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Ask the MMOG Money Traders 239

Posted by Zonk
from the how-much-for-that-sword-in-the-window dept.
Late yesterday, Sparter Inc. announced the Gamer2Gamer virtual currency trading platform. The goal: to provide a secure currency trading environment for players of Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Rather than purchasing currency outright, the goal of the project is to cut out the middleman and (implicitly) the gold-farming consortiums that supply larger for-pay sites. We were contacted by a representative from the company before the release went out, looking to speak with the Slashdot community about the service. In his words, the folks at Gamer2Gamer "are devoted gamers themselves and are well aware that not everyone will like the idea -- but we think plenty of folks will like a world where Real Money Transfer is workable and unintrusive." And so, you get the chance today to put the hard questions to them. One question per comment, please, and we'll pass on the best of the lot to be answered as soon as possible. Update: 06/14 17:58 GMT by Z : Howzer points out that there is an extensive FAQ on the service, that you can use as a springboard for questions.
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Ask the MMOG Money Traders

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:21PM (#19507873) Journal
    So you say you work out the middle man in this horrible scheme of capitalism. But I'm still concerned that the people who are farming right now at a severely reduced pay rate are doing so because they don't have the money to front for the operation and they have no choice but to remain a pawn. They make very little money and the real profits go to some American guy [slashdot.org] manipulating them all and paying for their accounts.

    Tell me again how your service does not promote this middle man from acting like a player? How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money? How am I assured this isn't still some cog in a scheme to exploit foreign workers?

    Disclaimer for the rest of Slashdot: I'm well aware of the situations where this may be the person's only means of income. I still would rather not support this system.
    • by misleb (129952)

      How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money?


      As someone else said, the easy answer to this is to just play the damn game yourself and earn your own in-game money. Simple. Don't get involved in gold trading in the first place and you don't need any assurances about human rights.

      Seriously, what kind of loser/sucker pays real money of in-game money anyway?

      -matthew
      • by Znork (31774)
        "Seriously, what kind of loser/sucker pays real money of in-game money anyway?"

        Heh, if I were running an MMORPG and saw out-of-game transactions going on I'd run irregular devaluations/random drop rate changes with the money supply just to screw with the minds of the traders.

        Face it, in-game money is a non-scarce resource. The devs can create a bazillion plat with a database change. If players desperately need to obtain gold, then that's a balance/economy problem that needs to be adressed by the devs, so th
        • by misleb (129952)

          Heh, if I were running an MMORPG and saw out-of-game transactions going on I'd run irregular devaluations/random drop rate changes with the money supply just to screw with the minds of the traders.


          If *I* were running an MMORPG, I'd give it a working economy similar to EVE Online. WoW is big enough to have a player run economy with a limited (but not quite finite) amount of total cash, isn't it?

          -matthew
          • by WuphonsReach (684551) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @06:16PM (#19512795)
            If *I* were running an MMORPG, I'd give it a working economy similar to EVE Online. WoW is big enough to have a player run economy with a limited (but not quite finite) amount of total cash, isn't it?

            I suspect that WoW shards aren't large enough to have the critical mass needed for a real economy. Even in EVE, with everyone crammed into a single "world / shard / server", it's still possible that you can't find item X for sale. Or that a few producers have banded together and created a monopoly on item Y. (Although, at least with EVE and the roughly 30-45k active players, it's rare that it happens.)

            The usual problems in MMO economies are:

            - Crafting / manufacturing is not as profitable per hour as adventuring. Often because NPC vendors sell identical product too cheaply (worse, with infinite inventory). EVE handles this by making nearly everything as player-made, NPC vendors sell only a small handful of base goods.

            - NPCs that buy goods. This gets more into the money supply issue. But it causes problems for producers. If NPCs are buying a raw material at price X, that sets a floor on the raw material price. Often that floor price is out of sync with what the market really feels that the raw material is worth. Which leads to problems obtaining raw materials. In EVE, NPCs don't buy raw or finished materials.

            - Item destruction is a required aspect. If items never wear out, players never need to purchase new items. Which means that the economy grinds to a halt. Soul-binding of equipment isn't the answer. Equipment needs to wear out, with the option to repair it - but repairs should cost money and possibly a *lot* of money. In EVE, because of PvP and the death penalty, equipment is constantly being destroyed (you might get back 5% of your gear after a ship loss).

