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Boycott the Gold Farmers? 207

Posted by Zonk
from the just-don't-buy-it dept.
Next Generation is running an editorial penned by former PC Gamer Editor-In-Chief Gary Whitta, wherein he calls on gamers to shut down gold farmers. From the article: "PCG's refusal to accept their advertising is a bold first step toward suffocating these reprobates. But it won't do the job completely: there will always be less-scrupulous outlets who won't be so picky about where their ad dollars come from. The only way to really cut off gold farmers at the knees is not by refusing to take their money, but by refusing to give it to them. And that responsibility falls to you, the community of players they target."
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Boycott the Gold Farmers?

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  • And yet somehow people keep buying stuff from them. no-one I know likes it, but a few people have owned up to buying gold off of them because most MMORPGs are time/virtual money sinks, and when you only play a few hours a week it's hard to stockpile gold you need for quests/supplies.
    • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:53PM (#15124054)
      I like gold farmers. I have used them in the past and will use them in the future.

      I play games for fun- not as a second job. Farming for gold isn't fun. Its mind numbing, boring, tedious work. Yet due to flaws in game design, many MMOs require it. Since I don't like doing it, I'd rather pay someone else to do it for me, allowing me to skip directly to the parts which are fun. Its a win/win/win. The gold farmer gets cash, I get to have fun, and the game company continues to have me as a subscriber.

      You want to stop farming? STOP MAKING FLAWED GAMES THAT REQUIRE IT! Remove the god damned grind already. Get rid of uber items. Get rid of items that drop once a week or once a year. There you go- we now have no reason to farm, so we have no reason to buy gold. And the game is better as a result- you've removed a monotonous, repetitious bore from the game. Until the industry evolves away from the EQ idea of time sinks as content (hint to developers- no, its not), gold farming will live on, as its the only thing that makes the games playable.
      • The other side of the issue you present is that some people do put more time in the game, and feel they should have greater rewards for it. To use Warcraft as an example, I only have the time to run the 5 and 10 man instances such as Blackrock Spire, Scholomance, etc. I will never have the uber elite items that drop from raid instances such as Onyxia. By your logic, we shouldn't even have Onyxia or Ragnaros or any of the other raid bosses. However, some people want more challenge than running Stratholme ove

      • In software terms, this sort of article campaign and the measures taken by the likes of Blizzard are known as solving the wrong problem. Trying to get the users to change their behaviour instead of fixing the glaring software issue that's driving them to do it.

        For some reason though, these MMORPG developers seem to see themselves as above this basic design principle.

        The question is, why?

        • The question is, why?

          They have over 5,000,000 subscribers and rake in millions of dollars per month. Their shit doesn't stink.

        • Maybe if Congress would show some backbone, and enact a law that would secure the borders and prevent these illegal aliens from sneaking into World of Warcraft instead of rewarding them with gold, then maybe . . .

          Oh, sorry. Wrong issue.
        • In software terms, this sort of article campaign and the measures taken by the likes of Blizzard are known as solving the wrong problem. Trying to get the users to change their behaviour instead of fixing the glaring software issue that's driving them to do it.

          The problem with solving the issue is that MMORPG business model is built on monthly payments. In order to make money, you have to keep people playing the game, preferably forever. This, of course, requires there to be some play content. Now, how

      • You buy a game.
        You have to pay a monthly fee to be able to play the game you already paid for. You have to pay someone else to play for you because you think the game is boring.

        Why did you buy the game?
        Why do you still play the game?

        Boycott the game, not the farmers.
        • I don't play the game anymore, not since they killed world PvP with battlegrounds and uber loot from raiding.

          Before then- I found some parts fun, and some parts not. I payed someone to skip the not parts, and found the cost to do so acceptable. Much like in real life. For example- I like to drive. But I pay someone else to change the oil.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:02PM (#15123428) Homepage Journal
    I don't play any game that has an endless money supply in it -- I don't think there are any games yet that have a fixed amount of commodities in the gaming world, but I'd appreciate seeing it. It would really make people strive to earn (or steal or barter) their "income" online.

    That being said, isn't the gold farmer there specifically because it does reduce the most boring part of the game? I think this is exactly what the game needs to prove that the money situation is broken. If money is so easy to get by "farming" it, it means the gaming companies need to come up with a new way to handle the situation of money (preferably by fixing the amount available and only allowing more of it through mining or what not). I'd even say dump the gold-is-the-only-money idea entirely, and fix commodities based on the amount of PC players rather than the amount of NPCs in a game. This will let other commodities find value as a bartering mechanism.

    I don't see the reason for ignoring something valuable such as the gold farmer -- if it saves YOU time, then it is worth the cost. Money is a store of time, nothing more. If something saves you time, you give them your money (stored time) in exchange. Someone elsewhere in the world is willing to do your dirty work, compensate them if you can't do it yourself.
    • by danpsmith (922127) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:22PM (#15123673)
      How about actual game economics? What you need is a fixed amount of money to flow into the game at all times, instead of merchants constantly willing to buy items off of you and an unlimited amount of gold available. Now I know in games there's _technically_ a limit, but I think this should be more regulated in game form. MMOs are starting to echo the real world in the need for real economic controls. I think prices for things, instead of varying from town to town in game, should also vary based on other factors. I honestly think that a game with a more complicated virtual economy might be able to curtail some of these issues, by making it harder to get cheap gold by tricks, and making it easier to get enough gold to afford what you need. Just imagine if a game had a flaw where you could find an infinite amount of some type of sword by killing something over and over again, but as the market gets flooded with the sword in the game, the price for it goes down just like it would in real life. Now that's a game I'd like to be a part of.
      • Nobody ever accumulates much wealth by selling to NPC's anyway. It is by selling on the players market that you make significant sums of coin. The players market most definately reacts to a flood of items with price drops.

