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Role Playing (Games)

Blizzard Drops the Hammer on Gold Farmers 245

Posted by Zonk
from the indescriminate-justice dept.
evviva writes "Blizzard has kept its word and finally closed over one thousand accounts related to gold-farming and character sales. It was about time!" The post reads: "Over the recent weeks we have been investigating the activities of certain individuals who have been farming gold in order to sell it in exchange for real world currency. After researching the situation, we have issued permanent suspensions to over one thousand accounts that have been engaging in this practice. We do not condone such actions and will take decisive action as they are against our policy and damage the game economy as a whole.""
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Blizzard Drops the Hammer on Gold Farmers

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  • Even Playing Field (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:23AM (#11924679)
    That makes it interesting, as they'll be one of the first MMORPG's to truly enforce an even playing field. While many companies do not condone the sale of in-game items, most allow for the sale of an individual's "time and effort" put into recieving those items. Seems like a fine line, and I'm glad Blizzard chose not to cross it.
    • by interiot (50685) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:45AM (#11924734) Homepage
      There's a huge difference between someone selling a major item or two, every once in a while, or even selling their character once they stop playing the game... and people who SET UP ENTIRE COMPANIES and employee lots of people who PLAY ACCOUNTS 24/7 and whose sole purposes is to sell in-game currency for US dollars, and who do it on an industrial scale. People who pay chinese people to do absolutely mindless boring repetitive tasks, on an industrial scale, force games to move in the direction of mindless/repetitive/boring. This is a GAME. It should be ENTERTAINING. In-game economies should not merge with the real-life economy.
      • by saurik (37804) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @08:15AM (#11925306) Homepage
        Does that make any sense at all? "People who pay chinese people to do absolutely mindless boring repetitive tasks, on an industrial scale, force games to move in the direction of mindless/repetitive/boring." It should do the exact opposite! There is no point in playing a game that involves doing mindless/repetitive/boring things. If the people who make games don't like this, they should _remove the mindless/repetitive/boring things from their games_. Don't try to outlaw the market: make it irrelevant. Banning the accounts of people who take advantage of what is really an insightful opportunity simply to maintain the status quo of crappy games is about as stupid as putting into effect a law that states that people can't talk about exploits in software because noone wants to fix them.
        • Also, the more likely one will get banned for it, the more likely it will get scammed - see Lineage II.
        • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @08:36PM (#11929006)
          Don't try to outlaw the market: make it irrelevant.

          Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

          Star Wars Galaxies, for example, originally tried to make the route to becoming a Jedi so incredibly difficult and unpalatable that few would go through with the task. (You had to master several professions which were selected by the game, whether you were actually interested in those professions or not.) The idea was that when the task was made so difficult that nobody would intentionally *try* to complete it, the result would be that only the few who happened to pick their combination by accident would succeed.

          Of course, this didn't work. People were so enamored with becoming uber leet Jedi that they would suffer through the intense boredom to crank out professions on a character they would never play again after they opened their Jedi character slot.

          Now, I realize that you're saying that without the mindless/boring tasks in the first place, this would never develop. But the problem is that there will always be the *possibility* of undertaking even a fun task in the most boring way possible. I honestly don't believe that it's possible to design a game that makes the fun way equal to the most time-efficient way while maintaining persistence.

          So, people who don't play the game for the journey but rather "for teh win" will always take the quickest, most boring route. If they can make it even quicker by spending money on it, they will. The best way to stem this problem is to take care of it on the supply-side.

        • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @08:59PM (#11929097)
          There is no point in playing a game that involves doing mindless/repetitive/boring things. If the people who make games don't like this, they should _remove the mindless/repetitive/boring things from their games_.

          This is a very very very hard problem. You don't see people making comments like "coal is inefficient, so why aren't you jokers using cold fusion?!?"
        • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Monday March 14, 2005 @12:09AM (#11929965)
          Don't try to outlaw the market: make it irrelevant.

          You have a partial point. From a naive, short-term perspective, it would be easy for Blizzard to make those businesses irrelevant. The administrators of a game server can always undercut a 3rd party seller. Whatever price is offered for gold on ige.com (currently $0.21 each), Blizz can beat with no effort (and, they have untouchable advertising positioning and established billing arrangements with the customers).

          But in the longer term, legitimizing the sale of gold (or other in-game resources) will devastate the MMORPG business model. Players are attracted by 3 factors:
          1. Artwork. An initial attraction that doesn't last long.
          2. Achievement. The virtual Skinner-box model.
          3. Association. The 3d-accelerated chat window.

          Each stage feeds into the next. If the "Achievement" of step 2 were available on the open market, players will do one of two things depending on their personal wealth: Rich players will pay the money, get the ultimate stuff, and then be bored with the game 2 weeks later. Poor players will look at the effort they're spending, see that rich people can buy past it for a few bucks, get discouraged, and quit the game.

