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In-Game Gold Farming a $500M Industry

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the blizzard-wins-in-that-market-too dept.

The Internet 201

SpuriousLogic brings us this excerpt from a BBC report: "Prof. Heeks said very accurate figures for the size of the gold farming sector were hard to come by, but his work suggested that in 2008 it employs 400,000 people who earn an average of $145 (£77) per month creating a global market worth about $500m. ... Already, he said, gold farming was comparable in size to India's outsourcing industry. 'The Indian software employment figure probably crossed the 400,000 mark in 2004 and is now closer to 900,000,' said Prof Heeks. 'Nonetheless, the two are still comparable in employment size, yet not at all in terms of profile.' Prof Heeks suspects gold-farming might be an early example of the 'virtual offshoring' likely to become more prevalent as people spend more time working and playing in cyberspace. " We discussed the life of a gold farmer last year.

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201 comments

Obligatory Penny Arcade post (5, Funny)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715547)

Might as well get it out of the way.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/02/16/ [penny-arcade.com]
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/4/14/ [penny-arcade.com]

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715569)

Rarely is there such an on topic and funny first post on slashdot. /salute.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (5, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715611)

Game creators work so hard to stop these guys... Maybe they should realize their content sucks if people are willing to pay to skip it.

Thanks China, for $5, you saved me two weeks of grinding!

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (4, Insightful)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715817)

As far as WoW goes, the content doesn't suck but going through it multiple times is undoubtedly boring. Some measures have been taken to correct the situation, but they can't make it too easy for the players.

The only thing that really needs to go away is reputation grinding. WoW is a grinding game but there's a difference between running instances, leveling up and grinding one spot for a week straight (or longer) for reputation points.

Well the thing is (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717203)

Some people LIKE to grind. Don't ask me why, I'll never get it but I know a number of WoW players that enjoy grinding. So WoW provides grinding for them to do, and rewards for it. Blizzard's theory seems to be that whatever you like to do, they are going to give you plenty of it to do and rewards for doing it. You want to do 5-mans? Go to it. Want to PvP? Sure. Whatever you like, you can do it.

The problem comes from people who aren't playing the game for fun, but playing because they want to be better than other people. The want to have the best gear, most stuff, etc. Thus they run in to things that are grind rewards. They don't want to do those, so they buy gold instead.

The grind isn't the problem, the people who don't play to have fun are.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (2, Interesting)

MyIS (834233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716119)

Mod parent up.

Blizzard should stop wasting time on anti-bot and anti-farming measures and instead put more effort into making the game not turn into a second job. When I used to play, being a level 60 was much less exciting than being a level 20. Too bad... It's a beautiful universe.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (5, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716449)

Agreed.

I played fanatically 1-55. Loved it, and then got above 55 and started having to grind for MC and all that stuff. Getting together huge Raid groups sucked too. It became a real job, and the differences between characters vanished. Hunters had to be spec'd and armored like this. Warriors like this. Etc etc.

So I went and created a new player, and it was a BLAST doing it all over again.

Gold farming exists to address the desire for an easy out. It's not so much the low levels (where a small amount will get you totally set) but the high levels where it takes 20 hours a week just to keep up.

OT: Your sig (0)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717149)

Your sig contradicts itself. Not everyone wants a simple (which is partially the same as "easy to use") OS. Fuck simplicity! I want POWER. :D
(And IF this makes you think that I want the complete (and maybe even extreme) opposite of simplicity... then I will stop arguing, because then you're not even ready for a grown-up discussion. :P)

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716595)

> Game creators work so hard to stop these guys... Maybe they should realize their content sucks if people are willing to pay to skip it.

You sir, just summed up the root cause of RMT in one sentence.

Unfortunately, solving the "how to keep people engaged for hundreds of hours without grinding" problem seems insurmountable with the current crop of game designers.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717001)

Certain players would not value their characters or the game if they didn't have to grind for weeks to get where they are. To some people grinding is good.