            - Single markets = 2-dimensional economies that don't work. Distance and location need to be part of the economy. Travel in the MMO needs to require time / effort or money. That allows multiple producers to compete without one producer getting 100% of the volume because they undercut prices by 1 copper. EVE handles this by limiting markets to Regions (and there are 50+ regions). You can only search pricing within a region, so you have to travel a bit in order to check on prices in other regions. There's no "fast travel" - 20 jumps is 20 jumps. So often a buyer will pay a premium to purchase goods that are physically closer.

            And that just glosses the surface of what is required to have a "working" economy in an MMO.
    • by MBraynard (653724)
      So if the farms closed up shop, the now-out of work people would be much better off?
    • So you say you work out the middle man in this horrible scheme of capitalism. But I'm still concerned that the people who are farming right now at a severely reduced pay rate are doing so because they don't have the money to front for the operation and they have no choice but to remain a pawn. They make very little money and the real profits go to some American guy manipulating them all and paying for their accounts.

      Tell me again how your service does not promote this middle man from acting like a player? How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money? How am I assured this isn't still some cog in a scheme to exploit foreign workers?

      Disclaimer for the rest of Slashdot: I'm well aware of the situations where this may be the person's only means of income. I still would rather not support this system.


      Your premise is entirely wrong, therefor it's not really possible to answer your question in a way that will satisfy you.

      The only part of your question that's relevent is this: Is everyone freely engaging in these transactions? If so, they must believe that they benefit from it. Can the worker quit and find another way to eek out a living? Can the employer fire him and hire someone else? Are you free to not play the MMOG in question? Are you free to not buy gold from this seller? Is the seller free to not sell gold from you? The alternatives may be less pleasent, but they are still alternatives.

      By arbitrarily saying I'm well aware of the situations where this may be the person's only means of income. I still would rather not support this. You're setting up field such that no answer will satisfy you, and any transaction that involves Americans paying foriegners for unskilled labor is evil exploitation.

      No one who thinks like you do can possibly be pleased. Why bother?

      This is what happens when you take too many classes about 'social justice': Your head gets filled with confused thinking about victims, oppressors, capitilist pigs, poor exploited foreigners and the like.
  • by ZiakII (829432)
    Why do you think this will eliminate the middle man? They will now just have a set of prices to beat and offer 30% cheaper then the other company.
    • Why do you think this will eliminate the middle man? They will now just have a set of prices to beat and offer 30% cheaper then the other company.
      They didn't call it gamer2company. :-)

      I think they are trying to fill in, where Ebay like companies have failed, and that's to allow one person to trade with another person (more personable), rather than having to deal with a company.
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:49PM (#19508323) Journal

        They didn't call it gamer2company. :-)
        And yet nothing is there to prevent a company from having a representative post on the site to sell gold... and commercial gold farms will likely be able to undercut individual gamers' prices.

        I think they are trying to fill in, where Ebay like companies have failed, and that's to allow one person to trade with another person (more personable), rather than having to deal with a company.
        Ebay did not fail to provide a marketplace. They chose not to, stating that they were trying to reduce their users' exposure to risk (assumedly, from both fraud and legal action by the game companies). I'm certain they were also reducing their risk and expenses, both from dealing with fraud (in-game currency transactions have a high rate of fraud) and from legal fees if asked to C&D by game companies.
        • And yet nothing is there to prevent a company from having a representative post on the site to sell gold...

          If you want something that would prevent a bussiness from being able to conduct bussiness, then the only way to achieve that would be to pass a law that could then be enforced by a government.

          Ebay did not fail to provide a marketplace. They chose not to, stating that they were trying to reduce their users' exposure to risk...

          Haha, ya, and Slashdotters choose not to get laid all the time too. How

          • Haha, ya, and Slashdotters choose not to get laid all the time too.

            Well, first off, speak for yourself. Second, you're saying that Ebay was not capable of serving the market for virtual transactions? Apparently you never looked at Ebay before they prohibited the trade. I suggest you do a little basic research on the topic.