          Either way, putting a visible price tag on the results of playtime makes it seem less like entertainment and more like a job. Customers don't pay to work at a job.

          In a way, this is just revealing the game for what it is: a non-fun level grind. One might say that the optimal solution would be for Blizzard to publish a better game, that will be enjoyable for the journey itself, and not just the tantalizing destination. But it would take major leaps of artistry and technology to accomplish that, and the development cost would likely appear prohibitive.
          • In a way, this is just revealing the game for what it is: a non-fun level grind. One might say that the optimal solution would be for Blizzard to publish a better game, that will be enjoyable for the journey itself, and not just the tantalizing destination. But it would take major leaps of artistry and technology to accomplish that, and the development cost would likely appear prohibitive.
            It would require a change to the psychology of players, which isn't going to happen. Pretty much the only difference
          • But in the longer term, legitimizing the sale of gold (or other in-game resources) will devastate the MMORPG business model. Players are attracted by 3 factors:
            1. Artwork. An initial attraction that doesn't last long.
            2. Achievement. The virtual Skinner-box model.
            3. Association. The 3d-accelerated chat window.


            There could and should be also:
            4. Challenge. It takes playerskill to take down a monster.

            Unfortunately, all MMORPGs seem to fall short on this one. Even Neocron, which is closest to a FPS
        • by hikerhat (678157) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:51AM (#11932024)
          There's a difficult balance here though. A game would be no fun if it was so hard to get rich in the game that it would take a single person years to get the good stuff. That would only be fun for the true fanatic. The game would go out of business. But a game would need to be that had to prevent farming.

          If you make it easy enough that it only takes a few months to get the good stuff, well, then it is cheap enough to hire people to farm the good stuff and sell it on ebay, but still difficult enough that there would be a demand to buy the high level stuff on ebay. At the same time the challenge level in the game would be enough to keep many players playing.

          If you make it so easy to get the good stuff that there would be no demand for it on ebay then there would be no farming, but the game would be so easy that nobody would want to play. Again the game would go out of business.

          Anyway, finding the economic sweet spot where there is no demand for buying high level stuff with real-world cash might not be possible. The only option left is to try to artificially regulate the economy.

          Imposing some sort of regulation on the market isn't unrealistic or 'OOC' anyway. In the real world truly free markets don't work either. That's why we have real world economic regulation, unions, etc.

        • > "People who pay chinese people to do absolutely mindless boring repetitive tasks, on an industrial scale, ... Welcome to the US, and almost every other western country. Look at the "made in..." tags on almost anything you buy today.
        • It's just a feeling I have that's the combination of a couple different things...

          One is that Blizzard's initial response to chinese farming was to making the professions "Fishing" and "Cooking" basically worthless. You could still do those professions, but there was basically little point in doing so. So chinese farmers had the indirect effect of making something that was previously enjoyable now not enjoyable.

          Second is that... people play games to escape the real world. If we allow the real world e

      • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @12:09PM (#11926213)
        >do absolutely mindless boring repetitive tasks,

        Isn't this a description of the RPG gameplay?
      • Dey took our jabs!!
      • by Lisandro (799651) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @05:22PM (#11927959)
        Obligatory Penny Arcade link here. [penny-arcade.com]
    • by egarland (120202) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @11:04PM (#11929642)
      If by "even playing field" you mean one where kids who can play 95 hours/week can pwn me because they're level 72 and I'm only level 25 because I have a job and can't, then yes... they are making things more "even".

      The fact is, as long as you put barriors in place that can only be overcome with the investment of time, there will be people who pay someone else to overcome them. A game built around skill instead of time investment doesn't have this problem. You don't see this issue in any of the UT's or Quakes do you?
      • by wickedj (652189)
        You might want to give Guild Wars a try. Sure the big draw will be the no monthly fees but one thing I found interesting is they are trying to get rid of all the time-wasters.

        Instant free waypoints from place to place (no more gryphon riding)
        The max level cap is (currently in beta) 20.
        If you don't feel like building up to level 20, you can start with a prebuilt level 20 character.

        The way combat is set up is almost like a card game (ala Magic). You can earn a hundred skills but only have 8 or so slots to
    • Economies (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Markavian (867505)

      I think the whole idea of buying extra cash for an online game just plain sucks. You should play these sort of games for fun. I played the demo of WoW for 2 weeks and did find it utterly boring - addictive, but boring.

