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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Selling Gear for Cash

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16297

OP  7/18/13 8:19:30 PM#1

Player vs Player is a new column at to offer opposing viewpoints on hot topics in the MMO space. In today's column, we take a look at the idea of item mall gear being sold for real-world cash. See what our team has to say before weighing in with your thoughts in the comments. This week Bill Murphy and Chris Coke tackle two sides of a very touchy issue.

This week we're talking in-game gear for real world cash. It's been a hot button issue since free-to-play first gained a foothold. Trion Worlds decided to stir the pot once more by selling equipment in RIFT. This leads us to wonder, should MMOs with cash shops enter this field at all? Here are the viewpoints:

  • BAD: Selling gear in item shops is bad business. It de-motivates players from running content, un-balances the game, and skews development goals.
  • GOOD: Selling gear in item shops is good. It offers players more options for tackling content and caters to their time and resources.    

Read more of Bill Murphy's and Chris Coke's Player vs Player - Selling Gear for Cash.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 7/24/08
Posts: 18

7/24/13 9:34:52 AM#2

I'm against gear sales mainly because at least when I played EQ a ton and I know this was a long time ago I really can't recall one person who did it because they didn't have a lot of time. I wanted to be in the best guild but I didn't have time being in school and real life stuff. But eventually I got to raid with them a bit and got to know a few ppl in the guild.


The people that I remember seeing and talked about were just ppl with large egos or loved internet annoymity to brag about high level characters who had no idea how to use them and got others killed through their own ignorance in using their class.


I think there's 2 problems. Wether people who don't have the time to explore all the content to reach the same endgame as their friends. And just how much stuff and what kind of gear should be available to purchase.


I'd be fine with cosmetic if I could still get it in game normally without buying. I love steam but TF2 hats and trading cards can bite me. It's only there for cash nothing else. Other then that it should only be enough so they can play with their friends in the end game but not equal too if at all. And I'm still on the fence about that.


Right now I find gear purchasers(without a very valid reason for doing so other then I wanted too and I have money) and power levelers for cash laughable. But I'm not against hearing views from the other side. After all the more I feel strongly about my side the more I should be open to listening to the other.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/13/10
Posts: 184

7/24/13 9:39:47 AM#3
Oh thank goodness! This is the sort of thing that's hard for me to write by myself! :D YAY!

A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

Can also be found on


Managing Editor

Joined: 7/28/06
Posts: 2211

7/24/13 9:41:37 AM#4
Note: This column will have different folks arguing, but you can pretty much guarantee that one or both will be adopting a viewpoint for the sake of debate. 

Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/13/08
Posts: 665

7/24/13 9:49:50 AM#5
I think I do not care. People will do what we always do, try to one-up the other.
This current business model is driving me out of games, since it seems to exploit peoples desires thru pay walls and competition.
Ah well though, enough people will buy this stuff since they have the money to waste, more power to them, pun intended.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
The reviewer has a mishapen head
Which means his opinion is skewed


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10959

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

7/24/13 9:50:58 AM#6

For me it comes down to implementation. Buying gear to get you into advanced content, once you've done some sort of unlock, such as leveling to max level seems fine to me. Some content has been minimized, but it's not the main content. Buying the gear that you could get from advanced content or that is on par with gear from advanced content, without doing the advanced content seems bad to me. Why have the content if you're just going to let people bypass it?

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/04/12
Posts: 17

7/24/13 10:08:34 AM#7
BillMurphy for president!
  User Deleted
7/24/13 10:11:57 AM#8

Lets pretend we're playing solitaire. Would you be ok with paying 99c to get four aces to start? Paying to bypass the intended rules defeats the purpose of the game.

That said, the real problem is this old idea of XP and levels in MMOs.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/27/09
Posts: 4

7/24/13 10:13:02 AM#9

I wasn't a fan when I heard Trion was adding gear to the shop but the way they did it was great. It's not the best gear by far but it will get you ready to deal with the end game if you need to. Also they kept each piece pretty expensive which will keep the people who don't have time but do have money able to play and not let the normal every day players buy their whole set. I haven't purchased any gear from there but I do buy the random boxes which contain a chance at level appropriate gear. I've gotten a couple pieces that weren't terrible though I've gotten a ton that were pretty bad. I don't mind the gear being in there since it's not a good chance to get anything useful and it's never the best gear that we are all working for at 60. Personally I think buying gear isn't that big of an issue. those of us with time don't have to work too hard to get gear and those of us with money can get the gear and play when they have time. those of us with time and money have just ruined their gaming experience and left the game while paying for our next expac. Thanks! 

I have no problem with those who want to sacrifice IRL time for in game time. They'll just end up doing the same content as me and the argument that they won't be very skilled doesn't hold up. I've seen plenty of players with better gear than me suck ass. And I've seen players who have just started the game healing like a master. The learning curve for these games is not that high. An intelligent /dedicated player can master both healing and tanking in less time than a slacker / moron can. 