            How about I decide for myself how much risk I'm willing to take

            As I said, Ebay stated one reason, but I explained what I thought their real reasons were.

            in my experience I've been r

            • you're saying that Ebay was not capable of serving the market for virtual transactions? Apparently you never looked at Ebay before they prohibited the trade. I suggest you do a little basic research on the topic.

              Is this a joke? Yes, it's obvious that Ebay isn't capable of serving a market that they are prohibited form serving. If Gamer2Gamer steps in and successfully serves the marketplace, where Ebay failed too, then what's your point, or are you just playing semantic games?

              • Not a joke. I'm not sure we agree on the definition of "fail to" vs. "choose to not" serve the market, but it's not a semantic game, since it totally changes the menaing of your OP and subsequent posts. You imply that Ebay was literally incapable of serving the market, due to the market not wanting to use Ebay at all, and that is just false.
  • Legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pionzypher (886253) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:24PM (#19507909)
    With the recent lawsuit against peons4hire.com, Blizzard appears intent on cracking down against the larger players in the business. How do you intend on avoiding legal issues?
    • by NickCatal (865805)
      There was no lawsuit filed... It was a C&D only.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pionzypher (886253)
        My mistake. I still believe it's a relevant question though. Will they C&D if Bliz asks? If not, how are they going to defend against further action?

        While I'm not against currency transfers, this seems a little bit like the business model of Sharman Networks, profiting on unauthorized transfers and sitting somewhere in the grey area of the law.
    • And companies don't have to file lawsuits to make life difficult for people using the service; if it's against their policies (and it usually is) to exchange virtual currency for external considerations, they'll happily boot players from the game if they find out they're doing it.

      I'd like to know how/whether this company will work with the companies that run the games to keep this from happening.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:25PM (#19507923) Journal
    Will your site will work out converting currencies in one game to currencies in another game--so that if I play Warcraft and Final Fantasy I can spend my gold for gil? If you are doing this, how are you going to keep these markets in check? Will it all just be normalized against the dollar?

    Bottom line question is whether or not you'll control dumping of virtual currency or if you'll institute ranges. If you're not instituting limits or regulating in a Federal Reserve type manner, how are you going to protect against a single person running the market (buying all the gold and sitting on it while letting it drip out slowly at an extreme amount of USD)?

    Will you post graphs of each MMO's currency so we can watch currencies like SWG's credit against Warcraft's Gold?
    • by L7_ (645377)
      I'm pretty sure that the people linked from this article are not too reputable**. I'm not sure that they have even thought things through enough to deal with 1) the type of people that sell gold and 2) the lack of any in-game or RL repercussions

      Basically, setting up a service to circumvent the Terms of Service for these games (like these Real Money Transfers) is like setting up a service to purchase and distribute illegal RL items like firearms, gambling or narcotics: there isn't going to ever be an officia
    • by misleb (129952)

      Bottom line question is whether or not you'll control dumping of virtual currency or if you'll institute ranges. If you're not instituting limits or regulating in a Federal Reserve type manner, how are you going to protect against a single person running the market (buying all the gold and sitting on it while letting it drip out slowly at an extreme amount of USD)?

      Isn't this only really feasable if the market is small?

      The way you talk about it temps me to play this currency trading system to make a littl

  • Taxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn AT wumpus-cave DOT net> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#19507961)

    Inevitably, when Governments hear about money being passed around, their first thought is how to tax it. MMOGs can take the position that their currency isn't real, and therefore shouldn't be taxed. However, being able to transfer virtual currency for real cash weakens that argument.

    I personally don't want to play a game where I have to pay sales tax on buying items, or income tax for an in-game business, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Given this, do you see any foreseeable ways to keep taxes out of games?

    • Re:Taxes (Score:4, Informative)

      by Peter Cooper (660482) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:36PM (#19508123) Homepage Journal
      Legally (in most countries anyway), barter is taxable.. and it doesn't make much difference whether the "currency" is stamps, Mars bars, cans of Red Bull, or actual "cash".