      They really do need to think about the economies - the better characters all have the best gear / weapons, and they basically hand it down to lower levels. You never see any low level people making stuff for high level creatures. Its all based around what gear you've got, your actual level

  • by chrislees (791927) <chrislees@gmail.com> on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:29AM (#11924696) Homepage
    Ruin my economy.THEY'RE the reason my gnome has been out of work for the past 6 months...
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:32AM (#11924705) Journal
    How can people with no skill ever hope to buy their way to the top? This is insane!
  • A losing battle? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@gmS ... com minus distro> on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:41AM (#11924725) Homepage Journal
    If one sits down and thinks what real-world money represents, it means time and effort owed. The one and only thing each of us truly own is our time; money allows us to trade our time for someone else's time (that they spend making games, growing food, running the gov't, etc for us). It's only natural to expect that people will want to trade the time they spend in game for other people's time in the form of money (I'll beat the level 6 boss for you if you'll wash my car).

    Gold mining has been around since Ultima Online (AFAIK) and no one's ever been able to stop it. What makes Blizzard so sure they can? Perhaps an even better question, what makes the virtual property in WoW unlike other virtual property we trade for (like the fees to allow use of a movie or game)? What good or bad comes from allowing players to buy and sell virtual property in this way?

    And lastly: if the business is so lucrative, why haven't any of the companies themselves decided to sell "special" accounts to people and cash in on the money?
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:49AM (#11924747) Homepage Journal
      Because it makes the game shit which results in everyone leaving your game. To make a stupid analogy, what you're asking is similar to asking why golf clubs don't offer a for-pay service to knock your ball closer to the hole before your competitors get close to the green.
    • Game definition. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Inoshiro (71693) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @04:56AM (#11924906) Homepage
      "And lastly: if the business is so lucrative, why haven't any of the companies themselves decided to sell "special" accounts to people and cash in on the money?"

      When the game has it so that it takes time and effort to get ahead, getting ahead is valued. Once you can just spend a few shillings to become a grandmaster in some skill, it's not worth your time because you could just pay to be there. You'd never be exposed to the content, and most people would follow a path of lesser resistance and just pay to have higher level chars.

      Entertainment on this scale isn't open to everyone; it's open to the people it targets. If people beyond that target also enjoy it, more the better. Enjoying it isn't a right, and people shouldn't destroy parts of the in-game balance just so they can enforce their own ideas of how the game should unfold on it.
      • "most people would follow a path of lesser resistance and just pay to have higher level chars"

        Seeing as about the only reason to get to the higher levels is to experience the high level content once you have completed the low levels, it always struck me as odd that there are people who would want to just jump to the late game.
        I can understand someone who has already grinded a character up to high level wanting a shortcut for a second character.

    • by DingerX (847589) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @05:28AM (#11924971) Journal
      Well, shucks. If you design a game where being logged in and doing something mindless generates value, and where social status is determined by a simplicistic system of fancy items and levels, then yeah, you're going to have a market of people willing to do the mindless things to sell to the rest of the world.

      It's a basic problem with this design, especially in an open economy were cash and value are just spawned in game. I don't think you can effectively police it; and I doubt you can social-engineer the problem. But you could consider bringing economists in on your next game design session, and figure out how to make hoarding and transfer of resources unprofitable. For example, have a large closed economy where hoarded wealth beyond a certain quantity has to be stored in a PvP-friendly area of the game. Got a lot of cash? Well, it's gonna cost you security to store it. Suddenly cash farming, while still possible, costs three times as much (one person to collect, one person to guard, plus losses), and its value to the average player decreases considerably. But what do I know?
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @07:24AM (#11925205) Journal
        The idea is pretty good. Some people can spend an awfull lot of time in a game and worse they can stand to do all the time doing just 1 thing over and over to rake in the cash.

        It is similar to the "exploits" in single player rpgs where a mob keeps respawning to give in theory infinite xp. If you got the patience to kill the same mob, go through the same conversation, clear the same dungeon again and again.

        The problem is that most MMO designers are pretty clueless about basic economy (why do they insist on "repair" or whatever costs to get money out of the system instead of simple taxes?) but worse the few clever ones think that real world capatalism is the thing to emulate.

        Small problem is that capatalism isn't much fun for the majority wage slaves. In real life the wage slaves ain't got much choice but in game they do. They can stop paying and find something else to do.

        The problem is that unlike the real world it is very easy to calculate expenditure vs profit in an mmo. Weapon A costs so much but will allow me to gain that much profit in its lifetime that I make enough profit to buy a new one. In general the more powerfull a weapon the more costly but also the higher the return on investment. Result, in order to make a reasonable income you got to invest in good weapons meaning you have to do the money grind.

        MMO's need to stop thinking they are single player games, they need to stop thinking that real world economics work in a fun enviroment.