        The Auction houses in Wow for instance, represent a capitalist economy with all the dynamics of supply and demand. That hardly eliminates gold farmers.
        • by Swanktastic (109747) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:45PM (#15123945)
          The Auction houses in Wow for instance, represent a capitalist economy with all the dynamics of supply and demand. That hardly eliminates gold farmers.

          No, the auction house represents a market system. Markets have been around since the dawn of civilization. Supply and demand is a market force, but not necessarily and indicator of capitalism. Socialist counties also have markets you know.

          Capitalism implies that the means of production (factories, farms, etc) are privately owned. WoW is definitely not capitalist in that there are no in game assets that produce income, AKA Capital.
          • > WoW is definitely not capitalist in that there are no in game assets that
              > produce income, AKA Capital.

            Really? What would you call that Sword of Uberness that you paid an arm and a leg for and that you just used to kill the mob with the really keen drop, which would have been difficult/impossible to kill without the uber weapon? Looks like a game asset that produces income, AKA Capital, to me...

            Chris Mattern
        • Nobody ever accumulates much wealth by selling to NPC's anyway. It is by selling on the players market that you make significant sums of coin.

          If I sell an item to you on the auction house, we trade an item for gold. You have less gold, I have more gold. Gold is neither created nor destroyed (well there is a cut that's taken, but it's not much). However, I regularly pick up all the vendor trash (gray items) when I run level 60 instances. I can make 4 or 5 gold each run. Some of the high level gray items w

      • The problem is that opens up a huge can of worms. What do you do about monopolies? You know, the 10 year old kid with way too much time on his hands that controls 90% of the money flow.

        This provides a situation where certain game players can have a massive influence on the entire game world. That would not a good thing but now the game you just bought is being run by some unknown random people on the network that can do whatever they want.

        There are surely ways to balance this but it ain't gonna be easy.
        • Actually, my reason for starting this thread was because the gaming world directly emulates the real world. Just as there are gold farmers in gaming, our own governments are doing the same thing -- creating new money out of "thin air" and devaluing all the money that we own.

          The gaming world is no different -- the value of an item versus another item are completely dictated by supply and demand. If some ten year old can spend 90% of his waking hours hording gold, this is no problem from a free market persp
      • Hey, Alan Greenspan just retired from the Federal Reserve, so he'd be a natural to help develop something like this. Managing the overall level of the money supply has been his gig for many, many years.
      • The simplest solution is to completely remove inter-player trading.

        Then everything your character has is his. No gold farming--the most you could do would be character selling.

        Of course, this would also force a change in MMORPG game design, but quite frankly the grinding has got to go anyway.
    • Indeed. Eve Online uses a similar model, with the NPC characters making up less than 10% of the galactic economy.

      By far, the most realistic and player driven economy around. It only works because there is 25,000 people playing at the same time, ON A SINGLE SERVER INSTANCE. Try it.

    • I don't play any game that has an endless money supply in it -- I don't think there are any games yet that have a fixed amount of commodities in the gaming world, but I'd appreciate seeing it. It would really make people strive to earn (or steal or barter) their "income" online.
      Puzzle Pirates. Resources spawn at a more-or-less fixed rate, and must be purchased at auction. Virtually all the items manufactured from these resources are either consumable or decay.
      • If I had mod points I'd mod ya up... Puzzle Pirates is probably one of the most interesting MMORG economies around. Just moving money from place to place is either dangerous or expensive (you choose). Although I haven't played in a year or two, I hear they're doing even more experiments with economies on some oceans where they allow dollars to be spent in-game on certain things.

        Anyone interested in MMORG economic principles should definitely give Puzzle Pirates a look.
        • Puzzle Pirates is probably one of the most interesting MMORG economies around. Just moving money from place to place is either dangerous or expensive (you choose).

          Not anymore sadly - over the virtually unanimous outrage of the playerbase, they've implemented a 'universal purse'. All your POE is available to you everywhere you go - and is safe from brigands so long as it isn't in your [ships] coffers or booty chest.

          They did this to 'make the game more understandable to newbies'. I always find that explan

    • by TexVex (669445) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:37PM (#15123864)

      I don't think there are any games yet that have a fixed amount of commodities in the gaming world, but I'd appreciate seeing it.