      That said, hardly anyone actually declares barter to tha tax man.. so the question really should go to the taxman.. are they going to enforce taxes on bartering of virtual cash, or not?
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      I believe that was the substance of a /. article some months ago...a state gubmint made some noises about taxing ordinary MMOG players on their virtual income, on grounds that gold farmers were endowing it with real value.

      rj
    • Genuine Sealand Hosting Services.
    • by ajs (35943)
      I think sales tax on selling in-game resources will always be sufficient. The resources in the game have no value until they're sold, and there's no default expectation that they ever will be sold.
  • Litigation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#19507971) Journal
    How do you plan to deal with the litigation against you that will inevitably spring up from companies like Blizzard & Sony that state this violates TOS and restrict auctions/selling on eBay and everywhere else?

    Will your servers be foreign based to avoid this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SurturZ (54334)
      Won't your business be built on shaky ground? What is to stop the MMO makers intentionally or inadvertantly causing hyper-inflation or hyper-deflation through updates to the game?
  • How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_kanzure (1100087) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#19507975) Homepage
    Particularly what internet protocols are you using, or equivalently how are you accessing these banks electronically? As an example: are we talking Financial Information eXchange [fixprotocol.org] or something different?
  • Taxes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:28PM (#19507983)
    Do you currently have a plan in place for when these "Real Money Transfers" become taxable income? Will you be supplying tax documentation for your customers, or will that be their sole responsibility?
    • by profplump (309017)
      If they make less than $600/year, or make purchases out-of-state, it's their sole responsibility to report income/use, just like any other non-employee or out-of-state exchange of money. God forbid the citizens actually be exposed to the ridiculousness of their own tax system without a corporation there to fill out the forms.
  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:31PM (#19508033) Journal
    If this does fly it could produce a method to invent and earn money by paying attention to the up-and-coming games and investing when they're undervalued or overvalued and additionally, their popularity. Unfortunately this will also prompt an age minimum and consumer taxes, but it would be interesting to see if it would even fly on a global level.
  • Cheating Your System (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:31PM (#19508039) Journal

    Purchases can be made using credit cards or Paypal, with Gamer2Gamer providing an escrow service to guarantee a safe transaction for the buyer. After in-game delivery is confirmed by the buyer, the site releases the transacted funds to the seller, completing the sale. The service is supported across games such as Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest 2, and CCP's EVE Online.
    How will you protect against 'buyers' who put the money in the escrow service, receive the goods and then claim they never got them and demand the escrow back? In Warcraft, I could forward the gold to another character and claim I never got it. Then you have two customers in a dirty dispute. Wouldn't it be smarter (but more work) for you to also have an intermediary account in game to hold the goods and money at the same time? How do you plan to resolve these issues that auction sites like eBay have to deal with?
    • What if WoW catches wind of their accounts and shuts them down or, even worse, put the gold in a black hole instead of sending it to the buyer? Blizzard's not liable because they've got plenty of CYA in their policies, the buyers are demanding their money back and the sellers are out their gold and demanding their payment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MalleusEBHC (597600)

      What happens if I make a delivery but the buyer claims otherwise?

      We anticipate this scenario being extremely uncommon, particularly since Sparter uses state-of-the-art technology to root out fraud and to create a clean and safe marketplace. However, in the rare event of alleged buyer-fraud, we provide a dispute mechanism process to help you resolve the situation.

      I had the same question and found this on their FAQ. It all sounds like a bunch of marketing BS to me. So my question is, what assurances or expla

  • RMT Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cirak (992412) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:32PM (#19508041)
    I'm concerned that this platform is devoted to promoting activity that the largest game (WoW) explicitly forbids. How do you plan to handle the fact that the entire premise of your site is one that could get your "customers" banned from the games they play?
    • This is true for other MMOGs as well. I definately want to see this one asked. Could game producers issue take-down notices if they find ToS-restricted currency transactions (e.g., Guild Wars gold)?
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:32PM (#19508049)
    A lot of MMO content is less enjoyable because of gold farmers and others looking at playing the game for monetary gain rather than enjoyment. What measures, if any, will be used to make sure that the sellers are legitimately playing the game? If not, how is this service actually helping the gamers for whom gold selling is an inconvenience?
  • Terms of Service (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grommit (97148) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:34PM (#19508093)
    Will you be trading on games that specifically disallow RMT activities in their Terms of Service?
  • What they're saying is people should be able to affect game play out-of-band just because they don't have the time to commit to legitimately compete with other players. The end result? Legitimate players get tired of BS headshots, or in this case, artificially inflated prices that force others to spend even more time farming for the items they want. So, everyone loses.
  • MUDflation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Applekid (993327) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:40PM (#19508179)
    "...we think plenty of folks will like a world where Real Money Transfer is workable and unintrusive"

