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Research: Gold Sales and You

I mentioned last week that I would be raising several questions to you over the next few weeks as I begin researching and gathering information to write my research paper on MMORPGs and their effect on the players and our society.   The purpose of posting this on my blog is to gather real player and developer feedback regarding the topics, questions, and ideas that I propose.  The comments left here can be anonymous if you choose.  I will use this feedback to help shape various parts of my paper and anything written here should be done with the knowledge that it may or may not be used in my research paper.  Note: Any examples provided with the questions are purely to get you thinking and not to set the tone or provoke a certain response from you.

Okay, on to the questions.  As the topic indicates, it’s about Gold Sales and you!  I want to know:

1.  Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

1a-1. If yes, why?  (Example:  “Because it’s easier to buy it than to earn it myself” or “Because I needed the money for my mount”.)

1a-2.  If no, what do think of those who purchase gold and other items?  (Example: “I don’t care what people do with their money” or “I think they’re the lowest forms of scum on the earth!”.)

2.  If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

3.  How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods?  How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

4.  Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

If yes, please expand upon your feelings towards this form of advertisement and include how you feel when it happens and what lengths you’ve gone to to stop future “spam”.  (Example: UI Mods to block)

Please feel free to expand upon these questions as much as you wish and include any other feedback pertaining to the sale and purchase of virtual goods.  Discussion amongst yourselves, and even a little healthy debate, is encouraged.

I appreciate your thoughts, opinions, ideas, and time!

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Rog - October 20, 2008

1. No – I’m conflicted though, on one hand I feel that a player’s property in-game should be their property, they’ve earned it. But I also think a micro-economy can be easily tilted from outside sources.

Overall I’d say players taking the shortcut of buying gold are doing themselves (and everyone else) a disservice by watering down elements of the game.

2. I’d feel inclined to skip a game where the developers sold gold. It would feel like a grab for cash and cheapen the economic metagame of any MMO.

3. My opinion of companies that sell virtual goods is that they’re on the fringe of legality and such businesses are usually tied into a host of unsavory practices, most likely forms of identity theft (keylogging, credit card theft, etc.).

The biggest example is if you look at the history of IGE and how they evolved out of DEN. These are the worst examples of disreputable companies online that I can think of and gold selling is just a small part of that.

4. I have been spammed numerously in every MMORPG I’ve played, which is a shame because I feel the developers have a much easier situation (access to the source) to stop spam than say email or web-comments.

I’ve also experienced the difficulties and frustrations involved with competing against gold farmers for in-game resources (gathering nodes, mobs, basically any place in these games with concentrated value for in-game gold).

Rog - October 20, 2008

Oh and the racial animosity? No, although the fact that I live in a mostly asian community probably attributes to my tolerance. I’m quick to correct people who call them “asian gold farmers” or “chinese gold farmers” implicitly.

I also keep in mind that most of the companies involved are based in North America and are just using third-world cheap labour elsewhere.

Kalath - October 20, 2008

1 . I’ll be the first to admit it – Yes. This was in a game called Aetolia, where microtransactions to get your character ahead in the game were not only permitted but were the core business model of the game. Since then I’ve come to despise games using this model, as it draws on the addictiveness of the game to consume allowances and paychecks.

2. No. I hate grinding for gold ingame, but at least it’s still playing the game. If I start buying gold with real money, where do you draw the line? At that point you’re still converting hours of your time to gold, but you’ve crossed a particular threshold. If I play 20 hours on the weekend to grind gold for some stupid item, I’ve still gotten paid for 40 hours of real work. If I start converting that real work to virtual items, it’s not guaranteed to remain at 40.

3. Having burned quite a few dollars on a microtransaction game, I detest the whole genre. I just don’t like the idea of having to spend money to get some kind of advantage in the game that you can’t get through normal time and effort. Gold selling in normal games is just a faster path to normal attainable means, but since this practice is almost universally banned by the administration of said games, I feel quite a bit of animosity. I wouldn’t say any of it’s racial, that’s just where the industry happens to come from.

4. LOTRO beta. Let me put it this way: The game wasn’t even OUT yet, and there were already spammers. Nearly every new MMO has to patch in some kind of reporting and spam blocking system to handle this plague. It brings the early days of email to mind before mail services started filtering out spam automatically.

lumio - October 20, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

No.

1a-2. If no, what do think of those who purchase gold and other items? I think that they either do not realize the consequences their purchase has on the game and the players or they are selfish and lazy or both.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

I would leave that game immediately. It ruins a game.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I am angry yet sad for them. I am angry about what and how they do what they do. The fact that they have resorted to illegal practices and ruining peoples games and fun. However, I feel sorry for them because I know they are fueled not just by money but often to feed themselves and their families.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity? not really, but I often do assume they are from Asia. However, I live in a place where I was one of 5 white kids in my school. lol

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes…yup, ah huh.

If yes, please expand upon your feelings towards this form of advertisement and include how you feel when it happens and what lengths you’ve gone to to stop future “spam”.

Its annoying for sure when its not being dealt with. However, sometimes I like seeing how they price changes to see how bad they are doing. If they price gets higher it makes me happy because that means they are not doing well. I install mods such as “spam me not” in WAR, some times I even try to sabotage their work. For example if I see some automated bot crafting I’ll find a way to interrupt the macro.

Toddofcruz - October 20, 2008

1. I allowed my son to buy gold and power level his wow character. This was 2 years ago. He was really into the game, loved the social aspect of it but hated questing solo and homework was taking a lot his time too. He was willing to pay for it out his allowance. He was 12 at the time and I told him I thought it took away from the fun of the game but it was his choice. He knew that Blizzard did not tolerate it but he knew of a friend that bought gold and was never caught. I don’t see this as an illegal activity and I told him I wasn’t behind it but again, it was his choice. He did the gold thing first got away with it and then a month later went for the power leveling. Blizzard caught it and his account was banned for a week and put him back to his original level.

2. Personally, I don’t think I would play a game where I had to work hard to develop my character but the company said, “for 5 bucks we’ll make it easy for you” or endorsing other companies to do so. I wouldn’t play. I am interested to see how Blizzard does with paying to enhance your toon’s look as was mentioned by Keen last week. I will not purchase WotLK because of their exploitation methods and other reasons. Blizzard would have to come out with an awesome (better than awesome) game for me to want to do any business with them in the future.

3. I don’t mind the sale of virtual goods. As adults, spend your money however you want. I don’t believe in products that don’t tell you what to expect and add hidden costs, i.e., “$5 to change your toon’s look!” But if I want to spend $5 for a dress for my Second Life’s girly side toon, that’s my business! And damn do I look good! 😉

4. Spamming bugs me. I am frustrated that I just got an in game email in Warhammer AoR from a gold spammer. I would think that companies such as EA and Blizzard would have the technologies needed to keep this from happening. I haven’t seen any productivity form my reporting spammers in game and don’t bother reporting any more.

Bwast - October 20, 2008

1. I have never bought any gold, items or any other service from a website.

1a-2. As long as the items/gold that are purchased by other players doesn’t interfere with my game experience, I have no problems with it.

2. I wouldn’t play a game that allowed gold purchase.

3. I think they are doing what any person would do. People these days have a lot of money to throw away it seems. Additionally, MMOs are very popular, so selling services for a popular form of entertainment is only natural.

3a. Of course not. A vast majority of Asians seem to enjoy this type of game more than other nationalities(or at least that is my view), so naturally they will be the most widely employed to “farm” the game.

4. I’ve been spammed countless times in games by websites selling gold and/or power leveling. I don’t really notice them when I’m playing so it doesn’t bother me at all.

Quickoats - October 20, 2008

1. Yes, I have purchased gold. This was, back before the TBC expansion, I purchased gold to buy an epic mount for my first character. A couple of factors went into this decision. One, I played with people from work, and they all bought gold and encouraged me to do so. Second, seeing as how they were all decked out with epic mounts and other vanity items, I didn’t want to be the odd man out. 1000 gold at that time seemed so unattainable, so I said, what the hell and bought gold. In the end, I felt kind of dirty about it. The money I spent wasn’t much, but it was the fact that I just paid money for a virtual item that made me fell like an idiot. But, if people are willing to pay money for gold, I don’t really have a problem with that. Especially during that era before stuff like daily quests, I can definitely see why someone who doesn’t have much time to play would want to buy gold.

2. The reputation of companies that sell gold and items, for me, is probably one of best reasons not to buy from them. If a developer were to allow selling of virtual items, and had some sort of official system of doing business, I’d be much more inclined. Take WoW for example. A lot of people talk about how buying gold diminishes the accomplishments of the game and whatnot, but I dunno, I’ve never been interested in spending time farming gold or playing the auction house. I have a limited amount of time to play each week, so I just want to load in, hop in a BG queue and start playing. Ideally, I’d much rather pay for a permanent arena server, but if Blizzard sold virtual goods, I’d be more inclined to buy from them than some shady third party company.

3. Companies that sell virtual goods come across as pretty shady to me, and not someone I’d want to trust with my CC info. Add to that claims that they not only exploit the game but exploit their workforce, I definitely feel bad that I’ve given them money even once. As far as racial animosity–I can’t say I’ve ever experienced that. If anything, I feel bad for them, after reading about the sweatshop conditions to which they are subjected. If anything its kind of depressing that online games can spawn gold farming sweatshops.

4. Spam is annoying, but its never RUINED my in-game experience. Stuff like spamming global chat channels isn’t any worse than the typical idiocy you see. It becomes annoying when its targeting at me directly–receiving whispers or mail from spammers. I’ve never really gone out of my way to avoid it though, other than just ignoring it.

I’m looking forward to reading the results of your paper, and the feedback of other readers. I see so many people who get very indignant about gold selling, yet it seems like there are a vast number of people employing these gold-selling services. It’d be interesting to see some solid numbers–do sellers sell a lot of gold to a few people, or are they selling small amounts of gold to a large number of people.

sicc - October 20, 2008

1. Yes I have purchased gold before. This was to help level up a new character on a new server years after the game was released and instead of asking friends for gold it was easier to just buy some. I would like to add though that I am in the boat of everyones doing it so why not. If I could do away with selling virtual goods in the mmorpgs I play I would. Mainly because I feel that what people have in the game should be earned in the game and not by means outside of the game. It’s like sneaking in your own food to a movie or sports event.

