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The Almighty Buck Role Playing (Games)

The MMOG Moneysellers Respond To Your Questions 228

Posted by Zonk
from the i-would-not-use-it-same-i-am-i-would-not-use-greenbucks-and-spam dept.
Last week we asked you for questions to pass on to the folks behind the Gamers2Gamers RMT service. The response, from reading the comments, was mixed. The thinking seemed to mostly be that this was a marketing stunt, aimed at getting people to check out their website. There were several good questions, though, and we passed on the hardest ones to Sparter CEO Dan Kelly and CTO Boris Putanec. The response from these executives should lay to rest for you the issue of whether this was a marketing ploy or not. Moreover, some of their answers give insight into the company's grasp of the RMT market as a whole, and their chances of success in the competitive MMOG genre. I encourage you to read on to see how they've responded to our queries. Thanks to the Sparter execs for their timely response.
Marketing by Zonk:
Many users expressed annoyance that you wanted to speak directly with them via this venue. Your interest in speaking with users was seen by many as a blatant attempt at marketing. Is your interest in contacting Slashdot motivated more by an interest in talking over the issue of RMT in a public forum, or are you primarily interested in promoting your new service?

Sparter Executives:
We believe Sparter is a product that helps gamers and so of course want to let them know about it. But a core part of our mission is putting a bright light on RMT and promoting a fair and open conversation about gamers' interest in buying and selling game items.

We think there are good things about RMT, but also recognize the bad behavior that it sometimes engenders (though bad behavior in-game is not limited to people who trade gold). We need to sort fact from conjecture and based upon a good debate of the issues work together to build a workable solution. Our point of view is that spammers, bot farmers, hackers and dupers are the real villains. The gamer who has gold to sell and the gamer who wants to buy are not bad people and supporting their needs can help the industry grow. We approached Slashdot because it's a great forum in which to initiate the conversation.

RMT Legality by Cirak:
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?

Sparter Executives:
Good question. Here's how we see it: publishers do not have the right to tell gamers that they can't accept money from someone outside of the game. Trade can only happen when the game design provides the mechanism for transfer of game items. It's quite common for gamers to barter with each other in game (e.g., I'll give you 5 gold if you'll lead me on a quest, farm these for me while I farm those for you, entry fees to join guilds, etc) but publishers want to say that it's wrong for you to give someone $5 outside of the game?

We hope to convince publishers that gamers should be viewed differently than in-game spammers, bot farmers, hackers and, to some extent, B2C sites. Our goal is to keep RMT between gamers. Buying from another gamer on Sparter is 30-40% cheaper than buying from a professional seller's web site and it puts money in the pocket of another gamer. This is bad for IGE and good for the industry. What's more, healthy secondary markets grow primary markets.

Our ultimate goal is to partner with publishers to protect their rights, reward them for the value they create, and be more effective in banning spammers, bot farmers and hackers from a sanctioned secondary marketplace. Until then, we do our best to make sure our users are aware of the risks that non-sanctioned RMT presents in games where the publisher is hostile to their consumers' needs.

Legal? by pionzypher:
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 suits against the company?

Sparter Executives:
The peons4hire suit focuses on that company's use of WoW's in-game mail system to market peons4hire's services. Gold selling is not part of the suit. As gamers we support Blizzard in its attempts to shut down in-game spamming. We don't advertise in-game and never will without publisher approval.

There are several reasons why we think publishers are not likely to sue Sparter. First, we think publishers realize that they don't have the right to restrict a user from receiving compensation from another user outside of the game. In fact, RMT cannot occur if the game design doesn't allow for one user to hand-off an item to another user. The only difference with RMT is that rather than giving the item as a gift or in barter (e.g., for another item or help in the game), you are receiving real money outside of the game. Second, the risk of losing in court is potentially disastrous for the publisher. This is why we view the lawsuit against IGE by the contingency lawyer in Miami as potentially hazardous to the industry. Sparter is trying to be proactive on this issue by requiring that all our users recognize the rights of content originators and the limitations of gamers' rights. Third, we estimate there are several hundred B2C web sites in operation, most outside of the jurisdiction of US courts. Lawsuits are not going to be effective in shutting down RMT. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. So let's figure out the best way for the demand to be served and take control of the situation for the benefit of gamers and the industry as a whole.

What are the real measures that will be taken? by moderatorrater:
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?

Sparter Executives:
Sparter does not buy or sell game items and we don't have an in-game presence. As a result, we cannot know for sure how our sellers behave in the game. But if you believe as we do that the truly damaging behavior is exhibited by the spammers, bot farmers, hackers and dupers, then the more we migrate the market to a true gamer-to-gamer exchange, the harder it is for those folks to profit from their actions.

We designed Sparter to give the gamer every opportunity to compete with the professional seller. They play for love of the game, don't have any overhead, marketing costs or customer service operations. The gamer will always be able to undercut the B2C. There will always be sellers of different sizes, but gamers are selling on Sparter and taking business away from the B2Cs like IGE and peons4hire (some of whom not only spam in-game but, we suspect, are the primary currency outlet for the dupers, hackers and bot farmers). In fact, our typical seller undercuts IGE by 30-40% and is making enough to pay for his WoW subscription.

Without a partnership with the publisher, we have no way of knowing how our sellers are behaving in game. That's why we're talking with developers and publishers and asking them to partner with us to help regulate the secondary market and, when justified, ban those who behave badly from not only the game (e.g., publisher shuts down their account) but also the marketplace (e.g., Sparter bans their selling account for all games). We are well positioned to view trading activity and supply levels by game, server and seller. If we see something suspicious, we would gladly flag this for a publisher for further investigation. Our goal is to be the marketplace for good gamers; the truly bad actors of the RMT world can sell their gold elsewhere.

Heavyweight Perception by Zonk
The heads of several Massive development firms have come out squarely against the concept of Real Money Transfer in current AAA online games. For example, Mark Jacobs of EA Mythic has been particularly vocal in his opinion of the practice. Given the negative view of RMT by these companies, do you have any plans to attempt to sway their opinions? Ie: will there be any attempt to have game companies 'buy in' on the Gamers2Gamers concept, in a theoretical rather than financial manner?

Sparter Executives:
We definitely want to get publishers and developers on board with Sparter and Gamer2Gamer trade. We're talking to many publishers and explaining our perspective on the situation. We spend a lot of time asking questions and listening to their concerns. We think Sparter is on the right path to create a workable solution for the industry, but if there are better ideas we want to hear them. That is also why we approached Slashdot, so we could hear from gamers other than those using our service.

We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern. Many see the B2Cs such as IGE as supporters of these behaviors; we see B2Cs as unnecessary in the long term if we can turn this into a C2C market. If publishers can help us do this we can keep the purchasing power that is going to B2Cs in the pockets of gamers. That's good for publishers and good for the industry. There are many issues wrapped into how RMT is perceived and we need to start breaking the problem down and creating solutions.