        Single player RPG economies are already screwed up enough. Or I am the only one swimming in unneeded and even unspendable money in games like Baldurs gate, Neverwinter Nights, Deus EX, Morrowind, etc etc. Add taxation and tax the high earners more. But at all costs avoid where a big enough group of superrich exists to ruin it for the rich. Or at least if you want this similarity of the real world add other things from the real world as well. REVOLUTION. Murderers and thiefs. Paternity suits and frivolous lawsuits.

        But frankly there are so many problems to fix with the MMO scene. First they should figure out a way for a game to remain fun for month after month without betting on the "maybe I will have fun with just 1 more level" element.

        But maybe a simple way of doing both is to decrease the reliance in combat on "super" weapons but instead make for a character depended weapon performance. Meaning that both a newbie and elite warrior use exactly the same weapon but the elite will just be better at it. No expensive gadgets needed then no need for gold to pay them. Focus on character development OVER gadget hoarding.

        Hard? Well yes and no. Both EQ2 and WoW apparently have added more involved combat. Expand on this.

        • Yep, the people who make MMORPGs for a living have no idea about online economies.. but you, random dude on Slashdot, has all the answers. Why do we even bother studying anything? All the answers are on Slashdot!
          • by Danse (1026) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @01:47PM (#11926678)

            Yep, the people who make MMORPGs for a living have no idea about online economies.. but you, random dude on Slashdot, has all the answers. Why do we even bother studying anything? All the answers are on Slashdot!

            He didn't offer an answer really. Merely some thoughts about the current systems and a few ideas for improvement. As for the professional MMORPG makers, name one that has done a better-than-mediocre job of creating an in-game economy. All of the games out there have very flawed systems, which is why we see so much of this stuff going on.

          • Why got QuantumQ a troll rating? (The parent of this post)

            He is absolutely right. There are allready research projects and Phd. programs about game economies and about the interconnection of game economies with real world economoies.

            Its one of he biggest issues in game designed during the last years.

            Designing a working game economie is "NOT EASY". The suggestions here make most of the time not much sense.

            Blizzard did a somewhat good job ... but accepted other dissadvantages on the other hand.

            I suggest
        • by DingerX (847589) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @10:04AM (#11925641) Journal
          Well, sure, it's easy as hell to sit back here and throw out ideas. Implementing them in a multimillion-dollar venture is a different story.
          But you're dead on about capitalism, if you take it in the sense of providing a free market with unrestrained controls on wealth.
          I'm not sure most gamers will want to play in a socialist worker's paradise either, though. There has to be the illusion of glory.

          You can certainly have taxes though, especially ones that can be bypassed using an expenditure of time several times the cost of the tax (e.g., toll bridges), or where a valued service is being offered (such as a secure two-party financial transaction).

          But there's more to economics than just free-market capitalism. Hell, you could create a game where any form of interest was considered illegal (since money is "dead"), and the official rules varied considerably from economics (they already do).
          Or you could use the classic technique employed in many marginal economies (such as illegal ones in federal penitentiaries), of using multiple currencies and "flipping" the exchange rates periodically. With a couple of monopolistic organizations (=run by the company) aware of when the flips are going to occur, the company can eliminate or severely reduce concentrations of wealth that it does not control. Besides, imagine the chaos of an ebay auction during the periods of wild currency fluctuations.
          What? My 400 quatloons are now worth peanuts?

          Ultimately, the problem is in your comment about character development vs. gadget hoarding. I've always preferred games that rely on skill and ability rather than supertoys, but the problem is not everybody has an equal shot at skill and ability. Let's face it, at any game based on such things, most people suck. And people play games to escape their own mediocrity. The advantages of time-based levelling and gadget-driven gameplay are A) like gambling you get intermittent positive feedback that keeps players addicted, B) Nobody's excluded on the basis of incompetence. Play long enough, and you'll get where you need to go. and C) It's really, really easy to write. Experience points, levels and level-based narratives. the only downside is that some people will pay to enjoy the social benefits of higher-levels (including that of seeming a bad-ass in front of one's peers), and to avoid the tedium of playing the game.
        • Most of the MMO designers I know are aware of basic economic principles. Heck, most companies have someone who is specifically tasked to make sure that the economy doesn't fall to pieces.

          The problem with expanded-skill based combat is that you must account for lag, which while not as bad as it used to be is still a reality in most MMPORPG's. You can't rely upon the skill and timing of the player, because lag throws that totally off. You could do combat on the local machine, but then you have all sorts o
          • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Monday March 14, 2005 @12:21AM (#11930008)
            You can't rely upon the skill and timing of the player, because lag throws that totally off.

            I think there are more important obstacles than lag which prevent player skill and reaction time from factoring more into combat resolution.

            1. There is the unfair distribution of "twitch gaming" skills in the customer population. MORPGs aim for the biggest possible market segment, and have partly succeeded with a old and more female user base than the average videogame. But if reaction time and mouse accuracy are required to do well, then the best players will be 14-year old males. Many of the other customers will lose interest.