2. I probably wouldn’t play a mmorpg that did that, however I have a feeling it’s being done behind the scenes in some games *cough* WOW *cough*. They literally have a [print money] button and with the amount of real life money they can make with that button I can totally see it happening.

3. This question is really controversial and goes deeper than most people think. Luckily there’s not a huge market of people making a living in the united states being gold farmers. Anyways I don’t really like the whole aspect of selling virtual goods for real life money in any game but it’s something that is almost impossible to stop. Going back on the idea of Asia and large amounts of people making a living off selling virtual goods this goes into the whole outsourcing and trade issues I feel the united states is already failing at. The united states trades with these governments that are not democracratically ran thus we end up with outsourcing for goods that are made much cheaper than they would be in the united states, such as china and their communistic government. Gold farming falls right into that category, the workers get paid so cheaply compared to what we pay for the service, that is why you see the majority of gold farming operations in china. At the same time with the internet these days being able to purchase pretty much anything around the world with a click of a button it’s hard to see it stopping anytime soon. You would have to regulate the internet as well as trade between countries and I’m sure there are higher ups in the government today getting fed off those trade agreements so without total reconstruction it won’t change.

4. Of course I have been spammed by gold farmers in game as well as probably anyone that plays the popular mmorpgs these days. I find it intrusive to an extent and wish it didn’t happen. This day and age though it’s hard to see it stop. I do like Mythics take on fighting the gold farming in general however but I haven’t yet used a mod to block them.

Curious George - October 20, 2008

1) Yes because my time is more valuable then someone else opinion about how I play a game. I’ve even gone so far as to buy an account with a max-leveled character and it was the best money I ever spent.

2) Depends on the cost, the effort involved in getting the gold thru normal play, and how important gold is to achieving my in-game goals.

3) I despise the advertisements, spam, and interference in play (if they do that) but otherwise I don’t care. I would prefer it were the game developers selling it or assisting in the sale so it was more secure. The same goes for items.

4) Yes, far too much. I don’t want telemarketers in real life (I would create a special place in hell for them) so why would I want it in-game.

My preferred MMO would be developed by a company that recognized the utility in the sale of in-game gold/items and either take it upon themselves to do this or assist in it like Station Exchange.

I do think I am something of an uncommon player in that I don’t invest any ego into the game. I could care less what people think of how I play the game nor do I care how they play the game. For anyone that would say people who buy things get an unfair advantage all I feel I need to say is welcome to the real world.

Jeromai - October 20, 2008

Let me apologize first for the wall of text that will no doubt build up from these questions:

Gold or anything else from a third party site. NEVER. That’s my first gut reaction.

But when I think about it, items and microtransactions that are supported or encouraged by the developers. Yes, occasionally.

Most other virtual goods and services are traded for in-game. Though I have done my share of trading one nifty item for another that I wanted, or selling or taking in-game currency/items for other items/currency/and even power-leveling services. On a free MUD run by volunteers, mind you. Where there are no TOS against it from a developer standpoint. And it’s each player’s own trust or lack of whether they share their password with someone else.

For me, the key is whether it is playing fair with the rules of the game and the wishes of the developer. For most standard MMOs, one account playing the game legitimately with only in-game help seems to be it. Multi-boxing, to me, already seems a grey area, but devs no doubt close a blind eye cos it sells more subscriptions.

For most microtransaction games, I tend to steer away from them because I don’t want to be robbed blind by the design meant to loosen your wallet to get more powerful. But if you play it, those are the rules. If you choose not to pay, then you will be weaker than those who do. Don’t like it? Don’t play it.

But I liked Kingdom of Loathing enough to justify about 6 month’s worth of 1 or 2 Mr Accessories a month. Essentially I converted its status to a subscription game in my head, and paid $10-20 for ‘member’ status and more power and faster progress in normal mode. Very much developer supported part of the game.

I buy add-ons (mostly costume and spiffy-look related) for City of Heroes, as long as I find the packs worth the money. I buy Guild Wars expansions and bonus whatevers straight from their in-game store. Again, developer-produced, developer-supported, and I know the money goes straight back to benefit the people responsible for making the game I like.

Third party companies selling virtual goods are SCUM. Parasites profiteering off someone else’s work and some other cheating player’s laziness and hope to skip past content (which is the point of the game, no?)

Racial animosity? Haha. I LIVE in Asia. 🙂 But I still think gold farmers are the lowest form of life out there.

Not that I have issues with the people who want to try and make a living by taking advantage of money exchange rates across continents. Take a look at miniature painting services. They offer a creative work, putting color on things sold by another company, in exchange for $$$. But it’s not a virtual good and there is no rules-bending going on – you can’t cheat at painting. At most, you dip the fig in glop and if the other guy is happy cos he can’t do that much, shrugs.

Gold farmers, on the other hand, there is no constructive effort or community benefit in running around a carefully crafted build to mow down as many money-generating mobs as possible, 24/7. It hurts legitimate players because they cannot compete at that kind of level – by most MMO respawn rules, that region is permanently cleaned out.

At least if there are instancing rules going on (CoX missions, Guild Wars, etc.), that harms the legit player less, but one still has to deal with the influx of an always-on tap of gold flowing into the game economy.

I am certain that they tend to break rules flagrantly and exploit loopholes as well. After all, they are not interested in the game, just generating as much in-game gold (or xp) as possible. This just offends my sensibilities, I’m personally uncomfortable around exploiters – and yes, even in-game friend relations become a little strained and I distance myself if I suddenly realize that they are okay with contravening the spirit of the game.

Then to add insult to injury, they cannot keep all this stuff low off the radar and out of sight, they spam every player in game about their third-party services. This brings obnoxiousness to new levels, as every player is now harassed by spam as well.

What I do about this spam? I file lots of reports. I throw up feedback to the devs on making it as easy as possible to file lots and lots of reports.

To be honest, the actual spam text is not super-offensive to me. What is offensive is the brazeness of the gold farmers that implicitly says, “look, we’re here, we’re not even going to wait for you to come to our site (though people who want to will find it), we’re going to advertise it forcibly down your throats.”

It makes me want to lash back out at them and cripple them in some way. Get the account banned if possible. Cost them time and money and inconvenience them. And all this, with as little disruption to me playing the game as possible.

I like all-in-one ‘report spam’ buttons. That file a report, and proceed to ignore everything coming from that account again. /ignorespammer and the ‘spam’ button for mail in City of Heroes are ubercool.

And I have been working /rg a ton in WAR. It’s nice to see how the spammers react to it. Suddenly the adverts are a whole lot shorter because there’s no need to be longwinded and discourage people from typing in the whole message to report it. Possibly it lets them get off more spam tells before a GM warned by the first /rg nails ’em with the banhammer.

One thing I’ve always been wondering about. If it’s somehow possible to design systems that let players grief the gold spammers.

I heard there was some WoW incident when someone managed to massacre a bunch of gold spammer alts (and some innocent parties’ level 5 mule bank alts). Cathartic for players, yes, but if the spammers can still send tells when dead, not really much point. But emotionally, I have so wanted to smack a spammer standing by the entry point of the Chaos gate just for my own satisfaction.

Jeromai - October 20, 2008

Oh, one more caveat. A third party company producing something valuable or constructive – like a mod or other piece of content – is different.

And might even be paid for.

Better if the developers support it by including the third party mod in their own store, and we might end up going that way in the future, player-created additional content for players…

But for an already existing example: Zuggsoft has produced zExplorer 5 as mapping software for certain MMO games. While I’ve not paid for it nor tried it (mostly cos it’s not games I play), I wouldn’t have any issues if someone else was using it.

Similar maps and knowledge wikis and plug-ins are available for free, and if someone wants to use a commercial one that took effort to create, not a big deal for me.

sws - October 20, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
I’ve bought gold in WoW and LoTRO. Why? Because it was cheap and much more efficient than farming it myself. To even answer the next question, no I don’t think people who buy gold are despicable at all. It’s a hobby, and some people can put more money into it, as others can put more time.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
I am a supporter of developers selling gold. Why? It gets rid of the china farmers. Developers can sell it much cheaper than the gold selling companies. It gets rid of spam, and people who buy gold would contribute to the actual game instead of some third party.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
I don’t trust most of them, the site that I have bought gold from I have done so three times, and are trustworthy. Employees? I have never really interacted with one, unless you are referring to a farmer. I hate farmers.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
Not really, they get to play a game all day as their job. Even if it means they get crap as pay, I’ve heard they also get boarding and such too.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
I hate it, and this is the second biggest reason I support developers selling their own gold (the first is trust). If developers sell gold themselves, you don’t need third party UI utilities to get rid of it. Yes, I do use spam blockers.

David - October 20, 2008

1.) Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
No, I have not. For the most part, I’m already paying $15 a month and simply can’t afford it. However, I also have the drive to earn when I get in the game.

2.) If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
I would feel about it as I now feel about. This is perhaps due mostly to the extra money. However, were I financially able and were it allowed/encouraged, I still don’t think I would. It feels a bit like cheating, I suppose.

3.) How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
Well, if they are going against the rules of the game, I am inclined to be against them. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the people involved are horrible people; they’re just trying to earn some money.

3a.) Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
Not at all. Given the element of chance involved in the development of any given society and culture, it could just as easily have been Americans or Europeans or any other ethnic group.

4.) Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
Yes. Who hasn’t? It is incredibly annoying, and I usually simply put them on the ignore list.

As to my general thoughts on gold selling, I honestly can’t say I’m completely for or against it. On the one hand, it does go against the policy of most games and could feasibly cause even more imbalance. While I’m no economist (for the real world or the virtual) I can also see how rampant use of gold selling could screw up the in-game economy. However, most of these gripes are merely annoyances, and as such I can’t really say that it’s a despicable practice. Overall, if I had the power to do so, I would probably put an end to it, though. That way everyone is put on even footing within the game. Yes, I do realize there are a plethora of other factors that cause a lack of even footing (even something as integral as amount of time any individual can actually play), but most of those are issues inherent to playing an mmo.

Though, on the other hand, all buying gold does is really just get you closer to the goal quicker. The person who plays “legit” will get there too, just slower. Either way, in the end, you’re in the same spot (this is assuming that what you are purchasing with real world money isn’t an in-game item(s) that the “regular” player could not feasibly get). As such, it’s your money. If you want to spend it on a what is really just a shortcut, is that so wrong? Is there really a substantial unfair advantage once you look at the big picture? I’m just not sure.

