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Taiwan Earthquake Disrupts Virtual Currency Market 53

miller60 writes "Telecommunications outages from Tuesday's earthquake in near Taiwan have disrupted the market for virtual currency from MMORPGs, with market leader IGE and other major online sellers reporting inventory and delivery problems. The market for the real money trading of game assets is highly dependent upon suppliers operating 'gold farms' in China and other Asian countries. With Internet access from Asia limited, these suppliers are apparently having trouble logging into games to make deliveries of gold and accounts. Online markets for the sale of game assets have grown in recent years, despite heated debates about the practice among gamers."
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Taiwan Earthquake Disrupts Virtual Currency Market

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  • Pwned. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:22AM (#17398430) Journal
    Now THAT is how you wield the ban hammer.
  • Has this affected the prices of virtual commodities in MMORPGs? If so, how and to what degree? I noticed that IGN isn't buying gold on any of the US or Euro servers that I checked; however, I don't follow MMORPGs, so this may be unrelated to the earthquake and telecom outage.
    • Lot of commodity prices have tanked in WoW because of people shifting their characters to grind mode for the upcoming expansion, so I doubt you'll see much change there. Don't know about any others.
    • I think that would be a deflationary depression in traditional economics ... too few dollars to pay for goods and services leading to falling prices. Tell me, have you seen any unemployed avatars selling apples on street corners?
      • Nah, because the gold farmers don't farm gold out of thin air...They farm materials, and kill creatures, and sell items...So while the gold supply drops, so does the supply of stuff to buy
        • I don't think that my thoughts came across in my first post. So, I'll re-state my original question - how has this affected the real-world prices of virtual commodities and currencies in MMORPGs?

          I'm curious as to whether or not the lack of access by gold farmers in the Far East has increased the real-world prices of commodities and currencies. If so, it opens the door to the duplication of the effect by man-made events.
          • Ahhhh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood.

            I'd imagine that they spiked...I know IGE, for example, changes it's prices all the time, so I'd be surprised if they didn't reflect the growing scarcity. I wouldn't think it would affect the sale of characters, and I'd imagine for WoW, that the coming expansion has already knocked the bottom out of the sale of high level items.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bandman ( 86149 )
            I thought of this too. Later on down the road, a large DDOS attack could send ripples everywhere.

            Very interesting stuff here. I'll be watching more closely from now on, for sure.
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:29AM (#17398506)
    I know the usually two camps of this argument is "Ban all the gold farmers!" or "Who cares?", but to me I don't care for the practice, but I don't blame the farmers.

    I think it is a sign that the game is too tedious or that there are too many times sinks in order to actually play the game.

    Collecting gold and loot should actually be the fun part of the game. Not the actually sitting around with your treasure or spending it on items that are required for you to have fun.

    In games that require leveling, the disparity between players is quite large and a level 1 player can't see the same content as level 20 and the level 20 can't see the same content as players at 60. This is a discouragement for casual players who don't have the ability to spend 10+ hours per week in the game.

    Personally, when it ceases to be fun I quit the game all together. It just isn't worth the effort or my money. While others (who have more money than they should) pay gold farmers to actually enjoy the game without effort.

    Personally the last MMOG that I really enjoyed was Shadowbane because it was more about PvP rather than sitting around killing mobs to get to the next level and Shadowbane's leveling wasn't that grueling either and the power disparity between levels wasn't that huge.

    But I still think Ultima Online has the best system of advancement with skills rather than levels and players were all pretty much equal in terms of time sinks. Sure there was gold farming, but to me killing monsters and raiding dungeons was just as fun as actually have property in the game.

    Of course you could always craft items for a living which made things interesting too.

    On a side note... There is a debate that the Taiwan earthquake has also caused a reduction in spam or botnets. I've notice an extreme drop in my levels on various email accounts and according to digg [] the number of tracked bots dropped from 500,000 to 400,000.

    Of course it could be the influx of new computer or kids home for the holidays fixing their parents.
    • by ConanG ( 699649 )
      Guild Wars was created with players like you in mind; casual gamers who don't spend more than a couple hours a week playing.

      1) Max level is 20 and reached quickly.
      - If you just want to PVP, you can create a level 20 PVP character with max stats and items.
      2) Equipment isn't the biggest deal; you'll usually be strong enough for the next area by the time you get there as long as you do most or all of the quests along the way.
      - Some people like to pay for extra rare items with nicer looking skins (same s
      • In every MMORPG article there are always people crawling out of the woodwork advertising Guildwars.