Cheating Your System by eldavojohn:
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?

Sparter Executives:
Our first goal is to protect the buyer; we do this by escrowing the buyer's funds and not paying the seller unless they deliver. As a result it is impossible for a seller to profit on Sparter by defrauding a buyer. The "lying buyer" is a different problem. We do have systems in place to catch fraudsters and identify suspicious patterns of behavior, and we use this information to ban buyers we suspect of lying (a costly ban since they can never buy on Sparter again). But we cannot entirely fix this problem without help from publishers. By choosing to not support their consumers' needs, publishers have cast gamers into a very risky grey market dominated by B2Cs and replete with fraud. Organizing a clean and sanctioned market is the best way to protect good gamers.

The Assured Protection of Human Rights by eldavojohn:
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 middleman from acting like a player? How am I assured that some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money does not earn my gold? How am I assured this isn't still some cog in a scheme to exploit foreign workers?

Sparter Executives:
We believe that C2C markets like Sparter's Gamer2Gamer exchange empower and help the people you mentioned. By lowering the cost of entry, Sparter allows everyone to be listed and compete in an integrated, open marketplace. Just as eBay and others have made it possible for thousands of small home-based businesses to flourish, we believe a C2C approach to RMT will create entrepreneurs out of the people who can only be employees now.

In recent years, a lot of folks have come to connect RMT to goldfarming sweatshops. We fully recognize that many gamers have hard feelings toward farmers, but the sweatshop assumption has been blown out of proportion. Our experience is that the reality is far more complex. It is important to keep in mind that farming produces a competitive wage and is not a low-quality job in the countries we are talking about. To see what we mean, check out the recent article about this subject in the New York Times Magazine by Julian Dibbell (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/17/magazine/17lootfarmers-t.html).

FraudStopping by Howzer:
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?

Sparter Executives:
This question is very similar to the earlier "Cheating Your System" question which outlines the fraud problem. As mentioned there, we have systems which look at all aspects of the transaction to gauge its likeliness to be fraudulent. Our strongest long-term weapon is the ability to ban participants from the marketplace, a tactic which is much more effective in the C2C world where a scammer cannot just move on to the next gold selling B2C website. Since gamers on Sparter tend to under price the B2Cs by 30-40%, getting banned for bad behavior is stealing from your own pocket.

Market Control & Conversion System? by eldavojohn:
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?

Sparter Executives:
We are always evaluating new features and functionality for Sparter's platform, and some gamers have asked for direct currency to currency trades. As you suggest, the current solution is to trade one MMO currency into USD and then buy the other MMO currency with USD. The current per game/realm/faction currency graphs against USD would allow you to synthesize cross-currency graphs if you were interested in a particular combination.

Your "control of the market" questions raise a very interesting point that bears some careful analysis. There is a good reason why the Federal Reserve is separate and distinct from the SEC and the banks--this allows each to make the best decision for their area of responsibility. Internally, we have discussed implementing curbs on certain activities, but those actions have not been taken to date. This is an area where we would welcome input from developers, publishers, traders, gamers and economists on the best set of rules to follow. The right rules for environments where production theoretically is infinite are not always easy to determine.

Taxes by hardburn:
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?

Sparter Executives:
We cannot give tax advice and anyone who has specific questions about their situation should consult a tax professional. However, as we see it this issue is much bigger than just RMT, with governments thinking very hard about how to tap the revenue from all forms of online commerce. The constant debate about charging sales tax for Internet transactions is a perfect example--maybe a hopeful one since the catalog/online industries have managed to avoid that so far.

As to your question about income tax, because our typical seller is earning roughly enough to pay for his WoW subscription, we see selling on Sparter as analogous to selling on eBay, putting on a garage sale, or running a great lemonade stand.

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The MMOG Moneysellers Respond To Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • by svendsen (1029716) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @01:53PM (#19678563)
    "Here's how we see it: publishers do not have the right to tell gamers that they can't accept money from someone outside of the game."

    but they do have the right to say if you want to play our game then you may not accept money from someone outside of the game for in game services/items/whatever because it's a private game on private servers, and the TOS you agree to when you play the game. Just seems like more people and more people want to make a buck no matter who they trample over.
    • by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch&gmail,com> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:19PM (#19678893) Journal
      The validity of such an article in the TOS agreements isn't unquestionable and is becoming more unlikely every day. The instant Congress makes virtual items taxable that agreement is meaningless, it's akin to a bank saying "If you want to bank here then you can only use checks, you can't withdraw your money or use credit or debit". Actually it's more akin to a bank saying "If you want to bank here then you can never withdraw your money, you can only trade it to other accounts here without any compensation for the trade outside the bank. If we find out that Bill gave you $2 out of the bank to give his account $2 we will confiscate your money."

      So long as virtual items remain virtual the agreement has some legal binding (though that is questionable as well, even a contract can't make you sign away certain rights as I understand it). I'd rank the questionality of these activities somewhere around watching anime only released in Japan online, it's not exactly legal, but the chance of being sued for making it available is low and the chance of losing a lot by doing it even lower. Blizzard (or another company) would have to get evidence that one or more in-game trades were precipitated by this service, which would require a lot more work than it sounds like. Firstly the act of trading a large amount of money in and of itself can't be considered for evidence. Even if it can be shown that both players involved have accounts with these moneysellers, and that one may work for the moneysellers, that doesn't mean the trade was due to real money being exchanged. To go after these guys Blizzard (or another company) would have to show that real money was exchanged, a difficult proposition with detectives and much more difficult for a group who have little real world presence in terms of law enforcement.

      He's probably wrong, at the moment. In all likelyhood the count would uphold that, for now, the company has the right to tell gamers they can't do that. But, much as with DRM at the moment, they have little ability to stop gamers. The moment they confiscate too many accounts that weren't involved in questionable activities is the moment the court may start looking at them in a different light, even taking away virtual possessions that have time value to their owner can be considered confiscation of possessions which requires at least some proof. It's a gray area, I doubt the big MMO's will go after them because of the dangers involved but what they are doing is, at least to my understanding at the present time, questionably legal...
      • by beldraen (94534)
        Not trying to be mean, here, it is just that there is a lot of "common sense" going around in these debates that is just not correct.

        First, the government will never be interested in taxing virtual goods because it already does. Taxable income is, roughly speaking, any increase in wealth not derived by previous obligation. Any time you get a dinner from a friend that is taxable income. Any time you get a pair of tickets you won off of the local radio station that is taxable income. Again, any time you
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WNight (23683) *
          There's a prevailing legal belief that you can sell a service, then for any reason, refuse to provide that service...

          As was mentioned, there may be an EULA forbidding certain actions, but it's not clear that a contract for use of a service can dictate your ability to charge money for an otherwise legal thing. Especially since the contract is one-sided and obviously from an unequal balance of power.