      Ultima Online did early on. People hoarded. The system broke. It sounds good in theory, but there are too many variables you can't easily account for in practice. What about the guy who has a nice collection of some commodity, then doesn't log in for six months? Do you release his supply back into the system? What about when he returns to the game -- is he screwed out of his stuff, or is his supply allowed to go over the limit? I think this is exactly what the game needs to prove that the money situation is broken. The situation needs deeper analysis. MMORPGs are a new layer on top of the RPG. Classically, the "economy" in an RPG is a combination of game world flavor, a way to inflate the game's play time, a flow controller (i.e. to prevent you from buying powerful high-level equipment too early), and a sub-game of decision-making about things like exactly how important it is to have the Uber Sword of Donkeylizard Slaying or if the Elite Sword of Donkeylizard Slaying is good enough.

      Single-player RPGs contain things look like economics but really aren't -- it's just part of the game.

      Early MMORPG designers built the game systems the same way, without giving much thought to how real economics were going to come into play. It's just a game, one that happens to be multiplayer, right? It's obvious to add in trading of stuff between players. But, as soon as you do that, a real economy emerges. The real one interacts strangely with the fake one built into the game world. The classical RPG economy has the hero being uber-rich by the end of the game, because accumulated money is just another scorecard. But when that useless stuff can be traded between players and the game is designed for all players to get steadily richer over time, then you end up with this huge disconnect between the value of money in terms of the game rules and the value of money between two players. A friend signs on, you give him a small fraction of all the excess money you've piled up, and that little gift allows him to never have to worry about gaining money in the game on his own.

      Money is a store of time, nothing more.

      In an MMO, currency has the dual role of being a scorecard in a sub-game, and being real currency for player-to-player transactions. On the game engine side, the system is immutable. On the human side, the value of the currency fluctuates constantly in response to uncountable things. It just doesn't work right. No matter how much you bandaid it.

      The key is to fix it so that the game engine "economics" adjust themselves dynamically in response to the real economics that happen as a result of player action. Ultima Online took a small step in that direction a few years back, when they made it so that NPCs would adjust their prices in response to player purchases and sellbacks. It was shown to be a successful experiment when, later, an NPC shopkeeper was placed in a dangerous and hard to access are of the game world. Players found it preferable to spend the gold they gained in that dungeon locally with that shopkeeper, because it was literally not worth their time to truck the loot back out for deposit into their bank accounts. Prices on that vendor skyrocketed to more than ten times the price for the same item in an easily accessible part of the world. They eventually stabilized when players began finding it worth their time to truck goods into that area specifically to sell to that vendor. That simple little change in game mechanics allowed actual economics to emerge in that game.

      On the whole, MMO developers aren't generally interested in playing with economic theories. They are much more interested in providing a fun play experience that is visually stunning. Experimentation with the basic game design is a Bad Thing because the results might be unknown and if you f

      • Thanks for that insightful information, it sounds like UO would be a game I'd like. Games can easily facilitate supply and demand just as UO did, and I don't see why it should be any different.

        In fact, I believe if a game properly reflects supply and demand in real time, we'd see the inflationary problems that we face in reality very quickly in a game that allowed an endless supply of "money" or any commodity that is over-created without labor of another.

        Good post.
      • First of all, that was a really nice post. Too bad I can't mod you up anymore. It's nice to see Slashdot is still capable of having great posts like these. Now, my comment:

        If you think it's cheating that someone can buy gold from another player, do you also think it's cheating if your guild donates money and equipment to new members? Is it cheating if you give your buddy a bunch of extra gold you don't need? If you don't, then why do you object to the use of real-world money to purchase something when you d
        • by TexVex (669445) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:40PM (#15126698)
          Yours was a very good reply and I thank you for it; it's nice to see that Slashdotters can still be civil and engage in meaningful discussion.
          For example a college degree.
          The degree is just a piece of paper that says you're educated; it's different from the education itself. With top-tier equipment in an MMO, though, you aren't buying a lie. You're buying the real thing. If I buy a fake PhD and call myself "doctor", that doesn't mean I can do a job that only a PhD can do. But if I buy elite gear in WoW, then it buffs up my stats exactly how a fake diploma won't. :)

          Now, I think you've hit the nail on the head with this statement:
          if it's unofficial, then you're stuck with a lot of the shady circumstances that pop up. Like in WoW, you've got those gold farmers that ruin game experience for others simply because they're trying to earn a living
          What the real deal here is, is that gold buying in an MMO becomes almost exactly like real-world vice crime. When something victimless like pot smoking or prostitution is legal and is reasonably regulated like any "legitimate" business would be, then it doesn't cause a stir. Brothels are peaceful, secure places where money changes hands, people enjoy themselves in privacy, and disease is not spread. Herb dens are like pubs except full of happy stoners instead of rowdy drunks.

          But, when those things become illegal, that doesn't stop the basic human desires that lead to the demand that creates the market; people want to enjoy themselves, get laid, or whatever else without being bothered and without hurting anyone. So, they do these things anyway. But, without the protection of law, they have lots of negative ancilliary effects and secondary crime, all of which reinforces the negative perception of the original vice and clouds peoples' judgement over what the real solution is.

          On the gold farming thing, I think the best way to handle it is to sanction it and not try to stop it. You'll waste a lot of time and effort trying to stop it, ruining the game experiences of the "cheaters" who just wanted to skip over some of the boring parts along the way, and you won't really stop it. By "criminalizing" it, you're exacerbating the problem that you created in the first place. It's better to noturinate into the wind, right?