    It's well known that real money for game currency helps contribute to mudflation by providing volumes of game capital to players unable to achieve the same. Such dilution of the value of currency on a game thereby impacts every player of that game as costs go up but gained rewards by playing the game does not.

    If you envision a world where Real Money Transfer is "unintrusive", how do you compensate for MUDflation? What steps do you intend to take to truly be unintrusive on other players?
    • Re:MUDflation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Howzer (580315) * <grabshot@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @02:10PM (#19508647) Homepage Journal

      Selling in-game cash for real cash is not the primary cause of MUDflation! I know you've heard a lot of people say it is, but that doesn't make it true.

      Think about how most MUD game economies work from first principles for a minute: you "harvest" unlimited resources mostly to sell to in-game "vendors" that have unlimited cash. That's what causes the inflation -- an unlimited supply of money!

      Consider, too, what most purchasers of in-game cash use it for: to pour into the in-game money sinks (buying your "spells", buying your "horse") which instantly removes it from circulation.

      MUD economies are broken, and primed for massive inflation from the get-go. In-game money-sinks are efforts to stave this off, but whenever there is infinite supply of money, there will be inflation.

      Most MUDs also have players of widely disparate levels (and thus "incomes") playing "together" which further exacerbates the inflation (Eg. It's worth less to me, a high level, to haggle with you, a low level, about some in-game resource I'm buying from you than to simply pay you whatever you're asking. Pretty soon the "accepted price" for whatever it is rises.)

      All the above considered, gold farming might slightly increase the inflation rate --- but this is dwarfed by factors that are built into the system.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pslam (97660)
        Oh YAWN YAWN YAWN that's a perfect cut-and-paste apologist response about mudflation.

        It DOES happen and it's not because MUD economies are broken. Give them some credit. Every MUD has money sinks as well as unlimited resources. You know what the factor is which moderates it all? TIME.

        Gaining money takes time and effort. That determines the price of goods. That's time and effort you spent that someone else didn't have to. Simple (real) example: if you can kill mobs for 100g/hour, or mine 20 "khorium" bar

        • by geekoid (135745)
          why is it ok for me to spend 20 hours to farm something, but not OK for me to pay someone to do the EXACT SAME THING?

          Someone mined the khorium, who did it doesn't matter.

          As far as bots go, ... meh. Someone pays 3 people to work 8 hour shifts farming the exact same thing.
          Someone has a bot that does it.

          What's the difference? nothing.

          If Blizzard wanted to end GOld Faring they could do it.
          Don't allow large transfers of money would be the easiest. Cap it at 100GP.

          SOmeone gets a lot of gold over a very short peri
      • by geekoid (135745)
        Yeah, people don't seem to realize that this fictional economy is riddled with issues that wouldn't even happen on the real world economy.

        Gold farming is not even close to the problem in WOW that people like to pretend it is.

        Unlimited supplies, unlimited gold, and the fact that items are found, often randomly, causes all kinds of issues.

        Bottom line:Time is money. Anyone who does the math can see that spending 300 dollars to get 5000GP can be better then spending many many hours trying to make the gold in ga
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:41PM (#19508195) Journal
    Many MMOs explicitly state in their Terms of Service that buying and selling of in-game goods for real currency is prohibited. While Sparter does not seem to be directly violating the ToS in this regard, Sparter will likely be deriving commercial benefit from use of trademarks owned by the game publishers. Another area of possible legal liability is in enabling and encouraging players to circumvent their contracts with game companies (as with Blizzard and Vivendi's recent countersuit against the creator of WoWglider) -- this would apply to any game where trading in game items or currency using real currency is prohibited.