Me I would rather have a game that challenges me incrementally and rewards me with new content. Take Mega Man 1-8 for example. As you progress the jumping has to be more precise, your ability to dodge enemies has to improve, etc. It's a grind, but in a good way because you have to challenge yourself.

Bad grinding is where you just keep killing the same easy stuff to get to the better stuff. Unfortunately on WoW it does not seem you can get all you leveling done just by questing, or maybe people just take short cuts on the quest and don't kill enough stuff for XP while doing the quest.

Complain about WoW all you want (I hate that game). But it's incredibly popular and the game seems pretty stable.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717003)

> Game creators work so hard to stop these guys... Maybe they should realize their content sucks if people are willing to pay to skip it.

You sir, just summed up the root cause of RMT in one sentence.

Unfortunately, solving the "how to keep people engaged for hundreds of hours without grinding" problem seems insurmountable with the current crop of game designers.

No silly, grinding is part of the plan. Look at how pasty, spotty and overweight a Wow player is after a few months grinding. His lifeforce has been sapped. Now lifeforce is conserved globally so that means someone else has gained it. Look at photos with Blizzard executives if you can find them. They look 20-30 years younger than their chronological age.

It's like The Picture of Dorian Grey [wikipedia.org]. The only reason Blizzard charges is to increase the degradation of the players, the real money they make comes from rich people buying lifeforce from them.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716827)

Game creators work so hard to stop these guys... Maybe they should realize their content sucks if people are willing to pay to skip it.

Thanks China, for $5, you saved me two weeks of grinding!

This is far from the case. If you had experienced WoW prior to the explosion of gold farmers, you would have seen items with reasonable prices, where you could spend a day or two of grinding gold to pay for your new fancy world-drop loot.

After the explosion of gold farmers on the server I was on, prices started to sky rocket as the amount of gold in play was reaching rather high levels, which was primarily generated by the gold farmers.

If not for these vile creatures of the 3rd world, game economies would be much, much easier to manage and not get so out of balance the normal players would have to resort to paying money for gold.

A fine example of things being screwed up is when a level 38 world drop costs more gold than you would be able to earn while grinding from level 1-60.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717121)

No they don't.

Stopping farming is easy - just design the game in such a way as to make it not worthwhile.

Unfortunately, I've yet to see an MMO designed in such a fashion.

Complaining about this issue, is like making an online game, and giving the user dice to roll, then complaining that some people are using different dice that have been loaded.

If you design a game that not only makes an issue like this possible, but likely, then you only have yourself to blame.

Re:Obligatory Penny Arcade post (2, Interesting)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715713)

And to add something more, gold farmers have major marketing campaigns in WoW. An endless stream of seemingly different services are endlessly spamming capital cities, sending whispers and even in-game mail. Some spammers will first whisper something like "hello :)" and when you reply they ask if you want gold. I don't know if they're bots. Also, on one realm I encountered something way more irritating than that: group invites. Like, all the fucking time. It got so bad I simply had to get an addon that blocks unsolicited invites, but on a few occasions it caused problems with legit players who I wanted to group with. If you wanted to you could get addons to block all gold spamming messages but I prefer to report them instead (only takes a few clicks).

Anda's Game (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715905)

Cory Doctorow wrote a cool short story incorporating gold farming in his collection Overclocked [craphound.com].
Free downloads of the html version [craphound.com] and
PDF version [craphound.com].

More proof (3, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715579)

Just another example that I don't deserve my nice house and cushy job. Some people are pretty desperate for the spare change that falls from American (and euro, there does that make you happy...) tables.

They worked all day for the same money I made reading this article at work.

Re:More proof (3, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715591)

if you feel so bad about it you can send me the contents of your bank account to relieve that guilt. anything else is hypocritical

mmo's waste of time (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715581)

gold farmers have wrecked mmo's for me. why bother when farmers can sell high level gear to 12 year olds?

Re:mmo's waste of time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715637)

It's called Bind on Equip.