Skuishe - October 20, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

I bought a hippo that danced around my toon and gave minor stat boosts in one of those cartoony tank games where you can get points from winning games or use CASH. I forget what those are called. Normally I wouldn’t think it’s worth it but I felt the game deserved it a little bit being free to play and hippos are just awesome.

1a-2. If no, what do think of those who purchase gold and other items?

For me it really depends on how big an effect the purchaseable goods have on the game. If you’re paying for something that would normally take a certain level of skill to obtain, say an arena rating in WoW, then I’d be upset at how it lessens that achievement for those that obtained it legitimately. If you’re buying things like gold where obtaining it is a matter of doing mundane tasks repeatedly, well, it’s your money.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

If I’d ever needed to purchase gold, making it allowed would make me more inclined only because there was no fear of being penalized. I still prefer the feeling of personal satisfaction so I’m less inclined overall, but as possible playing time for myself reduces as I get more involved in school/work, I could see myself considering it. Gold to me has always just been a grind, and grinding is not really something like to do.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

If it’s illegal, they’re criminals regardless of how I feel about why it’s illegal. If it’s legal, they’re smart business people. Emerging and very high ceiling market in my opinion.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

Well, I’m Asian so I can’t say I’m happy about the stereotype but I also can’t deny it. I went to high school in China so I’ve personally met people who do this kind of thing for a living and I know a lot of the major players are based in Asia so it’s really just the truth. As with every other form of racism, the people who make it an issue are the real issue so other than them, no problems here.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes. It’s very annoying. /rg = win. It’s probably my biggest beef with the gold market.

Shamutanti - October 21, 2008

1. Yes. Bought gold Pre-TBC because I wanted an epic mount and the money I had coming in wasn’t sufficient to support both raiding and purchasing a ‘luxury’ item so I decided to effectively ‘treat’ myself.

Then bought gold when I decided to make my alt my main after a break in WoW because I needed to grind up two different professions to be ‘viable’ (at least in my mind) for raiding at top end.

Then finally I purchased gold on a spare account I bought to get the zhevra mount. It was more a test to me honest but I’m sitting on about 50k of gold, so the random 500g meant nothing to me, but I wanted to see how long it would take Blizz to ban the account. It’s still active.

I don’t even let it cross my mind. One of my previous raiding guilds had a spare account that would buy gold to put into the guild bank.

2. If you could buy gold from Blizz I would actually be less inclined to buy it. I don’t like the idea of going to externals for help. I hate guides and walkthroughs spoiler sites annoy me and even too much help by a higher level character gets on my tits. Being able to buy gold in microtransaction form would feel like a cheatcode that I could tap into any time I felt I ‘needed’ in when in truth I probably don’t. 2 times i’ve bought gold because I’ve personally felt a want/need to achieve something in a short space of time but lack dedication/time/support etc. to get it.

3. I don’t even think about the employees etc. and I doubt I will. I don’t think about sweatshops or fairtrade, recycling or global warming (bar how great it is when it DOES work for Britain). I know of a good double figure number of people who still now regulary buy gold and have done for an age – and not once have they mentioned what they think about company/employee (at least without cracking a joke). I only ever used the same company though because they seemed to ‘less dodgy’ and never had any mishaps. There’s simply greater things on my mind (he says, in my ego-centric way).

4. Yeah ‘ve been spammed loads although never gone to a point of actually trying to stop it because of the extra effort required. I don’t like it but then i’ve endorsed it so I simply flair up when it gets quite ‘heavy’ but do nothing more. Me and an ex-guild would yell out keywords on vent when we got 1 and the guild were respond back with something. A bit of shout n’ tell whilst raiding always annoys the raid leader :>

I’m pretty laid back about it but it does shock me to have new people tell me they buy gold. Suppose it’s suprising to know how many people do! And a LOT more do than they ever let on. I know for a fact that upon QU-Quel’thalas, 4 of the top 10 Area teams on QT (before S4 started) were heavy gold buyers and 3 of the top guilds there had a good 70% majority purchasing gold frequently.

Sebanis - October 21, 2008

Before I answer, I think you need to make the distinction between 3rd party ‘farming’ services such as those constantly being spammed in chat channels – and item selling services that are endorsed and run by the developer themselves. While not as popular in the West, Asia is completely dominated by these F2P (Free to Play) MMO’s whose business model relies on item sales rather than on subscriptions. Most of these games are also designed in such a way to facilitate transactions and really integrate item shopping into the gameplay itself (this is one reason why a lot of Asian MMO’s are extremely grind heavy). Working in the industry myself, it’s always something I have to point out to our Western clients when we start discussing RMT services that we’re not gold farming 😛

So with that out of the way…I am assuming most of your questions are tailored towards 3rd party services, and are not referring to legitimate games utilizing an RMT business model. But even these games still have 3rd party services being spammed for items NOT made available in the actual in-game store.

1.

Never

1a-2.

I see them generally as being half of the problem. I think it’s clear to most that without demand for 3rd party services, such services wouldn’t exist in the first place. So obviously some blame can be put on the customers of these companies as they are the source of the demand. However, at the same time I think you have to look at how this demand came about. To me, this translates to mainly the addictive “character development” quality of MMO’s in general coupled with the large time investment most of these games demand from their players. So I think in some ways, the game design of MMO’s in general is flawed in that it creates this latent demand for faster leveling, quicker advancement, and an option for a fast track to the top.

So to reiterate, I don’t see gold customers as bad people per se – although I think they should be more responsible and realize the consequences of what they are doing. The real problem lies in MMO design, and that has to change to really get rid of 3rd party services, or at the very least, diminish them to the point where they aren’t such a huge issue as they are now.

2.

It really depends. If the game is really designed with RMT in mind, then I don’t see anything wrong with it, and I probably would be more inclined to purchase. If however the company is offering RMT just as an additional line of income for themselves (hellooo Blizzard!) then probably not.

3.

Living in the Philippines, I actually know several people who work or have worked as gold farmers. They are human beings just like everyone else and for most of them it’s just a living. A lot of the ones I know actually still play WoW on their off-hours for fun because they really like the game. I don’t think ill of them as people, although I do wish that they would get out of the line of work they are in. Still, quite a few are (surprisingly) happy with their work – so the companies must be doing something right if job satisfaction is there. I think the farms are much more professional than a lot of people think of them.

The distributors on the other hand, I really do despise. At the end of the day, these are the guys who are pushing the services to us. These are the guys spamming our chat windows and trading accounts. These are the guys who decided to turn gold farming into a mass market activity (Before, gold farmers would sell privately, over eBay or thru forums). And most of all, I despise them because they serve no purpose but to be a middleman in a virtual space. As for their employees – well, I can’t say. I’m sure they aren’t BAD people, but do they really realize the problem their companies create?

3a.

No – Firstly because I am Asian myself 😛 Second, most of the major gold distributors (i.e. the ones actually spamming you advertisements for cheap gold and their website) are Western.

The business model as I understand it is as follows. The ‘farms’ themselves take gold orders from the distributors. Because most of the farms are in Asia, the cost of gold for distributors is quite low (since lower wages means lower costs) the distributor then sells the gold to the end customer at a much higher price than what it was purchased for. In that sense, the business model of gold farming is really similar to that of agricultural goods (haw haw, it really is -farming-)

If there’s any racial animosity that I do feel, it’s honestly more towards the West, and mainly because there has grown this prejudice towards legitimate Asian gamers and labelling us all as gold farmers. Most Western gamers don’t realize it’s a problem for many Asians as well. The distributors, as I have stated, are really the ones who are at fault the most, and they are mostly American owned.

I’m not saying I hate Americans or anything like that (god forbid, some of my best friends are American) but I do wish that more people would take time to really research the issue, it’s causes and why it is like it is before pointing fingers.

4.

Of course. In about every game I’ve played I’ve been spammed at least once. I try to ignore them. If it’s relatively heavy, I will look for another solution such as a UI mod or perhaps an in-game setting (like in WAR)

mbp - October 21, 2008

1: No, I have never purchased gold or rmt items for an mmo.

1 a2: Opinion of those who do buy gold – I don’t think any less of them as people but I do think less of their achievements in game.

2. No. I have played EVE where rmt gold purchase was allowed but optional and I never felt inclined to buy it. If a game absolutely required rmt for your character to progress I think I would just stop playing it.

3. I don’t have a problem with companies or the people who work for them just trying to make a buck. I do have a problem if their business practises interfere with my or other peoples enjoyment of a game (ie spam, over farming etc.)

3 a: I personally don’t care where someone if from. I am worried about racism and racial stereotyping from those who oppose gold farming. Even experienced commentators sometimes fall into the racism trap of assuming that all gold farmers are Chinese and therefore all Chinese are gold farmers.

4. Lol yes.

My feelings towards it: I don’t like it. I think it interferes with my enjoyment of the game and is a form of abuse.

To date I haven’t done anything more than block the spammer from my chat window (typically useless as they re-appear under a new name). If I am feeling narky I may type several blank lines into general chat so that the spam scrolls off the top of the window. Rather than run a personal spam filter I would prefer a server side filter so that no one gets to see the spam. Email spam filtering has got pretty sophisticated so I imagine it would be possible to implement a very effective mmo anti-spam filter. If an occasional chat message of mine got blocked as a false positive I could live with that.

Pipster - October 21, 2008

1. Yes. I bought gold because once-upon-a-time I was an officer in a leading raiding guild, unlike some, I couldn’t afford the time to grind hour after hour farming for gold to afford repairs/etc… Not that I wanted to anyway – I always saw the need to farm or grind a design flaw. Anyway, rather than waste my days in tedius gameplay so that I could attend the only part of the game I enjoyed, I bought gold and did a couple of extra hours of work at my job. In the end, I got more enjoyment out of the game because I only needed to focus on what I enjoyed in the game.

2. Depended on how easily attainable it was or whether I required more than I could realistically achieve through more conventional methods.

3. Man, if there’s demand for it, more power to them. I’ve known people who operate gold farming businesses, and although I cannot speak for all of them, they treated their employees well. Keep in mind differing world economies when arguing that the staff are underpaid – whats less than an hours minimum wage for you or I could easily be an average weekly income in the great nation of ‘X’. The fact is you can’t make all that much money out of gold-farming, hence the reason the vast majority of these businesses base their workforces in poorer nations.

