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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck

World of Warcraft Gold Market Soaring 78

Posted by Zonk
from the making-a-buck-in-azeroth dept.
Gamespot has an article discussing the realities of Virtual World economics as they pertain to the real world. World of Warcraft is used as an example throughout, and they quote some staggering statistics that remove any last shred of hope that Blizzard's bluster may be having an effect on the gold market. From the article: "Sukow discovered that the top seller of WOW gold made more than $23,000 in April, just on WOW gold. And that wasn't even a good month--in January and February the number-one seller took home more than $44,000 each month."
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World of Warcraft Gold Market Soaring

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  • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro.gmail@com> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @04:26AM (#12460911) Journal
    Same thing as the stock market , Making a fortune off of money that does not really exist .
    If i were a more supicious man ,I would think that blizzard are probably the top seller .Well they print(as in printf) the money, they would be crazy not to do it.
    • I must be a more suspicious man than you, since that has been my theory all along. Now, where did my tinfoil hat go...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      lol makes sence, blizzard sells the gold, buyer pays, then is banned. oh wait then they loose the monthly payents of the buyer.

      new plan:
      -sell gold
      - imform buyer he has suspicious gold amount
      -gold is removed from player
      -warn player about buying gold being bad
      • new plan: -sell gold
        - imform buyer he has suspicious gold amount
        -warn player about buying gold being bad

        The scary thing is, if you replace 'Gold' with 'Weapons', and 'Player' with 'Third World / Middle East Regime', then you have American foreign policy for the last forty years in a nutshell.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:33AM (#12462274)
      I don't think it's in Blizzard's best interests to sell gold. It causes inflation. Inflation makes people lose interest in the game and increases the probability that they will quit subscribing.

      In March, Blizzard had 1.5 Million subscribers. That's 1,500,000 * $15/M = $22,500,000 / Month. $200K per month would be nothing compared to that revenue stream. If they sold so much gold that they cause significant inflation and lost even 1% of their user base as a result, they would lose $225,000/M. If word got out that blizzard was selling gold themselves, they could easily lose 5 times that.

  • by Matthias Wiesmann (221411) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @06:22AM (#12461231) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how long it will take for spam that proposes to move virtual gold out of disabled accounts
    Dear Friend,

    I request your assistance for an affair of the highest importance. I am Lalal 40th level gnome, whose account has been partially disabled. By hard work, I have amassed the total amount of 1'000'000 gold (one million golds) that is now blocked with said character. I solicit your help to move this sum to a new account. Due to changes of policies at Blizzard, it is of uttermost importance that this affair is conducted with the highest discretion. In reward for cooperation, I am ready to give you 10% of the total sum, that is 100'000 golds (hundred thousand golds).

    In order for the transaction to take place, I need your account name and password. Be assured that I will proceed with uttermost discretion. /blokquote)
  • Side effects (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MMaestro (585010) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @06:23AM (#12461233)
    While most people would probably focus on the issue of gold/gil/plat selling here, I think the more important issue here is the failure to curb these types of transactions. Blizzard had been saying that money would not be as important since the best items would be obtain from monsters, yet this happens. Simply put, either money still remains to be a major factor in the game or Blizzard totally messed up their monetary design and made it too difficult for casual players to get money.
    • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

      by matric (841988) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @08:08AM (#12461477)
      Blizzard had been saying that money would not be as important ...

      Money really isn't that important in WoW and Blizzard has accomplished a very good job in allowing the market for lower-level items to flourish (That is, it is easy for a low level player to sell their drops and make cash). There are very few top-tier items that you can buy, the rest are drops from which you must be a part of the group/kill. Nevertheless, there are still people who will pay 500+ gold for an item that is probably +5% better than what you could get yourself with a moderate amount of effort.

      That said, money isn't irrelevant. At level 60, you still need cash in order to buy consumables, repair your equipment, and even save up for that pink elephant. IMO, the volume in the gold selling market is a testament to the lengths people will go in order to be 'King of the Hill' (IE, buy that item that is 5% better).

    • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

      by Androclese (627848) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @08:08AM (#12461478)
      Getting Gold is not at all difficult, what drives the market are the following 2 things:

      - The Auction House, an in-game "eBay like" construct, lets you sell and buy items. For anybody with an eBay addiction, or for those that that want to upgraded their items for that incremental increase in power, this place place will suck your gold dry.

      - If you want a Mount (Horse, etc) at L40 when it first becomes available, then you need to collect 90 Gold (minimum). If you want a Superior Mount at L60, thewn you need 900 Gold. These are the two *must have* you-are-an-outcast-if-you-do-not-have-it items in the game.

      I am sure the argument can be made for other minor thing, but these are the main 2 reasons the market for Gold is so high.

      That, and just like in Life, Money means Power to a lot of people, and they will do whatever it takes to possess it, even if it's only digital.
    • While most people would probably focus on the issue of gold/gil/plat selling here, I think the more important issue here is the failure to curb these types of transactions. Blizzard had been saying that money would not be as important since the best items would be obtain from monsters, yet this happens. Simply put, either money still remains to be a major factor in the game or Blizzard totally messed up their monetary design and made it too difficult for casual players to get money.

      Getting gold is easy.

  • Scary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chemisor (97276)
    The really scary part is that people buy virtual gold.
    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

      When you think about it, is buying virtual gold that much different to buying real gold for the purposes of money transfer? While gold does have uses in the real world, it's value is far inflated by it's use as a form of currency transfer.. and if you have a pile of gold bricks, what use actually are they to you, except for the fact you can sell them on to other people who want gold bricks?
      • exactly what I was thinking!

        It'd be much better to trade, say, 6 chickens for a virtual goat. I mean, you certainly can't eat a gold brick, so it's really not of much use, is it?
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:50AM (#12461795) Journal
      Well, just like real money, money has no value by itself. The only value is what you can buy with those money. In this case: an undeserved advantage in a multiplayer game. That's what that RL money buys them.

      Personally I have no respect for that kind of people. Cheating in a single player game is one thing, and I have nothing against that. But cheating in MP? That's the kind of thing that's already the mark of the low-life lamer.

      Doubly so for those who actually _pay_ for that. I mean, FFS, at least the lamers with wall-hacks and aim-bots in CS have just downloaded those. But actually paying good money to cheat in MP? How desperate _can_ one get?

      Methinks that that's well past the point where one should take a break and just think it all over. I'm a game addict myself, and all, and normally won't go "it's just a game", but... when one gets _that_ caught up with keeping up with the virtual joneses, when those virtual achievements become a _must_ at all cost, it's time to worry. Really worry.
      • In this case: an undeserved advantage in a multiplayer game.

        I know many multiplayer games take quite a bit of skill, but saying anyone deserves anything in WoW is like saying a rat in a skinner box deserved the pellet.
      • I agree spending money for gold while you play in the skinner box is lame.

        That said, it is not cheating. Cheating would be gaining an unfair advantage over other players, like free teleports or invunerability or something like that.

        Buying gold is just that, buying gold. You can join a guild and have them give you bunch of gold. You can sell a small item for a bunch of gold. Some guy could walk up to you and hand you a ton of gold because he is quitting. Or, you could pay some guy irl for the gold and he s
      • thank for pointing out the obvious to the mentally challenged.

        it is assumed by teenie boppers and those of higher age and lower intellect that anything "virtual" has no value whatsoever.

        apparently they feel that way when they go buy those "virtual" games on plastic discs too...

        you are free not to spend a penny on anything you don't feel is worth it to you... but shut the hell up about others buying it, it's their money.

    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern (191822)
      > The really scary part is that people buy virtual gold.

      And you have real gold in your wallet? Or do you have a little card that is money only because a computer file somewhere says you have that money? Even real folding money is virtual; what can you use a dollar bill for, other than give it to somebody who'll give you stuff for it?

