Rant: Gold Spammers
"They should be kicked down a burning flight of stairs covered in broken glass and AIDS."
These were the words a guildmate of mine recently used to describe his feeling towards the parasites of the MMO genre we have all come to know and hate, the gold spammers. Every major MMO in the last few years has been infested with the likes of these scumbags. It doesn't matter if the game is big or small, these blood-sucking leeches are ready to offer you their dubious services in order to make your gameplay experience a more enjoyable one.
They always seem to find you. Most commonly many of us will receive the random tell from a gentleman with an almost unprenouncable name, probably generated from rolling his face over the keyboard. These worldly scholars mysteriously also seem to share the same commanding mastery of english language. In more recent games like Age of Conan, they could be seen shouting in general chat and filling your in-game mailbox with advertisements. Hell, even some MMO based websites find their forums and blog sections infested with these dingleberries clinging to the ass of the genre. For only few measly dollars, they promise to introduce you into lifestyles of the rich and stupid of whatever virtual world you find yourself inhabiting.
On one side of the coin you have to deal with how these people directly effect the game. To the honest player, they are an annoyance first and foremost. Often times they can obstruct the gameplay of players. Gold farmers who gather the money will identify an area that enables them to generate the most wealth per hour. This can in turn lead to bottlenecks in these areas which often times are places that normal players will have to pass through during the natural order of progression. If left unchecked over time, the flooding of gold into the online economy can often time lead to inflation driving up the costs of items sold between players via the auction house.
The other side of the coin is the fact that players are to blame as well. These spammer would not be in the business they are in if it were not profitable. It is profitable as long as players are willing to take the low road and shell out real life cash for in game cash. Let's say a farmer buys a box for $50 to play the game, and manages to send an advertisement to every player on the server one time before being banned. In many cases, that farmer only needs to find one or two players willing to do business to justify the $50 for the new account that gets banned.
Most MMO's that are infested by these shortbus-riding window-lickers are proactive about trying to shut them down as fast as possible. Final Fantasy 11 was notorious for having tons of gold farmers, but oddly enough, no spammers. The reason why they don't bother the player I am guessing is due to the fact that Square-Enix has been known to wipe out thousands of accounts at a time. Anyone who has ever played this game knows how hard it is to get to a level to make money so I can only assume they fear the time investment in releveling in this old challenging MMO.
I want to take some time to talk about Warhammer online as this seems to be the hot topic at the moment. Mark Jacobs at Mythic has expressed his feeling towards this in a recent blog entry where he says...
"I hate gold sellers/spammers. No, that’s not strong enough, let me try again. I HATE GOLD SELLERS WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING."
I think I speak for most of us when I say that we feel the same way. Nobody would shed a tear if these people decided to take a bath with their toaster, drank a bottle of Clorox, or took a leap down a slip-and-slide naked while carrying a scissors... but I digress.
Mythic has literally had the gold spammers invade Warhammer Online right at launch. The good news is that Mythic has put themselves out in front of the problem right away to face it head on, in a very transparent way. The first thing they have done is make it very easy to report the spammers. They have also built into the game's mailbox mechanic a waiting period between sending mail to players of 20 seconds. This helps prevent the kind of mass mailings that Age of Conan still suffers from. When bans do come down, players have been receiving pop up boxes that have become somewhat comedic letting the players know certain players or sometimes entire guilds have been banned. I actually read a thread today where some people were actually complaining that the ban pop ups where just as annoying as the spammers, an argument which may get amplified over time. It was also pointed out to me today that Mythic has a counter on the War Herald site showing the number of bans handed out so far.
It's good to see that the devs of all MMO's are fighting back. Mythic seems to be leading the charge right now, so we will see how steadfast they remain as their game grows in popularity. Money is so easy to get in Warhammer right now, and other than buying a mount, I don't see the demand for gold to be high enough to justify paying for it. I hope fellow WAR players will realize this and make it unprofitable for them to spam us in game.
One final note, a part of Mark Jacobs blog did jump out at me and raise an eyebrow that makes me question some of the other devs out there...
"I’ve been offered “a piece of the action” both personally and corporately in the past if I will either turn a blind eye or help them in their actions. This would have netted me and/or Mythic a very, very tidy sum, far more than we would see from box sales. My answer was and always will remain the same:
Go to hell."
Co-Leader of Inquisition