    Can you please comment on how Sparter plans to protect itself from the inevitable lawsuits and C&D notices from game publishers?
    • by geekoid (135745)
      people who wash my car deriving commercial benefit from use of trademarks owned by the car companies.

  • Sparter has an extensive FAQ [sparter.com] which answers everything from how they make money (commission) to how they "guarantee" you get the "goods" (they stick your money in escrow until you say "got the gold!" from the seller)

    So let's ask some questions not in the FAQ, eh?! Here's mine:

    For such an incredibly simple service, you seem to have a hugely top-heavy management team, which means big running costs, which explains your exorbitant 10 percent commission. What's to stop me (or anyone) setting up a simpler, leaner service doing exactly the same thing and charging 5 percent?

    Or, if that's too hard, try this one:

    You claim you use (quoting from your site) "state-of-the-art technology to root out fraud". Since simple fraud -- I say I didn't get something that someone says they gave me in game -- can't be checked by you unless you have the keys to WoW or EQ2 or SWG (or whatever) what "state-of-the-art technology" would you be talking about?

  • Where will you be getting the gold that you will be selling? Do you purchase your initial stock from players? Will the game companies themselves be giving you a cache of cash to turn into cash? How will you keep your supply going? If you need to replenish your stock by yourself, are you going to farm gold, or hire third parties to do it for you?
  • How do you determine that the "seller", isn't a farmer just looking for another avenue to move his goods?
    • What exactly is the difference between a farmer and a player selling their cash this way. They are both human right?

  • Possible solution- (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:59PM (#19508475)
    (I will use WoW as my example- but I don't play it, so I apologize if I get terms or numbers wrong).

    I think this could solve the problems of gold selling. You have an in-game auction house where you can sell and buy gold for real money, using the credit card you have on the account. Blizzard would probably take a small cut of the money (say 5-10%). However, it would be set up so that the gold you sell will be taken off next month's bill, with the stipulation that you can reduce your bill to 0, but you can't reduce it past 0. People trying to make a profit would have to use another system (and since people aren't actually making money with this system, Blizzard can avoid alot of IRS madness).

    This would pose a huge problem for dedicated gold sellers.
    1. Since you can't earn more money than you are paying Blizzard anyway, you can't turn a profit using this system.
    2. People trying to turn a profit will need to establish a secondary 'black market'
    3. The black market would be less convinient than the legitimate one- you'd have to set up a meeting outside of the game entirely, just like gold sellers do now.
    4. The black market is less trustworthy than Blizzard's market- your gold isn't guaranteed the way Blizzard's system would be.
    5. Since anyone can sell gold easily, the competition in the legit market would be huge.
    6. #3 and #4 means that the black market would have to sell gold at a fraction of the price of the legit market to sell gold at all- and #5 means the base price is low.
    7. End result: Gold farming for massive profit is impossible. Gold farming for minor profit is really hard. Gold farming for for free WoW time is possible, and those with plenty of time will be able to.

    I know some people object to gold buying because they believe that it's cheating. These people could be placed on server(s) that don't have the cash-gold auction house. Most people's objections to gold farmers, though, is that profit-seeking groups destroy fun by wrecking economies, camping mobs, hogging quest items, etc. Those groups will cease to exist once they can't turn a good profit. Everyone wins- people who object to the trade get their own server where there is no selling, and people who want to trade get servers where gold farming groups don't have a motive to disrupt anyone else. Oh, I guess the gold farmer's don't win, but that's sorta the point.
    • Everquest 2 took this system, and it was a main reason that many people avoided it. The average user doesn't "want" to buy gold, and they want a level playing field. Gold-selling inherantly makes a system more biased towards favoring those who spend more money on the game.
    • by seebs (15766)
      You don't get it!

      If Blizzard lets you buy gold for money, they have just established gold as having economic value, making them potentially liable for server crashes and so on. They fake hassle if gold has monetary value.
      • If Blizzard lets you play their game for money, they've just established time online as having monentary value, making them potentially liable for server crashes and so on.

        Letting you purchase gold from them is no different than charging you to play in the first place.
        • by seebs (15766)
          No, it is different. It's a lot different.

          If I buy a month of "service when the service is up, which doesn't include Tuesdays", then, at the end of the month, either the service was up or it wasn't -- and Blizzard is very careful to give free days when delays get out of hand.

