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News & Features Discussion  » General: Jennings: Real Money, Real Problems

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161 posts found
  User Deleted
11/18/09 1:48:04 PM#21

Unfortuantly this issue seems to have real world impact, for example here in the State of Colorado where I live, there is a effort underway to introduce legislation that would put a TAX on anything online, users playing a MMO online would be forced to pay a TAX, Users selling or buying any sort of online gold be it by honest means or by gold farming would be facing a TAX.  The tax would be part of the STATE INCOME TAX structure. 

Did some checking, Colorado is not the only state that has tried this and it has been defeated, even the US Congress tried this route only to be defeated by big giants like Microsoft, Blizzard, Electrontic Arts threatening to moving thier operations overseas and thereby removing billions of dollars of revenue from the US Government.  

Seems to me that companies like Blizzard are somewhat hypocritical when it comes to gold farming, they turn a blind eye since it increases revenue for them and yet put the smack down on the US Congress when someone there tries to Introduce a ONLINE INCOME TAX due to gold farmers and buying and selling of ingame money which is currently TAX FREE. 

The European Union and the United Kingdom already has something similiar but it is part of the VAT.  If you look at it closely, the USA has the highest number of gold farmers in US based MMO games then in the European/UK based MMO games and you have to wonder why and see that it makes perfect sense why the US Federal and State Governments have been trying to impose a similiar "Internet TAX".

 

 

  xTFV

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/18/09
Posts: 1

11/18/09 1:49:20 PM#22

Sir,

You CLEARLY look at he the problem from a (3rd party) developers point of view.

If you EVER had even been close to a real RMT group, in-game, playing with them, hacking with them, exploiting with them, talking to gm's with them, you wouldn't have made some --assumptions-- you made, never ever. About enraging. Whatever your may have exprieced, your 100% claim doesn't fly. We're sorry. GMs got banned before as well, you know.

But I guess you still miss that experience. Probably always will as well.

The first paragraph was great. Thanks

 

  rwmiller

Novice Member

Joined: 9/06/04
Posts: 473

11/18/09 2:56:48 PM#23

Well, the good news here is that this is one of the first concrete steps that has become public that NCSoft is listening and responding. If there is anything you can take with you to NCSoft is the need for them to up the level of their communications to the customer. They don't have to do it directly to each customer and for each complaint but the thunderous roar of silence so far from NCSoft has been disheartening.

 

I have always laughed at the conspirators that claimed a developer was in league with the gold famers. If a company wanted to do this they would either do it themselves and cut out the middle man since after all they can just create a character with a billion or two of cash on it and no need to grind or they would arrange for a company to purchase x number of subscriptions and get y amount of loot in return again with no need to actually login and use resources or upset the customer. Item malls and transaction fees are easy enough for them to do with out the need of doing deals with suspect companies that if they came to light would ruin their reputation.

 

With RMT it doesn't matter if you love it or hate it as long as it is controlled and limited to have minimal impact. It is like speeding you don't have to get every speeder but you do need to make examples of the ones you do catch.

  Ulfric_Draka

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/09
Posts: 8

11/18/09 2:59:35 PM#24
Originally posted by Sovrath


 

but you have to read his whole solution. And yes, this will not work for people whose main purpose is to buy and sell.

His solution is that you sell to npc's. Npc's sell to the players and at a controlled price point or price range.


 

That's not going to be at all popular - for this solution to work I can't give an item or a pile of gold to a friend or a guildie (or a random newbie) that I want to help out. You've just cracked down on RMT by banning generosity and altruism from your game. I can't think of anything quite as likely to screw up the social dynamic of your MMO - and in the long run, it's the social side that keeps your subscribers subscribing.

  Zorvan01

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/07/09
Posts: 398

11/18/09 3:07:11 PM#25
Originally posted by Ulfric_Draka
Originally posted by Sovrath


 

but you have to read his whole solution. And yes, this will not work for people whose main purpose is to buy and sell.

His solution is that you sell to npc's. Npc's sell to the players and at a controlled price point or price range.


