It's getting out out of hand. It's becoming ridiculous. Goldsellers, chinese farmers, RMT. Whatever you want to call them, they own your game. They own your gaming experience. They own you.
"But I never buy any gold, I hate goldsellers!", you say.
I hate them too. I despise and loathe them down to their very core. They own me too. Even if you decided that you were going to sacrifice your first born before you buy gold, they still have a profound effect on your gaming environment.
They ruin your economy. They ruin your public chat channels. They harass new players and veterans alike. They monopolize rare spawns. They monopolize rare gear. They work in concert to make absolutely sure that one or more of their number infiltrates every last little niche of your game. And then they rape it. They break laws, EULAs, and they don't care. In fact, they factor the risk of getting banned in their business expenses. They factor having to buy additional copies of games into their business expenses.
They are Gods walking Azeroth, or Telon, or Middle-earth, or Norrath, or Vana'diel, and any other world out there. They do whatever they want, with absolute impunity from any efforts taken to stop them. If you report one, and it gets banned, it will simply return a few minutes later and pick up where it left off.
They own game developers, and they will continue to do so until game developers fight back. Not with half-ass chat filters, or task forces, but really fight back.
Why do these parasites exist?
They exist because some gamers who play 2-3 hours a week errantly believe that they can and should have the same gear and gold as players who play 20-30 hours a week. Earth to casual gamers. Society doesn't work that way, and neither should MMORPGs. You get out of something what you put into it. You do NOT deserve what you do not earn. You are not special because you have a family. You are not special because you work. You are not special because you "have a life".
I generally avoid extremist opinions. The world is full of gray areas. I don't debate religion or politics with people, because there is simply no right answer. I will, however, give you my opinion on people who buy gold. I will not apologize for my opinion. No amount of circular reasoning, straw man, or ad hominem arguments will change my mind. There is no defense for what you do.
You are participating in a hobby like the rest of us. You do not deserve to buy your way ahead of people who work hard toward their goals in game. If you buy gold, you are a miserable, despicable, vapid waste of microscopic particles which somehow, improbably formed into a miserable, despicable, vapid human being. You are a cheater. A filthy cheater. There is no excuse for what you do.
It absolutely shocks me that older gamers defend their gold buying ways by categorically listing their real-life pursuits.
"Duh h'yuk, ya I buys some golds 'cuz you know... well, I gotsa family, I gotsa jawb... I gotsa GIRLFRENN! I buys some golds 'cuz well.. ya know.. I just can not keep up wif people who PLAY 24-7... and.. uh.. I should.. be able to!"
No, no you shouldn't. If I play basketball casually, I shouldn't be able to go to the store and buy a pair of shoes that will give me the endurance, skill and jumping ability of Michael Jordan.
If you want to be successful at something, YOU WORK TOWARD IT. Or you accept the fact that, even though you enjoy doing it, you don't have the time to dedicate to become as good or as successful at it as other people. This is alright. Plenty of people pursue hobbies because they enjoy them. If you enjoy MMORPGs as a hobby, you are like me. I do too.
If you want to be successful at your MMO, you should have to put forth the effort. Everything else in life, and every other genre of game takes effort. Want to be good at FPS? Practice. Want to be good at Tekken 5? Practice. Want to be good at graphic design? Practice, learn, work toward it.
Now, having said that, here are three simple steps to eliminating goldsellers. It won't happen overnight. It will take time for them to realize that there is no longer any money to be made from selling gaming currency, and here's how to do it.
Step One - Eliminate public trial keys. Require registration with a validated billing address for game cards.
Remove public trial offers on games, completely.
Allow existing subscribers to officially refer their friends for a 14 day trial. Keep a database of paying subscribers and all of their referrals. If one of their referrals gets banned for goldselling activities during the trial, the person who referred them gets banned as well. This will keep goldsellers from accessing the game easily, while the game still grows through word of mouth.
If the original referring account gets suspended or banned, every trial account associated with it will also get banned. Obviously, if one of the trial accounts upgrades to a subscribing account, they will no longer be linked to the referring account. Making people responsible for their referrals will cut down on goldsellers inviting goldsellers. They will no longer be able to pop up again like roaches.
Game cards are the other offender. They are an easy way for goldsellers to purchase game time anonymously.
If the website doesn't have a credit card, or billing address on file, require a registration process in order to use game cards. Lets say I go to the store, buy a copy of World of Warcraft, pick up a game card, and get everything set up. I enter the code for the game card. I get a note saying: "This account must be validated in order to use a game card. Enter information." Here, you would put in your billing address or home telephone number. A letter would then be sent to you, or an automatic phone call generated with a validation code, which you would then input into your account. After you validate the account, you would then be able to use game cards any time you want.
Step Two - Announce the war against goldsellers to your playerbase. Dedicate 2-3 GMs to policing for ONLY goldsellers at all times. Give GMs the tools to quickly and efficiently investigate and eliminate any offenders.
Have 2-3 GMs monitor all public chat channels at all times. Obviously this is very tedious and boring, so it would be different GMs at any given time, but the idea is to make sure that any spamming related to goldselling in public channels immediately results in a ban.
Announce to your playerbase that goldselling will no longer be tolerated, and encourage them to start reporting at every opportunity. Respond immediately (or ASAP) to reports. Make your playerbase feel as though you care about them, and they will continue to report and fight goldsellers with you.
Give GMs a tool/interface that can flag players for "GM-screenshots" in order to deal with goldsellers sending whispers/private messages. Basically, what this would do, is this:
When you report a goldseller, and get a response from a GM. A GM would then activate a flag on the player allowing the player to take a single "GM screenshot" of the offending gold advertisement tell. Said screenshot would then immediately upload to a server being monitored by the current on-duty anti-goldseller GMs, where the GM could instantly view it to determine the guilt of the accused. This would allow screenshots to be used as evidence, since it would prevent players with photoshop skills from being able to doctor them in any way.
Step Three - Multi-tier banning
In step one, we cornered them, and eliminated their ability to breed. In step two, we eliminated their ability to advertise. In step three, we eliminate them, period.
When you ban a goldseller, BAN them, permanently.
Ban the account, ban the IP address, ban the credit card number, the validation number on their account, the E-mail associated with their account, the billing address associated with the credit card or game card validation, the phone number associated with the game card validation.
No goldseller is willing to move, get a new ISP, a new credit card, re-validate their account, and get a new phone number to continue their meager business, when the chance of them simply getting banned again is so high.
Using these three simple steps, we can finish goldsellers for good. Who's with me?