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Money, It’s a Drag

Robert Lashley Posted:
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367,700,000,000. That is a big number. No it is not the US budget deficit. This is the amount of Gil that was removed from the mean streets of Eorzea in one of the largest coordinated stings ever launched by the SEPD. (Square Enix Police Department).

No, the SEPD does not really exist (that I know of). Square Enix however has a long track record of persecuting real money traders (RMT). If you buy or sell gil SE is convinced you are hurting the economy of their game and SE will come after you. If you played FFXI you are probably already familiar with these practices. SE proudly publishes their data on the amount of ill begotten gil they have removed from the economy through freezing accounts and stripping them of gil or just outright banning them. They also like to publish the number of accounts that on which they do this. In case you were wondering from September 12-30 they terminated 6360 accounts for hacking and RMT in XIV. Now if only they could find a way to place the spammers on the ignore list faster. Something akin to right clicking the name in chat and having the option to add to friends or ignore list, hmm…

Last week if you had more than 6 million gil on your account it was locked by SE. They did this to what they considered suspicious accounts. Let’s face it these accounts were suspicious. I’m not accusing all of the people that fit into this category of having done anything wrong. I am saying that if there are hundreds of people that have amassed this much gil it is a pretty strong indicator that there is something going on that doesn’t pass the smell test. This is especially true when there are a large number of people still complaining about how they believe there are not enough money founts in the game. (I’m not one of them). A number of these accounts were owned by people that became high level crafters early in the game. If it was found that they had earned their gil legitimately they were allowed to keep it. If it was found out that they had received gil from someone who bought gil, they were stripped of the tainted gil. The account that originally bought the gil was terminated.  

I did not write this piece to debate the merits of RMT, though I am interested in your thoughts on the subject. I am also willing to bet that an economics graduate student could write a doctoral thesis on the impact, real or perceived, of RMT on a games economy. While it is a perfectly acceptable practice in some games it is clearly a Terms of Service (TOS) violation for SE. If you do it, and they catch you, they will hammer you and then brag about it. SE is also blaming RMT for the reason they have not put out prices for housing yet. At the Tokyo Game Show SE said that RMT is skewing the economy to the point that they currently cannot appropriately price it yet. Free Company housing is due out with patch 2.1 and players still do not know how much anything will cost.

I do feel a slight twinge of sorrow for the crafters out there and the harvesters that were just doing their thing and got their money taken from them. If you bought gil and had your account banned those are the risks you take when you violate the ToS. I would also like to point out, and many of you probably know this by now, most of these accounts are stolen from people who get phished or have weak passwords. If you play this game and want to help ensure your account’s safety get an authenticator. I would like to see SE add a text message authentication system like Blizzard has, or even a Coin Lock like Rift. Even if you do not have a smart phone this allows people to have an authentication system without purchasing a physical authenticator.

I am interested in your thoughts on the matter. Do you think it is fair of SE to take gil from people that did not buy it themselves? Do you think blaming RMT is a poor excuse for not knowing pricing for a feature that should be in game next month? Do you think SE needs to get off their collective hind ends and do something about the chat system so players are not getting constantly spammed in shouts and tells about gil? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Lashley /  Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time in Eorzea pretending he is a Paladin in the Midgardsorm realm or you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen

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Robert Lashley

Rob Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen or find him on YouTube @RobUnwraps.