          It's as silly as if a PvP game that decided talking to someone outside the game (icq, msn, voip, etc) was cheat
    • by shaitand (626655)
      'Just seems like more people and more people want to make a buck no matter who they trample over.'

      Last I checked violated the TOS doesn't trample anyone in and of itself.
      • by svendsen (1029716)
        All the others who play the game fairly who feel the effects are.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shaitand (626655)
          First. There is no correlation between the TOS and fair play. Just as there is no correlation between obeying the law and doing what is right in the real world. It is possible to break the law without doing wrong and it is possible to break the TOS without doing wrong.

          Second. What effects are those? Buying and selling gold certainly doesn't hurt anyone. That part where you grind and work hard for something in the game to earn it and get pissed when I buy it is not you feeling the effects. That is just you b
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by svendsen (1029716)
            I love the real life analogy to a VIDEO GAME, it makes no sense. Video games != Real life.

            Remember you don't won the characters or items. You pay Blizzard to have the privilege of using their servers in the way they tell you too. Everything belongs to blizzard.

            It affects people by inflation, making spam bots, gold farmers sealing off areas (enter one where you need a drop...good luck). If what you do affects anyone's playing experience because you broke the terms of the TOS then that's the issue.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by osgeek (239988)
            There are tons of arguments about how paying for gold outside of the game changes the way it works.
            • It creates real world economies that produce hordes of third-world sweat shops farming in areas where I'd like to just be enjoying myself with other gamers. Farmers suck. In-game spammers suck. These things would be a rarity if not for real world value driving them.
            • I enjoy playing by "the rules of the game". I don't want to cheat by leaving the constraints of the rules. I want everyone else to obey the
      • by 0racle (667029)
        Last time I played, it did.
        • by shaitand (626655)
          In what way? Someone having an easier time than you is not something that affects you. There are ways to violate the terms of service that hurt you like hacking your account or hacking in a way that impacts PvP but there are zillions of ways to violate the terms of service that don't hurt you at all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The argument is ludicrous. It's like saying that the casinos have no right to prevent me from cheating. It's their game, you're connecting to their servers to participate in their world. You don't have "rights". You don't have even fundamental freedoms like the right to free speech, free association, against search and seizure, etc.

      So the idea that you should have the "right" to do whatever you want with THEIR goods on THEIR servers makes no sense -- this is purely rationalization to justify their staying i
      • by NMerriam (15122)

        It's like saying that the casinos have no right to prevent me from cheating.

        Cheating at a casino is illegal, not a violation of the casino's terms of service. A Casino can kick you out for any reason they like, it's private property. But they can't deprive you of your legal property (whether winnings or personal belongings) just because they kicked you out.

        The only remaining legal question is whether "virtual" property is owned by the service provider or the gamer. You agree with the Terms of Service, but

    • by EvilNight (11001) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:33PM (#19679069)
      There are concepts in economics that are much like a 'human right' and are defended as such, regardless of what any contracts signed may stipulate. Typically, the right of resale is one of them, at least in capitalist markets. No one can tell you that you cannot sell a good or service you have, or resell another good or service you bought - such a thing simply won't hold up in court since it defeats the purpose of basic economics. Of course, what do you do when you're technically a lessee of your body and the entire world you live in is a virtual one owned by the same people leasing you the body? It probably comes down to whose rights are more important to the court in that case.

      Companies will gladly take any and all rights they can from you. That's their nature - they don't care about you and they don't see the world the way that you do as a consumer. They can't even be expected to know what they are and are not allowed to do - there's so much law on the books these days that Kim Peek couldn't keep it all in his head. If you want to retain rights each time a brand new marketplace opens up (virtual property for example) then you'll need to speak up when the companies inevitably deny you the same basic rights in the virtual marketplace that they provide in the physical one.

      This question is about as grey as it gets in a courtroom, by the way. Virtual property law is still uncharted territory. The best the court can do (and what they usually do) is extend real world property law into the virtual world. That's not necessarily a good idea, not without thinking it through.

      Perhaps you'd do better to look at the gaming industry as an economic market. They've now created 'virtual worlds' which are themselves economic markets locked down right now and with no way to trade goods between each other. Would it be good for everyone if a mechanism appeared that connected these virtual markets to the real world market and to each other? That's a lot of economic opportunity. People would find ways to use it that none of us can possibly imagine. If all of those markets were connected as well, you could prevent one company from printing infinite money, for example, since their overall value in the mass market would plummet due to inflation.

      You may agree to any number of license agreements, business contracts, and terms of service in your time. Chances are damn good that there are plenty of provisions in all of them that won't stand up in a court of law because they violate one precedent or right or another - just ask Microsoft how bitter that pill about the right to resell Windows was to swallow when they lost. The only way to find out is to put it in front of a judge and see what the verdict is. None of it is ever final until the court says it is.

      I'll admit that the responses to these questions were far more intelligent and surprising than I was expecting when I clicked on the link. I was expecting gold farmers and got responses worthy of VP capital investment (albeit very risky, but also very exciting). This company has taken the position that these virtual markets must be opened up and connected, and this is by no means a crazy idea. Eventually they'll sit down with the MMO companies, or with their lawyers in front of a judge, and we'll find out which way the virtual property market is going to go. Frankly, I think open is always better than closed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Y2KDragon (525979)
        But your entire argument hinges on one simple fact, that the player owns the character. They do not, Blizzard does. The only thing you receive for your monthy fee is the "right to access their systems". You don't own the character. You don't own the gear on the character. You don't own the gold the character has amassed. Therefore, you don't have the right to "sell" anything for real world money. The data is intellectual property, owned by Blizzard. Selling this data for real money by anyone other t
        • by EvilNight (11001) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:55PM (#19679387)
          Your ownership of the character is debatable. The argument is that you own the time you invest, and all of the economic goods that proceed from that investment - of which the character is one. I'd be no more right to say that you absolutely own the character than you are to say you own absolutely nothing. We've already established that what the contract says is really just a wish list for the companies who wrote them. You are taking the position that just because the company owns the hardware, they own all the virtual property on that hardware. That's like saying a bank owns your money because your money is just a bunch of ones and zeros in their mainframe somewhere. It's ridiculous. Of course, so is saying you 'own' a character.

          When both sides of the argument are ridiculous, the question will only be answered in a courtroom, not an online discussion forum.
        • But your entire argument hinges on one simple fact, that the player owns the character. They do not, Blizzard does.

          Many, many players see it differently, and it would be rash to assume the government will never agree with them--especially when acknowledging the commonly held attitude (that players DO own their virtual stuff in some sense) helps open the door to taxation for large transactions of virtual goods.

      • Typically, the right of resale is one of them, at least in capitalist markets. No one can tell you that you cannot sell a good or service you have, or resell another good or service you bought - such a thing simply won't hold up in court since it defeats the purpose of basic economics.

        Hey, good point.