As far as pvp is concerned I think the whole thing should be skill based. Just because a kid has 20 hours a day to grind out gear doesn't mean he's better than me but with the current mmorpg system it does mean I can never kill him. If only game companies trained players how to play their games rather than tossing up the same old hamster wheel for them. 

That's my 2cp. 


Advanced Member

Joined: 8/25/06
Posts: 1405

7/24/13 10:23:33 AM#10

TSW has beginners gear in the shop for sale, and its fine.

its give starters an edge, eventually one needs to upgrade and they usually last for a zone= you can focus on learning other aspects of the game not so much hunting for gear until later in the game= ask the GATEKEEPER.


Firefall sells red beans to unlock different styles of battle frames = the edge you get is unlocking different abilites early on for the PVE content, helps one get better resources to eventually craft better gear, again helps one decide what kind of gear they prefer to play early in the game as well- but one can eventually do all of this for FREE, its just your choice how to tackle it. when you jump in a PvP content its based on skill not gear since all gear stats bare based the same= genious!


it all depends how it appeals to you and how much time, or money your willing to invest in a game.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/10/08
Posts: 289

7/24/13 10:33:37 AM#11

Selling gear for cash is horrid,  no developer should adopt this system.  But the flipside is that they have to fight gold farmers, spammers and people trying to make a living off of the developer being against this. 


I agree with Bill on this one,  The MMO developers and games coming out are all based on just HORRIBLE design,  stealing tried and tested systems to appease investors instead of innovating.  All of the recent games that failed are based on insanely poor market analysis.  People do not want more themeparks.  But instead of these terrible business leaders understanding that,  they create any cash grab they can think of to get better ROI.

These companies lack true gamers,  they are all just big business man in suits faking that they play games.  Any true gamer would know that games are like romantic relationships,  When you love a game,  any game that tries to do the same thing you end up disliking.  All it does is bring back past memories of that game you loved.  Sooo what we see is everyone who truly loved WoW, when they leave they end up going back.  So these developers are just feeding the cash cow.  Blizzard loves it. 

Rift, TOR, AoC, Aion,  and any damn themepark.  They are all just rebound.  Anyone who stays longterm with these games has just yet to find a real passion for a single game. 




Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

7/24/13 10:35:11 AM#12

I think it's irrelevent to focus on the players - there have always been gold-sellers / item-sellers and short of eliminating player-to-player trading entirely, there isn't any way to completely eliminate that.  All else being equal, it makes sense for that that revenue to go to the developer instead of whoever engineers the best scripts / exploits / dupes to flood the market.

The problem is what this then does to the design/development of the game.  If there a source of revenue, just the internal presures of a company are going to be constantly pushing to make just a little more revenue, to guide people through the gift shop.  And that's where the game is destroyed in the process of monitizing it.  It's one thing to have to put up with the spams of gold sellers.  It's harder when the publisher themselves is the one doing the spamming and manipulating gameplay to nudge people into gameplay where the sales pitch will resonate louder.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/02/09
Posts: 56

7/24/13 10:36:56 AM#13
I am in favour of cash shop selling gear as long that gear cna be obtained also in teh game by just playing, cause this way less godl farmmers and item farmmers who use ilegal rpograms and stuff to make of this a business will have less income, rather see the company have the money so they can maybe spend some on makign the game better.


Elite Member

Joined: 10/07/10
Posts: 2244

7/24/13 10:59:01 AM#14

This point would be moot if the in-game gear treadmill process wasn't implemented.  You can thank WoW for that.

Remember how hard those old items in EQ were to get?  And they lasted YEARS and EXPANSIONS later.  That's why people didn't mind spending MONTHS waiting for a rare spawn to drop an equally rare item.

Oh well.

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Novice Member

Joined: 4/16/06
Posts: 16

7/24/13 11:16:33 AM#15

There are so many pros and cons regarding this subject.

I don't see any problem in buying gear for real money as long is a skill game. Also would be great if those items would get destroyed or become obsolete in near future .

Let's have some examples:

LOTRO you can buy some stuff from cash shop but won't give you any advantage over other players. If they will add gear to cash shop won't be a big problem as long as the items from cash shop can be obtained be other players too by grinding . You will be able to spend 500$ and buy the best gear at this moment but in 6 months an expansion will be released with gear much more powerfull and maybe in another 6 months the cap level will be increased .. so you spend a lot of money but this will give you a temporarly advantage.


EVE Online this is the game where you can buy anything with real money and still is one of the most apreciated games . just buy a time card and convert for ingame money. The same situation you will buy only temporarly advantage, you can spend $1000 and in the next moment you get ganked and lose everything. This is a game of skill not gear . 