3a. Racism? No way… to me its just consummerism.

4. I have. I don’t like it. But its really nothing more or less than advertising. They’re targeting the demographic of people playing the game – they’re guarrunteed to find buyers. I don’t like ads on TV either…
Perhaps the developers should sell advertising space on their chats or in the ui?? “$1000/month will allow a non-removable ui-element giving the player the freedom to access your product without leaving the game.”

Look, really if the game is designed in such a way as to bring about a ‘need’ for 3rd party gold sellers, then that is a flaw on the developers part – NOT the players who buy it.

Raskolnikov - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Yes I have, I bought WoW gold.

The reason I did this was because I was heavily into end game raiding and didn’t have the time to commit to grinding consumables and repair costs. This was in Naxxramas, where I was spending in excess of a 100g a week on repair costs alone and every boss attempt required a full array of buffs and pots. As a healer I couldn’t effectively grind gold, and doing so would have placed unnecessary strain on my real life relationships. So I was faced with a choice, stop doing something I enjoyed, commit more time away from my family to grind grinding which I do not enjoy at all, or buy gold. It was an easy choice, I swapped an hour’s pay for more gold than I could earn in weeks, but not one I feel proud about, as even discounting the spam, farmers make the game worse for everyone.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

It would make me not want to play the game. Designing in gold selling just doesn’t appeal to me and makes me suspicious of the game itself. Personally I think game designers should design out grinds and a reliance on gold.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

They’re making a living. Some are more scrupulous than others. I made sure I didn’t buy gold from someone I’d seen advertising in game.

It doesn’t make me feel any racial animosity, but I’ve seen some ugly comments which would imply it does to others.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes, but not particularly badly, and nothing a /ignore didn’t fix.

Vyx - October 21, 2008

1. No, and I never will. I do not cheat in games, nor do I see the point.

1a-2. I have no respect for people who do. Honestly, the old excuses like “I don’t have time to farm gold for this or that due to work blahblah” are just plain BS. If you do not have time to earn your virtual money the normal way, then you do not deserve to have it either. Playing MMO’s ain’t hard. Taking the easy (and illegal) way out just makes you pathetic in my opinion. Do you also buy single player games and race through them using cheat codes, due to not having the time to play them properly due to work or whatever?

2. I would most likely not play games where buying gold was an option.

3. I think they hurt the games that they operate in. Gold ads/spam is really annoying, and I do believe it will affect subsciber numbers in the long run. I certainly would not continue playing a game if the gold seller problem just kept escalating.

3a. Has nothing to do with race for me. Most of these companies just happen to be based in Asia/China, though I’d hate them just as much regardless of location. Whether they’re white, black, asian, green space monsters, whatever… doesn’t matter. I judge people based on their actions, not their nationality or race. Besides, a good majority of my favorite entertainment is asian, from music to movies to anime etc.

4. It’s probably the worst thing about playing MMO’s. I’m very happy to see that the devs of the games I play take an active stance against this and try to prevent it. I’ve played WoW since release, and it did get a lot better once Blizzard stepped up their counter measures. Playing Warhammer these days, I was grinning from ear to ear when I read Mark Jacobs post on the matter, and how he seemed to loathe these people just as much as me. I’ve gotten maybe 3 or 4 tells so far in the game, other than that nothing at all. I’m hoping it’ll stay that way.

Personally, I would like to see them ban both the sellers and the buyers. One strike, you’re outta here. No second chances for anyone.

Marcus - October 21, 2008

1) No, But i was about to do it sometimes, just to get some item, but just in wow.

2) That is stupid, people are not going to buy more or less money because is allowed or not.
Is like that stupid law in holland about drugs.
I think the best solution is like when we was a child and your father without say a word give u a good slap that almost make all your tooth fly away.

3) How do i feel?? i feel nothing, because i think is not illegal. The problem are not the companies, the problem are us that buy their goods.
But if i had the power i will make them all disapear, because they disgusting me.

4) Yes i had. The only thing that i dont like is read that fucking wisp, one and once again.

Melf_Himself - October 21, 2008

1. No, but I have friends that have done so and it doesn’t bother me, since I’m against grind. The people I direct my ire towards are the gold sellers.

2. I would still not purchase gold, and if purchasing gold gave players a significant competitive edge, I wouldn’t bother playing the game.

3. Like I said, I hate the gold selling companies. I don’t really care about the employees, they’re just trying to get a job in a struggling economy. But the companies themselves are dicks that ruin everybody else’s play experience, by
a) allowing some players to become more powerful than others for minimal effort
b) removing one’s ability to stroke one’s e-peen, since more people have the best stuff
c) constantly harrassing players and filling up the chat window

4. Have been spammed, hate it. Will not use an anti-spam mod, because I enjoy reporting the little suckers. Gogo banhammer!

Blackwings - October 21, 2008

1. No, I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy gold in game. I don’t personally mind if others do but I just can’t see spending the money when I can earn it myself just as easily and quickly as a gold farmer.

2. If you could buy gold from the developer, I may have considered it if it were within reason. I don’t trust third parties enough to give them my credit card info. I have bought items through micro transactions in games that had no subscription fee if that counts.

3. The guys that sell the gold are reminiscent of street peddlers. They try to stop you and get in your way to get your attention long enough to sell you their product. In game is no different, they are pushy and annoying.

4. Oh…see above lol. Yes, I’ve had tells or whispers in many games offering to sell me something. I have fun with it though and usually send them a tell or whisper back offering to sell them something instead.

dyabeetus - October 21, 2008

1. never bought anything in any game. i dont care if other people do as long as it doesnt effect my gameplay. kids do it because they parents give them money to. older people do it because they dont want to grind to 70.

2. i have never bought anything in game, nor do i want to, legal or not. i bought the game, or, if the game is free, its obvious i didnt want to spend money on it in the first place.

3. im ok with people selling virtual goods. obviously theres a market for it. as long as it doesnt effect my own enjoyment (ie. not ruining my games economy and not giving another player a huge advantage over myself) im ok with it.

4. ive been spammed a lot before. im only mildly annoyed by it. in WoW i reported them. in WAR, when it was first released, the process to report them took too long, so i didnt. since the changes the WARS gold spam reporting though (the /rg command), i have started reporting them in WAR as well, since its quick and easy now.

Zarek - October 21, 2008

1. No – I have no problem with people buying gold. It’s simply someone willing to trade money for time spent in game. I do however feel that if gold is that important to a game it will eventually fail. People play to enjoy the game, not show who can spend the most money on it. Items purchased with RL cash should provide cosmetic and side changes to the game, not a competitive advantage.

2. I would be more likely to buy gold if it were offered by the developers. However, I would be less likely to get started in an MMO that advertised this features. I would know getting into it that you are expected to buy gold (or whatever service) and no current MMO would hold my attention if that were the case.

3. I don’t have a problem with a gold selling company. I do likely have a problem with many of their means of doing it. See next questions…

3a. I don’t feel racial animosity, though I do question how ethical the company is and if their ’employees’ are better off or not.

4. Yes – I always install gold spam blocking mods on every MMO I play. Additionally, I’ll block anyone that sends me a gold spam given it’s an easy option.

Winde - October 21, 2008

1. Nope. Actually this has even been a turn off in free games that offer microtransactions as part of the game; I quit Flyff when I realize my character would be gimped if I didn’t buy a respec scroll.

2. Less inclined, as mentioned before I would be very likely to quit the game entirely regardless of if it had a subscription fee or not.

3. I do not care about both as long as it doesn’t affect my gameplay. Other people buying gold for their “epic mounts” or whatever is fine by me; other people getting equipment or advantages that will blow me out of the game is not fine.

3a. Not really. It affects me in exactly the same manner whether they are based in Asia, Europe, America or even if it is the game developers pushing a button and producing mass quantities of gold to be sold “officialy”

4. Yes, it has happened in all of the MMORPGs I have tried except WAR, but I blame that on me playing on WAR’s Spanish servers which seem to be immune to gold spam for the moment. They will eventually catch on to English Servers.

Shamutanti - October 21, 2008

Apologies for my badly written post Keen xD

Just re-read it today and realised I made a bunch of spelling mistakes and so forth. That’ll teach me to read blogs in the morning whilst munching on Cheerios 🙁

GoW - October 21, 2008

WoW player here, enjoy your blog. 🙂

1. No. I think people who buy gold either 1) don’t understand the (negative) ramifications of what it does to the overall quality of the game, or 2) more likely, don’t care that they’re devaluing the game that they’re paying for as long as they come out ahead. The next guy getting his epic mount is fine. The next guy driving up the price of the between-player economy so that I can’t participate as much unless I buy gold is bad. And in most of these games, you can’t have one without the other. Buying gold devalues all gold.

2. Neither. Gold doesn’t have to be a metric for success in-game. If all gold buys you is character customization (like some MMOs), then that’s fine. If gold buys you a character advantage, I wouldn’t play that game… unless it were free.

3. I feel like it’s inevitable. It’s supply and demand. Someone has money and doesn’t want to spend time, another has time but no money.

3a. Doesn’t bother me. It could just as easily be India or any other emerging economy. The racism bothers me.

4. Very much so, until Blizzard put the kibosh on it.

Phubar - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Yes, I’ve bought gold/currency in GW, EQ2, WOW, & Vanguard. They way I look at it, its no difference than paying someone to mow my lawn. I do not have time to farm/grind for something that pointless, and its easier to pay someone else to do it for me. I use it for epic mounts, buying leveling gear/crafting items, etc. It frankly makes the game much more fun for me.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

I would buy it, but I think the price needs to be set by the developer. I’ve played on the SOE Exchange servers where individuals set the price on gold, but farmer prices are still cheaper (like 1/2 price or less) than what you can buy on the exchange market. If they want to offer it, it needs to be competitive, even against the farmers.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I have no problem with them at all. I do not use companies that I see spamming in-game, and tend to stick with larger companies I have used for 3-4 years. Never had an issue in any game with their product. I hope the employees enjoy what they do, but thats their problem if they don’t. I’m sure it beats out doing a manual labor job.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

No, not at all. I could care less where they operate from, long as they speak decent english when I communicate with them.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes, I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t. I always report the spammers and would never have any transactions with companies who spam. The good companies don’t need to spam folks in-game for business.