        I must remember to tell my dope-peddling friends about that one. Maybe they can give the judge the URL to your slashdot posting.
    • Just seems like more people and more people want to make a buck no matter who they trample over.
      They're trampling over people with this service? What you have is a person with excess gold meeting a person with excess money and the two agreeing to fix the other's problem. It seems to me that Blizzard should not be regulating behavior outside the game.
  • summary (Score:5, Funny)

    by potatoeater (999315) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @01:55PM (#19678605)
    For those unwilling to read, they essentially said: "We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern." and then, "We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern." and then, "We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern." and then, "We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern." and one more time, "We think it's certain behaviors such as spamming, bot farming, hacking and duping that cause the most concern."
    • by k_187 (61692)
      Indeed, cutting through the marketing bullshit you get "We never touch the in-game items, so we're better than IGE"
    • Their comments are made even more worthless by the fact that they have other sites [sparter.com] advertising on theirs. On that page they have IGE, mmorpg-shop, and others. Gamer to gamer my ass, they're just a clearing house for everyone, and gamers can also participate if they'd like.
    • by dcollins (135727)
      Mod this up, y'all. About the 5th time I read this talking-point script I wrote off the whole interview as complete corporate marketing bullshit.

      It's really funny that the headline says, "The response from these executives should lay to rest for you the issue of whether this was a marketing ploy or not." I guess I should've known even then that the exact opposite woyld happen -- hadn't considered it before, but now 100% convinced that it's complete marketing ploy bullshit and zero useful content.

      Hypnosis no
  • +1 Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @01:57PM (#19678633)
    I like how they're creating a system to make it easier for users to engage in conduct that the publishers don't want to happen, but still want the publishers' support to help guard against buyer/seller fraud.

    I like how they say how bad bots and exploits are, but they have no in game method to watch it.

    A startup company shouldn't start with the double-talk until the actually start being successful.
    • by profplump (309017)
      The publishers only don't want that conduct to occur because they think they can make more money if they prevent/disallow it. If it became clear that publishers could make more money with such conduct their objections would stop and the conduct would be encouraged.
    • The game companies should create in game marketplaces where legitimate trading can take place with stalls and places to advertise (boy they're missing a trick there) and yes, currency exchanges can take place. Stick them on the borders of the land or something.

      As for tax. Well, income is income, it doesn't really matter where the source is.
       
    • by Synn (6288)
      If publishers don't want it to happen, then they need to code their games in such a way where it's not possible. Otherwise, the reality of the situation is that people are going to do it so they better make sure it happens in a way that doesn't harm their game.

      As it is now, publishers are pretty much burying their heads in the sand on the issue. SOE being the exception, as they allow cash to money/item trades in game on some servers in EQ2.
  • Go away. You ruin what little closed world experience exists in these games as it is by allowing people to cheat their way up.

    While I'm happy you feel the need to roll around in large wads of money, I don't feel the need to become beholden to you when you drive up market costs so much that everyone is forced to buy from you.
    • Go away. You ruin what little closed world experience exists in these games as it is by allowing people to cheat their way up.

      While I'm happy you feel the need to roll around in large wads of money, I don't feel the need to become beholden to you when you drive up market costs so much that everyone is forced to buy from you.

      The companies are only there because there is a demand for their services. As long as there is demand, there will always be real money trading. Unless a company like Blizzard finds a way to eliminate the demand (by redesigning their game) or by eliminating the ability to trade in-game assets for real money (all but impossible), there will always be people who will conduct such trades, be it through a large company or in an individualized black market of sorts.

  • by dave1791 (315728) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:05PM (#19678735)
    I look at it this way, if people are willing to spend money to NOT experience part of the game, then there is a fundamental design flaw in the game. As long as MMO designers use the grind because it makes their world sticky, there will be RMT. Some people have more money than time or more money than patience. I'd not hesitate to buy a character and skip the grind myself, though I don't play on MMOs because they are centered on... surprise... the grind.

    So if publishers really want to stop RMT, they should look at the cause and not the symptom.
    • I agree with you, but I'm curious what other system of merit/advancement is possible aside from "the grind." I don't play any of these games myself, but it seems inevitable that you have to work your way up in one way or another. What are the alternatives?
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:23PM (#19678937) Homepage
        Put the quests in a proper increasing difficulty such that the experience you gain from doing one quest is enough to let you move onto the next quest. Think about it this way. Compare Dragon Warrior 1, with Zelda 1 (just for simplicity's sake). In DW, you have to spend hours killing slimes and other lame enemies (aka killing boards in the woods) in order to get your character to be good enough to actually complete the quest part of the game (finding weapons, items, and killing boss characters). On the other hand, in Zelda, the Items you get from completing the first dungeon, is usually all you need when you move onto the second dungeon. The fun part is going through the levels, and beating the boss characters. Not spending hours killing the exact same enemies over and over again. Make it so that you don't have to kill the enemies over and over again.
        • This makes sense, but isn't part of the point of these MMORPG's that they are very open ended? I would imagine that this is a large part of the appeal of these games. Zelda isn't open ended at all. There's a very defined path through the game. While Zelda is a great game, I can't imagine playing it online with millions of other people.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            But then they have to make lots of quests with varying difficulty. When you're playing these kinds of games, there's only 2 things you can do. That is, complete a quest, or kill boars in the forest. Make the game have enough quests at each difficultly level such that you don't have walk in circles killing the same enemy over and over again just to have enough experience. Make it interesting to obtain the experience, and the game will be fun. If you look at just about any other RPG out there, they are a
            • So all Zelda does is provide the same kind of game without "the grind".
              And does it all within a total playtime equivalent to maybe two months of MMO subscription. That does not encourage a continuous revenue stream.

              I haven't played any MMORPGs, but what about them makes them so "open ended"?
              "the grind".
            • MMOs typically do not have quests that you "have to" do as any significant portion of the game. At a certain level you might have a choice of four or five different dungeons to go to, each of which has its own little mini questline with items, EXP and gold as rewards. Quests are almost entirely "kill ten X", "go to X location", "find ten random drop X from Y creature", "kill the boss", "find ten stone markers on the ground", etc. Alternately you could just find a corner and grind yourself up in levels witho
              • > Quests are almost entirely

                Wow only has 6 basic types of quests:
                * "Kill" -- Kill 'X' out of 'Y' mobs
                * "Random Drop" -- Kill 'X' mobs until item 'Z' drops
                * "Boss" -- Kill 'X' mob (usually a boss) and get their 'Y' body part
                * "Gopher" -- Semi-Common. Go fetch item 'Z'
                * "Escort" -- Rare. Escort NPC from 'A' to 'B'
                * "Defend" -- Very rare. Defend/protect an npc against incoming waves of mobs.

                --
                Wikipedia believes in the myth of NPOV. You can see the censoring u
          • The main difficulty with mmorgs is that to do as he asks would require developing a hundred to a thousand times more content. Developing content takes people time and so it costs money. All that content has to run on content servers (not such a big issue now that they have instances but a big deal in shared zones).