Yeah is not a good thing to add a +100 weapon to cash shop and that weapon would be the best weapon in the game for the next 5 years.

Still me peronal I consider no game should have a cash shop, the Eve online ideea is the best you buy a game card from Eve and sell it to other players and then buy gear that was grinded by other players this will give a great balance between players with time and skill with players with money and skill . Players that lack skill should not play that game at all , there are so many games out there they should find the game where they have the skill to play it.



Novice Member

Joined: 12/18/11
Posts: 1199

7/24/13 11:29:33 AM#16

Truth: Gamers don't pay for games anymore, They play those for "free".

Truth: Gamers PAY for gear, pets, potions, whatnots. (It matters not what it is, just that it is bought)

Truth: Developers develop what sells. As the shift happens more and more to the CS model, more and more development dollars will shift to development of CS items. They are the money makers after all. This development policy is why the argument about "Gold Sellers" is false. Gold Sellers don't siphon development dollars to make more items to sell. Trion, BLizz, SOE, etc, don't want to stop the sales, they want the money.


This is what I see as the actual problem. Well, that and a slight moral argument against letting a few "whales", (addicts, or victims would fit here too), pay for my experience......


Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/23/07
Posts: 239

7/24/13 11:37:00 AM#17

I think making in-game funds purchasable with real-world money is perfectly fine in any MMO. In any good/popular MMO (e.g. GW2 or Neverwinter) the prices in-game are sooooo high that most people don't have the funds to fully buy "the best gear" anyway. You would need to spend thousands of dollars in those game to have the top tier of gear, and I doubt many people would do so. Even then, in neither of those games does top tier gear defeat the skill level of players.

But honestly, if someone wants to PAY money to SKIP content, they're so retarded in my eyes that I don't care what they do. I PAY money to GET entertainment, not skip it, and I doubt the opposite works in any way or fashion. 

I will admit that for some people it might be a convenience. Say you want to return to an old MMO, but your gear is now out-dated and you need to get new one to resume playing with old friends on their level. You can dish out a few dollars to help you catch up, and that is perfectly fine in my eyes. Or if you suddenly change jobs and have less time to follow your guild around for 10 hours farming, you can use some of your extra $$$ to make sure you don't fall behind.

As long as there is no "cash-shop only" incredible item that makes you a GOD like in most F2P MMOs, then I'm fine with it...



Joined: 7/26/03
Posts: 11863

7/24/13 11:42:00 AM#18

selling raid spots in mmos like WOW is not much different


especially with virtual "ingame" items available on ebay   (WOW Loot Cards)


Blizzard has been offering an indirect cash shop for years

some of the ebay items (bought with real cash) can be sold directly on the WOW auction house


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/19/13
Posts: 591

7/24/13 11:43:51 AM#19

P2P games and cash shops are what really bothers me I don't care if they sell gear or not.  Some do it correctly for whatever reason while others don't. Some companies start focusing on how to get more money from the player so they add mechanics in that support this. While other companies continue focus on the game even though they would like to add more features in that would improve their cs sales. What Cryptic did to STO, some people actually loved it, was shocking to me.  Here's a game that was P2P yet every other week maybe month there were headlines on this very site talking about the new stuff (Mainly ships) added to the cash shop but very little done to improve major issues with the game.  

Cash shops aren't really the problem no matter what's in them.  It's companies that loose focus on the game and only focus on how to make more money adding in mechanics that will increase their cash shop sales and letting the game itself suffer.

There are some features that should be regulated just like any casino. The chance items for instance. One should never end up dropping $200 (or more) in an attempt to get a single item and have a very high chance of walking away with nothing. GPotato and Rappelz come to mind with their taming system. Any given day the forum was flooded with posts about people loosing a car payment basically. They would have been ok with it had they got what they wanted. But instead they got nothing at all.  As many sales as GPotato had with their pet cards, Hell their whole system was built around pet card special sales every other month. The game should have been flooded with top tier pets at the time I was playing they were Death Knights and White Dragons. It wasn't they were as rare a year + in as they were the day they were introduced.


Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6496

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

7/24/13 11:47:13 AM#20
Originally posted by mCalvert

Lets pretend we're playing solitaire. Would you be ok with paying 99c to get four aces to start? Paying to bypass the intended rules defeats the purpose of the game.

And yet..once upon a time in forgotten days of yore (before everything was bind on equip)...we used to give away our outdated gear to help the newbs get a leg up.

Twinking (in it's original sense, loading up a new toon with hand-me-downs) was a pretty much daily event, and a part of the social structure.

That strikes me as qualitatively preferable; but the effect of 'buying your own' twinks isn't substantially different in its game impact.

Blizzard just co-opted the practice for itself (account-bounds to get around the BOE they set in place to stop this sort of

You can still own a twink; you just don't need anyone but you...asocial-enabled.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

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