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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

How to sell your character or gold legally.

Posted by jesad Monday December 3 2007 at 7:44AM
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The other day my buddy came by to pick me up for one of our "middle of the night/early morning" supermarket runs.  These are the events that happen two or three times a month when he needs to run out of the house after hours for some reason (food, smokes, breakfast for the kids, whatever) and, since I live right around the corner happened to be online at the time, get swindled into going along for the ride.

At the store, after being followed around for half an hour by the night manager whom I am sure was convinced that we were there for some early morning shoplifting, I noted that he made it a point to avoid the automatic checkout when going to pay for his groceries.  Now he didn't have a lot of stuff, some bacon and eggs for the breakfast he had planned to make for the family, a can of coffee to sustain the energy levels of late night grinding and daytime employment, and some cat food his wife's cats, which he hates.  But in spite of this, and the urging of the checkout lady who I am sure did not want to open her cash register for us at that ungodly time of the morning, he still made it a point to have his items rang up and paid for in the traditional fashion.  His reasoning?

In his own words... (Minus the expletives)

"I don't mess with those things because they steal jobs from real people.  It's not like my food is getting any cheaper because of it and the store is still saving money big-time on the hours that they don't have to pay a human being to stand here and check out my food."

Now I'm no economist.  I also do not, nor have I ever, worked in the supermarket industry.  Still, I couldn't help but feel like there was a ring of truth behind his statement.  Are we supposed to believe that without the automated checkout machines in the stores, that our food would cost some astronomical price that we would be incapable of paying?  And even if that were so, would it not be better to be able to get a job (perhaps at the supermarket) in order to afford it if there were the case?  It's a debate but it drives home a point that I want to make about the MMO community and the developers and publishers of MMO games.

We have to stand for something.

For a long time now there has been a heated debate over the effects of gold and character selling on MMO titles and their patrons.  The publishers are against it for several good reasons.

A. The process shortens the life cycle of the title, which was created for the sole purpose of generating "long-term" sustained profits through a variety of tactics such as levels and diminishing returns.

B. It can often present a liability (in the case of the unscrupulous dealer who turns around and takes their account back or does not come through with the gold) that the players then expect the parent company to address via their own, paid, customer service representatives.

C. They don't get a cut.

D. It upsets the portion of the player base who has worked very hard to achieve that which another person has purchased with cash.

The community itself is divided against it as well for reasons of their own such as...

A. See reason D. from the previous section.

B. It makes progression at the higher levels much harder when several of your guild members have no idea how to play their characters.

C. Left unchecked it can end up drawing a class line where many who can not afford such activities may end up left out of endgame content simply because they can't keep up.

D. (And don't lie about this Americans) Most of that money is going out of the country.

Fairly good reasons by anyone's standards it is no wonder that the topic is of such a heated debate.  At the same time however, I would feel safe in betting that there is not one of us who has not said to their self or to someone else "it would be so cool if I could figure out a way to get paid for the time I waste playing these games".  I would even go so far to say that it is exactly because we can't do so, without fear of retribution or punishment, that many of us stop playing altogether.  After so many hours sitting in front of a computer paying for the ability to turn algebraic inequality formulas into equality ones using cartoon characters one simply can not justify the time.  And what do we do it for anyway?  It's surely not so we can log off on that final day wondering where the time, money, and other important things that we might have let lapse in the interim went.  We don't play so that we can log off on that final day wondering why we did it either.  We play for the fun!  The dang experience is supposed to be FUN!

So here's my pitch.

How much more fun would any of you reading this be having right now if, for the players, you could have the possibility of cashing in on the time you spend playing these games once you were finished.  And, for the developers, you could capitalize on what is currently an underground market that is possibly affiliating you with any number of unsavory characters?

One possible solution might be insurance.  Stay with me now.  What if, as a provider of the service, publishers set up systems that supported the open trade of goods and characters for the simple cost of renewing the subscription and any particulars that may be involved with the transaction at the point of sale?  What I mean is that instead of setting up your own auctions like EQ2 did and possibly ending up being accused of or held liable for the crooked practices of others, you simply added a feature to your login screens that would allow one player to complete a transaction with another player without you, or your customer service, having to get involved.

I'm thinking that it might go like this.  Player A wants to sell their character.  They publicize this using whatever channels they choose and work out the details of the transaction on their own.  They then enter the login feature and flag their character as being sold for $X amount of dollars which is where it will remain until the paying party enters valid payment information.  Upon receipt of this payment information the feature then forces the paying party to...

A. Change the name of the character (as to not allow the new player to sneak into guilds and whatnot in the guise of the other person).

B. Renew their subscription (as your cut) to help pay the cost of development and maintenance of such a feature.

C. Pay a set transaction fee.  For the cost of maintaining the "paypal-like" system that would be required to complete the transaction.