            The type of mmorg he is picturing (with a huge amount of content) would be very expensive. The grind allows them to develop one dungeon and require that you use it for a hundred hours before yo
      • by dave1791 (315728) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:37PM (#19679137)
        As an amateur virtual world designer (http://rpg-gamerz.com/smf/index.php), this is something I've pondered a lot and don't really have an answer, but I can say a couple of things. 1- you don't see RMT in smaller, closed knit communities such as with NWN. Everyone knows everyone, so it is almost like a guild in itself. This helps, but people tend to like the eye candy of the big commercial worlds. 2- and on the RP servers, part of the advancement (titles, housing, etc) is GM granted based on the players roleplay history with that character. Only a very small percentage of MMO players are roleplayers, so this is not an answer. 3-Have you ever plyed a FPS online? I have and I get massacred every time. Everyone's toon is the same and yet there is a clear "level" difference - among the players.

        My hunch is that MUDs/PWs/MMOs/VWs, whatever you want to call them, need to take a page from the FPS rulebook and make player capital (skill) more important than avatar capital (Edward Castronova's term for levels, gold, gear, etc.). Make the game something that takes years to master, but that years is not spent simply leveling up a toon and I think you have a recipe.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          The player capital vs avatar capital distinction is very interesting. However, isn't avatar capital the whole point of RPG's? How hard is it to navigate around and press the "attack" or "magic" or "run away" button? I think you're on to a good idea, but it seems like a very difficult problem to solve in a way that will yield an enjoyable gaming experience.
          • The player capital vs avatar capital distinction is very interesting. However, isn't avatar capital the whole point of RPG's? How hard is it to navigate around and press the "attack" or "magic" or "run away" button? I think you're on to a good idea, but it seems like a very difficult problem to solve in a way that will yield an enjoyable gaming experience.

            It's easy to solve in a way that yields a fun game. What is difficult--and probably impossible--is to solve it in a way that yields a fun game with RPG mechanics. The entire gameplay style is inherently broken in this regard... which makes sense, in a way; they're called Role-Playing Games for a reason and if you remove the "role playing" aspect you're left with something fundamentally similar to Progress Quest.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sage Gaspar (688563)
          Yep, and PvP is a big part of this. Age of Conan and Warhammer, the two upcoming MMOs getting the most attention atm, both feature PvP heavily. The bottom line is that there are not enough content designers in the world to satiate the MMO appetite for content while keeping it at a high level challenge without grinds and timesinks. If you pit players against each other in fun, balanced combat with some decent goals system on top of it, you'll have a winner. I've played maps in my favorite FPS upwards of 24 h
        • I'd play an FPS.

          I happen to like the game mechanics in PVE MMO's.

          While there's nothing wrong with enjoying playing a twitch based game, I personally don't enjoy it as much.

          Currently I play WoW. As for the grind in WoW, you only have to do that as much as you want to. Only real "grinding" I ever did was leveling up to 60 and then to 70.

          Most of 0 to 60 was fun, because it was new. Personally I hated leveling from 60 to 70. I will probably never reroll another toon, because I don't enjoy leveling.

          But, now that
      • I agree with you, but I'm curious what other system of merit/advancement is possible aside from "the grind." I don't play any of these games myself, but it seems inevitable that you have to work your way up in one way or another. What are the alternatives?

        The alternative is actual player skill, not character "skill". You can't go on eBay and buy hours of practice; if that was possible I'd play far more musical instruments than I do. The problem with that is it requires the game be less mindless and to actually punish players somehow for failure, neither of which is popular with the MMORPG player demographic as a whole. Current MMORPGs cater to people who want a fantasy world where "working harder, not smarter" is how you get ahead. (Well, and to people who

      • by HUADPE (903765)
        It's actually interesting that many of the complaints about "the grind" in WoW (the only MMORPG I know well) aren't quite valid. Blizzard has made several components of the game massive time sinks in order to placate those with no life, but they aren't essential to progressing. Mostly this is since the last patch. A couple of examples. The "nether drake" is a fancy looking dragon you can ride around on that has no utility in completing game content besides looking cool. It is very time consuming to get
        • > "the grind" in WoW (the only MMORPG I know well) aren't quite valid.

          The _only_ way to level up, is to kill things, so how is the grind "not valid" ???
        • by tm2b (42473)
          I'm with you.

          I played EQ2 before WoW. In EQ2, at least when I played, you could do all the quests in the world (which I did), and you'd still have to "grind," which is to say kill things just for the direct benefit (Xp or loot) of the killing, and not in the service of advancing any plot line.

          Before EQ2, I played City of Heroes. There, most of the missions were akin to grinding - levels that were randomized off of one of a number of very simple templates, and players had to return to very similar le
      • by Endo13 (1000782)
        Well, that's the problem. There's really only two alternatives, the first of which is to offer enough real unique content to keep players busy without making them replay the same content over and over. It's easy to see why most MMO developers go with the grind over this first alternative - you get a lot more play time (and therefore more months of subscriptions) for the same amount of effort in designing content. The second alternative is to allow lots of freedom for player-made content, (think player-built
  • by Saxerman (253676) * on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:06PM (#19678743) Homepage
    For those of you who haven't figured out why this is dumb yet, consider playing a board game with friends, and having one of your more affluent friends pulling out his wallet and offering other players real money for their monopoly money.
    • by k_187 (61692)
      The only idiot in that situation is the buyer. They are the ones paying money for nothing (don't know if their chicks are free). The seller similarly gets money for nothing. Why wouldn't they engage in that transaction?
      • by svendsen (1029716)
        If it where just the seller and buyer playing then their would be no issue. However they are other players who want to play by the rules. What you are doing is circumventing the rules and causing their experience to suffer. Bots, spam, inflation, etc. Since what they do effects more then just the buyer and seller that's the issue.
        • by k_187 (61692)
          Well, monopoly is a poor example, as its a zero-sum game. If one player gets better, its always to my own detriment. WoW, not so much. One player buying gold, doesn't harm my ability to farm gold, run instances or anything else.
        • The difference between a board game with six players and an MMO with tens or hundreds of thousands is a a difference in degree so large as to be a difference in kind. If one of six people in a Monopoly game drops a huge wad of cash on buying someone else's properties and Monopoly money, there's a material impact on the remaining four players, since now one person controls a full third of the wealth in the game.

          This is a different story when even the biggest spender can only amass a tenth of a percent of all
      • by revlayle (964221)
        Another note, unless you play board games that can go on for weeks or months (or longer, and some very strategic board games can take a while to play)) as well as have many more people playing, the analogy becomes weaker. If people were playing a variant of Monopoly with 150 people that lasted 2 years, would this behavior become more common?
      • by Saxerman (253676) *
        Consider the same transaction when done between two D&D players. Consider the transaction between a player and the DM. What sort of game are they then playing?

        When I go skiing or hunting or hiking, I pay good money so I can spend more time doing the parts of those activities I enjoy. I outfit myself in gear that will increase my enjoyment. Are those dumb transactions?