        I think it's fair to say that Guildwars is the new Gentoo.
        • by ConanG ( 699649 )
          Maybe because most mmorpgs have similar problems that people keep complaining about...the same problems that ANet tried to address when they made Guild Wars?

          I'm not a GW freak, I haven't even played it in several months. It just seems to be what a lot of people keep asking for when they talk about what they want out of an mmorpg.

          Is it perfect? HELL NO! Hardcore, non-pvp mmo fans get bored quickly from the relatively small game world, and non-hardcore pvp'ers have a difficult time getting their skills to
          • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
            I just didn't find the game itself compelling- the classes were poor, the fighting system wasn't interesting. Great concept, poor execution. If someone else gives it a try, they might get it right.
            • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
              I'm going to assume you never got into Guild Battles with a decent guild. Beyond simply having good communication skills, a team has to structure their build and tactics around the game mechanics. This is where the classes and fighting system work very well.

              For example, one thing I've noticed is that they lend themselves well to a tension between a "balanced" or "specialized" team. If your team is too balanced (i.e. too generalized), your tactics will often not be extremely effective. On the other hand,
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, the problem is not that the game is "too boring" or "broken", it's that we have become so fucking lazy as a society that we are too lazy even to play "for fun". Everything is instant gratification, no planning or effort. Want an HDTV? Why save and work hard when you can buy it on instant credit, spending money you don't actually have? No-one knows the value of money, or effort any more, and buying virtual items is just an extension of that. Bought Need for Speed Carbon for the 360? Want an easy tim
      • HAH! Utterly pathetic is spending hours in a game doing the same thing over and over again to get money to buy the next 'uberleet' pixelated object. You ever think that some of those people that buy gold are the ones that have those things called "jobs" which keep them from spending hours a week farming and grinding to they can actually play the game? Id like to see a MMOG with no form of currency. What fun is "Virtual Reality" when you have to bust your ass working in it like real life?
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          That's precisely the problem - the obsession with the uberleet pixelated object, getting it, and getting it as soon as possible. When I buy a game, I buy it to play it, not skip to the end. As a result I end up getting screwed in multi-player because everyone else is wasting real money on a non-existent car/sword/whatever. It's insanely frustrating to those of us who enjoy playing the game that these people ruin it for the rest of us. Never mind the constant spamming ingame from the people selling the
    • by Sodade ( 650466 )
      I disagree. In WoW, buying gold is a way to focus on the fun stuff. Instead of spending hours farming the mats for a flask of 2hrs raid uberness so you can progress in a raid, you buy the gold and get the flask wothout spending a huge amount of time. Time to fun ratio is higher then. Some people nejoy collecting gold, some don't. Buying gold lets you focus where you want to. And it is not like you can buy teh sword or uberness with your gold. Gear that can be bought is generally sub par.
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        You're both right. If you have to farm gold, your game is broken. Being able to buy it is a patch that can make a broken game work for a while.

        At any rate, this earthquake won't matter in 2 months- gold earning rates are way up in the expansion, so prices will drop due to higher supply. Which is a good thing- I'm unwilling to farm at current rates for my flying mount, and its a little to pricey to buy the gold yet.
        • by Sodade ( 650466 )
          Yeah, I bet that there will be a lot of gold flowing in the early days of the exp and we'll see much cheaper gold prices. I farmed my 1st epic mount on my main, but there is no way in hell I'll do that again - I'd rather be pvping or raiding thanks...
    • Agreed. Gold farmers are definitely a sign that there is something wrong with your game. Of course Blizzard et. al will never REALLY do anything about them since they are paying accounts. Nor will the MMORPG companies ever remove the time sinks that cause the problem since that is what keeps people playing month after month. There's a reason why they make it take forever to run all over the world for your quests and you only get your mount at lvl 40 in WoW. Try timing it and adding up all that time.


    • The key point for many people is that time == money and money == time. I get paid to work and that takes a large chunk of my time in exchange. The same is true for most adults in the US. If I didn't work, I would have more time but less money to dedicate to gaming. Since I, and more importantly my wife ;) decided that I need to work I have the more money and less time scenario. Just as I pay a cleaning service to come by every 2 weeks and I am seriously considering getting a lawn service this summer, I
  • A real earthquake disrupts virtual currency market? Well, I guess it's better than a virtual earthquake disrupting a real currency market...
  • by Thansal ( 999464 ) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:40AM (#17398606)
    *insert a Nelson "HAHA" here*

    I honestly dont' have much against the gold farmers themselfs, and I do feel bad about the people injured and those stuck with out communication, however I have to laugh at the tools that make this all possible, the people BUYING the gold.