Otaku deluxe - October 21, 2008

1. Yes. I started WoW late, and on a high pop server. The economy was inflated, and you really couldnt afford anything because the economy was based around having a hunter alt to farm leather. In a moment of weakness, I bought 1000 gold. Cant remember why, but I remember thinking “waste of RL money, never doing that again”..

2. Less inclined. Probably wouldnt play a game that allows you to buy an advantage with RL money anyway.

3. I dont really feel anything about them, theres a market, and they’re selling. Would be better if they didn’t but as long as games include trading and a minimum of user privacy, don’t think it will be possible to root out completely.

3a. No, not at all. And really, I bet a lot of those companies are run from Europe and the US. The reason they work from China I would believe is mainly the cheap workers.

4. Yes
4a. Im so used to it, I dont really register it. And theres not much point reporting a guy called “cxzxfsdfds”..

Pidge - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Nope.

1a-2. If no, what do think of those who purchase gold and other items?

I play in a guild in WOW (the MMO I play most) where gold buying is viewed very negatively and buying gold would likely earn you a /gkick.

For me, it’s simple: buying gold would lessen my enjoyment and sense of accomplishment in the game — like using cheat codes in a single player game to give myself god mode.

Also, in WOW, purchased gold or items will only get you so far. You can’t make yourself super-overpowered compared to other players through that route — at best they just provide a shortcut to get decently equipped quickly. To improve further, you still need good game skills and the ability to work well with others in a group because the very best gear is loot only attainable from instance runs or arena teams. It’s those qualities I look at in judging other players, not their bank account or current gear (both of which are fairly easy to accumulate and replace).

WOW has done a decent job with its economy so that gold is fairly plentiful, and players have a lot of different ways to earn it (daily quests, tradeskills + auction house, etc.). This has further blunted the effect of gold sellers on the game itself as compared to MMOs where buying gold is almost a requirement to be able to advance and compete with others. If someone bought the 5000 gold they needed for an epic flying mount in WOW, it really has little direct impact on me, because Blizzard has made it so that the vast majority of players who want an epic flyer can reasonably work to get one without having to resort to gold buying. I’m happy to give up some immediate gratification for a greater sense of accomplishment.

One last thought on this: While I tend to be less moralistic and more “live and let live” about what other people do, people that *brag* about buying gold immediately fail my “work well with others” test. They show a lack of understanding about the generally accepted values of the game community and an insensitivity to others that is bound to show up in other aspects of their gameplay too.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

If we’re talking about in-game currency and not items, I’d think it would be an extremely poor decision by the developers and I’d be both less inclined to purchase gold and less inclined to play their game.

I accept that gold selling will exist in every game where virtual money can be transferred between players and there’s a use for accumulating said virtual money. As long as there’s a feasible market, buyers and sellers will appear. However, this market and its effect on gameplay is limited when developers actively oppose gold selling through things like account bans.

But, if a developer passively allowed this market or actively encouraged it, it’s impact on the game would be much greater and much more negative. It could devalue other game activities, could encourage more illegal behavior (such as account hacking), and could drive players who aren’t willing to buy gold out of the game. I’m hot saying that *has* to be the end result, but it would seem the likely one.

I’m a bit less concerned about the selling of cosmetic virtual items. For example, some people participated in Blizzard’s recent Recruit-a-Friend program just to get the unique Zhevra mount. Essentially, they paid Blizzard for a special looking mount. If Blizzard had simply offered the mount for $30, I’m sure there would have been buyers. Would it have ruined the game? Not really. I’m not keen on the idea for myself, but, as long as they’re strictly cosmetic and provide no real benefit over things available to everyone in the game, I don’t see them as the end of the world. Loot card codes from the WOW trading cards is another example of item purchaseable with real money that can be turned into in-game cosmetic enhancements. Given the “paid character customization” options that have shown up in the WOTLK code, I expect we’ll see more attempts to monetize our vanity.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I don’t like these companies. Again, it’s less a moral issue for me than a pragmatic one. Their attempts to advertise a service I’m not interested in are intrusive and annoying. More importantly, I see less and less farming of gold from mobs in the game by gold sellers and more amd more hacking of players’ accounts to grab whatever they can turn into ready gold. This is where gold selling — and buying — stops being a victimless crime and starts directly hurting other players. People should recognize that when they buy gold they are rewarding and encouraging this behavior.

My disagreement is with the companies, not their employees. I’ve never met someone working for a gold selling company, but I’m sure for them it’s just another job. There no use being angry at them for what their companies do, any more than I would be mad at the cashier at QuikMart because gas prices are higher.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

No, their location has nothing to do with my opinion about their methods or products.

This isn’t a racial issue, it’s an economic one. I’m sure they’re based on out Asia because that’s where they could pay the lowest hourly wages and thus make activities like large scale farming of in-game mobs for items or gold financially feasible (if anything, it reminds me that the tremendous and unfair disparity between what people are paid in different parts of the world is what drives a lot of the world’s economy).

Further, I wonder if that isn’t changing now. As I see less gold farming and more account hacking, I’d think the need for a large, low cost labor force would go down and the need for highly skilled technology people go up. Perhaps when we talk about gold sellers in the near future, we’ll all be thinking about places like India, Russia or the US.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
If yes, please expand upon your feelings towards this form of advertisement and include how you feel when it happens and what lengths you’ve gone to to stop future “spam”.

Many, many, many times 🙂

I find them intrusive and annoying and do everything I can to block them, including the use of in-game reporting options (WOW has a great one-click feature and I use it religiously) and game add-ons (in Warhammer, where it’s not as convenient to report gold selling spam, I use the SpamMeNot addon).

Keen & Graev: What do you think about Gold Selling? « Brave Pidge’s Gaming Adventures - October 21, 2008

[…] Keen & Graev: What do you think about Gold Selling? Published October 21, 2008 Games , MMO Keen is writing a research paper and looking for people’s thoughts on gold selling.  […]

Thallian - October 21, 2008

1a. Never and I never will
1b. I want them to stop playing my games and go play something else.
2. Less inclined to buy and less inclined to play the game.
3. The companies themselves are devious organizations that behave like a hydra, you cut off one head and get three.
The bread and butter employees are prolly just poor folks in third world countries and I feel sorry for them.
4. Yes, in almost every game I’ve played online. Yes, yes yes.

Shivver - October 21, 2008

1a. Nope, but I might be inclined if it was something I really couldn’t buy for myself and I had cash to spare.

1b. I don’t really care too much aka buying gold for your epic mount isnt so bad, but buying accounts i have a problem with.

2. Probably more inclined because I would know it is reliable and not a scam.

3. hey, whatever it takes to make money as long as its not too overpowered. I’m a big fan of “soft purchases” like an extra title or mini pet, something like that. I have no ill will towards employees, they are doing their jobs.

3a. Doesn’t really affect me too much. Outsourcing makes sense and I really don’t have a problem with it.

4. Heh. who hasn’t? Its really annoying. But since they are unofficial they have to go through those channels. it’s the volume of spam tells and spam mail that is really annoying.

Odius - October 21, 2008

1. – Yes. It was on UO when 1 million gold was like 10 bucks on ebay. It was just too good an offer to pass up and I really wanted that Keep…

2. – It really all depends. If the game was built around having a ton of gold, I probably wouldn’t even play it. I also wouldn’t play the game if the only way to have in game cash was to spend RL cash.

3. – I have nothing against them. I sold my WOW account for decent money to one of these companies who probably just used my character to farm. These companies are taking advantage of western culture’s desure to have what they can’t and obtain it any way possible. Good on them. I have no racial animosity towards Asians. I love their food!

4. – Who hasn’t been spammed in game? If it’s in chat, I simply /ignore the spammer, and if it is an in game mail, I delete it. It’s a part of life, and I’d rather not waste my game time trying to bring down spammers.

XaosBob - October 21, 2008

1. No, I never have bought gold with real money. The point of the game is to play the game, and equivalent effort should garner equivalent rewards. Buying gold circumvents this whole paradigm, and makes it unfair in favor those with the deepest pockets. For games where microtransactions are the foundation of the thing–well, I don’t play those because production quality in these has (thus far) always been disappointing, so my official opinion is that I have no opinion.

1a-2. I don’t like unfairness. See #1.

2. Again, see #1.

3. I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit that selling virtual goods for real money represents. I would be able to give them a nod, despite #1, if they didn’t invariably resort to spammer/hacker tactics. Those tactics are abhorrent, and their purveyors must be utterly destroyed.

3a. Not at all. Honestly, everyone needs to eat. If it was my family, there would be words had, but those are my preferences and my personal standards anyway. If they are spamming or hacking, they must be utterly destroyed. Sorry, Mom. You should know better.

4. Yes I have. I make considerable use of WoW’s in-game “report spam” feature, and I pretty much entirely steer clear of Stormwind just as a rule, which makes a huge difference. That seems to do it. Unfortunately, Blizz has so far ignored my request for a “Nuke IP Location” button.

detour - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
Yes, once. I had been playing WoW for a few months by myself when I discovered a group of friends that all had max level, raid gear equipped characters. While they were pretty generous with gifts, I never seemed to have quite enough (had a warlock, they’re notoriously broke). In my desire to catch up to my friends and not have to keep asking for handouts, I bought some gold. I felt dirty afterwards though, like using a cheat code before I’ve beaten the game. I ended up blowing most of the money on items for an alt, then went on to earn everything else I needed with my main.

I defintely understand/agree with the Time > Money crowd. I work at least 40 hours a week, have a girlfriend, friends and family. I just don’t have the time to put into some of the more ridiculous timesinks (exalted reputation with scryers? screw that nonsense). A major reason why I quit WoW was that everything to do at max level felt like a timesink*.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
I would prefer that buying gold not be necessary. I don’t really want a choice between spending more of my hard-earned cash or putting countless hours into a timesink. I want to have fun and naturally progress as I play the game. So I guess it wouldn’t make a difference to me, I wouldn’t want to play a game where gold was such a critical factor.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
From a business point of view, I have nothing against them. They are fulfilling a demand. In my opinion, gold selling is a problem in games that create nigh unattainable goals for the casual player (5000g for an epic flying mount? seriously?). That’s the target market for gold sellers. As a casual player, I’m accustomed to always feeling like I’m two-steps behind everyone else. Less time = less xp + less gold = less fun :(. The temptation to “buy” one’s way into the “fun parts” of the game can be alluring.