          I think creating a real no-grind MMORPG will require creating a whole new kind of beast. These games must have huge subscription revenues to be profitable, because they cost boatloads of money to make and maintain. You can't put content into the game cheaply enough and in enough volume to keep your playerbase engaged and still make a profit. So, you have to put in the level grind and the loot grind to give players more hurdles than just the quests and instances you build into the game. Otherwise, they power through all your content in no time, and you might as well have sold them a single-player game, because they won't subscribe and will move on to the next RPG. Since the grind is required for an MMO to be sustainable long-term, then you have to embrace the "seedier" side of people just engaging in capitalist economics vis-a-vis gold farming and gold buying.

          It's interesting watching things like Second Life emerge and evolve. SL is all about being a virtual world and not about being a game; there's no grind to it and there's an officially sanctioned currency market for it. But, it's not a game. However, I do bet that eventually we'll see an MMO that is somewhere between Wow and Second Life, where player-generated content provides enough playability to eliminate the ridiculous grind.
          • On the gold farming thing, I think the best way to handle it is to sanction it and not try to stop it. You'll waste a lot of time and effort trying to stop it, ruining the game experiences of the "cheaters" who just wanted to skip over some of the boring parts along the way, and you won't really stop it. By "criminalizing" it, you're exacerbating the problem that you created in the first place. It's better to noturinate into the wind, right?

            Yes, I agree completely. We're already seeing this trend in MMOs

  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:02PM (#15123430) Homepage
    Whenever a sweatshop closes, a family starves. Now, I don't know if that's necessarily how goldfarming operations work (certainly not to the same degree), but it seems like more people stand to lose more from goldfarming's collapse than players have to gain.
    • Which is precisely why this both must and will be fixed on an evolutionary basis. The balance and mechanics issues that promote gold farming need to be addressed as MMORPGS grow.

      That way, it won't be a case of someone having the rug pulled out from under them, they'll have time to find a new job as the demand for gold winds down in one game while it dies, and it'll becomes clear that there's no demand in any of the growing new games.

    • Something I forgot in my other post: this isn't something you can go into expecting it to be stable. It's stated in the ToS and a well known fact that gold selling is strictly a no-no. If somebody is retarded enough to try to support their family off something like that... I know it sounds repulsive, but it's evolution at work.

      And please, nobody get all righteous in the name of the poor poverty-stricken Chinese clutching at the final straw of gold farming. Anyone who can get access to a WoW subscription and

      • You realize that these gold farmers work for companies that provide WoW and a computer, right? And that they work in cramped, hot cubicles in 12 hour shifts while they do their farming? It isn't exactly some guy who comes home from work, decides to earn a little extra money, and logs on to his computer and WoW account to sell gold. Not even close. Most gold farming companies are run like sweatshops.

  • Wrong! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dsands1 (183088) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:03PM (#15123435)
    "only way to really cut off gold farmers at the knees is not by refusing to take their money, but by refusing to give it to them."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. The only way to really cut off gold farmers is for companies like blizzard to change the game such that there isn't so much focus on "gold". I don't like the idea of having to spend 3 months of farming herbs to be able to afford to buy an epic mount, hence i go buy gold to get the epic mount. If they made it based on completing quests we wouldn't have this issue? No gold necessary to get the epic mount. Just quests. The reason above is the only reason that I've yet bought money in an MMO.

    I agree there's a need for some currency to be used in MMOs, but the current implementation of it in games like WoW is the issue.
    • Truly, they do manage to find "realism" in the places where real-life sucks the most.
      Fortunately other elements of the game are more enjoyable, but the sadistic bastards
      aren't happy just taking your money, they want you to suffer through their notion of
      a personal growth experience, and enjoy the savor of the crushing disappointment you
      feel when you realize you've endured all that crap for....nothing.
    • I've never played an MMO without a currency system. To have a currency system, you must have things worth buying, otherwise why bother? The things that are most worth buying ought to have this reflected in their value. Prices on the Auction House are not set by Blizzard, they are set by good old Adam Smith.

      The only reason in the world that they make you pay for things like mounts, epic mounts, skill training, repairs, etc, is to remove money from the world. This is necessary to counterbalance the constant i
    • Definately. The sad thing is that high gold items like epic mounts are put into the game with the intention of removing gold from the game and balancing the economy.

      Personally I think the game should implement sanctioned gold shops. After all, game companies like Blizzard are out to make money, there is not reason they shouldn't be allowed to do so.

      Nobody would take the risk of purchasing gold from a gold farmer if there was a sanctioned source for doing it. At the same time, because nobody will buy from a
    • People would, then, just purchase "Quest farming services." Really, it's all about a desire to have something--once deemed "extra"--right now. If there is any currency, item, or otherwise interactive portion that requires "earning" (even quests) to obtain, people will attempt to hock & purchase it.
    • How about just not get an epic mount? I don't have one, I've never had one, and I've played WoW for over a year. It's not a necessary component to enjoy the game, you don't need it to do anything. So if you've convinced yourself that you "need" one, it's a simple case of keeping up with the jonses. Other people have more than you and for some reason that pisses you off. The problem is not with the game, the problem is with you. You need to learn how to enjoy games, and life, without having to keep up with t
      • I enjoy the game if I can move around in it faster. That's exactly what the epic mount does. People, please stop trying to tell other people HOW to enjoy the game. If you enjoy the game going at 60% above base movement, fine, enjoy. I enjoy the game going at 100% above base movement. So, just stop worrying about me, I mean, what harm am I doing you? (and now this is where we see your true colors)...
        • Ok, so what if I enjoy the game by causing your grief? What if what I find fun is to hack the game so I'm invincable, and follow you around killing you continously, and there's nothing you can do about it? Hey, don't tell me HOW to enjoy the game, I enjoy it by doing that.