    Hey, "every one" complains about goldfarmers destroying the ingame economy, etc etc. however they wouldn't be able to DO that if it wasn't for the people buyign off of them.

    and for those tools stuck with out their gold, I simply laugh at them :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      I find it hypocritical to criticize people who buy gold when you are shelling out money every month to play the game. You're already spending real money for in-game items through just paying the monthly subscription. So if I choose to spend a little more, because I can and it's not that big of a deal to me, then who are you to sit up there on that high horse and say anything about it? People like you probably ought to check why you feel that way. Is it because you can't afford to buy gold yourself? Tha
      • by xappax ( 876447 )
        Is it because you can't afford to buy gold yourself? That's what I think. I think you're jealous.

        In a way, you may be right. I think of people who spend RL money to increase their in-game power sort of the same way I think of people who use their extreme wealth to make friends.

        On one hand, it's kind of sad, because it's likely that the rich person is either unable or unwilling to make the effort that most people do to develop a real friendship - like spending time with each other, listening to their i
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Maybe the entire idea of a "different world", set apart from the influence of RL wealth is just a fantasy anyway, but I like the concept, and I hope that gaming communities can find a way to preserve it.

          It is complete fantasy. RL wealth provides you time to play more often than people who have to go to work. Someone who can be at the computer 24/7 will always have an advantage over us poor schmucks who have to work. These games are inexplicably tied to real life, no matter how much you want them not to b

      • I'm sorry, but the monthly subscription is for server upkeep and so the people running the game get paid(thus allowing you to continue enjoying the game). That much has been understood since the dawn of MMORPGs. I think the problem for some players is that they have a sense of in-game ethics. It's basically a black market and i don't know about you, but i'd feel a tad conscious buying merchandise that "fell off a truck." Is it such a big deal that some people have a higher sense of justice? Besides, those o
        • That much has been understood since the dawn of MMORPGs.

          Until.. the Nightfall? Right now Guild Wars: Nightfall is out. You don't have to pay a subscription to play it. And people buy the currency. Hrmm. And don't give me the whole "yea but with Guild Wars you don't buy monthly fees, you buy expansions" bit. You don't HAVE to buy the expansions to play -- and plenty of subscription based MMORPGS release expansions as often as Guild Wars -- EQ2 for example.


      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )
        Is it because you can't afford to buy gold yourself? That's what I think. I think you're jealous.

        You've got it backwards. MMOPRGs are contests to see whose time is the least valuable. Hiring a gold farmer is cheating.
        • Well Blizzard definitely sees it as cheating. Though I imagine Blizz makes a pretty penny on the accounts these gold farmers buy. Each time a farmer advertises on the two realms I play on they get reported by the players. Blizzard then bans that account for good. Bang, Blizz sells another copy of WoW.

          Seems pretty good for Blizz doesn't it? Seems like maybe that's the only reason it's not legal to do. It's good business for Blizzard to make it illegal. There are numerous other games where it is not il
    • however they wouldn't be able to DO that if it wasn't for the people buyign off of them

      The most lucrative strategy for gold farmers is now key loggers installed via Active X plugins. They aren't honest people, they do not respect other players. However much you'd like to transfer the blame to their market, they are still vermin to be exterminated.

      Of course, the ultimate blame rests with Blizzard, as they can track every transaction in game, and can punish every person who buys gold once the source account i
  • Now Wow addicts will have to either work for their gold or do something else! The Horror!
  • Its interesting how many people decry the evil of buying and selling virtual assets with real currency. Its also equally interesting how the multi-national companies that run the games, who generally claim to oppose the practice, are unable to stop or even slow it. Despite PR campaigns and well publicized, but ineffective, mass bannings nothing has slowed the growth of these services. I personally believe that the gaming companies are quite happy with the current situation, does anyone really believe tha
  • Turns out every cloud does have a silver lining. WoW recently proudly announced over 100,000 account banned worldwide but I don't see this as being very relevant as most of these were surely 10 day trial accounts just used for spamming the various gold sites.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!