Also, if you're only playing for gear, and you don't actually *enjoy* grouping for instances, doing quests, etc., then I will tell you right off the bat that you shouldn't be playing MMOs anyway. Who cares what some twelve-year-old has?

Re:mmo's waste of time (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715735)

I'm sorry, you meant Bind on Pickup. That's okay. You haven't played MMOs in a while, I can tell. And you didn't have a Slashdot account when you posted that.

Re:mmo's waste of time (5, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715649)

It's not the 12 year olds who buy high-level gear: the kids are the ones with more time than money. It's the busy thirty-somethings who want to have fun for a couple hours a week that pull out their credit cards to buy gold.

Re:mmo's waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715685)

gold farmers have wrecked mmo's for me. why bother when farmers can sell high level gear to 12 year olds?

In principle, how is this different than real life? You're snorkeling for treasure off the beach and along comes a multi-millionaire with a new-bought suction barge. Your buddies and you are in a border skirmish and the well funded opposing force is equipped with high end body armor and rolls in with tanks. Life isn't fair, and neither are MMORPGs. Get off my virtual lawn, whippersnapper.

Re:mmo's waste of time (1)

slashgrim (1247284) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715879)

Re:mmo's waste of time (2, Interesting)

slashgrim (1247284) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715893)

the idea of grinding killed mmo's for me. please someone show me an mmo based on skill, rather than who has the most free time!

Re:mmo's waste of time (2, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715927)

There are games like that. They're call real-time strategy games, or first-person shooters.

Re:mmo's waste of time (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716383)

If you're willing to think about the game you're playing, try EVE online.
It's NOT for the instant gratification crowd, eve takes time, both due to complexity
and the scale of it.
      But it balances those with time and without, and rewards thinking more than just who has the coolest uber item.
YOU can swap ISK(gold) for cash indirectly (you can buy game time and re-sell it for ISK as long as you follow thier rules).
    What you can do depends on both your skills and 'gold'. Skills take time to train, and only time. Though getting the skill in the first place (except those you start with, dependent on char creation) costs in game money.
      Once you start a skill training it keeps on going till you finish training to the next level or change what your training. you don't have to be online or even have an active account for this to occure (some have saved some real world cash by starting a LONG skill (some can take over a month!) suspending their account, and reactivating it about time the skill finishes.
      Of course if you aren't actively playing you can't earn money (except from items you've already put up for sale, those stay for sale for as long as you put them up for untill you pull them or they sell).
    And things are highly interconnected, especially the skill and ships. At first some of the skills seem kinda weak compared to the benefit (other than a pre-requisits for some things and some skills) but those 15% bonuses for 3 weeks of training a skill plus the ships bonus per level of skill plus the other skill, etc. add up better than may be obvious.
    I like it because a) it requires more thinking than most, and b) working 50+ hours a week limits online time.

Mycroft

Re:mmo's waste of time (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716419)

To have a long term MMO where there isn't a set script and people aren't really "role playing" in the sense of writing stories and pretending events occur you have to have grindage or quests that are not easy. Both have huge negatives associated with them. This has been known for close to the 20 years that muds have existed.

It's quite simply just the nature of the game. In a game without a set storyline, where the players make the story the only real reason to play is to reach higher levels than everyone else or to get strong enough to kill that NPC. If you can reach the highest level in 10 hours of play the game ends at 10 hours of play. As the developer is interested in your monthly fee the game is structured to make reaching the next level take twice as much time as the last once your past the first 10 levels or so (you have to make roughly the first 10 easy or you lose the first time players). The only method to accomplish this difficulty is by making the game take longer. So to reach level 20 you have to spend 1024 (2^10) times as much time playing as level 10, to reach level 30 you have to play 1048576 (2^20) times more time than it took to reach level 10, etc. The biggest problem long term for the developers is to keep adding NPC's and Levels so that players that reach the top keep playing.