        Where do you find fun, and how much does it cost?
        • by SL Baur (19540)
          That's a completely different situation. There is absolutely zero chance that you can go out and kill a bear in the woods somewhere and have it drop a pair of skis, or a better gun, etc.
    • Except it's a game of monopoly where everyone is a winner if they sit at the table for long enough.
    • by merreborn (853723)

      For those of you who haven't figured out why this is dumb yet, consider playing a board game with friends, and having one of your more affluent friends pulling out his wallet and offering other players real money for their monopoly money.

      If I was playing an 8 million player, multi-year long game of monopoly, I'd *expect* a certain portion of the players to do just that.

      When you've spent thousands of hours of your life playing a single game, throwing an extra $20 bucks at it now and then doesn't seem like th

    • That's not dumb at all. If someone wants to win a monopoly game bad enough, paying real money for another player to give them an advantage is the first thing that comes to mind. What they should really do is disallow any trading at all.
      • by Saxerman (253676) *
        Paying money is the first thing that comes to mind? What about just brazenly dropping hotels on their property without playing for them? Pummeling the other players for their cash? Or stealthily picking up some extra cash from the bank? Or fudging your dice rolls so you make it past Park Place?

        Sometimes the structure of the universe is there for us to enjoy. And sometimes it's the other way around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TrueJim (107565)
      I disagree. I think one of the other posters already summed this up quite well: you're basically paying somebody to help you skip some "boring" part of the game. (In this case, grinding.) I would gladly pay somebody $20 if doing so allowed me to skip 40 hours of "boring" Monopoly so that I could play just the 10 hours of "fun" Monopoly. The flaw here is on the part of the game designers. They shouldn't be designing a game that contains portions so boring that people are actually willing to pay to avoid
    • by Rhys (96510) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @03:45PM (#19680189) Homepage
      What that point misses is that in the MMO world there isn't any "I win"... In monopoly, the game ends: there is a winner, and there are losers. But a MMO just goes on. You'd do better with an analogy of a pen&paper RPG where you can bribe the GM with pizza.

      Except in a p&p RPG you usually can bribe the GM with game logs, and it is usually considered "okay". Some game systems even encourage rewarding players that do so! Or pick your other ways of describing "contributing": costume, lighting, music, props/models, or even pizza!

      In monopoly, for instance, the dude in his mom's basement gets 1 turn for every turn I get. In a MMO, he gets a lot more "turns" (hours spent in game) than I do. In the MMO arena, however, that is considered fair. In monopoly, giving him extra turns would be considered unfair.

      Poker might be a better analogy. Hands of poker end, but then there's another hand for play. Of course, someone who is rich (or foolish) will come to the table with more money than the other players. Is this a problem in poker? Answer: sometimes. Thus some (groups or games) may impose a cap (or not play for real money) on how much money you can bring to the table.

      Solution (for MMOs): Make RMT and non-RMT servers. Consumers can then decide which they'd rather play on. In addition, the RMT servers need the company that runs them to facilitate the RMT. They already have your cc #, so just tack it on to monthly fees (or deduct off prepaid time).
    • by brkello (642429)
      Stuff like this hurts to read. An analogy is something that should be used when you are trying to simplify a difficult concept. This is not hard to understand and your analogy fails because it over simplifies something that is already simple. It takes a lot of time (much longer than a game of monopoly) to do a lot of things in MMORPGs. Instead of spending all that time, some people would rather just trade with another user the items that they want. They spend money so they don't have to spend the time.
  • A non-answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:09PM (#19678797) Homepage Journal

    This question is very similar to the earlier "Cheating Your System" question which outlines the fraud problem. As mentioned there, we have systems which look at all aspects of the transaction to gauge its likeliness to be fraudulent. Our strongest long-term weapon is the ability to ban participants from the marketplace, a tactic which is much more effective in the C2C world where a scammer cannot just move on to the next gold selling B2C website. Since gamers on Sparter tend to under price the B2Cs by 30-40%, getting banned for bad behavior is stealing from your own pocket.
    Oh I see! I now fully trust that they are on top of the fraud issue. We can rest easy, they have systems that look at all aspects of the transaction!
  • Give them a break (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jaeph (710098) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:15PM (#19678849)
    By stating up-front they are against duping, in-game spamming, etc, they are really focusing on the major argument: is it right to buy and sell in-game items?

    Now many of you may knee-jerk post how wrong it is, but consider that the buy-sell industry is out there and flourishing. There are plenty of consumers who want that action. Furthermore, nobody is getting "hurt" in any traditional sense.

    This seems to me a case of a societal split in attitude, not a deep philosophical problem. Should the man walk into the room first or second when escorting a lady? That's the kind of argument we are seeing here.

    -jeff, who has never bought or sold in-game items, etc, for real-world cash.
    • by Xentor (600436)
      Q: is it right to buy and sell in-game items?

      A: It's against the terms of service for the game. You agree to these by becoming a paying subscriber. Hence, unless those rules change, it is wrong, and can get you banned from the game. Is it wrong, in the moral sense, regardless of terms? Well, if there was an infinite money/resources cheat in Counterstrike or Starcraft, would it be right or wrong to use it (Not counting single-player mode)?

      Q: There are plenty of consumers who want that action.

      A: You can s
    • by Fex303 (557896)

      Now many of you may knee-jerk post how wrong it is, but consider that the buy-sell industry is out there and flourishing. There are plenty of consumers who want that action.

      To see why this argument is wrong, replace the term 'buy-sell' with 'child prostitution'. Just because people do it doesn't make it morally right.

      Furthermore, nobody is getting "hurt" in any traditional sense.

      Depends on how you define traditional. Back when I played WoW, I couldn't afford any decent blues, let alone epics at the A

  • It seems they realize that given their lack of in game presence, they have no way of creating a totally secure system. They also make another smart move and guarantee that the individual who puts up the real currency (the buyer) will never be defrauded. However, as a seller, I still don't see why I should trust them. If someone buys gold and claims it was never sent, does the company plan on reimbursing the seller? It seems they wouldn't unless their claim of having no in-game presence is a lie. The only ot
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I would like to see an MMORPG where the creators of the game encouraged selling and trading of items. Build the payment system into the game. It wouldn't be that hard to implement the system, and would get rid of a lot of the fraud, and other problems. There wouldn't be a need for a trust rating, because the purchase would be able to see exactly what they are buying, and they would always have it transfered to their character. Also, the sell would always receive their money. Why don't the game creators
    • That is an excellent idea.

      I've been ripped off one time on ebay in over 50 transactions (and it was small) and it was by someone who had under fifty sales (and I got email from other ebay users indicating they probably got a few hundred dollars from all of us at $20 to $30 a piece).