          That's the point, buying gold is against the rules. Blizzard has made that quite clear. If you do so, you are breaking the rules. Well, what I say is if you don't like the rules, don't play the game. If the game isn't fun for you when pla
  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:04PM (#15123446)
    Okay, I can almost understand why somebody might want to buy gold to cut out some of the more boring aspects of play and get them to their epic mount that much more quickly. But that's not all that these sludge barons offer. Aside from gold, they'll sell you a ready-made level-60 character if you wish. Or they'll even take your low-level character and play it for you, without you ever having to lift a finger. Hey, why confine this practice to MMOs? Why not pay an experienced Counter-Strike player to rack up several thousand frags in your name to earn you a killer online rep? Oh, that's right -- because it defeats the whole point of playing the game in the first place.


    Here, I thought that the point of playing the game was to have fun.

    Clearly, nobody purchases fragging services in Counterstrike because that would not be fun. You'd be paying someone to play the game for you.

    Just as clearly, people do purchase gold from gold farmers because grinding for gold...isn't fun. Grinding faction isn't fun.

    The fact that gold farmers exist, the fact that leveling services exist, these things speak to deficiencies in the game design. There's this game, that people are paying millions each month to play, and yet on top of the monthly fee many of them feel that it is worth additional money to pay others to essentially play part of the game for them. Why? Because that part of the game isn't fun.

    If MMORPG designers want to eliminate farmers, they need to look at what parts of the game people are paying them to play, figure out why those parts of the game aren't fun, and change them to make the fun. Bitching about people who are willing to provide a service at a rate people are willing to pay is, like in every other aspect of life, silly.
    • Not to mention that in Counterstrike, every 'player' is equal. You might be more skilled than I am, but the character you're playing isn't going to be better than mine because you've spent more hours ingame than I have.

      And there's also the fact that your lack of skillz will be readily apparent the first time you join a game with leet players.
      • Whinge, whinge. After I've built up two or three level 60 characters, when I want another one, I'll buy it. I'm here to have fun, not to jump through some anal-retentive moron's hoops repeatedly. Rather than wasting 40 hours of my precious life-blood painfully farming gold, how about if I just lobotomize myself with an ice pick? Would that satisfy your need to make others suffer?
           
        • It seems that what players really, want... What they think is fun, is to beat real humans at a task. Not to take a challenge against real people, nor to beat the computer, but to really beat other humans.

          Take the arcade game, it has a score card, the human wants to beat the other players to the top and if they can't they don't play the game for long - that's why the score card gets reset occasionally, and that's why they ban the people that just keep scoring the highest and fill up the score card as soon as
    • by jchenx (267053) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#15123720) Journal
      The fact that gold farmers exist, the fact that leveling services exist, these things speak to deficiencies in the game design. There's this game, that people are paying millions each month to play, and yet on top of the monthly fee many of them feel that it is worth additional money to pay others to essentially play part of the game for them. Why? Because that part of the game isn't fun.

      The problem is that fun is (obviously) highly subjective. What you deem as fun may be entirely different than what I think. The vast majority of gamers in WoW don't buy gold. The process of slowly accumulating wealth (which includes gold, equipment, and other loot) is supposed to be challenging and rewarding. That's just a part of the game design.

      Now the issue is always going to be "how much is too much?". I'll take WoW as an example. From most people that I've interacted with in the game, accumulating the 90 gold or so necessary for a mount at level 40 is a challenge, but it's something that everyone achieves. However at level 60, the epic mount costs around 800-900 gold, and that's something that many people (myself probably included) will never reach. So I can understand the argument that the cost of the epic mount is too high, and that might be considered bad game design. But that's not the problem.

      All it takes for one person to think that the normal mount cost is too much, and bingo, the gold farmers have a business. Heck, you can say having any type of economic system is going to invite farmers, since there will always be those lazy individuals where ANY amount of work is too much. These gamers are probably the same folks who cheat and hack their way through every single-player game, blowing through them in a fraction of the time that it's supposed to take. In my opinion (and many others would agree), that's a poor way to play a game. But all it takes is a few of these gamers to generate a business. I think of it the same way with spam. The only reason we still get e-mail spam is because there are a few idiots who still fall for the "Former King of Nigeria" tricks or buy Viagra through their inbox.

      I think TFA makes a good point. It usually is obvious when you've got someone who just paid his way to a high level character. Make it so they never want to do it again (don't group with them, ban from guild invites, etc). It should be the same stigma as someone who cheats in real life: cutting in front of a long line, snags a few dollars from a donation box, takes credit for other people's work, etc. General asshole behavior, even in on-line games, should not be tolerated.
      • All it takes for one person to think that the normal mount cost is too much, and bingo, the gold farmers have a business.