 

That's not going to be at all popular - for this solution to work I can't give an item or a pile of gold to a friend or a guildie (or a random newbie) that I want to help out. You've just cracked down on RMT by banning generosity and altruism from your game. I can't think of anything quite as likely to screw up the social dynamic of your MMO - and in the long run, it's the social side that keeps your subscribers subscribing.


 

Jagex tried that exact thing with Runescape ( limiting/removing gold and item trades between players ) and got bit hard in the ass for it.


]

  shava

Novice Member

Joined: 3/09/05
Posts: 278

11/18/09 3:07:23 PM#26

Scott, may I make a recommendation?  Have someone sweep the locations in Aion outside the warehouses in the Asmo and Elyos capital cities once an hour on each server looking for gold sellers camping with private stores.  It would do a lot for the PR with the community to see those farmers kicked and banned promptly.  If there's anything that telegraphs apathy to the community, it's seeing the same asdf troll spamming for $14/mil kinah outside the bank for many days running.

I can understand how detecting and banning bots is a harder question, but the folks outside the warehouses make NCSoft look complicit.  I too have heard the "they're in on a cut" rumors and it would be insane to believe them (I'm an indy game company CEO), but when this level of apparent slack on a pinpoint chronic issue continues, it's hard to debunk it.

When the spamming in chat channels started in open beta, it took NCSoft more than a month to implement Bayesian filters -- they have them pretty well tuned now -- which also seemed incredibly slack.  This is a solved problem.  SOE and others have papers discussing how to implement it out on the open web. It should have taken a day or so to implement, and a day or so for QC.  Patched.  Done.

Every day, in Twitter (I'm shava24 there, for gaming purposes) I see more people quitting Aion because of bots.  It's a solid game, imo, but it's not too big to fail.  Look for the things that make obvious visible impact first, and the bleeding could be stopped quicker than the larger scope of the problem can.

 

Yrs,

Shava

  User Deleted
11/18/09 3:07:52 PM#27

Great article, Scott and thank you for writing it.

I'm really glad to hear that NCSoft is -finally- taking a stand on RMT, which seems to be (at least from the sound of it) on level with Square-Enix's "RMT Task Force" for FFXI and eventually FFXIV. The Task Force has done a great job of bringing RMT under control in FFXI, within only a few months of it being introduced,and it continues to help keep that game's economy under control. It's encouraging to see that NCSoft seems to be taking it far more seriously.

Has it eliminated RMT completely? Nope. It never will... but it's driven a few smaller RMT companies from the game and has put a dent in the remaining ones' efforts.

I believe the RMT problem has grown to the point where it can't be thrown in as part of a GM's routine work. It needs serious attention from a dedicated team.

I'm also glad you gave a bit of insight to some of the activities that take place in support of RMT (account theft, keylogging, etc). There are people out there who believe and will insist that buying in-game gold, or items, or power-leveling services, etc. from a 3rd party company is perfectly safe, that there are no dangers in it and that people who complain are just whining. As you've pointed out, by purchasing from these companies, they are supporting the very activities you present in your article, all of which go above and beyond their immediate effect on a game's economy - which they most definitely have.

So... Thanks again for the article. The best of luck at NC in getting their anti-RMT team up and running. I look forward to seeing the results in the coming months once it's put into effect.

 

  rwmiller

Novice Member

Joined: 9/06/04
Posts: 473

11/18/09 3:07:58 PM#28
Originally posted by xTFV

Sir,

You CLEARLY look at he the problem from a (3rd party) developers point of view.

If you EVER had even been close to a real RMT group, in-game, playing with them, hacking with them, exploiting with them, talking to gm's with them, you wouldn't have made some --assumptions-- you made, never ever. About enraging. Whatever your may have exprieced, your 100% claim doesn't fly. We're sorry. GMs got banned before as well, you know.

But I guess you still miss that experience. Probably always will as well.