      Chris Mattern
      • You can wipe your ass with it. ;-)
      • And you have real gold in your wallet? Or do you have a little card that is money only because a computer file somewhere says you have that money? Even real folding money is virtual; what can you use a dollar bill for, other than give it to somebody who'll give you stuff for it?

        Sorry, but these things have value in the real world (and don't say anything like, "We're in the Matrix! This isn't the real world!" because I can see that as a likely response). Unlike gold in WoW, money serves a purpose to your
        • as anything else you can buy with "real" money, wow gold is just a commodity. just as you can pay money to watch a movie or play a game of pool at the pub, and when the movie is over, there is no change at all, according to your reasoning
    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meta-monkey (321000)
      I play WoW avidly, and I have never bought gold. However, I know people who do, and I don't see anything wrong with it.

      We all pay to play. Some people pay a little more. Acquiring gold in WoW isn't particularly difficult, but it isn't fun, either. Acquiring gold generally requires grinding.

      Let's say I'm level 60, all my friends in my guild have epic mounts, and they all like to go raiding the enemy. I, with my non-epic mount, can't keep up, so I don't get to play and have fun with my friends. So I n
    • This strain of comment always makes me want to bump my head into the wall. I've got a Level 60 in WoW, took 16 play days (not bad, incidentally -- 4 hours a night, 4 days a week, with a bit extra on weekends, from November through March or so). That would be a large time investment if WoW wasn't my main entertainment activity and if I had consistent non-work commitments like, say, raising a family. For a lot of people, some of those 16 days are wasted -- for example, a solid day of that was at level 42
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:29AM (#12461702)
    "It's a validation of your game when people are willing to spend upwards of $2,000 on a character," Kramer said.

    OMFG.
    Right, I've now officially heard it all. Excuse me while I tie this rope around my head and kick out the chaalsifysfwgbvwe fafg.g.g..

    NO CARRIER+++
  • Wha-huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:22AM (#12461945)
    "It's a validation of your game when people are willing to spend upwards of $2,000 on a character,"

    What's it validate? That your game is so boring that people don't want to spend the time playing to earn their gold/levels?
    • That people are lazy and are taught that getting something now is more important than working for it, and that instant gratification is to be encouraged and exploited.
    • Re:Wha-huh? (Score:3, Informative)

      by rpillala (583965)

      Which is all the more ironic since an inexperienced player at level 60 is basically worthless in the endgame content. The only thing I can think would go easily is ganking people of way lower level where skill isn't as much a factor. Although I have seen the pvp go wrong for some of those eBay level 60s.

  • Easy fix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kongjie (639414) <kongjie@NoSpAm.mac.com> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:43AM (#12462313)

    The article talks about the possibility of monitoring large transfers of currency between players. Why not just eliminate currency transfers? It would have the additional benefit of eliminating all the begging in cities.

    No doubt the farmers would find a way around this, like setting up auctions where they bid enormous amounts for commonplace items...but then something like that would be easy to spot.

    There's another way to discourage this, by taking a tip from The Untouchables. When they couldn't get Capone for his blatant crimes, they resorted to nabbing him for income tax evasion. I would guess that a good percentage of these top farmers aren't paying taxes on their eBay incomes. Call the IRS and sic 'em, boys!

    • Re:Easy fix (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they kill a mob, you delete an account. He sells one piece of gold, you nuke the entire guild! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get gold farmers! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?
    • by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot @ f r i d a y t h ang.com> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @12:48PM (#12462627)
      If you really want to go "Untouchables" on their asses, you need to go a bit further than that...

      "How we gonna get the gold farmers, then?"
      "You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a gankfest, you pull a slaughter. He sends one of yours to the graveyard, you send on of his to permadeath! That's the Lordaeron way, and that's how you get them gold farmers! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"

      -Trillian

      (With appologies to "The Untouchables." The original quote: 'You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?')
      • Right--that's the player/guild solution.

        I've retired my WoW account because my machine/video card is a little outdated and the lag was impossible to live with in high-level instances.

