the market/economy. If you want to get anywhere in the game, you have no choice but to buy from them. They've ruined several MMORPGs and are intent on ruining more in the name of making a buck.

      I'm glad that more people are becoming aware of these "hidden ties" so they can stop unintentiona
    • MMORPGs are services, not goods. Well I suppose they are a combination, in that the media you buy for the game is a good, however the game itself is a service. You pay a monthly fee for access to their game servers. Part of a service is that they may set terms on that service. They aren't required to let you do whatever you want. you are free not ot use their service if you don't like the terms, but you have to abide by the terms if you want to use it.

      Well, one of the terms I've seen in EVERY MMORPG I've e
  • by Gondola (189182) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:41PM (#11680339)
    I don't begrudge the selling of accounts or in-game items. I think that if someone wants to leave a game and get rid of their in-game resources and make a few bucks, that's cool.

    The problem arises when people make this a full-time job. They create new accounts or acquire them, then strip them or build them up, then sell them. One person sits in his room with 12 computers all running a program called MacroQuest farming high level items.

    When this happens, the game is flooded by materials churned out at a rate much higher than would naturally occur, and the in-game economy suffers.
  • 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."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:58PM (#11680574)
    There are purists, who play for the love of the game, who love the staisfaction of a job well done and knowing "everything I have, I earned it through patience and time." These are the people who play MMORPG's in character, who don't ask others to guide them through quests without having to do the work.

    There are (believe it or not) other people in the world, who just like to kick a**. Never mind whether I earned it or not--I want to be able to play with the shiny cool toy. These are the people who love first person shooters, with the cheat codes on please.

    I don't think one group is inherently better or worse than the other. They simply have different objectives in "what they want in the gaming experience." Given that objectives vary, this seems primed for self-selection. Set up "purist" servers and "wahoo" servers, "nice" servers and "wild wild west" servers. Different rules for behavior and language, different levels of enforcement. And let players choose where to play (or, at least, which kind of server to play on).

    Someone selling gold on a "purist" server will not have much of a market, and so won't bother--they'll be selling on the "wahoo" servers, where there is a larger customer base more willing to pay.

    Of course, the issue here is with lamerz, who will play on the purist server just to be a jerk to everyone, hoping for a bigger reaction. But my argument is that having different levels of behavior being tolerated on different servers makes it easier to enforce rules--"purist" servers have less open tolerance of such behavior, so it's easier to ban or otherwise sanction players who don't abide...
    • While good in theory, I worry you may be underestimating, or perhaps mis-reading the 'lamerz' category.

      If the desire for the purchased equipment is simply to make the game easier, be a little more powerful just to kill that one monster that's been bugging you, then the self segregation would work out fine.

      However, if the desire for the purchased equipment is rooted in the desire to appear better than the other players, then a problem arises. On the 'wahoo' servers, everyone is playing by the 'buy you
  • 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.
    • I use Thottbot (the website), but I don't use the Cosmos UI (my fiance does, however). Oftentimes while playing on my gaming rig, I'll have my laptop open to the site for reference. So, anyone (in its present non-subscription state) can use Thottbot information, and I don't consider that an unfair advantage. I don't have to use it often, but there are those rare times that a quest description is kinda vague (or even kinda wrong), and no one in the general channel knows the answer to my question (oftentim
    • No, because I don't believe the terms of service of most MMORPGs restrict creating websites containing game info. They do however cover selling in game property. The problem is one of rules. This is cheating, because the rules say it is. The rules however don't guarantee a level playing field. I realize that lots of people have advantages over me. They can play more, maybe they have a strong group of friends that can assist them. Maybe they just are better at this game than me. I accept that, becaus
    • It's a service, so they have a right to set rules on its use and deny people access if they violate those. If they choose to disallow selling items for real money, that's their right. Cheating is basically however they define it.
  • Too many who say this behavior is right will not acknowledge they are changing the rules of the game. This might not be cheating per se but as the "ref" I can see how Bliz, SOE, etc. are perturbed by having their rules changed out from under them.

    Another anology that works better than the Monopoly one is that these MMOGs have constructed rules much like the line at McD's. Everyone gets in line and waits for their turn. The problem with IGE and their bunch is that they cater to the people who don't want
  • You all are missing the point entirely.

    The point isn't that someone that paid his way through the game without having to farm any money or items at all is now level 60.

    The point is the economy will go bad from it. What happens when a good third of the players that are under level 60 have a damn near infinite pool of money they can buy?

    Everything they need is going to be bought from the AH at whatever price they can find it. People see they can get more for junk, and prices go up.

    Pretty soon its 25 gol
  • by Lachek (584890)
    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 ga
  • The authenticity of this story is hard to prove or disprove at this point

    I would say that the subject of this post is hard to understand at this point.

  • 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.

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