From an ethical perspective, I feel that what they are doing is wrong. It is expressly forbidden by the creators of the game and defintely has an adverse effect on the game economy. Farmers often infringe upon the enjoyment of the game for legitimate players by locking down key areas (such as Elemental Plateau**) or griefing players who enter farm spots, which is absolutely unacceptable.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
No.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
Obviously, gold-seller spam is an omni-present element of mmorpgs. If there is a quick 1-click way to report them, I will. Beyond that, it is intrusive and annoying but rarely bothersome enough to proactively seek solutions.

* The other major reason was the players. Some players are jerks (John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory) amd eventually it just got to me. The vitriol spouted off by many players became a game-ruining experience.
** Of course, if game developers create a few non-instanced areas that are the only places to reliably obtain highly desirable items this fact will be exploited by someone be they farmers or players/groups/guilds.

Doug - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Yes – In FFXI because the econ was so busted that it would take me months to farm enough gold to be able to continue levelling. That wasn’t fair to me. I wanted to level but was stuck killing bees so that I could afford the minimum level of gear required to continue levelling.

In all other MMOs I haven’t felt purchasing gold was worth the cost – in money and in supporting gold farming.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

Less – they are already getting my cash in subscription. I would feel offering gold for purchase is double-dipping. And if purchasing gold from the developers appeared rampant and required to compete (say, for example, in PvP in Warhammer) I would quit the game outright.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

Don’t like them. In FFXI they really, really ruined a lot of that game for players like me, they were a Cartel – to level you must send them money. It was horrible and a major reason I quit that game.

For awhile in WoW I could ignore them and had a mostly “don’t care” attitude because they couldn’t hurt the econ as much as they could in FFXI but then they started disrupting my play again with Tells and Mail.

I am now a flat: hate them. Not because they sell gold but because they do so at the expense of MY play experience. They are harmful to my fun, the reason I play a game. I wish to see them go flat broke and cry rivers of tears.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

No – Don’t care where they are situated. Heck, I wouldn’t doubt a North American is at the heart of most of those sweat shops.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes, as I mentioned in (2) I find this behaviour harmful to my fun. They are harming my play time by being assholes. I have and do use Mods to cut down on their spam and am a big supporter of Mythics Banhammer and auto-gold-seller reporting features. I hope they ban so many keys that selling gold in Warhammer is a net cash loss, that is the only way to stop it.

Howdy Doody - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Yes in Wow in the early days, and a couple more times to level new characters on new servers. I personally don’t see ANY difference in someone who buys gold and someone who plays a kagillion hours a week to earn their gold. Both parties mess up the economy, not just the gold buyers. All gold farmers are, are folks that play the game 2 kagillion hours a week then sell their time to folks that don’t. I’d much rather spend my time with my family, and the time I do have, playing the “fun” aspects of the game.

But I really think it boils down to “Need for Gold”. In WAR I haven’t had any need to buy gold and won’t because they give me so many options to play the game where you don’t need it. The only reason I bought gold in WoW was to quicken the “shoot me in the head” time of leveling by buying as up to date equipment as possible. And at lvl 70 to try and keep up with the latest enchants etc to be competitive in Scenarios. Now WoW did make improvements with the daily quests, but honestly how many days was it when you just couldn’t stomach dropping bombs are more eggs? WAR breaking all multiplayer into tiers is soooo damn good and does a great job fixing this issue.

Now my entire defense here goes away once you get into the “hacking/botting” that gold farmers have been caught doing. That makes my entire point worth nothing, because hacking is hacking. But if all gold farmers were doing it legit, then I don’t have a problem with others doing it.

I also don’t understand why WoW and others couldn’t create “Limited Playtime” servers. Certain servers that allowed only 20 hours a week of playtime. A bunch of us in WoW tried to start this in the forums and as popular as it was with other family folks, we never got a response from Blizz. If you had a server that only allowed a set amount of time to play per account you would attract more the same type of gamers, limit gold farmers, and the economy would probably we a lot more balanced. Games should also put a limit on what at item can be sold for. A level 17 dagger should never cost 300 gold, lol! And you can kind of see that in WAR. Some lvl 8 helms are selling for 7+ gold on my server. A simple “value limit” would really help making auction sells/resells not as efficient.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

Probably feel more inclined to purchase. For instance if WoW offered a lvl 70 character for say 100 bucks, I would have paid it so I wouldn’t have to go through the almost exact same leveling process.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

If the company and employees do it honestly (no bots or hacks) it’s easier for me to see it as a service. Unfortunately you hear that most of the time that is not the case. It seems to have really gotten out of hand over the past couple of years.

3a. Not at all.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
Yes, all the time, and I report every one of them in WAR.

I always enjoy hearing other views on this subject. I’m not saying I’m right, that’s just how I feel currently. I’d be interested to read your final report later!

Pierre - October 21, 2008

1. Yes, i bought gold once In DAoC to help with crafting.
1a. People do what they want to do, i don’t really care how they get their gold whether it’s from farming or buying it from a farmer.
2. More inclined.
3. I think that if there’s a market, there will be people exploiting it. If a game’s economy breaks because of gold farming, then clearly the game was poorly designed.

**** LOL@ Bradley effect in this poll ****

3a. No, i don’t mind gold farming in the first place.

4. Yes. THIS is a problem and needs to be designed around and stopped. I haven’t used mods, game companies have usually been proactive enough to facilitate easy reporting or blocking.

MakersMark - October 21, 2008

1. Yes, I’ve bought gold from third party sites. I have also purchased developer sanctioned in-game items in some games. As to why, because the opportunity cost to me as a player was far, far lower to buy the gold than it was to get it on my own.

2. I feel much better about developers selling items themselves in game. I would be far more inclined to buy official items for small fees, as is very common in Asian MMOs.

3. Companies are companies and I won’t get my panties in a wad over someones entrepreneurial spirit. I do think the companies generally have a sleazy reputation and I would rather not purchase from them if I had another option. As for employees of said company, if they are aggressive ro ruin the experience for other players while doing they’re job, they should be punished. If they do not, then I have no issue with them.

3a. No, though I will make jokes about chinese farmers. They are, however, just jokes.

4. Spammers, of ANY variety, need to die in a fire. I will never give my money to any company who has ever spammed me. If I want your services, I will seek you out. Invading my online privacy, annoying me, and generally making me hate you is not the way to get my money.

Korlyth - October 21, 2008

1. No. I consider gold buying to be cheating. It is an annoyance to the community to have to put up with gold spammers and gold farmers, and no one should support this industry which subjects its employees to unfair working environments and pay. Without gold buyers these “companies” wouldn’t exist.

2. I would never play a game that supported gold buying. What is the point of a game if everything is handed to me on a silver platter?

3. From what I understand these companies subject employees to extremely long work days and pay them very little. I feel pity for the employees, who are probably doing the job to earn some kind of living but have no rights. Which makes the person or people who own the companies greedy bastards who employ marketing techniques that are extremely invasive, and they are promoting cheating.

3a. No

4. Yes I’ve been spammed in WoW, Vanguard and now Warhammer. I will report them and have installed mods to block their messages and automatically report them. Which seems to have driven the gold spammers away in Warhammer. I willingly give my money to play MMOs, and I expect to do so in an environment that is free of harassment.
And kudos to Mythic for making a game that is not dependent on gold in the first place!

Sev - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
—–Nope, never really felt the need to.
1a-2. If no, what do think of those who purchase gold and other items?
—–Do not really care, I have better things to do with my money then to spend it on something that doesn’t exist. I do think it’s rather weak of someone to actually buy something that doesn’t exist in order to make their virtual lives in a game easier. Wonder why they play a game at all if all they are gonna do is cheat.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
—–Again, I have better things to do with my money and whether or not it was allowed by a dev wouldn’t serve as an enticement to start doing it.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
—–Think it’s sad that there is actually enough people that need to cheat in a video game that these companies are even useful.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
—–No, why would it lol.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
—–Yes

If yes, please expand upon your feelings towards this form of advertisement and include how you feel when it happens and what lengths you’ve gone to to stop future “spam”.
—–Used addons to stop em, like the spammenot addon for Warhammer. Everyone knows these things exist, find it absurd that they would go to the lengths that they have to harass people in an effort to peddle their wares. Luckily Mythic has a hardline stance about this sort of thing.

River - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
—–Yes, when I needed to start on another server or wanted something very badly and didn’t want to grind out the cash. Time>Money in my opinion. I really hate people that say gold farmers have an adverse effect on the economy. Only for those who are trying to sell stuff, I think farmers keep the price of goods down, therefore I like them.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
—–Perhaps, if I needed it, or not.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
—–It’s a capitolistic system we live in, if they want to try a different method to make some cash, good for them. Supply and demand. I love it.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
—–No. Though I wish I can get some numbers of some hawt asian chicks. LOL! Just kidding….or am I???

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
—–Yes, seriously to me it’s not that bad. Ignore, or get a mod. Hell I still put up with it.

Maybe a question to add. Ever use a bot program in any game to gather gold?

Capn John - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

No. Although I did use a cheat once in The Sims to make my Sims filthy rich so they wouldn’t have to go to work. Then I built them a huge house and filled it with the best gadgets available in the Sim-store. Then I sat there for several minutes, watching my Sims, before shutting the game down and uninstalled it. With all the money in the world there was nothing to play for. There was no point improving my Sims, making new friends, etc, because they had no job so had no promotion to work towards. In giving myself an infinite amount of gold and getting everything NOW! I ruined the game for myself.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

I wouldn’t buy it, not because I think it’s cheating, but because for me, I know it would ruin the game. What’s the point in grinding/farming & making gold when I can just buy it from the Developers and get what I want right now. For that matter, what’s the point in even playing the game? I might as well just give the Devs $100 and say we’re even. It would save time.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

If the companies that sold gold and virtual items had a better, more trust worthy reputation, I’d say they’re catering to a market for the gamers with more money but less time to play. Nothing wrong with that.

As far as the employees of such companies go, I have no opinion towards them, in any way. They’re just employees, trying to make some money to support themselves and/or their family.

My wife is Chinese. I’m actually more offended by the name “Chinese Gold Farmer”, and the spammed shouts of “Ni Hao!” by people who think they’re funny, than I am upset at the “Chinese Gold Farmers” themselves.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes, hasn’t everyone who’s played one of today’s MMO?