The first paragraph was great. Thanks

 


 

So you go to the effort of creating a nub account and post this message implying you were part of a gold farming group that was organized or sponsored by the developers of the game yet provide nothing but innuendo and vague statements. Is there a chance that some small company or someone within a company might have gotten involved in doing something along these lines? Sure (can YOU say Eve Online scandals?), but I believe his post while not specifically stating is that in his experience any serious company operating a MMO as a business has not gotten involved in that sort of crap as part of their business plan. There is no more way to stop a bad GM from taking advantage of their position than there is to stop a bad employee from stealing from their company. All you can do is pay attention and don't assume that everyone is always honest.

 

Feel free to provide names, dates and specifics as it would interesting to know more about how such things go on but not much point to your post to be honest.

  SnarlingWolf

Novice Member

Joined: 6/23/09
Posts: 2728

11/18/09 4:13:48 PM#29

I'll say the same thing I do to all of these threads, blame the fellow players.

 

If sad little players didn't feel the need to buy gold so they could be the uberest in the game, then there wouldn't be a market for gold farmers and none of us would have these issues.

 

Do us all a favor and STOP BEING LAZY AND BUYING GOLD.

  User Deleted
11/18/09 4:32:51 PM#30

 Decent article, but I liked the link to 'how to stop gold farming' article better.  I like the idea of capitalism. I will not play a game that I can't run multiple accounts. I'm not rich but I decided I like gaming enough to spend the cash on another account. This generally puts me ahead of the curve a decent amount in how much in game cash I can make, but sometimes I just don't care to put the effort in. And this is where I feel all the hate from gold farmers come from. People feel that spending ten hours of their time in game farming gold is somehow more noble than me spending ten hours at my job and then spending a fraction of that real money for the same amount of gold. What these people seem to be missing is that an MMO is not real life. Real life is what matters. It ends up looking like  jealousy towards someone who values real life above online life. And if I can put eight hours of my life towards getting my rent paid AND get the same amount of gold as you, I have to in my mind. Its about prioritizing your time. What everyone seems more than happy to gloss over is the fact that the gold buyers got that money somewhere. Usually at a job that advances the life that matters, real life while also advancing their game life. Just because you value game life over real life doesn't make it more noble its just a different prioritization of your time. 

 To the guy above, you are absolutely right, breaking my back working a job is infinitely more lazy behavior than sitting at my desk not moving for 10 hours...

  rwmiller

Novice Member

Joined: 9/06/04
Posts: 473

11/18/09 4:39:22 PM#31

I don't feel the need to purchase cash or items in a game as I like to be self-sufficient. In most games I will have a couple of accounts and a number of alts on each one. I like to try and create alts of different classes and if there is crafting then crafters. As I level my main I collect and keep most things and feed them to my alts and crafters either as upgrades or materials. As the materials flow in the crafters can make things for my main and for the other alts and generally while I may not have the absolute best items in any specific category I can normally have pretty good stuff across the board and I have the pleasure of knowing that I made and earned it all.

 

But, I can understand why people might want to find a quicker or easier way to get what they want. Do you all remember the girl that advertised a "Get a mount for buying a mount" deal that she supposedly consumated?

  thinktank001

Elite Member

Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 1833

11/18/09 5:30:14 PM#32
Originally posted by dterry

I'll probably get flamed for this but....

 

1.) No trading between characters/accounts at all. You sell or give your item (acquired by crafting or looting) to an NPC or an NPC auction house and they resell it to another player at a fixed rate(or variable based on in game availablity of the item at the time of sale) - and then send you back the money.

2.) Force antivirus on the client - same as business VPN solutions - if your not running AV or it is not up to date,  then you fail the logon.

3.) Run your own scan after the AV check - looking for keyloggers or IP/MAC spoofing software on the client. - Do this in the open - not hiding it from the client.

4.) Ban people caught in RMT based on IP/MAC/credit card information.

5.) Enforce password complexity.

 

For starters...


 

Your number 1 is 1/2 right.  There should not be any " currency based " trading between characters.  Let people barter with items, but do not let currency flow directly between characters.