        No it doesn't! For the gold farmers to have a business, there has to be a significant number of people interested in buying what they sell. One person will not make a business for them. The fact that there has to be alot of people out there willing to do it is an indication that it is a game flaw more than anything.
        • Fine, I should have said "a few" instead of one. So sue me.

          Actually, you do bring up an interesting point. How many people are needed to make gold farming a viable business?

          With a game like WoW, with a tremendous subscriber base, all it takes a small percentage of the playerbase to be dis-satisfied, and gold farmers have a business. For example, WoW has 5 million subscribers (last I checked). If just 1% of that audience were lazy gamers that wanted to buy their way to level 60 characters, that's already 50,
        • What's the flaw? That it is a challenge to get enough gold for an epic mount? Aren't there supposed to be challenges? What's the solution? Make it so there are no challenges, so no one feels the need to cheat their way through it?

          I've played that game since it was released. You start off at lvl 1 with nothing. At lvl 5 you can pick up a gathering skill, and, if you choose mining, or herbalism, you can go right out and make a decent amount of money. Copper bars sell for more than a gold a stack, most times.
          • What's the flaw? That it is a challenge to get enough gold for an epic mount? Aren't there supposed to be challenges?

            Getting an epic mount isn't a challenge, its a grind. A challenge is something that sees wether I have the *skill* to complete it. A difficult quest, perhaps with a timer you need to complete it in, is a challenge. Go kills stuff until you have 1000 gold is not a challenge, its merely a time sink. You could have no idea what you're doing, you'll still eventually achieve it. Timesinks ar

      • All it takes for one person to think that the normal mount cost is too much, and bingo, the gold farmers have a business. Heck, you can say having any type of economic system is going to invite farmers, since there will always be those lazy individuals where ANY amount of work is too much.

        Is it being 'lazy' if player A with 10 hours a week buys gold to get a BoE epic to keep up with player B who plays 40 hours a week and has superior BoP epics?

        People buy gold in world of warcraft for two reasons:

        1
    • No not so much (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      Your statement would more accurately be said:

      "Clearly, nobody uses aimbots in Counterstrike because that would not be fun. You'd be having something play the game for you."

      But people DO use aimbots. All they do is click the mouse to fire, and some don't even do that, they auto fire. The game is being played for you. Why play then? Well because they are people with ego issues that want to have an edge over other players. They want to win, but aren't willing to get good at the game, so they cheat.

      Same thing w
    • Gold farming isn't fun for a very good reason, you're not supposed to do it!
      However, there is obviously an incentive to do it, which is to buy the best items and upgrade them to be stronger........ and then what? you "finish" the game?
      You did all that just to be the strongest and finish the game, but the game goes on...
      Did you enjoy the journey of levelling up all that way?
      You did? Great, then your money was well spent. If you're bored, go do something else.
      You didn't? Then why did you even play? Learn your
  • Where there's a person willing to spend their coin to save time and get in game gold / items, there's someone who's going to meet that demand.

    As long as games have an economy where individuals can exchange items for in game coinage this will remain an issue.

    2 possible ways to fix this that I can think of, however, they would have to be implemented together.

    #1 Remove the ability to exchange in game coin directly between players.
    #2 Restrict pricing on items to within certain values - ie - allow the economy to
  • I understand a few purists out there getting upset, but why all the hubbub? I play WOW - a lot - and while I see farmers and get some in game spam, it doesn't bother me any more than any other innane crap that goes on (Barrens chat anyone?)

    If a guy wants to buy 100G rather than farm for his mount, or decides to power level tailoring/enchanting and needs 500G to do it - who cares? To bad they didn't do it 'the hard way', but why is it your right to tell that person hes a cheater?

    Its a game and grinding and f
    • Economy in an MMORPG is not a closed circuit. In real economies, money has to come from a place where money leaves. The money "in the system" is more or less stable (with some "healthy" inflation giving an incentive to spend instead of hoarding it).

      In an MMORPG, there is no direct connection between influx and exit of money. Money is generated spontanously by hacking down a monster. Money disappears when you buy something from an NPC (be it a skill, an item or a service). The NPC is not spending the money i
  • I admit it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by stlhawkeye (868951) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:11PM (#15123515) Homepage Journal
    I buy gold off them and I'd do it again. It's stupid to spend 4 weeks farming gold or whatever when I buy that same amount of gold for $100, an amount of money I make in about 2 hours of work. For 4 weeks of mindless drudgery I could at least be getting paid about eight grand. Boycott nothing. If the game producers don't like people circumventing the grind, stop adding stupid grinds to games.
  • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:13PM (#15123533) Homepage Journal
    "Gaming the system" is an expression which means "cheating the system". In order to win (by some definition) a game means to figure out the game.

    Some people find that simply playing a game is enjoyable. Others find winning is the enjoyable part.

    Personally, I don't play at these sorts of games, because the reason I play is to have social (read face to face) interactions. But if I find a new "finesse" I don't see why I wouldn't use it. If there is no enjoyment for me, or other payback, why would I bother?