          Now, imagine that I buy a thousand gold. If I lose that thousand gold, it was *worth money*. If all they sell is access to servers, not actual ownership of stuff, then a database error that loses my gold doesn't matter. If they sell
          • What if a database error deletes your character? Does your character not have known economic value? I think it's pretty silly of you to imply that losing character data is okay now but not okay if there happens to be a few more bits set because someone bought gold from Blizzard. Or that some of the extras you can buy now from Blizzard (primarily pets) which Blizzard sells have no economic value, but that gold would if Blizzard sold it.

            Basically, if Blizzard is only selling you a service now, then I'm
            • by seebs (15766)
              Boy, you're really stretching it there.

              The fact is, there's a difference between selling someone a thing and a service, and the law has not historically been very supportive of attempts to say things like "I didn't sell him gold, I sold him the service of giving him gold". It's bull and everyone knows it.

              BTW, the custom pets that you get for special things, like attending blizzcon, or having a collector's edition? You can regain them if they get lost or destroyed. That's because they have value. :)
    • there was an ebay-like service that opened like that about a year ago, ebid or something. Wouldn't let you withdraw money from the system. It folded like a sheet of giftwrap. There's no incentive to sell other than to work off debt from an earlier purchase - as such it relies on a constant influx of new users and is topologically equivalent to a pyramid scheme with a low rate of expansion.
    • by aicrules (819392)

      5. Since anyone can sell gold easily, the competition in the legit market would be huge.

      I wouldn't participate in a market that demanded that I sell 1000 gold for less than what it goes for now on the average gold seller site. 1000g is a LOT of work to end up with..what $15? My feeling is that too many people would feel the same and just like auction house prices, you'd settle into a price that is, on average, profitable for the person selling and a good deal for the person buying. Yes there will be temporary and longer term fluctuations, but this isn't like selling stuff in the real wor

      • Why would the gold seller site pay you more for your gold than they could get from the auction? Gold re-sellers would always pay you less for your gold than the going rate at the official Auction house. (They would, however, pay you in real money instead of credit toward your subscription). Likewise, they would have to charge less than the official Auction prices, because the auction would be safer and easier than going through a third party.

        My feeling is that too many people would feel the same and just like auction house prices, you'd settle into a price that is, on average, profitable for the person selling and a good deal for the person buying.

        What you just described is called a market. Amazingly,

    • by brkello (642429)
      They already do this in Eve. You can exchange in game currency for game codes that pay your access for that month.
      • But is it more cost effective to get free play time or sell the currency to others? If it takes 10,000 Altarian dollars/month, but I can make $20 selling those to another player, it's always worth taking the $20 and paying my subscription with that. The auction system has the advantage of being self-correcting (but the disadvantage that it doesn't take money out of the system).
        • by KronicD (568558)
          You do both.

          - Player 1 buys a game code with real money
          - Player 2 buys the game code off player with with space money
          - Player 1 & Player 2 are happy

          This is how the system currently works.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      How does that replace the currently banned system? It doesn't. It adds another avenue of turn gold into money and does absolutely nothing to stop the black market that already exists.

      In fact, it hurts it, because now it's even harder to track the blackmarket transfers.

      The only way to kill the black market would be to sell gold for real money officially, and have only Blizzard and a single player involved in the transaction.
  • Are you planning on making option and futures contracts available? It would be interesting to be able to do things like strangles, collars and calendar spreads. And Forex! WoW against Everquest currencies! Schools don't teach finance anymore - maybe something like this could take its place.
  • by seebs (15766) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @02:07PM (#19508593) Homepage
    Given that nearly everyone in this industry asks you to agree to some kind of EULA to get access to their servers, you must break promises to be in this business at all.

    So why should we trust you? If you're willing to lie to them, how do we know you aren't lying to us, too?
    • by merreborn (853723)

      Given that nearly everyone in this industry asks you to agree to some kind of EULA to get access to their servers, you must break promises to be in this business at all.

      So why should we trust you? If you're willing to lie to them, how do we know you aren't lying to us, too?