 

I do think there is a much easier way than adding " in game " security.  Take away the " anonymity " when players create an account.   Make players use SSNs and phone numbers when creating accounts, then contact the account owner that their information is being used.   Technology is there and developers should learn to use it.

  jagd1

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/30/07
Posts: 279

11/18/09 6:17:48 PM#33
Originally posted by rwmiller
Originally posted by xTFV

Sir,

You CLEARLY look at he the problem from a (3rd party) developers point of view.

If you EVER had even been close to a real RMT group, in-game, playing with them, hacking with them, exploiting with them, talking to gm's with them, you wouldn't have made some --assumptions-- you made, never ever. About enraging. Whatever your may have exprieced, your 100% claim doesn't fly. We're sorry. GMs got banned before as well, you know.

But I guess you still miss that experience. Probably always will as well.

The first paragraph was great. Thanks

 


  Is there a chance that some small company or someone within a company might have gotten involved in doing something along these lines? Sure (can YOU say Eve Online scandals?)


 

I dont undestand why you brought eve to this .Eve online scandal was one Dev gave some tech2 blueprints to his own alliance ,it has nothing to do with RMT

  LumTheMad

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/09
Posts: 29

11/18/09 6:25:14 PM#34

 


Originally posted by dterry

 

1.) No trading between characters/accounts at all. You sell or give your item (acquired by crafting or looting) to an NPC or an NPC auction house and they resell it to another player at a fixed rate(or variable based on in game availablity of the item at the time of sale) - and then send you back the money.


 

As I wrote in an article I linked, the F2P game I was working on at NCsoft had specifically that feature (blind auctions). We were also considering allowing for some dual-currency model involving RMT (similar to how Puzzle Pirates handles it) and having the for-pay to earned-in-game transactions between players handled via blind auction, so that players themselves would assign a floating value to the in-game currency.

It was an ambitious plan and I'm not at all sure it would have survived into implementation, but plenty of folks including myself are thinking in those terms.

 


Originally posted by dterry

2.) Force antivirus on the client - same as business VPN solutions - if your not running AV or it is not up to date,  then you fail the logon.

 

Windows tends to not recognize the AV software I use... I can only imagine the support headaches if game companies had to try the same. :)

 


Originally posted by dterry

4.) Ban people caught in RMT based on IP/MAC/credit card information.

 

CC information is already used to detect and remove banned accounts in many instances (not all). IP addresses are too prone to false positives to provide any real identification beyond the most basic.

 


Originally posted by Mirandel

Ncsoft does something like this but presence of the same bots for days (and on the same spots) sais otherwise.

 

Yep. Leaving lawbreakers out in the open for everyone to see is a big problem. It's the "broken windows" theory of law enforcement - as long as you see blatant decay and disdain for order, you'll continue to encourage a culture of impunity.

 


Originally posted by xTFV

If you EVER had even been close to a real RMT group, in-game, playing with them, hacking with them, exploiting with them, talking to gm's with them, you wouldn't have made some --assumptions-- you made, never ever. About enraging. Whatever your may have exprieced, your 100% claim doesn't fly. We're sorry. GMs got banned before as well, you know.
But I guess you still miss that experience. Probably always will as well.

 

Not sure what exactly you're trying to imply, but I have first-hand knowledge of CSRs who have been fired for working with gold farmers and exploiters, and every MMO developer's policy is to fire any CSR caught in such shenanigans immediately. Does this mean some do anyway? Of course. Blizzard has thousands and thousands of CSRs (just as an example) and the laws of averages dictate some will be ill-behaved. But game companies keep logs and track CSR actions specifically to detect and remove such bad actors.

But when I mentioned being enraged by such a "MMO companies are in collusion with gold farmers" question, I assure you, I know my own feelings on the subject well and need to make no assumptions. :)

 


Originally posted by Shava

This is a solved problem. SOE and others have papers discussing how to implement it out on the open web.

 

Got a link? I'd be interested in reading that.

 


Originally posted by hogscraper

Decent article, but I liked the link to 'how to stop gold farming' article better.