            2. There is truth to the saying that "MMORPGs are chatrooms with pictures". Longterm players enjoy chatting with their teammates equally or more than playing the game. (Players often comment that the only reason they maintain a subscription is to keep playing with their established online friends, and not because the game itself is compelling). The slow-paced combat in today's MMORPGs allows players to engage in chat or other distractions without endangering their prospects for combat success.
        • The problem is that most MMO designers are pretty clueless about basic economy (why do they insist on "repair" or whatever costs to get money out of the system instead of simple taxes?) but worse the few clever ones think that real world capatalism is the thing to emulate.
          Using "repair" or housing as money sinks can fit within the context of the alternate world. How would your "tax" be implemented, what if the player doesn't want to pay, and how would you be able to implement within the context of the g
        • It is similar to the "exploits" in single player rpgs where a mob keeps respawning to give in theory infinite xp. If you got the patience to kill the same mob, go through the same conversation, clear the same dungeon again and again.

          I'd argue that this isn't an "exploit" at all. Controlling your own power level (whether RPG levels or Super Metroid energy tanks) is a built-in way to set challenge level. Often a second time through an RPG you won't get lost, and thus will gain fewer levels, thus making the

        • why do they insist on "repair" or whatever costs to get money out of the system instead of simple taxes?

          Are you serious? Can you imagine what the message boards would look like if they did something like that? Can you imagine how many people would quit?

          Games are supposed to be a fun diversion in which one can leave real-world issues behind. Would you really want to accumulate wealth in a game, only to have it taken away? And, more importantly, do you think the subscriber base would stand for it?

          No

        • (why do they insist on "repair" or whatever costs to get money out of the system instead of simple taxes?)

          Because it's not just money you want to keep out of the system, it's items. If items last forever, then the economy eventually gets glutted, and even the best equipment is pocket change.

          There's also a practical reason: Those items are all data. That data has to be stored on the servers. More items means more data, which means less space on the server and more data being pushed around when people clic
      • by Malor (3658) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @12:27PM (#11926285) Journal
        The only way to stop people buying commodities is to ensure they have no value. In other words, to prevent people from trading them, they have to be useless. If they're useless, why are they in the game at all?

        When there are such enormous disparities in income in the real world, and all characters can generate resources at about the same rate, the 'cheap' people will sell things to the 'expensive' people. That is just how things work.

        Ultimately, it's not about commodities. Instead, it's about time. All of the MMORPGs are designed to be time sinks. That is, you spend a lot of time doing things that are 'less fun' (in theory at least) to gain the ability to do things that are 'more fun'. So people buy their way out of the 'less fun' time using real money.

        The only way the Chinese people will not be able to find a way to sell their cheap time is if the game experience and items have no value. If time you have previously invested has no real bearing on time you spend later, there's nothing to trade for.

        As long as the games continue to be designed as time sinks, then some method of selling the cheap Chinese time will be present. Even if you can't trade items, they could trade time helping you level up your characters. The only way to avoid it is to remove all value from time invested. Given the current design of MMORPGS, that means to make the game no fun.

        Personally, I'll take a game that's fun and has gold farmers.
        • The only way the Chinese people will not be able to find a way to sell their cheap time is if the game experience and items have no value.

          Why are you so convinced of this? How difficult do you think it is to write a script that detects trades of say...50G for no items in return? Then you just create a graph and arbitrarily decide that anyone at the center of that graph, say someone who's given free money to more than 10 different persons is designated a farmer, and then just ban those accounts?

          Blizzard
          • by MBraynard (653724)
            Your sig suggests that I could find more reality in a Lewis Carrol novel than in your worldview, but I'll bite anyway.

            The problem with your description is that it will inevitably lead to false positives - someone who spends a lot of time getting gold and trading it to other players. It would also miss a lot of folks - the result of making tasks more difficult is that they simply challenge the macro writers even more. Known a good deal about what in-game macros are capable of - I can assure you that it will

            • Your sig suggests that I could find more reality in a Lewis Carrol novel than in your worldview, but I'll bite anyway.

              Oh, well thanks for responding. It's always a pleasure to have a visitation from the condensending intellectuals club.

              The solution is to ensure that in-game activities require a human brain to engage in them.

              The problem with being so academic however is that you have very little experience with the subject matter you're referring to. The issue here is that a single individual can hi
              • You just end up in money-laundering schemes. In WoW, for instance, there's the auction house. If I want to buy a bunch of gold, I list an item for an unusually high amount of money, and they buy it. If someone else buys it first, then I really made out! I just list another item at the same stupidly high price.