D. Send me $1 per transaction for thinking up such a good idea! (come on, it's only a dolla!)

Transactions for gold could be charged a percentage fee not to exceed anything stupid or unreasonable(as these would represent far more transactions) and you, the publisher, could pretty much wash your hands of the whole ugly mess.  Hey! If you were feeling really altruistic and really wanted it to work for everyone you could even code in a magelo-like interface that the purchaser could look at so that they could make sure that they were getting what was advertised when they bid on the character.

I'm not saying to try and go all the way and dictate the entire process.  I had to say that because I know that there is always some greedy fool who looks at things like this and says something like that out loud without realizing that the more you put your hands in it, the more you will be held accountable for anything that might go wrong.  All I am saying is that by facilitating this insurance plan you could not only build more industries out of this one you have going now, but afford many gamers, who otherwise might have to stop playing in order to take care of their real life priorities, the ability to keep on playing and having fun while simultaneously increasing the life cycle of the product by allowing people to enter the game at whatever point they wish instead of asking that age old question "Is it too late for me to catch up?". 

Heck, you could even cushion your profits by selling botting programs for those who would want to attempt such a thing full-time.  At the end of the day, if you make your games the right way, the real player will always have a higher quality character to sell anyway so, who cares?  At the very least you would be giving back to the community that supports you.

Most importantly though, this would allow the locals to do what the foreigners (no offense to you guys, gold farming was probably the best money making idea anyone in the industry had) have been doing for years now without the fear of being criminalized by the makers and often the players of the games that we all love to play.

Check it out.  I still use the automated checkout when I go to the supermarket.  You have to pick your battles and I am going to leave that particular one up to my boy and whoever else shares his sentiment as it is my belief that they are going to get you one way or another anyway.  Maybe I'll mature one day and see that light.  But on this topic, I can clearly see the writing that is on the wall and I can say for sure that if we don't get a handle on this issue sooner than later, pretty soon it is going to slide into that category of things that we all know is ultimately going to cause the MMO industry to eat itself.  At least, that is how it is in my understanding.

(Ducks!)

 
Ujirik writes:

I would never play a game that allowed users to bot and pay for high level characters. Why would anybody want to truly play the game when you can spend 50 bucks to hit end game? I would rather play the game that does all it can to prevent such actions.

Mon Dec 03 2007 8:05AM Report
jesad writes:

I'm thinking that a person would play a game like that for the same reason they play them now, for the enjoyment of the game.  The endgame crew is not ever the total population of the game and even still, often times, one hits endgame only to find that there are not enough people there with them to support keeping staying once things get really slow or hard.

Don't get me wrong.  I have never supported having to buy your way to the top in any form. 

I'm just trying to take a realistic look at how the trade, which is happening whether we like it or not, can be benficial to all instead of just the few who care the least.

Mon Dec 03 2007 8:15AM Report
Seveth writes:

" I would rather play the game that does all it can to prevent such actions."

If you're speaking of the slimy, money-pit end of this, I have to agree. Things like Item Marts for F2P MMOs disgust me. What happened to the days where free MMOs, first of all, were either terribly written, had bad graphics, or really only existed in the form of a free-trial for a P2P MMO?

If you're speaking, however, of the developer/publisher's decision to make the route to success or endgame (for whatever reasons, possibly their desire to have the players PVP more, or something like that), then I'd have to disagree.

I think this article's concept is presented in good faith, but there are enough flaws in the basic idea of paying to improve yourself, that are just too disappointing. I'd rather not see the MMO industry turn into three or four different companies requiring people to pay for character improvement, simply to keep up the pace with everyone else (this would present a miasma of problems for casual, as opposed to hardcore, MMOers out there). That's what in-game currency is for. Or at least that's what I'd always thought...

Mon Dec 03 2007 8:16AM Report
jesad writes:

They really need to allow you to edit your comments hehehe

"Keeping Staying?"  damn my backspace key!

Mon Dec 03 2007 8:16AM Report
El_Gostro writes:

It are articles that do not only manifest but entice to reflection on both the ethical and commercial questions of this our particular niche (MMO's) that keeps my faith in checking this portion of the site regularly...

Still sadly it is only when  the spectre that populates whatever currence we currently use makes it peacock dance that the buckbutts behind the  engines decide to implement any sort of innovation...

Mon Dec 03 2007 10:45AM Report
sifudoja writes:

 Wouldn't it be easier for these companies to let others do the dirty work, claim no affiliation to these groups so that they themselves cannot be held accountable or looked down upon by players who disagree and have this all take place underground supposedly being ''unaware'' of it.

 This way they can offer the safety of the groups they are secretly affiliated with , while sueing their competition and maintaining a monopoly over this market, possibly even funneling money overseas to countries like China for dirty economical reason i don't actually fully understand myself , lol, avoiding certain laws and practices strictly governed in our own country / countries.