 

Well, I *did* write both :)

 

  Gyrus

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/20/07
Posts: 2322

11/18/09 6:48:28 PM#35

I guess I really don't get it?

To me - the answers are obvious

Gold Farmers are a business.  So, how to you put a business out of business?  You make it unprofitable.

How do you do that?
Well, clearly there are players prepared to use this 'service' (otherwise they wouldn't exist) so give them what they want.
You've all seen the ads on TV "If you see a better offer...we'll beat it!"?
How about simply saying to your players - if you see a genuine goldfarmer offer and send it to us (link or text report etc) we will beat it by 5%!

Have games that aren't 'bot friendly'.

Design games so that gold isn't everything.  Maybe concentrate on giving players bonuses for social interactions?  (making sure it is not bot friendly!)

Restrict Gold Farmer accounts - don't ban them.  Limit chat.  Limit trade. Contact the CC company and make it clear that account is still playable - a charge back is NOT justified.

But you want that Credit Card transaction to go through - Fraudulent Card?  GOOD.
Credit Card companies have more power and international reach than many law enforcement agencies.  (Simply by acting through local offices rather than having to go through international legal complications).
Who cares if the Credit Card Companies are unhappy?  That is their problem.  That's why they charge extortionate fees.  If their security is not up to a sufficient standard then how is that an MMO companies problem?   That's an issue for them.

Account theft is more difficult - but you touch on the solution by mentioning 'keyloggers' - perhaps introducing something within the login procedure that does not require key presses?

 

The interesting thing for me is I am currently playing 4 different MMOs and none of them have a problem with Goldfarmers.

1 has no gold.
1 has a low population but is not very bot friendly anyway - and it relies more on skill than just gear.
2 are F2P games - so it is the Devs who are the Goldfarmers.
 

I guess I just don't play Goldfarmer friendly games?

 

Nothing says irony like spelling ideot wrong.

  JuJutsu

Novice Member

Joined: 10/17/07
Posts: 339

11/18/09 6:50:12 PM#36
Originally posted by SnarlingWolf

I'll say the same thing I do to all of these threads, blame the fellow players.

 

If sad little players didn't feel the need to buy gold so they could be the uberest in the game, then there wouldn't be a market for gold farmers and none of us would have these issues.

 

Do us all a favor and STOP BEING LAZY AND BUYING GOLD.


 

No. CCP is ok with me buying ISK with game time cards.

STOP BEING A BUTTINSKY AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS

  Mnot

Novice Member

Joined: 5/08/08
Posts: 2

11/18/09 7:12:48 PM#37

Interesting... Every Hack, Junkie, Addict & Low-life in the world has the ability to ''rationilize" their immoral behavior to make it seem acceptable to the rest of the moral community. Because I play a game "just to enjoy" the game somehow makes me inferior to you is ridiculous. Your Noble position of preferring to spend your time in Real Life rather than Game-Life is utter crap. Basically you are an instant-gratification person & will do, say, whatever to appear superior to other people who live or play by the rules.  And... if you do it in-game then guess what??? You do it in real life too. Enjoy your fake life, in-game & out.

  LumTheMad

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/09
Posts: 29

11/18/09 7:25:04 PM#38


Originally posted by Gyrus
But you want that Credit Card transaction to go through - Fraudulent Card?  GOOD.
Credit Card companies have more power and international reach than many law enforcement agencies.  (Simply by acting through local offices rather than having to go through international legal complications).
Who cares if the Credit Card Companies are unhappy?  That is their problem.  That's why they charge extortionate fees.  If their security is not up to a sufficient standard then how is that an MMO companies problem?   That's an issue for them.

Most of the fees for credit card fraud (instant chargebacks, service fees, etc) are charged to the MMO provider, not the credit card company.

  UnSub

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/16/04
Posts: 252

11/18/09 8:27:53 PM#39
Originally posted by Khaunshar

At this time, I believe the RMT problem has to be incorporated and solved at basic game design level. Its not something you can viably battle through customer service anymore, it got too big and too professional.