      Reputation and testimonials. If I hear from a half dozen people in my guild that they've had succesful transactions with GoldRUs.co.xk, then I'll probably trust them. Similarly, if WeGotGold.co.xk screws people regularly, word will prob

      • by seebs (15766)
        It's an interesting notion, but wouldn't an EFFECTIVE scammer start by building reputation until a lot of people bought in?

        They're liars. Liars tell lies...
        • by merreborn (853723)

          They're liars. Liars tell lies...

          Liars also sometimes tell the truth. Some liars tell the truth almost all the time.

          If you can't trust someone who's lied even once, you can't trust anyone. It's ridiculous and useless to attempt to dichotomize the world into "Liars" and "Those who never lie".

          It's an interesting notion, but wouldn't an EFFECTIVE scammer start by building reputation until a lot of people bought in?

          It's a lot of work. More work than it's worth. An effective scammer is not the scammer that d

          • by seebs (15766)
            These aren't just people who might lie once; they are people whose entire business is built on premeditated and ongoing acceptance of contracts with intent to break them.

            That's not the level of "everyone lies sometimes" I'm likely to overlook.
            • by merreborn (853723)

              These aren't just people who might lie once; they are people whose entire business is built on premeditated and ongoing acceptance of contracts with intent to break them.


              Anyone who makes use of their services is violating the exact same contract.
  • Honesty? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cornflake917 (515940) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @02:30PM (#19508943) Homepage
    Are you going to be clear to your customers that trading virtual money might get them banned from the MMO they are playing?
    World of Warcraft's Terms of Service is pretty nasty. It basically reserves the right to ban any account they feel like without providing any reason. Your FAQ says that you realize that some game companies don't want players trading virtual goods while you think it is a gamer's right to be able to trade virtual itmes. I'm pretty sure that statement isn't going to save your customers from getting banned from WoW.

    Also, how does your company feel about possibly ruining game experiences for others gamers? Many MMO companies design their game economy around the fact that players can only obtain money through the game mechanics, without any outside effects. If your company destroys the fun factor of a game by ruining the economy, how will you deal with the possible legal action coming from the companies that have a decimated user base?
    • by brkello (642429)
      They aren't ruining the game experience. They are adding to the challenge. If you can actually get the pull from all the bot gold sellers then you will feel that much better about yourself. Sure, all the good farm spots will be gone...but 1000 gold is only $19.95. Plus, you get the added benefit of learning Chinese if you want....ni hao!
  • 1) Doesn't providing this service make YOU a middle man? It would seem that it does not eliminate middle men at all.

    2) Does it disturb you that I'm wishing cancer on you right now? I'm wishing every employee of your company from the lowliest janitor to the CEO gets cancer and dies. Of cancer. In the ass. Does that disturb you at all? Because that's what I'm wishing for. Right now.

  • In the real world, inflation is caused by an increased supply of money, it's simple supply and demand, the government prints it, the banks loan out something like 20x their deposits and all the existing money in the economy is devalued an equivalent amount causing prices to increase.

    If you are pumping money into the game economy, I'd expect commodities like items to start increasing in price.

     
  • What in the HELL are you people talking about????
  • Here's my question: I already have to deal with RMT spam on a constant basis inside the MMOGs that I play. Why are you making me look at the same thing on Slashdot?

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      This is as much a viral marketing attempt (and as lousy of one) as the 'article' posted by the Zune shill a week ago.

      My question is, did the editors explicitly flag these advertisements for display, or is someone gaming the firehose?

  • Is it any coincidence that Sparter launched/made their announcement on 6/13, two days after Blizzard performed a massive ban of bot/farming accounts?

    How will Sparter handle customers who get banned? http://www.qj.net/WoW-gold-farmer-laments-on-Blizz ard-s-account-purge/pg/49/aid/94937 [qj.net]

    I suspect Sparter will have numerous buyers and sellers committed, will have funds in transfer and the next wave of bans will come through and leave them holding monies without WoW account connections. Convenient.

    That or s

    • by geekoid (135745)
      I don't think it is this companies responsibility to track whether or not their customers are breaking some EULA or not.
  • So how many fourms, newgroups and private e-mail accounts will you be spamming on a daily basis to promote this stuff?

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