        But while I was playing, interfering with known gold farmers was quite a bit of fun. I always felt that it would be great to be part of a guild whose mission statement included anti-gold farmer activities.

    • Um, that is how they actually did get Capone isn't it?

    • Re:Easy fix (Score:4, Insightful)

      by theMightyE (579317) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @05:04PM (#12463983)
      Instead of removing the ability of players to trade cash I wonder if they could set up a tracking system that monitors how much money each character gives to other characters per unit time.

      Passing a few gold here and there to guildmates or newbie players is normal, but some guy who hands out hundreds or thousands of gold per week would stand out from the crowd. Have a GM monitor him for an hour to establish that they are really meeting up with and giving cash to nearly random folks, then kill the account along with all the farmbots that are colleting the gold. Maybe nuke the accounts of people who were buyers just to attack the market from the demand side too.
      • I like your last idea. Make it clear that it is against the TOS and that buying farmed gold out of game puts your account in jeopardy.
      • Re:Easy fix (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, it's an easy fix. Too easy.

        Here's your rule: It's violation of the TOS to give away large amounts of gold, and it's a violation of the TOS to accept large amounts of gold. Your account will be killed and your CC# banned.

        Here's the first effect of your rule: There are no more "charitable" donations. No snappy replies that there is no such thing. If this point became visible enough I guarantee that we could document such occurances.

        Here's the second effect of your rule: If I want to get rid of you, I
        • The simple solution to your issues is to simply warn players on the first questionable activity. A player who is simply accepting a single random gift wouldn't do it again. However, the account that is sending out many of these "gifts" will have many, many suspicious activities on their record, so...

          Alternatively, you could simply only punish the "giver", and just negate all the givers gold... the punishment for the person who recieved it would simply be that they lose the "dirty" gold.
      • they go to such lengths to set up an "Economy" but do nothing to monitor it.

        the fact that several million gold appears and disappears instantly apparently means nothing.

        online gaming used to be the holy grail. but most people who have ever partaken in it, can tell that it is complete and utter crap.

        either only play with your friends or give up and go back to single player (which is far superior in most respects).
  • Why not offer players rewards for turning in other players who are selling stuff? I know there are tons of players out there who would rather get items/perks that only admins could provide instead of buying something that anyone else can buy too. The only problem I could foresee is people starting accounts and subsequently turning themselves in with another account.
  • solutions? (Score:2, Informative)

    by astralpop (856161)
    There is really no way to eliminate this type of behavior. One poster commented about stopping currency transfers between players. People would then begin trading in items. Much like the "stone of jordan" in Diablo 2. It has happened in other games as well. The most they can do is too monitor large sums of money or several smaller sums of money over small time frames. It is done in the real world. I believe the US Federal Governemt tracks any money transfer over 10,000. Another poster mentioned using a re
    • Sure there is. Disallow player->player trades and exchanges.

      Granted that's a brutal and severe way, but it also works. The real question is, is there a good way which doesn't harm the game as seriously as what I just suggested would?

      Many people say no, but then again, many people have said "this can't be done" about dozens of things in gaming; there aren't really very many MMOs (maybe 100 in history,) so there's a lot of room for novel behavior.

      This is the kind of thing that makes designers rich. S
  • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @03:54PM (#12463571) Journal
    In order to solve it, there has to be a problem and this really isn't a problem.
    • It is a problem for Blizzard. When you can actually tie system uptime to a player's real life finances, it causes a problem. Since I don't play the game I am going to use a hypothetical situation. If a player pays $500 for a large amount of in game gold and the servers run into problems (not uncommon these days from what I hear) and they have to roll the characters back to the point just before the gold was given and after they paid for it, they will be out of luck. While the player may not have a legal
      • "While the player may not have a legal leg to stand on, they can make problems for Blizzard both legally and in terms of public relations."