                Any time you try to automate this kind of detection, people will find their way around it, and you will punish innocent people by trying to catch the guilty ones. Remember, the Chinese are just
      • Re:A losing battle? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dachannien (617929)
        The thing is, at least some of these games (including WoW) aren't mindlessly repetitive and boring. If you actually play the game with the intentions of enjoying it while you level up, you can have a lot of fun even if you aren't yet level 60 with tons of uber gear and a huge bank account.

        Unfortunately, our on-demand society has trained people from childhood to expect something now if enough cash is thrown at it. The result is that a game that's fun to play is reduced to (a) a game that is, for the gol
    • Thievery, murder, and child molestation have been around for time immemorial, but we still do everything we can to stop those activites, BECAUSE THEY ARE WRONG.

      A moral compass is not just another shiny bauble to hang from your watch chain.

      • BECAUSE THEY ARE WRONG

        I think there's a bit more flexibility in game worlds than in real life about what can or cannot be "WRONG WRONG WRONG". In real life, there's no way to implement genuine thievery or murder without someone losing their property or their life. Someone who probably didn't want to. In games, we have all sorts of games where you can't steal or kill (tic tac toe, for one), and other games where you can do plenty of it (Grand Theft Auto, anyone?) In neither case does playing the game c

    • "And lastly: if the business is so lucrative, why haven't any of the companies themselves decided to sell "special" accounts to people and cash in on the money?"

      AO and DAOC employed a gold seller, making $100,000/month over a few months.

      Everyone would be banned if they tried to sell something, but this guy with 3 pages of gold for every seller never got banned.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @06:18AM (#11925087) Journal
    It's good to see Blizzard taking real action on this. Hopefully, WoW hasn't been around long enough for there to have been serious damage to the economy already.

    Most of what I'm about to say is based on my experiences in FFXI, where there have also been well-publicised problems with money-selling and recent attempts by the GMs to crack down on it (yes, I tried WoW, but I didn't like it, so I went straight back). However, it should hold true for any MMORPG where you have to "farm" (be it by killing monsters, crafting items, fishing or whatever) to make in-game cash. Basically, the selling of in-game cash is one of the biggest cons I've ever encountered. Two basic reasons for this:

    First of all, as many posters have remarked in previous threads on this subject, all the gold/gil-sellers are selling you is a quantity of a virtual resource which has no independant physical or legal status. If Blizzard or Square-Enix go broke, the money you spent is lost. Ok, this isn't very likely. However... let's just say that the GMs decide to "evaporate" all the large sums of money that were transferred out of the characters who were suspended for selling money. This is one of the perfectly plausible responses they may choose to make. It'd be perfectly legal for them to do this, as it wouldn't be "real" money they were taking away and the player who bought the in-game money wouldn't have a leg to stand on, as he would have been in violation of the Terms of Service by buying the game-cash to begin with.

    The second reason why it's a huge con is more subtle. As many FFXI players have noticed, gil-sellers attempt monopolise some of the scarcer (yet still essential) items in the game. By doing so, they drive up inflation across the game. Chances are that a lot of the people who buy money from gil-sellers are people who feel (wrongly) that they need to buy the money in order to not get left behind this inflationary trend. In other words, gil-sellers often have to create a problem before they can milk it. If they didn't exist, the "need" for them would be greatly reduced. If you're wondering about the effect that gil-seller driven inflation has had on FFXI, it's instructive to keep an eye on the prices at www.ige.com (link provided for instructional purposes only, please don't buy anything and support them), who are the largest of the MMORPG-cash-and-items traders. I started watching these in October (and yes, I admit that this was largely due to wanting to gloat over how much my legitimately-obtained gear would sell for in real life). At that time, 1 million gil cost around $160 dollars. Today, you could buy 1 million gil for £36. The irony here is that the people who bought gil back in October essentially wasted their money and, if the trend continues, the same goes for people who buy it today.

    In short, the game-cash-for-real-money trade sucks. Don't do it and don't support it. Please.
    • by The-Bus (138060) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @10:06AM (#11925651)
      At that time, 1 million gil cost around $160 dollars. Today, you could buy 1 million gil for £36. The irony here is that the people who bought gil back in October essentially wasted their money and, if the trend continues, the same goes for people who buy it today.


      That, to me, doesn't make any sense. That's like saying today you are wasting your time spending $40,000 on a brand new BMW when you could've gotten one for $10,000 many years ago.

      Also, what you've described is actually currency deflation, as now each real US dollar buys MORE gil. If you mean items in-game are now more expensive, then yes, that is inflation (compared to gil). However, you didn't really mention that.

      The whole argument boils down to this:

      1. "I don't have the money to just buy a mansion with five Wherecats and +6 Pantaloons of Obedience."
      2. "I don't have the time to be unemployed and play the game for eight hours each day."

