Last week, I published a piece that finally explained the relationship between SOE and the RMT company Live Gamer. We first heard about this partnership back in December when news first broke that SOE, along with Funcom, 10tacle and a few other publishers were teaming up with an RMT company. Fairly quickly, we found out that Funcom’s involvement did not include Age of Conan, but we didn’t know what was going on with SOE. As it turns out, Live Gamer will be essentially taking over the current Station Exchange.
Now that the explanation is out of the way, I can give you an idea of my own personal opinion on Live Gamer:
When I first heard the term RMT applied to this new company, all kinds of images sprung to mind. Most of them included gold farmers and the annoyances that they can cause in-game. As it turns out though, that’s not the kind of service that Live Gamer supplies. Instead, they facilitate player to player transactions.
Personally, I wouldn’t use a service like this, either to buy gold, items or even levels. To me, the game is about getting there (high level), not being there. This is where, I suppose I could go into a whole clichéd rant about the fact that it isn’t the destination, it’s the journey. I could also counsel that people should try to enjoy the game that was designed by the developers instead of worrying about competition, but then I would be telling people what to do, and that’s just plain rude.
While it may not meet with everyone’s approval, and certainly may not be everyone’s cup of tea, companies like Live Gamer can provide certain advantages over un-sanctioned farmer-supporting RMT companies.
Now, let me talk a little bit about those farmers:
You, me… everyone who’s ever played an MMO is sick and tired of seeing these services advertised in general chat. We’re tired of the constant mob-camping and other annoyances. We argue over whether their actions destroy in-game economies, and we talk about how these services are killing the games that we love.
The thing is though, I think that there is also a part of us that objects so strongly to anything and everything RMT because we don’t want other people to have the appearance of being better than us, especially if we don’t think it’s fair. It’s human nature. In the real world, we compare ourselves to others: We compare our jobs, our salaries, our houses, our cars, our spouses and virtually anything else that you can match up against something that someone else has. This is how society determines its pecking order. It’s what separates the lower from the middle from the upper class, and so it’s only natural that this would carry over into the virtual worlds that we choose to inhabit as those virtual societies determine their own hierarchies using levels and gear instead of money to tell who is ahead of us and who is behind us in the pecking order.
In the real world and our every day lives, money often makes the difference in whether or not we stack up in the comparisons. If I make a lot of money, my house is likely to be bigger, my car faster and my stuff just generally cooler. We go into these games though to escape the “real world” and its often frustrating trappings. There is a perception in-game that if I have cool stuff and a high level character, that I’ve earned it directly. I think that players feel like they want their equipment, their levels and their power to be a reflection of their achievements in the virtual world and not the same money that gives people advantages in the real world.
So, that being said, I can honestly see the benefits of a company like Live Gamer, so long as they stick to SOE’s model that sees some of the game’s servers using the RMT service, which others remain un-touched by any form of RMT (beyond the un-sanctioned kind).
In the end, everyone wants to play their game their own way. Whether or not you agree with RMT (sanctioned or otherwise), it isn’t going away. Condemnation from communities and even close scrutiny from the game companies haven’t done away with RMT. Maybe, just maybe, companies like Live Gamer and their partnerships with major publishers will help to do away with a game threatening nuisance.