For me, it’s almost a reflex action to right-click their name and report them as a Spammer. I only get annoyed when they persistently send me a Ninja Group invite, but that doesn’t happen very often (and hasn’t happened for a while).

What I find more annoying are the people who spam General Chat with WTB VC Run, etc, and who then /whisper you asking for the same. God forbid you ever do run one of these people through an Instance because then they’ll add you to their Friend’s list and be pestering you every single minute, from the moment you log on, until you finally log back out again in sheer frustration. Put them on ignore, they work that out pretty quick and log on an Alt. I think these people are worse than Gold Ad spammers.

A while ago I saw hundreds of dead gnomes in front of the Ironforge Bank. Their bodies were carefully arranged to spell out a Gold Selling website. It was actually quite creative. I admired the ingenuity of the Gold Sellers who’d gone to such lengths to hawk their wares.

Lokked - October 21, 2008

While I’m not going to answer any questions directly, here is a shortened version of my applicable philosophies:

I do not view others’ actions in a sense of right or wrong, as this would infer that I am certain my morals are ‘right’ and that people disagreeing with me are ‘wrong’, and that is just absurd. I could expand on this, but I won’t :p

The measurement of risk associated with buying virtual money is low, and thus the reversed change in ordinance would not change any inclinations I might have.

I have not bought, and do not plan on, at this point, buying gold. My reason is that I do not see the benefit of it, and do not consider collecting gold as less fun then my work which I get paid for. Perhaps, if the day ever comes, when some variable crosses some threshold, I may buy gold.

I’ve played MMOs for 8 years – Question for 4 is a gimme. If I allowed it to bother me, how weak my tolerance for minute disturbances must be.

Katriana - October 21, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?
No, I’d rather work for it and since I’m already paying for a subscription, why do I want to waste my money on something like buying gold?

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?
No because I can’t afford to. lol

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?
I think they’re trying to run a business and earn money so good for them but I think it’s a little sleazy.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?
I never thought about that. But no.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?
I loathe being spammed through tells and mail system. It’s so annoying!! I report them, I /ignore them, and I should really just get the UI mod!

Xercies - October 22, 2008

1. No. But I don’t think its as bad as everyone says. At least with gold sellers it increases inflation on the items and I get a good price. I saw this in FFXI I caught something and got about 20k gil, when alll the pirates were banned it went down to about 8k gil. Which meant that i couldn’t really buy what I wanted to.

2. No, this can cause an inbalnce in gameplay. If you have people buying the gold and then buying the elite armour from the AH then you can never win against the people who don’t.

3. I think if its clothes items that only affect your appearnece then i don’t have a problem with it. But when you get down that you can only buy a good weapon or a good piece of armour then you can get imbalances in the gameplay. I don’t mind if they are in Asia because thats where micro transactions are the most popular.

4. I hate spamming, but I don’t use a third party mod. 1 I don’t know how and 2 I don’t know if it is legal or not.

Dubster - October 22, 2008

1. No never bought gold but I do know people who have – one friend came back from our trip to Blizz Worldwide Invitational was so into WoW again he reactivated his account, bought several thousand gold and blew it on an epic flying mount. Even seen a guild doing it, they advertised on their website for people to join their BWL farm raids in exchange for real money or large amounts of gold for certain item drops they get.
Personally I think it isn’t something I like in a game where I already pay a subscription, why pay any more. Buy better equipment than me based around money rather than hard work does seem unfair, then again it’s like being hardcore vs casual, never going to be equal so it’s the same with those willing to pay and those who are not.
It’s not going to go away though, there will be people who want the best things and are willing to pay for them.
2. I probably wouldn’t, if it was a free game and you could buy some top ups I may be tempted but certainly if I was already paying a subscription it would leave a bad taste in my mouth to purchase anything extra especially on top of what I was already paying. Plus I don’t like the idea of paying for new looks or vanity items in game like Blizz plan to do – seems to me to be milking something for all its worth really.
3. I think the people who organise gold selling are probably quite unscrupulous, like the people who made those bumfights videos, sure they claim they are helping people out giving them money but they get such a lot more and the workers have no protection against being screwed. I am sure it isn’t a dream job for someone to play computer games constantly but not play the fun stuff, just finding a remote grinding area and killing the same mobs over and over again.
4. Silly question, it happens all the time. It is annoying in WoW when people whisper you with names like “FJIKS” and there isn’t much you can do about it.
WAR at least gives you the /rg command which means you can send that without having to type out a name and spend a while reporting them.

Still won’t go away and no system will ever be able to combat it unless you do away with money entirely and make people get stuff from work only.

Bletnuk - October 22, 2008

1. No, I think it hurts the economy too much and takes away from those who earn their money playing the game.

I lose my respect for those who buy gold and take the easy way out to get things with the gold.

2. If gold buying was allowed I probably would not play the game. The game would be too unbalanced favoring the rich and discriminating against someone not so well off.

3. No racial animosity but I hate the companies that sell it and have even gone to the sites and sent emails expressing my disgust.

4. Think I’ve been spammed in every game. I’m pretty pro-active and try and report every spammer I get. I love the new /rg in WAR which makes teh reporting very efficient use of my time.

Kassik - October 22, 2008

1. Yes I have. And would again. I fundamentally agree with the poster who said that you primarily bring one of two resources to the game in greater abundance than the other – disposable income or time. I have the former and not the latter and don’t particularly care if some college dork wants to stridently declare that if I don’t “earn” it, I don’t “deserve” it.

2. Probably more inclined. EVE Online does allow this adn has a very strong player driven economy on a single-shard model – so claims of financial apocolypse are hyberpole, I believe. Done well, it allows players with either time or income to balance out against each other.

3. I largely feel that since they work in a shadow-market, they are not trustworthy and you get what you get. If you get good service, it’s a win. If not – it’s like complaining to the cops about how the dealer sold you bad quality drugs instead of the good-stuff. I feel that way regardless of the race involved.

4. Yes I have. I don’t care for it. There are plenty of avenues to obtain these services without needing to spam in-game. In fact, I would imagine it is so invansive it would actually hurt sales. I suppose that the same principle of spam email also holds true. If you bulk mail a million people and only 1% buy, it’s a bonanza.

anon - October 22, 2008

1) No 1b) Mainly because I have better things to spend my money on than in game gold. Also, to me it is just not worth the extra hour of farming saved to buy gold.
2) It wouldnt change my likelyhood of buying gold becuase my reasons for not buying it don’t pertain to the developer’s opinons on gold selling.
3) I don’t like the companies that sell gold because they are annoying, and what they are doing is not legal in the game. The Chinese gold farmer stereotype does not lead me to disliking the companies any more, but it does make it easier to poke fun at them i.e. buy mai g0ld?
4) Of couse. I got gold tells in AoC within the first week. I used to get them in WoW pre-BC, but I haven’t gotten any lately. I think they are incredibly annoying and sometimes my frustration leads me to creating a macro to spam them.

thedog - October 22, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

yes – it was basically needed in wow to get a mount at 60 and or raid often.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

i would only do it if it gave me something that was otherwise extrordinarly difficult to obtain.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

i am starting to hate them. i liked powerlevel services when they are done by actual people and not bots. when you could by wow gold in 1-60 wow it was cool, nobody was really hurt. but now they gold spam nonstop and that has got to end.

Gold spam in warhammer online is HORRIBLE ATM.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

it has nothing to do with race, these are poor countries in general trying to get money. its the same thing with companies shifting american factories over there because its cheaper. its not the workers fault, its the people that buy, the scumbags that decide to spam.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

yes and i will never buy gold again for anygame that i recieved spams in. i will not reward horrible behavior.

Hund - October 22, 2008

1) Yes but I would like to see any one that played lineage 2 at launch honestly say no.

1A-1) Well the only time that I did buy gold was in lineage 2. I was even a dwarf and I noticed that every single one of my friends was some how making more money then I was. So I bought some so I could get invited to the groups due to the upgraded weapon I bought with the extra adena.

2) It would depend on the type of game. If the game had more money sinks then fountains and a developer sold gold then you would see massive sales. But with more fountains then sinks you wont see much sales. Granted their will always be that type of person that feels they need to gain that edge by not playing but by the their wallets. Personally I doubt I would due to how cheap I have become.

3) It does not bother me very much. Sure in some games they can get very annoying. Be it camping the money areas or stealing the best spots. Any form of messages are not a big problem in a modern game. You can make it so you wont ever see a single word they spew. I mean the way I look at it is they could be doing a lot worse crime. Id rather them feed their family or themselves with money from fake gold then say drugs.

4) Honestly WAR was the first game that they spammed me. I played wow from beta to recent and never once got a message. Same with every other subscription mmo I have played. Sure free or micro transaction mmo’s are plagued with spam due to lack of resources to fight them. But you can just ignore the messages or just filter the chat channel that they spam.

But on that note I think that PVP servers USED to scare them off. But WAR is the first game that I noticed that they have also infested PVP rule sets in large numbers over the small bands.

F - October 23, 2008

1. No. But I was tempted to do so.

1a-1. Tempted because time is precious nowadays, i have a job and a family and I want to enjoy the fun part of the game not the boring one (grinding stuff for items/money).

1a-2. Mixed feelings. I try to understand their reasons.

2. Who cares then, if its legitimate you have no choice. I would stop playing such game anyway.

3. Bah, I would understand if they pay over minimum wage their employee but this is not the case. So I am hating them as much as I hate other bad companies that exploit poor people.

3a. Not at all.

4. Yes of course. In WoW is not that bad.

Intruder313 - October 24, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

No, I even discovered a Guildmate was selling gold and items for real cash and part of his market research was running a survey similar to this one “for his University Dissertation”. I declined even when a fellow Officer encouraged me and stated repeatedly: “Anyone not buying gold is totally stupid”.

I look down upon them but I fear increasing “monetisation” by the game developers themselves. That can’t be /ignored.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

2a Obviously more inclined as the ethical/legal obstacle was removed. But I still would not hand buy a single gold coin.
However if the game was built as a pay-as-you play system managed by the exchange of real money for ingame resources (which effectively limited playtime) I’d consider it. As long as that expenditure was capped so as to avoid those with the most money buying success. Leave that to politicians…..