      I would never make a major purchase from someone who had that little rep. The trust system really does work well.
      So you could decide to buy a magical sword for 999 gold from a guy with 13 sales or to buy a magical sword for 500
  • Liars and fraud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:25PM (#19678969)
    We do have systems in place to catch fraudsters and identify suspicious patterns of behavior, and we use this information to ban buyers we suspect of lying (a costly ban since they can never buy on Sparter again). But we cannot entirely fix this problem without help from publishers.

    In other words, "our site will be full of fraud and we can't stop it but we're going to try to make this the game publisher's problem." In the mean time we can count on them to ban an internet based identity, something which has been shown to be a totally effective way of holding people accountable for their behavior.

    Even if they could prevent fraud this site would become a clearing house for converting stolen or compromised accounts into real money.

    Their entire plan seems to be an attempt to try to get game publishers to give them access to the game world itself in order to integrate their services into the game.
  • As others have noted, there are a lot of words here without really saying much, but there were a couple in particular that made me go "hmmmm":

    As to your question about income tax, because our typical seller is earning roughly enough to pay for his WoW subscription, we see selling on Sparter as analogous to selling on eBay, putting on a garage sale, or running a great lemonade stand.

    So...? Strictly speaking, all three of those enterprises are subject to income tax. Just because you're only making enough to pay for your subscription doesn't make you exempt. Does that mean the IRS is going to come knocking on your door for failing to report your gold selling or your lemonade stand? Probably not, but the interviewee seems to be implying that you wi

  • by sampson7 (536545) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:27PM (#19678985)
    I have in the past been a moderately hard-core WoW played (Macbeth, level 70 Holy/Disc Priest on Bolderfist) and have bought gold in the past. The sad fact is that I enjoy playing, but do not have the free time to devote to farming and/or playing the stock market... er, Auction House. Simply put, my real-life time is in a more commodity than my RL money.

    I have to say, however, that I don't buy gold often or in great quantities for the simple reason that I don't believe most of the gold advertisements I see out there and I don't trust the seller to come through on his end of the bargain without spreading my credit card information out there for everyone to see.

    This system, however, sounds like a more trustworthy method of purchasing gold. I for one, intend to give it a shot. I like the idea of individual sellers rather than corporate farmers making the money, and I think increased competition will actually drive prices down. In essence, the free market shall triumph.

    I understand that some people will view this as cheating, but that's not how I see it. This is not an economy with a finite monetary supply. The only limiting factor on weath is time. I see no problem with paying someone else for their time investment. I also anticipate that some folks will ask "why play a game if it's not fun." Well, I think most aspects of the game are fun. Lots of fun, in fact. But like most things, it's not a perfect system and I'm happy to pay a small amount of money to avoid the un-fun aspects of the game in order to concentrate on the fun stuff. Again, works for me.
  • Early commenters don't seem to like this interview very much, but keep in mind these are executives working in what is definitely hostile territory (geek MMO players who dislike gold sellers).

    In particular, I found their justification for this being okay despite being against the TOS to be interesting. Its a fair point really, Blizzard has very little legal say in who I give my real life money to. I recently gave a real life friend 400g to help him buy a flying mount, and thats okay. He could also give me $
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilNight (11001)
      Early commenters usually go with not reading anything, or mocking everything. You'll find browsing with a -6 to 'funny' and 'insightful' usually clears up the problem by removing the idiot remarks and the groupthink (which is sadly dumber than the idiot remarks most of the time).

      The best you can say about this company is that they have a plausible argument. Frankly, that's impressive by itself in this particular industry.
  • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:32PM (#19679061) Journal
    Wow, that was-- useless. There wasn't any new information put out there, except for a bunch of PR marketspeak for "We don't have a real business plan, and are hoping everything will work itself out."

    Allow me to summarize:

    Is this a marketing stunt?

    No. It's just a way to get word of our product out to our target demo.

    Will your product get us banned from WoW?

    Probably, but use our service anyways 'cause Blizzard is such a meanie.

    Will you get sued?

    We're hoping not to.

    How are you going to prevent farmers from selling?

    We aren't 'cause, like, farmers will pay us too. Did we mention that other RMT sites totally suck?

    Do the makers of the games like you?

    Our business plan is awesome, and the game makers think so. At least, we think they should. We haven't really asked them. But we're totally going to real soon.

    Can a buyer cheat a seller?

    Yes. Nothing we can do about it, and that's totally Blizzard's fault for not liking us.

    How will you "eliminate the middleman"? What about sweatshops?

    Middleman: We don't (please ignore that we say we do). Sweatshops: By pretending they don't exist, lalalala.

    Will you tell us about the "anti-fraud" tech you use?

    No, because we don't actually have any aside from looking at the logs every now and then.

    How will you handle conversion? How will you stop someone from hording gold?

    Conversion: Duh, dunno. Somehow. Hording: Uhh, we're hoping someone else will do that for us. For free. Any takers?

    How will you deal with players being taxed, present and possible future?

    We have no fucking clue. Go ask H&R Block or something.

    They managed to evade answering any of the questions asked of them by either redirecting the answer to a talking-point, or by ignoring the question altogether. Everything was put in the frame of their "average, ideal customer" who is bright eyed Johnny trying to trade his extra Sword of Goodness for a few dollars to take Molly to the drive-in. They have no plans or use cases for dealing with fraudsters, changing markets, hoarders, an intrusive government, lawsuits, customer disputes (legitimate or not), human rights violations, international law, changing tax environments, or business-to-business relations. They are literally assuming that everything will just go right-- and their entire business model depends entirely on everything going right.

    So in other-words, another buzzy company with no clue who is going to singlehandedly revolutionize the marketplace, and everyone will love them. Sure thing. I'll be by in 3 months to purchase your astroglide chairs and pinball machines for pennies on the dollar at your bankruptcy auction.

  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:42PM (#19679213)
    Before you read let me sum up my points
    1) No, I don't think publishers should work with this ass hat
    2) Yes, I think a valid player to player auction site would be great but it should be strictly regulated which won't happen. Aka (setup like a bank) because of seller security and buyer security. I do NOT see this happening because this would cause unneccessary costs to the publisher including both support, infrastructure, with no positives unless they got a % of all sales.

    A long time ago when Everquest was still at it's prime I used to sell gold (platinum) in game. This was before IGE, before the websites. I'd pop it on ebay and it would sell for a nice price. In fact it was so good that I was making $3000 a month. I didn't farm places that affected others. I didn't camp areas that other people were going. I have the unique luck of being in a top guild, with top gear and able to go to places most couldn't survive. Very few people had a problem with it and it was more of a moral issue at the time. I also did it because I was in college and it sure beat working at Radio Shack or Best Buy.

    Today, you can't go anywhere without running into bots or farmers who do nothing all day but that and they do it in ways that affect players by not being able to do a quest or collect items for tradeskills.

    The fact of the matter is there is a demand for in game $$. Where there is a demand, there is a supplier. Black Market, underground websites... etc. The sale of gold is not going to stop. Whether it's legal or not, publisher supported or not, or even moral... it's not going to stop. So... how do we deal with the situation?