        You have to agree not to hold Blizzard liable for this every other day if you play WoW. So your right, they wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on. If someone wanted to create a PR nightmare but have no legal leg to stand on they can do that now without virtual gold. In fact, I would argue that someone who spent 50 hours earning an item and then losing it to a time warp
    • by Gerad (86818) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:10PM (#12465167)
      There actually are a number of problems generated by the buying and selling of in-game characters, items, and gold. (I'm not writing on any one specific game here, although my experiences are weighted towards EverQuest and WoW).

      One problem is that the associated "value" of items often leads to anti-social behavior and the breakdown of in-game ettiquete. For example, if a powerful magic staff drops in a group, a warrior might roll on it (distribution of item drops are handled by random number "rolls"), despite the fact that the staff might be much better used by a wizard type character. This can lead to the breakdown of friendships and general ettiquete in the game.

      "Okay", you might say, "so you need to find new friends and people you can trust". That may be the case, but sometimes the desire to earn these items leads people towards disruptive anti-social behavior that effects people even outside their group. For example, in EverQuest, known eBay farmers would frequently attract the attention of huge packs of monsters, far beyond the ability of any group to deal with, run up to a competing group, and use the "feign death" ability. This would cause all the monsters to lose their focus on the eBay farmer and instead turn towards the nearest target: you.

      "Okay", you might say, "but World of Warcraft staff will ban disruptive player slike that, plus it mitigates this problem by creating instanced areas for groups to fight in, avoiding disruption by outside players." While this is true, it takes a fair amount of time for an eBay farmer to get caught, and they will not always be. Often, Customer Service staff must actually witness such an event happening, and it can take hours for them to respond.

      While instanced content really alleviates this problem a lot, you still have the problem of pickup groups. To some extent, almost everyone is forced to group with strangers at one point or another. Grouping with a stranger who has relied on items they would never be able to naturally obtain, or who purchased a character can often result in hours of frustration as you deal with warriors who don't know how to hold the monster's attention, priests who don't heal, and wizards who are inept at dealing damage. It's just not a fun situation overall.
      • "One problem is that the associated "value" of items often leads to anti-social behavior and the breakdown of in-game ettiquete. For example, if a powerful magic staff drops in a group, a warrior might roll on it (distribution of item drops are handled by random number "rolls"), despite the fact that the staff might be much better used by a wizard type character. This can lead to the breakdown of friendships and general ettiquete in the game."

        The perceived value is there among groups who do not exchange re
        • The solution is Permadeath! You will have almost no dimbulbs at the higher levels. OTOH, the real world price for a leveled character would skyrocket.
        • Ugh, I've grouped with plenty of those...

          Rogues who never stun or expose enemy armor (Or worse, waste stuns on enemies that are clearly stun-immune)...
          Priests who use mind blast at the beginning of combat (Which makes it very difficult to pull the monster away from them)...
          Warriors who charge into huge groups of enemies (Then complain when two priests can't heal them fast enough)...
          Druids who never shapeshift (That's only the one greatest strength of the druid class)...
          Mages who use area spells when we're
      • thats why i keep saying that single player gaming will be around for a VERY long time and will usually be the best option for gaming.

        as long as one has to put up with the crap of other people, then no matter what MP gaming brings to the table, it's not worth a damn.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Monday May 09, 2005 @03:55AM (#12474608) Homepage Journal

    Jesus, I am absolutely stupefied that people do this.

    I've already written one comment [slashdot.org] about this in a different article and mentioned it in a blog post [blogspot.com] at my blog, so I'll try not to repeat that stuff here.

    But for real, I'm truly saddened that the "RP" in MMORPG means so little these days. Everyone keeps taking about how much they hate grinding levels. Funny, when I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with my buddies, I never seemed to mind that my wizard was only level (whatever). Why? Because the point of the game wasn't to win, it was to have fun and (gasp!) socialize. Those of you who remember the old pencil-and-paper games, can you imagine a player offering a game master five bucks for 1,000 freebie gold pieces? If I were the game master, I would immediately figure out some heinous irrevocable death for that character.