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I despise the companies, I dislike the employees but to some extent pity the ones for whom it’s their real living.
They must lead desperate lives if their job is farming virtual gold for almost virtual wages.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

3a. Tricky, when dealing with someone or something you dislike (or fear) you respond first to the most obvious difference which in this case is nationality / race. As an Englishman if I discovered that lot’s of French people were involved in the gold-farming industry I’d be just as likely to label French players as “Damn French Farmers” – but that comment has additional connotations over here 🙂

The fact is though that in China and other Asian countries, copying, stealing from and generally abusing Western capitalism is acceptable to them and even part of their culture and industry (yes in China they have entire towns and factories of counterfeiters and shopping “malls” selling nothing but such fakes).
They probably consider it payback though.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Uncounted times, I really hate it and especially hate the way there seems no way to stop it. Gold seller bots are like Hydras: report the account name and 2 more spout up in it’s place.

briar - October 24, 2008

1)I have never purchased gold items or virtuall goods (aside from the act of purchasing the virtual game itself).
b)Trading cards which have existed for years are practically virtual, the piece of paper by itself is practacally worthless but individuals assign value to them and they have their own fluctuating economy. Some are partially related to real world events (baseball cards), some are entirely imaginary (I know people who paid $500 for an individual magic the gathering card a year or two after it came out). Buying computerized virtual stuff is not inherently bad, however many of the sellers are engaged in behaivior that should not be tolerated such as credit card theft, game id theft, and spamming.
2)If the game company itself was involved in selling gold I would be much more likely to buy the gold, but also much more likely to leave the game as I play to have fun, not to pay money in order to keep up with the Jones’s. If the company starts selling “cosmetic items” pet’s, companions, swords, etc that offer no real game advantage but look “cool” I would be unaffected as this offers no real edge, but satisfies many (even if these things could then be sold for gold).
3)Many none computerized goods purchased today are in effect purchased for a virtual gain. When I buy a book I don’t really care about the paper and ink, it is the story or experiance I am paying money for. This story often had no “real” existance, but the memory of the story is worth the money I paid. The same applies to any movie, tv show, most of disney, and any collectable. I personally may dislike a rembrandt painting but still recognize that it is “worth” 100 million dollars. A company is a company and I judge it more on its behaivior then on what it sells. Thus if you are scammed into spending tons of money you can’t afford for anything virtual, rent to own, credit cards, the company is bad. If the company makes a reasonable effort to sell a quality product at a reasonable price the company is probably good virtual or otherwise.
a)We are part of a global economy, computerized businesses can easily outsource (thus India was a hot spot for many computer outsourcings for a while). Migrant workers pick the food we eat. As long as people are not abused/hurt this is all for the good in my opinion.
4) yes I have been spammed and I ignored or reported based on circumstances.

Keen
Keen - October 24, 2008

I very much appreciate the feedback so far. 🙂 Thanks all!

More feedback on this topic is welcomed and I will be posting the next topic soon.

LtWarhound - October 24, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

1a-1. Yes, had almost forgot about doing it once. I returned to EverQuest after several years, and there was literally nothing I could do to raise cash. I wanted to evaluate subscribing for more than a month, and grew frustrated with the cost of everything vs the trivial sums I was gaining legally. I ended up purchasing a small sum of gold, and oddly enough didn’t spend even half of it before deciding to cancel the subscription. If my efforts to grind the gold had been at all effective, I wouldn’t have. Haven’t even been tempted to in any other game.

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

If it were possible legally, I’d have to think about it, but probably wouldn’t. But I will note that I could effectively do so in Eve (buy a game card, sell it via the secure transaction system built into the game just for this for ingame currency) and I haven’t, despite having things ingame I want that I can’t currently afford.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I feel they are contributing to an ongoing problem, and they are rude, since I don’t want to deal with their spam, but am forced to.

3a. Does the fact that many of these companies base their work force out of Asia lead you to feel any racial animosity?

Nope. I’ll swear about chinese gold farmer/spammers (mostly in Eve Onine), but not because they are chinese. Just because they are spammers, which I consider extremely rude, and because of the negative impact they have on the game.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Gah, yes, sadly, ever MMO I’ve been in. I report the spammer via whatever ingame reporting tool there is, /ignore them and refuse to discuss them ingame least I steer someone to them. I’ve tried UI Mods, but haven’t found them that effective, sadly.

Tia - October 24, 2008

1) I have actually. Only in games where it earning gold is required for most everything and is intended as a time sink. FFXI and Lineage 2 for example. Both have extrememly limited ways to make money, most involving investing money and getting rich would take more work than a part time job.

2)No. But I wouldn’t mind seeing content for sale, purely cosmetic. Like armor and such, ala cash shops in f2p games.

3) Even though I’ve used them in two games, I maintain it was used because of a huge flaw in the game (money as time sink.) For the most part I’d much rather see game developers make money less important and easier to obtain. Farmers screw up a lot of games and I realize that. I think it’s it’s cheating, and I illegal in nature. Making money off another’s product. About the employees I feel it must be a really sucky job, but everyone has to feed their kids somehow and there often aren’t many choices in poor countries.

3a) Nope. I dislike farmers, not Chinese people.

4) Of course, who hasn’t?

Robert Miller - October 26, 2008

1) Yes. I have purchased gold or the equivalent in Everquest, Everquest II, WoW and Eve Online. The issue of course is that some people perceive this somehow as cheating or having an unfair advantage over those that can’t afford to purchase what they want. But, this totally ignores the fact that for many like myself others can’t or won’t devote 12 hours a day 7 days a week to a game. I have a real life, a real job, a real family and do things other than play a mmorpg. I love playing online and am member in a high end WoW raiding guild but I simply can’t spend the time needed to be able to do that and grind for gold or reputation or any of the other various time sinks built into the game.

Your response to this may well be “then that is too bad” but actually if the choice is more like buy gold and continue to play the game or not buy gold and stop playing as there would be little fun in playing then. This is most especially true in a game like Eve online. In that game capitalism is running rampant and you need money to buy ships and equipment and when you are killed you lose all that and insurance only covers a small part of the costs. Can you play EVE part time and have fun? Sure. Can you do much? No.

I have recently been playing War Hammer Online and I’m happy to say that having gold is so far not an issue. The game seems well balanced for those that can’t spend days and weeks grinding for the stuff. Money and armor seems to drop a nice pace and allows for you to advance without struggling.

Purchasing gold and in game items is way to be able to play the game and not be at a major disadvantage to all the kids that don’t have to work for a living. Let them get up and work 40-60 hours a week each week and then I will be willing to listen to their criticism of people that buy gold.

2) It would depend on the game and the price and the limits on it if any. Personally, I would rather not purchase gold or in game items as it doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as having done it all in game by myself but this is not always possible like when you have 3 or 4 alternate characters in the game and you need to purchase expensive mounts for them all.

3)The problem with companies selling virtual goods is that because the companies running the games don’t allow it they are effectively black market which means that it gives them a lot of room to take advantage of their customers and vendors. There are a few companies that I have dealt with that seem to be reputable but all of them have been just a bit borderline at one time or another and if things had not worked out then I would have had no recourse other than to take the monetary loss if they failed to provide the promised goods.

3a)No and shame on anyone that does. Personally, I would rather have a gamer-to-gamer system where I could purchase something from someone else directly and cut out the middleman but this would be too difficult to police or control.

4.)Yes and there is no cause for this and any company that does this will never ever get any business from me. If someone wants to buy gold or services they are already using a computer on the internet and they can find you. Going in game to rudely interrupt game play is uncalled for.

5.) If companies wanted to stop selling then they could do a lot better than they are right now. Take World of Warcraft with so many players it is a huge market for people that want to provide this service. If Activision/Blizzard really wanted to it wouldn’t be hard for them to seriously stop this sort of thing. First don’t allow low level characters to email or trade large sums of gold. This is how the gold sellers protect themselves by doing the trades with low level temporary characters. If Blizzard went and didn’t allow you to have more than 100 gold per level until say level 40 then to be able to efficiently trade their product they would have to level their characters and then if those got banned it would seriously hurt them. Next put in some behaviourl monitoring routines. Gee this level 1 character was created. Got 20,000 gold over a few days and sent it off to various other people and then was deleted. Gee maybe we should see where it came from and who it went to and ban them.

At the end of the day though it is only a game and if it isn’t fun then it is time to move on.

Vroshnak - November 5, 2008

1. Have you ever purchased gold, items, or other virtual goods?

Yes. I hate grinding exclusively to get money. I usually buy about $5 or $10 worth of gold within my first month of playing a game that has been around for a while (in a new game I would not feel pressured to do this, and also ingame gold is still expensive). Usually this gives me a huge amount of money for a starting character, and I get enough of a economic head start that I don’t have to worry about money for the entire game (and by endgame the amount of gold I want would cost too much money anyways).

2. If buying gold was allowed by the developers of the game you are playing, would you feel more or less inclined to purchase gold?

Same, slightly more inclined because it is nice to be legal. However, the real answer is to make getting money fun enough that I don’t need to pay for it, or to make money nonexistant or really easy to get. I don’t play MMOs to collect money, I play to solo quest or group with others.

3. How do you honestly feel about the companies that sell virtual goods? How do you feel about the employees of the companies that sell virtual goods?

I think they are pretty smart to do this and even though the work conditions may sound horrible to us, people work in them because they think it is the best option available to them to make money. That they are willing to work so hard for my $10 is more of a comment of the conditions there than the character of the people doing the work.

4. Have you ever been “spammed” with gold-selling advertisements in-game?

Yes, and I hate it. I try to buy from gold sellers from whom I have never seen an ingame ad… however, I suspect some gold sellers operate multiple pages so I may still unknowingly be supporting gold spammers. I don’t bother using the ignore function because the character names change too often. I usually just try to not pay attention to it.

Kinreim - December 2, 2008

I purchased gold before. I don’t have as much time to play as I used to and grinding takes such a long time. At the same time I want to keep up with my friends who play the game, however lamely. I enjoy being part of the “pack.” I purchased gold on several occasions and have been taken for a rice once. I stick to http://www.playerauctions.com these days. PlayerAuctions cuts out the gold-selling middleman by connecting buyers directly with sellers, it GUARANTEES all trades for buyers and sellers. I know that when I deal through them, I will get my goods.

To answer your other questions, no I haven’t been spammed in game before, however I get a tons of emails from number of marketplaces. That does tick me off….

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