    If "gold farmers" cause angst to the games operators, or if they cause people (who pay to play) to leave, the games operators would adjust the rules of play.

    Exactely the same thing happens at, say, chess. If I play an unbalanced game, neither I nor my opponent would enjoy it. So we make a rule of "spotting pieces" until parity is reached.

    The "game market" will take care of the problem, if it exists at all.

    Ratboy
  • Whos fault? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imunfair (877689) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:14PM (#15123553) Homepage
    I'm not a gold farmer, but as I continually read articles about them, I've come to wonder whos fault it really is.

    It seems to me that gold farmers are just performing rote in game tasks. If they're automating it that would be cheating, of course - but assume we're talking about a person who manually farms gold. It's their choice what they do in-game - if gold farming is really so harmful isn't it the fault of the game designers for not programmatically stopping it? Can they truly not structure it in such a way that gold farming isn't effective?

    That said, have the ill effects of gold farming actually been proven? I don't think I've actually seen anyone name a real game that has been destroyed by such activities, I'd be interested to know if one (or more) actually exist.

    • Re:Whos fault? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PepeGSay (847429)
      I can name one: Star Wars Galaxies. The games economy was completely trashed by billions and billions of Duped credits. Those duped credits were largely created by gold farmers who were duping and then selling them. Others were duping them and then dumping outrageous sums into the economy on silly stuff. The prices became hyperinflated and the amount of gold kept pace, but acquiring money was *never* an issue during the period that duping was most prevelant. The only saving grace in SWG was that the money
  • I get tons of enjoyment from buying (for example) cheap copper and making (for example) expensive copper boots out of it, which I can then sell for a profit on the Auction House. I can do that kind of thing by logging in once or twice a day for ten minutes during my busy week, then play like a pure addict on the weekends without worrying about how much gold it's going to cost for the next skill I want to learn.

    Hell, I wish I could earn a living in real life that way. (Oh wait, I can -- it's called being a

    • I've been wondering about this. They go to all this trouble to build clever, complex economies. Isn't it possible that they set such high prices for the likes of mounts in order to give gamers a taste of part of the game they might be missing out on?

      It's quite common, especially in RPGs, for you to be forced at some point to carry out each action at least once, just to make sure you know it's there.

      So maybe they reckon that after 60 levels, players will be sick of the quest->money+experience ladder, and

  • by edremy (36408) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:21PM (#15123657) Journal
    Farmers have a commodity. (Gold, high level character, etc) Other people want these commodities and have real money to spend. There's *going* to be a marketplace no matter what you, Blizzard or anyone else wants.

    I remember visiting a communist country back in the late 80s. We were deluged with requests from folks on the street to exchange money, buy our jeans and a dozen other transactions ranging from officially frowned on to downright illegal. We had something they wanted, and they'd break the law in a second to get it. Remember that most of the Chinese gold farmers are seriously poor by Western standards- this is a major step up the success ladder for them, and they don't even need to break any laws. just violate an agreement with a game company. The "War on Drugs" has utterly failed to stop drug sales despite endless "Just Say No" anti-drug messages and serious law enforcement. Here all we have is "Just Say No" and Blizzard banning a few accounts now and then.

    Ban capitalism at your peril- if things can be traded, there will be a marketplace.

  • by Thedeviluno (903528) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:24PM (#15123705) Homepage
    Yeah Gold farming will stop when good games are no longer dependant on time snks.
  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:27PM (#15123728) Homepage
    Seriously, this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. The market exists, companies capitalize on it. Now if a game maker would get their head out of their ass for a minute and create a MMO *NOT* based around gold and time grinds then there would be no need for any of this. Instead of relying on "gold" and 20+ year old concepts, GET CREATIVE, and implement a system without gold or other monetary forms and make the focus on the *game*... imagine that.

    I personally hope gold farmers keep hosing up these poorly implemented and derivitive systems and dragging the game down with them. Force the developers hand and make them come up with a solution. FARM ON!
    • I don't get why gamers always slam other genres so much. While I agree that gold/time grinds aren't exactly the best game design schemes, you can't argue that it just works for a huge number of players (myself included). If you're the type of player who hates the treadmill concept, then don't play the game! Maybe at some point, there will be an MMO that has evolved enough not to be one huge level/gold/time grind, and you'll find pleasure in that.

      It seems like there's always RPG-fantics lambasting how every
      • Dark&Light is supposed to somewhat reduce the grind by having a large "social" aspect to the game (a hierarchy of command) and by very scarce respawning.
        The idea is the world is huge (we're talking 400x400km of land+oceans) and the flora and fauna grows and travels proceduraly, striving to keep the balance. For example if the sheep in some area ate all the grass, they will travel to find more grass or starve to death. If you kill those sheep, they don't just respawn after a minute.
        Doing recon and huntin
        • Dark&Light is supposed to somewhat reduce the grind by having a large "social" aspect to the game (a hierarchy of command) and by very scarce respawning.
          The idea is the world is huge (we're talking 400x400km of land+oceans) and the flora and fauna grows and travels proceduraly, striving to keep the balance. For example if the sheep in some area ate all the grass, they will travel to find more grass or starve to death. If you kill those sheep, they don't just respawn after a minute.
          Doing recon and huntin
          • It all depends on what really is fun.
            Maybe a different take on the mmorpg world can prove to be funner?
            The following is wishful thinking, nothing that really exists...........
            What about a game where being a non-fighter can prove not only profitable but also fun?
            For example, to craft a sword you couldn't just put 3 pieces of iron + 1000 gold and click "create", but you'd have a mini-game of doing things in different way that can produce different kinds of items with differing qualities. You'd work a long tim
    • another way to look at it is this way:

      Let's say Player A makes $100,000 a year, plays a game only 2 hours a week.