    What some people see as mindless grinding through levels, I see as an opportunity to meet other players, some of whom are rather interesting. What some people see as farming for game currency, I see as an opportunity to roleplay and boost my reputation. Not this silly reputation by ownership of a cool gametoy, but the reputation as someone who is fun and interesting to run missions with.

    My MMORPG of choice is City of Heroes [coh.com]. One of my favorite characters is a Taxibot [taxibots.com]. We hardly ever level. We can't kill crap by ourselves. We have a lot of fun. The fun of the game isn't mindlessly killing mobs of enemies, although I do get fleeting enjoyment from figuring out strategies to defeat particularly tough enemies. The fun isn't even getting that new high-level power, although I do get fleeting enjoyment from seeing the cool effect of it. These things are supposed to add to the enjoyment of the game, not to be the enjoyment. My advice for MMORPG players (most MUD players figured this out a long time ago): If you really want to get long-term enjoyment from the game, get over that stuff quickly.

    I get frustrated because I often wonder how many people even bother to read the mission descriptions they're given before they go to empty a warehouse full of villains. Sometimes I'll be in a group of people and I'll say something game-related ("We can't let Ubelmann succeed!"), and I often get responses that indicate that the people in my group have no clue ("Who's Ubelmann?"). Needless to say, those people don't get invited to run in a group with me again, and the people who do run with me regularly have lots of fun "grinding" levels, even if it is the 100th time we have been to disable the Rikti portal devices.

    If level grinding has got you down and you've having so little fun that you feel the need to buy stuff on eBay or Sony's Station Exchange to use in the game, I'm begging you to play Progress Quest [progressquest.com] instead. We'll all have more fun, and you don't even have to spend a dime!

    I know what the first replies to this post will be: Wah, people play games for different reasons. Yeah, well, if your reason is so that you can brag about your über-whatever with a gazillion gold to the lower levels, you're not playing at all; you're being a pompous ass that the game would be better off without. Do you go around in real life bragging about how much more money you've got than people on welfare? We're not impressed.

    Damn, so much for keeping this post short. Oops, maybe I'll do better next time we have an "Buying virtual goods is a good thing" type of story.

    • WoW has certain servers that are RP-oriented, others that are PVP oriented, and others that are PVE (Player Vs Environment) oriented. Most of your points are quite valid... if you are playing on one of the RP servers.
    • So, to get certain itmes in the game requires a large amount of money. Maybe the person love to role-play with their friends, but doesn't want to put in hour after hour to get some key item. So they go online, buy some gold, and continue role playing enjoying the game. So there is not this split as you see it that people who buy gold hate to role play, it could be the opposite. (note: I have never bought anything online, but I can understand why people would).

      Certain people get their thrills out of lev
    • "Yeah, well, if your reason is so that you can brag about your über-whatever with a gazillion gold to the lower levels, you're not playing at all; you're being a pompous ass that the game would be better off without."

      What exactly was your reason again? If I understand correctly, you're proud that you can play in a hollywood set and pretend it's the real thing. How is that superior to people who are competing?

      -Jeff
  • by JPelorat (5320) * on Monday May 09, 2005 @08:20AM (#12475992)
    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Paying Game
  • ending this industry or cutting it down to size.

    simply ban the bastards who use bots to "farm"

    that'll end the situation so quickly it'll make their heads spin.

    imagine if they actually had to sit there and click and click over and over for 12 hours a day... yeah, they wouldn't.

    the fact that there is an industry in the first place is because those cheating punks have a lot of stolen accounts, so on the !extremely! rare occurence of getting banned, they're right back in the next day where they left off. wh
  • do not know if it is good, but i did purchase 200 gold form www.brogame.com their service is good,i got gold within 10 mins, it is amazon, and i enjoy it very much. forgive me. jacob
  • hey guys
    i just take free $5 from
    http://www.brogame.com [brogame.com]
    the code is : brogame001
    use it and get $5 off your order
    enjoy :)

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