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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck

World of Warcraft Gold Market Soaring 78

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

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  • by Jarn_Firebrand ( 845277 ) <> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @04:35AM (#12460936)
    I must be a more suspicious man than you, since that has been my theory all along. Now, where did my tinfoil hat go...
  • Easy fix (Score:3, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @04:04PM (#12463637) Journal
    I play WoW avidly, and I have never bought gold. However, I know people who do, and I don't see anything wrong with it.

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

    Let's say I'm level 60, all my friends in my guild have epic mounts, and they all like to go raiding the enemy. I, with my non-epic mount, can't keep up, so I don't get to play and have fun with my friends. So I need 900g. In order to acquire 900g, I might have to spend 15 hours grinding for it. Or, I could buy it off ebay for $100. Now let's say I have a job, and at my job I make $50/hour, or at least I know where I can pick up an odd job or two that will earn me $50/hour. I'm sure all of us know somebody who needs a network set up, that would take us an hour to do, and they'd pay us $50. Grinding for gold is not fun. Setting up somebody else's network is not fun. But I want to have fun with an epic mount. So, I can spend 15 hours grinding (not fun) to get the epic mount, or I can spend two hours working IRL (not fun) to get the epic mount. Which makes more sense?

    Personally, I got all my gold by playing the AH. Buy low, sell high. I just spent 10 minutes browsing the AH every morning before work and then relisting stuff while I leveled, and I had 900g by the time I hit 60. Regardless, I don't have any problem with others who didn't plan so well buying their gold. It doesn't hurt me in any way. Oh, and I can farm HK off the chinese farmers :D
  • by tprime ( 673835 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @05:02PM (#12463972)
    It is a problem for Blizzard. When you can actually tie system uptime to a player's real life finances, it causes a problem. Since I don't play the game I am going to use a hypothetical situation. If a player pays $500 for a large amount of in game gold and the servers run into problems (not uncommon these days from what I hear) and they have to roll the characters back to the point just before the gold was given and after they paid for it, they will be out of luck. While the player may not have a legal leg to stand on, they can make problems for Blizzard both legally and in terms of public relations.

    On top of all that, since the system is being used to generate the gold that people are selling, would blizzard be required to file any REAL financial documents? This is different from eBay where people list items bought or created somewhere else, these sold items are created in game.
  • by Gerad ( 86818 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:10PM (#12465167)
    There actually are a number of problems generated by the buying and selling of in-game characters, items, and gold. (I'm not writing on any one specific game here, although my experiences are weighted towards EverQuest and WoW).

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

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

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

    While instanced content really alleviates this problem a lot, you still have the problem of pickup groups. To some extent, almost everyone is forced to group with strangers at one point or another. Grouping with a stranger who has relied on items they would never be able to naturally obtain, or who purchased a character can often result in hours of frustration as you deal with warriors who don't know how to hold the monster's attention, priests who don't heal, and wizards who are inept at dealing damage. It's just not a fun situation overall.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982