      Let's say Player B makes $50,000 a year, plays a game 20 hours a week.

      If Player A uses his/her additional resources (cash) to purchase the equivalent of the missing 18 hours a week that Player B spent to get the in-game resources (gold), and it only cost $50, is Player A:

      a. smart;
      b. wise;
      c. getting way more sex than Player B;
      d. able to understand how real life works; or
      e. All Of The Above (TM)?

      I
  • by Gropo (445879)
    Imagine what it's like to have a main with a Japanese name... Seems like i get 5 "ni hao"s every time I set foot in a 55-60 zone. Someone tell me how to say "I really hate Chinese gold farmers" in pinyin?
  • Another reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:41PM (#15123903) Homepage
    There is another less-publicized reason why the MMORPG companies like Blizzard want to fight gold farmers. Gold farmers shorten the number of months someone is likely to play the game.

    While I don't have any studies to back me up, I would be willing to bet that someone who buys there way to the highest level and equipment plays the game a significantly shorter time than someone who earns their way to the top. The reason why is simple...it takes a serious amount of time to amass the gold that those guys do. If you cut out that time by paying a $50 or so, then thats a good month or two of subscription fees.

    When you start looking at things in terms of shortened subscriptions, you can see why companies like Blizzard are concerned. Of course, they probably make up for it by having the gold farmers just buy a new copy of the game every time they get banned.

    • Re:Another reason (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AuMatar (183847)
      Its actually the opposite. If I had to farm for gold myself- I would have quit FFXI after a 2-3 weeks, and WoW after 2-3 months, not the half years I played each. Why? Because I would have had to spend large amounts of time doing stuff that wasn't fun in order to get back to the fun. Buying gold keeps me a subscriber for longer, not shorter.
      • Interesting counter-point, however I still disagree regarding the point about how doing stuff that wasn't fun in the game in order to get to the fun parts makes you play less. While that may have been your case, I feel you are the exception rather than the rule. You see, MMOs like WoW are nothing more than virtual Skinner Boxes as discussed in this wonderful essay [nickyee.com] on the subject. So while some parts might not be fun, due to the random reward nature of them and the game, people will still come back for mo
  • How about instead we boycott the games that make gold farming a viable strategy? I play to relax and have fun, not shoot wamprats all day. Probably why I haven't liked an MMO game since Diablo 2 (which to be fair had some farming, but nothing like today's games).

  • Asking those who have no issues with paying for gold to boycott gold farmers seems... unpruductive to me.
  • by Firewalker_Midnights (943814) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:53PM (#15124055)
    Tim Buckley of the Ctrl-Alt-Del webcomic made a blocklist available to prevent gold farming sites showing up in google ads.

    http://www.ctrlaltdel-online.com/news.php?i=1011 [ctrlaltdel-online.com]

    " A few days ago I talked a bunch about gold farming and its adverse effect on MMO's. This caused the google ads on our page to specifically display the gold selling ads in their inventory, so we could effectively block them.

    We've now compiled the list we're using it and made it available to you [cad-comic.com]. If you run a website that used google ads, feel free to use this list to help block these gold farmers. If you frequent a website that uses google ads, email them this list and ask them to use it to block gold farmers.

    Like I said, I doubt gold farming will ever disappear, but every one less customer makes the business less profitable for them."


    I found this rather helpful.
  • take it for what it's worth.

    I do not play MMORPGS, I likely never will. I have issues with them(ethical and cheapskate).

    But I think that all of this opposition to gold farming is pointless. The games are designed to require large amounts of gold to get the good items. Gold takes a lot of time to acquire in any large quantity. So people who don't have the time to put in to get all of that gold but still want the good items in order to play the better quests are either locked out of them or forced to acquire
  • come on.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Intangion (816356)
    i buy from gold farmers ;)

    i dont see anything that wrong with them they are only a minor inconvenience
    they found a way to make money 'playing' a game

    plus when you see these guys working in sweat shop like conditions for so little money, and this is the best they can find in their area you have to almost feel sorry for them

    so some people are minorly inconvenienced ON A GAME (oh crap my favorite farming spot has a couple chinese guys in it booo hooo they dont speak english)
    gold farming is some of these people
  • I abhor farmers and on principle alone I'd never buy anything from them. I have to admit I have some satisfaction in seeing them get screwed.

    On the other hand, I completely understand why they exist and can accept their presence because of that.

    Developers like Blizzard have done a careful job of balancing grind so that it provides a sufficient emotional response that encourages gamers to keep playing. The more they play and the more they care about the characters they've put so much effort into the longer t
  • by SQLz (564901)
    Try Lineage, the economy is so fucked the top n00bie gear would take weeks of grind to save up your own.

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