      The only way to combat this is to make the game fun at every level. Have being a Level 1 character be just as fun as being a Level 40 character. There will still be some people who, no matter what, still want to be a high level character to show off how cool they are but this works about as well as the idiot driving around in a yellow Hummer who thinks he's the cat's imported Chinese silk Neiman Marcus pajamas.

      But, ultimately, in your example, the people who spent $160 for 1M gil in October presumably could buy more with that 1M gil than the people who spent $68* for 1M gil today.

      * Honestly, why switch around currencies to make your point? It just muddles up the post.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, it is inflation - The in-game items are becoming more expensive due to (flawed) measures put in by Square to try to thin out the gil supply.

        The problem in XI is that there were multiple ways of milking the cash cow - bot fishing and gil buying are the two most prevalent. While gil buying doesn't directly affect the economy (all of its effects are indirect - the theory being that if the gilsellers weren't camping the monsters, someone else would), bot fishing does, because the bot fishers will catch fi
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Or, you could quit FFXI.

          Square-Enix is never going to do anything to fix their game. You've noticed this. They finally took a small, token action nearly three years after the game launched. And as you pointed out, it didn't solve a damned thing.

          Stop giving them money.

          They don't deserve your money. Stop playing the game. If you don't enjoy the game, stop playing it.
          • Well... I could, but...

            The simple fact is that for the relatively serious MMORPG player who's willing to put a good bit of time into a game over months/years, there still isn't a better game than FFXI.

            I tried World of Warcraft. I played it fairly heavily for a few weeks. I enjoyed most of this time quite a lot. Then I stopped. I was bored. I'd basically exhausted most of the possibilities of the game after just under a month of (admittedly fairly heavy) play. I'd played around with quite a few of the clas
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @06:46AM (#11925131)
    No need to get all draconian about this. Just pay the farmers NOT to produce gold.
  • UBUYGOLDHERE (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheGuano (851573) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @01:48PM (#11926684)
    Even gold farmers have to eat! Think about their families. Poor little gold children slaving away in the gold fields in a decreasingly gold-agrarian society...it brings a tear to my goldeneye...

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2005-02 -16

  • by IntergalacticWalrus (720648) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @03:17PM (#11927181)
    Just wondering, all those people who got their accounts closed, do they just lose all their characters or lose their full rights to play the game? Since it's an MMORPG, losing online rights would basically make you lose everything you bought (with your real money, that is). I hope Blizzard won't make any mistakes...
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @05:10PM (#11927885)
      Presumably, the accounts are banned permanently, which means the characters, and all the cash stored on them, is permanently inaccessible. But, as it turns out, there's no downside here.

      The way these gold-farming rings work, the people who own the vast bulk of the accounts which were closed were not really playing the game.

      For a given gold-farming ring, you have a number of accounts which are shared by several people. These people log in, farm gold for several hours, and then give all of the gold and items they received to a boss. The boss tabulates how much they received from a person on their shift and sells the items in-game for more gold (in WoW, this happens in the Auction House). When a customer purchases gold, the boss transfers the gold to the customer (either by trading with the customer, or as happens in WoW, through in-game mail). If one of the grunt farmers doesn't meet a quota on their gold-farming shift, they don't get paid. The grunt farming accounts, being shared by several people, are generally logged in 24/7. Even the individual characters are shared. They are powerleveled up without doing any quests, meaning they have substandard gear and make inferior opponents to regular players' characters; however, they are tailor-designed for farming whatever monsters make for the best farming.

      The vast majority - if not all - of the closed accounts were involved with these gold-farming rings. That means that, with the possible exception of the bosses, it's very unlikely that a particular account was ever used by just one person to *play* the game. Since most of these rings are based in China, it's also unlikely that Blizzard will ever have to worry about somebody trying to sue them for the account closures.

    • They have made a bunch of mistakes, and have baned a bunch of legitamate players.
      From what is being understood what they did was look for charactes for huge amounts of gold that was given to them and bane them and the people. Well that also includes all the guildes that pool money to purchase mounts.
      Not sure what the status of all them is,but from what I have heard the offical forums were down a good portion of last week and over the weekend.
    • Just wondering, all those people who got their accounts closed, do they just lose all their characters or lose their full rights to play the game? Since it's an MMORPG, losing online rights would basically make you lose everything you bought (with your real money, that is).
      What you bought with your real money was acess to the servers for a period of time. (Same as paying your cable bill.) So when you lose acess, you haven't lost anything but any pro-rated time.
  • Thank You Blizzard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cbuskirk (99904) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @05:32PM (#11928016)
    The best part about this whole scam is that you should never need to buy gold in WOW. It is so easy to come accross. However the primary means of sale in WOW is the Auction House. These same companies that farm gold have accounts that sit at the Auction Houses all day. They purchase any and all items of rare value and then relist them at 2x - 3x their normal price, causing artificial inflation. The person who wants that item now has to either play 3x as much to earn enough gold or purchase from a farmer, who sells 500 gold for a $100 and then gets that 500 gold back when the person buys the auction and then the sells it to the next sucker. And all the farmer had to do is farm 200 gold.
  • by SamBeckett (96685) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @07:24PM (#11928646)
    I just canceled my account today, after (and this has been grating in my mind for sometime now) a young member of my guild asked a player who was level 60: "Wow, XxX, what is it like to be level 60?" To which he replied: "It's pretty cool. I just started a new undead toon." Granted this has nothing to do with gold farming--but I seriously don't see how there was a market for such things.