I agree with this. If you are banning gold spammers in-game it is already too late.

Lum didn't mention it, but another way that it is alleged gold farmers get into MMOs is through key generators. Once they crack the key generation system, it isn't difficult to pull out free, full functioning account keys.

Ultimately I think that unless you want to make the MMO economy the central star feature of the game, it needs to be sidelined. Either in-game currency needs to be worthless - CoH/V had no real gold seller involvement until after the auction houses were implemented because pretty much everything was available at a fixed cost and inf was easy to come by, plus no uber-rare loot - or it needs to be sold through official channels (and again, no auction house!). You can't half-do an economy in a MMO - constant inflation of prices is like beautiful music to gold sellers.

  Lizard_SF

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 351

11/18/09 9:08:55 PM#40
Originally posted by hogscraper

 Decent article, but I liked the link to 'how to stop gold farming' article better.  I like the idea of capitalism. I will not play a game that I can't run multiple accounts. I'm not rich but I decided I like gaming enough to spend the cash on another account. This generally puts me ahead of the curve a decent amount in how much in game cash I can make, but sometimes I just don't care to put the effort in. And this is where I feel all the hate from gold farmers come from. People feel that spending ten hours of their time in game farming gold is somehow more noble than me spending ten hours at my job and then spending a fraction of that real money for the same amount of gold. What these people seem to be missing is that an MMO is not real life. Real life is what matters. It ends up looking like  jealousy towards someone who values real life above online life. And if I can put eight hours of my life towards getting my rent paid AND get the same amount of gold as you, I have to in my mind. Its about prioritizing your time. What everyone seems more than happy to gloss over is the fact that the gold buyers got that money somewhere. Usually at a job that advances the life that matters, real life while also advancing their game life. Just because you value game life over real life doesn't make it more noble its just a different prioritization of your time. 

 To the guy above, you are absolutely right, breaking my back working a job is infinitely more lazy behavior than sitting at my desk not moving for 10 hours...

 

It never ceases to amaze me how people can and will justify absolutely any behavior and then project all sorts of evil motives on the people who point out that they're acting unethically.

People who buy gold are no different from people who buy bowling trophies and get their names etched on them, or people who get mail-order diplomas from non-existent schools. They're people who want to claim achievements that they have not earned, and, at the heart of it, the root of all evil is the desire for the unearned.

The issue isn't that you value "real life" over "game life". The issue is that you want the rewards of playing the game without, y'know, playing the game. You want an "I win!" button. And, frankly, I do not believe people have different ethical systems for different parts of their life -- just, perhaps, different fears about the consequences. The man who wants items in a game he did not earn probably also wants real-world money or power he did not earn -- he is just (possibly) more afraid of going to prison if he's caught than he is of getting his account cancelled. (But, if he is caught, he will probably claim he's being harassed, that it's no fair he was expected to work for money when other people got a trust fund inheritance, that everyone does it and if he didn't, he'd be left behind, etc. )

I mean, let's face it: Every game I can think of has an EULA banning RMT. That's a legal contract you, as a consenting adult, agreed to -- and you have chosen to break it. While this is unlikely to actually result in any penalty other than an account ban, the fact is, you gave your word, you agreed of your own free will to abide by a contract, and then you broke that promise, apparently with no guilt and with much pride. It's difficult for me to consider anything an oathbreaker says as useful or honest. I don't know what you do for a living, but I seriously doubt you work nearly as hard as you claim. By your own logic, if you can manage to goof off for eight hours but still collect the same pay as someone who works hard, you *must* do so. It's about prioritizing your time, right? If you get eight hours pay for working hard, and the same eight hours pay for hardly working (as it were), only a fool would do the former rather than the latter, right? Any of your coworkers who think you're a lazy parasite are just "jealous" and only WISH they were as clever as you.

Like the saying goes, "Character is who you are in the dark." It's how you act when you are unlikely to suffer any penalty that determines what kind of a person you are.

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