    Now honestly, I haven't sold gold in 5 years, and I play MMORPG's all the time. World of Warcraft and Eve to be specific. People buying gold does NOT AFFECT THE GAME. Stop fooling yourself. World of Warcraft has a unique way of preventing problems that occur in games like Everquest etc. It's called "No Drop" loot. That means you CAN'T buy it. The only way you can get it is to play the game and earn it.

    There a very few "epic" level items you can buy but they are DWARFED by the raid won items, or pvp won items. The only thing gold does is let you buy your "epic" mount faster or buy the best droppable equipment for your level.

    You will always have people that do not want to spend the time to save up 5000gold for an epic flying mount skill. You will always have people who start on a new server and want to have 1000gold to buy the best equipment for whatever level they are at. Great! We call those twinks and you know how much impact they have? Virtually none. Do you know why? Because ANYONE can go into an instance and get better weapons or armor at the same level.

    In World of Warcrafts situation there isn't a huge difference between those who do buy gold and those who don't except the guy who did bought his mount faster. You have to be level 70 to get a flying mount and if you don't have 900 gold by then... uh stop spending it on random crap, do some quests, you'll have it in no time. OH and you know the difference between you and the guy who bought 5000 gold online? He's 250% faster in the air. That's it. You can get to the same places he can, you can do everything he can.

    Now, Eve is a different situation. It's entirely financially based. You can change the course of a war with enough money (ISK). Who's fault is that? It's the weakness AND the strength of how the world of Eve is setup. However, to truly be powerful you have to have the skills. While you can buy the skills, the truly powerful items, ship plans are dropped by enemies in high level areas. The money will get you there but the skill is required to keep you there. It's much more complicated than that but for this discussion it's sufficient.

    You can disagree with me but I was in the business, and these are the facts of life. Not everyone wants to do the grind. I personally like it. I've been at the top and you know what? It's boring once you've beaten it all. You tend to sell gold then.

    • One problem is that people who would have won and should quit the game stay and sell no-drop items (and flags) to people.

      It directly affects me because as a result- people who pay money (like township rebellion-- the best guild money can buy) set how difficult the encounters are for me- trailing in their uber dust. The developers sit and watch them (with literally the best gear money can buy- including no drop loot) and set the encounter difficulty so it can only be beat if you have gear that might take 10
    • I agree completely about the RMT basically being a wash in World of Warcraft. In Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and other games where Souldbound items didn't exist (or existed in very limited amounts...Camelot epic armor was no drop iirc).

      Everyone in a MMO is a farmer. The people who complain about those that engage in RMT generally comes from people pissed off that someone else is farming where they want to be farming. Personally, I just decided to look where the farmers aren't or can't be, and attack
  • 'As to your question about income tax, because our typical seller is earning roughly enough to pay for his WoW subscription, we see selling on Sparter as analogous to selling on eBay, putting on a garage sale, or running a great lemonade stand.'

    Yes and someone who profits from selling gold is ALREADY required to pay income taxes in accordance with the laws in their jurisdiction. Nobody is concerned about that.

    My wife has a number of level 70 characters in wow, they have very valuable epic gear and her chara
    • by teasea (11940)
      Yes and someone who profits from selling gold is ALREADY required to pay income taxes in accordance with the laws in their jurisdiction. Nobody is concerned about that.

      That about covers it. If tax agencies want more monitoring of this, it will suck for the publisher, but until real money changes hands, there is nothing to tax. If such insanity (taxing in-game gold and items) actually manages to become a law? I never thought I'd have these toons forever. It all gets deleted and I take up another hobby. Bu
    • by Synn (6288)
      If the IRS wants to tax gold earned in WoW, then just pay them with WoW gold :)

  • Mine would have been "Gold sellers keep mailing, /tell'ing and otherwise pestering me. And others. And from a few postings on a few boards, I gather that I'm not the only one who would considering 'hanging goldsellers from their testicles' as a suitable punishment. Care to give me a good reason why I shouldn't write a DDoS program, distribute it to everyone involved (i.e. all players of a variety of MMORPGs) and blast the advertised server into oblivion?"

    And no, "legality" doesn't matter. A DDoS is legal wh
  • Everyone hates gold sellers and farmers. But we had an interesting question in our WoW guild a few months back.

    The guild leader was absurdly hardcore for a while. She had a number of lvl60 characters and had time to farm like a zombie. She also learned to play the auction house like a piano, cornering markets and the like. The end result was that she had something over 100,000 GP- *before* the expansion. It was so much gold she couldn't even transfer the characters between servers since you can only

    • by geekoid (135745)
      "Everyone hates gold sellers and farmers."

      Not true, many people really don't care, cause in WoW the gold sellers have very little impact on play.

      In EQ they had a huge impact because they would camp mobs that would drop loot. Creating instances stopped that problem.

      Most people say that in increases the AH prices, but that is a fallacy based on a lack of economic knowledge or experiences.
  • I've translated the corporate-speak into English that's a little less TLDR, while still trying to keep a neutral tone:

    Q: Is this whole 'ask question' thing just a marketing ploy?
    A: Of course it is, but we also really do care about our mission which is to put a bright light on RMT.

    Q: Isn't this against WoW's rules, won't your "customers" get banned?
    A: Here's how we see it: Blizz doesn't have the right to tell legitimate gamers that they can't trade real money outside the game. We're trying to change
  • by Plekto (1018050) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @07:46PM (#19683409)
    I looked at their site and I saw that they scan other sites.

    quote:
      Why do you list prices for other sites?

    We crawl a number of retail sites to provide our visitors with an accurate view of pricing in the market; these sites neither provide their pricing data to us directly nor pay us to list them. In some cases we may collect referral fees from listed sites, but we do not restrict our listings to sites that offer such programs. At any given time one of our sellers may or may not have the best price in the market, but part of our objective is to be your first stop when shopping for virtual currency. All external price data is labeled with an indication of how recently it was retrieved from the target site.

    ****
    So essentially, because they let in other, non-verified sources, it's exactly as unsafe and bad as the other sites. The only way to get rid of bots and farmers is this:

    - Each person has an account verified through secure ID or similar - like Ebay does. This is in addition to the Paypal/etc account.

    - Each person can trade X per month, max. The limit should be equivalent to no more than 2-3 months average work in the game. For instance, in EVE online, that would be 50 mil per month.

    - There needs to be a strict limit on the number of trades per year as well.

    - Each person can only have one account. Attempts at duplicate accounts will result in a permanent ban. Get Paypal and the like involved as well to help on the double-checking, of course - I'm sure they would be glad to help.

    Currently it has none of these very rudimentary safeguards in place(there are others to be sure, but thses need to be the bare minimum at least). Yes, call them restrictions if you want, but individuals don't have years worth of money to throw around on a monthly basis - only farmers and the like do.

    As it is, it's more of the same B.S.

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