    Compared to DAOC, at least, there is NOTHING to do in WoW after you reach the pinnacle. In other MMORPGs, you could buy a house, fight enemy realms for something tangible, etc. In WoW, you either continually raid the same dungeon or start a new toon. "But you can raid towns!" Sure, what's the fucking point? There is no penalty for death and no reward for taking over a town (for 5 minutes before the NPCs respawn).

    "But the honor system will change this!" The honor system as currently outlined sucks ass. I don't have time to play forty-hours a week just to have the best items just so I can kill more players just so I can get more honor just so I can get better items.

    Don't even get me started on the social aspect of the game--it just doesn't exist. There is no situation where concerted group effort is required as all fucktards can easily succeed in the grouping game.

    • To Blizzard's defense, they ARE working on PvP battlegrounds which should be familair to DAoC folks like myself. I like what they're planning to do with it. However I agree, one runs out of things to do very very rapidly with WoW, and I too have cancelled my account until something interesting happens in the game.

      With regards to the social aspect to the game, I'll agree it just isn't there. Every zone I go to it's always some kind of flamewar between a bunch of 12 year olds, and there doesn't seem to
      • It works the same way that it works in real life--there are some thoughtful, intelligent, interesting people out there, but they're lost in the vast sea of fucktards. It's not hopeless; you just have to do some networking.

        Throwing up your hands in disgust isn't a viable solution. Just group with people. Lots of people. Add the ones you like to your friends list. If you meet someone you don't like (and you will--often, if you're older than 14 and have any semblance of standards), don't group with them

    • I don't really see the problem here. There was another post some time ago about how WOW has no staying power, and honestly I don't know that it needs to. Blizzard might be counting on a steady stream of new players, in the way they seem to be with Diablo 2. People are still playing Diablo 2 and still buying it. Maybe not in the same nubers as before, but the game is pretty old. Frontloading the content means that people picking up the game new won't be sorry. All these bans (if they've done them right

    • Can I have your stuff?
    • I've played both Daoc and WoW, and i simply cant believe anything you've said here. My experiences in both games focused on raid level content.

      "There is no situation where concerted group effort is required as all fucktards can easily succeed in the grouping game."

      Ever been to molten core, or taking scholomance as it was intended (with a single group?)

      I play with a dedicated group of people, and with 40 of us we still had trouble killing some of the least difficult bosses in MC. I had a blast.
      If y
  • Economics 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by droleary (47999) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @08:06PM (#11928859) Homepage

    and damage the game economy as a whole

    Really? Would anyone from Blizzard care to point to a healthy economy that is fueled by the lack of free trade? It's rather amusing to see how Blizzard's actions mirror the heavy handed use of power by those governments that are globally most despised. It'd be less far less funny if it weren't just a game (but, then, if it's just a game to them why are they being such dicks?).

    • Re:Economics 101 (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      These aren't real economies. Don't treat them as if they were real economies. Gold farming creates massive inflation which alienates the casual players (and even less casual players who just don't want to pay money for gold) and ultimately results in subscribers cancelling. Blizzard owns the servers and requires that players agree to certain terms in order to play the game. They are within their rights to try to control the "economy" so as to not lose subscribers and in fact I would estimate that 90% or mo
    • Would anyone from Blizzard care to point to a healthy economy that is fueled by the lack of free trade?

      Just as soon as you show them an economy that makes life fun, maybe they will.
  • did they ban any of they buyers of the gold?

    surely they can track who recieved the products from these accounts-

    when cops fight hooking, they run stings against the hookers and the johns... it's a double sided coin

    close an account for buying gold, the game junkie will likely buy another copy and never do it again..

  • Game design is hard. Really hard. Mind-boggling awful, stay up all night thinking about it hard. To build a game that it, on one hand, adequately balanced on so many different planes, and on the other hand, entertaining and engaging, is a tremendously difficult art.

    Not everybody is up to it. Very good programmers and artists can get together and make a network-based, super-duper eye-candy fun to play for awhile game that will bring people together, but which will ultimate fall flat as people move on to

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