 That way it would not only probably make them alot more money, but if these options are available sort of like a bonus or encentive to certain parties for whatever reason, they could keep their hands clean of the whole dirty situation while offering up something useful to these parties besides their own cash. You be the judge.

 I hope i haven't ''stepped on any toes'' and haven't just been added to some rich people hitlists, lol. Forgive me if i have blown up the spot, i don't wish to stand between anyone and thier money, just stating how it is, or the way i see it anyways.

Mon Dec 03 2007 11:41AM Report
Akopian writes:

The author simply didn't address my biggest problem with gold farming and this kind of trade.  People playing these games like a job simply don't play like other players.   They work, for instance, to only maximize gold in the most straightforward way possible.  They level in the quickest manner possible.  As a result, they crowd out the normal player by hoarding all the best locations, they take a resource node while another player is fighting the monster next to it, etc. 

Further, these people distort the gaming economy in ways that would ot occur if their purpose was not to just make money.  They flood the economy with gold or certain marketable items when ordinary players with the varied goals of having fun (as opposed to just making money) would not have produced that much gold or items on their own.  The normal player trying to sell an gold farmer item finds himself competing with people that do nothing else but farm that item and gets less for his item.  People paying gold for things find that their gold has less value as the "pro" players flood the market with their gold sold to players paying for gold.

The goals of a normal player and a player working a job are completely different and often at odds with each other.  When a game becomes abused too much in this manner and the developers do nothing about it, that's when I leave that game.  I don't pay to play the kind of game you seem to advocate.  I pay to play a game in which the develepors do everything possible to keep everybody in the game to play the game without outside, real world influences corrupting the in-game economy and the population of players.

Mon Dec 03 2007 11:50AM Report
EEL85 writes:

First,

Goldfarmers do not care about your opinions or feelings...period. They have families just like you do and have to provide somehow for them. This is just another job  to them. This doesn't make them evil mosnters like everyone plays them up to be but simply people trying to make a living. Once again, they don't care!

Wake up! It is entirley the players fault that gold farmers exsist. If there was no demand then these guys wouldn't be around. The blame is entirely on players. These farmers just see an oppurtunity.

Also, hardcore non-gold farmers can and do screw up an economy just as easily as gold farmers can. Great example, SWG when ADK's went to 25 mil on my server because of one hardcore gamer who bought up the market. Unless game companies  1.) establish anti monopoly regulation against guilds/hardcore players (which is absurd) or 2.) Or focus very hard on stopping RMT.

There is no good answer to this problem but steps can be taken to reduce RMT.

 

Mon Dec 03 2007 1:35PM Report
soulyoung writes:

As a insider in this virtual currency industry, I and all the people working there have to admit--not the basic thoughts decide a game--have or not a gold trading and account selling.

It is decided by the MARKET. Because someone need it, so it be there.

True, there's unfair if a noob buy an end-game account. And farming influence economy in a game. But we CANT stop trading if a man need it, who maybe busy in working but no leisrue time on leveling or epic collecting.

But the game administrator can control it. Maybe you always curse BLZ sucks or something. But this company really the best I ever met which handle in game trading problem to best situation. Though it always happened a few bugs. But they reacted.

Farmers, as millions of workers in China, common assembly line workers who earn 3 dollars everyday, earn their lives by farming for part of rich  westerners.

No fault, for everyone. From this point, I deeply understand what is globalization and what is Market I learned in class.

Mon Dec 03 2007 9:22PM Report
aytvebwwo writes:

1st: most of all the farmers will not see this topics and say anything, they just have no time to argu with U about this shit

2nd:farmer,like EEL85 said,they just dont care,their daily target is just make 500 gold output and keeping this score in 1 month for 100 bucks salary, to make living for his family.At least, a farmer with good skill should be respected but not be blamed or banned. but the bots users are ugly! I hate them just like someone here hate all the farmers.

3rd:do you really think a game without farmer is totally a perfect world? I wonder if there is no farmer providing gold and items, the FD score of the great guilds will be delayed at least half year, and the publisher can get more benefit from our pool players which have no enough gold to buy the cool in-game mounts or items, many players can only do farm by himself to get enough gold to support his daily raid or request. do you think it is a good game?keeping farm day and day,it is not for play the game,it is played by game!

Tue Dec 04 2007 4:47AM Report
rabbitgmlvl writes:

hello,my friend! as a fan of WOW, don't you feel time is limited when you want to level your toon to a higher status.besides ,the lack of gold maybe also suffers you.but it will never happen since now. www.gmlvl.com is ready to do something for WOW fans.anytime you place power leveling order,a bonus of 12 hours' free power leveling is added as well.  it just takes one minute to have a try!and amazing experience is there for you.

Wed Dec 05 2007 8:00AM Report
jesad writes:

Amazing :)

Thanks for all the comments guys.  I really don't have anything to add.  If the sheer traffic that this entry generated was not enough give validity to the topic, I don't know what else will.

Wed Dec 05 2007 11:43PM Report

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