This need to spend time playing to advance creates demand to avoid/reduce this time, either through character sales or sales of items that equate to time, such as gold in the game. Those players with money and little time will trade small sums of money to avoid large time commitments. That's human nature because as everyone knows, Time = Money.

Scrabulous (1)

ilovesymbian (1341639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715595)

Haven't the Calcutta brothers created something called Scrabulous thats of a similar business model?

And how about the gazillion Indian outsourcing garage-sized companies you find in sites like rentacoder.com and scriptlance.com?

It's quite a paradox. (5, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715601)

When I was unemployed, I saw the gold farmers as a scourge, letting people pay to get stuff for nothing.

Now that I have a job, and next to no time to play the games I like, it pisses me off that I never have the in-game cash to get the stuff I'd need to play alongside my friends without letting them down.

It's a real shame on both ends of the spectrum. Them, for giving people the easy way out, and the game makers, for requiring so damn much of a time investment.

It's quite a time paradox. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715653)

"Them, for giving people the easy way out, and the game makers, for requiring so damn much of a time investment."

They have to otherwise you all would be complaining about how the games was a rip off because it was too short.

Re:It's quite a paradox. (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716427)

EVE online does have some balance for the time strapped, and an indirect way to buy in game money with real-world money.
        I've got a post further up on it with crude attempt at more detail, but it's (just my opinion, fan boy-ish I admit) the only mmo I've played that didn't seem geared towards instant gratification of little whiny 12-14 year olds (they do try to put things in for adults, but only as long as it don't kill the pre/early teen cash cow, can't upset mommy or daddy's little precious you know).

Mycroft

Re:It's quite a paradox. (1)

Scr3wFace (1200541) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716671)

Funny how reality keeps clashing with fantasy!


It takes money to make money, real or virtual!

it shows you why happiness is fleeting (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715643)

the existence of WoW is, overtly, to have fun

but if you are employing someone to heighten your fun, all you are really doing is distancing yourself from the true pleasure of the game. you are talking about people who do not know how to enjoy the gaming experience

why do people cheat in any game? its the triumph of ego over id. its people mistaking the pursuit of pleasure with the pursuit of heightening your self-regard. when you conflate the two, you actually destroy your own happiness (though you don't realize this) because you are no longer solely concerned with pleasure, but winning. of course winning is pleasurable, but winning at all costs deadens pleasure, it doesn't heighten it. this is especially true of your actions and their effects on the happiness of others, by warping how the game experience exists for them

gold farming indicates a philosophical and psychological disconnect between the point of something like WoW and what people actually do with it. they turn fun, into work

that's just wrong in some extremely fundamental way, and shows you why true happiness is so fleeting in this world: we destroy our own happiness by actively placing the pursuit of happiness secondary to the pursuit of some other, lesser goal, out of your own blindness and forgetting what is important, especially in the context of something like WoW

i'm not saying trying to use the game in ways not as originally intended is wrong no matter what. you can use WoW to do lots of interesting things that isn't what the game was intended for. what i am saying is that this particular unintended game experience, gold farming, is odious and toxic to the expeirence of everyone, including those employing the gold farmers, they just don't know it, as they are blind to their own philosophical and psycholigcal failures that lead them away from the pursuit of happiness and instead towards the pursuit of ego tweaking

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (5, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715671)

The reason it seems odious is because the very act of farming highlights the paradox that threatens the very reason one plays: MMOs are work disguised as leisure.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716281)

The reason it seems odious is because the very act of farming highlights the paradox that threatens the very reason one plays: MMOs are work disguised as leisure.

This. Farming gold is boring. I occasionally farm gold/rep/items when I have nothing else to do in-game, but I would much rather spend my time doing something with more challenge (such as pvp).

I have limited time per week to devote to video games (I play around 6-8 hours a week).

The formula is simple:

if (gold farmed per hour < gold bought with 1 hour of wage)
{
    work_1_extra_hour();
    buy_gold();
}
else
{
    farm_baby_farm();
}

I am a well paid techie and I consider the cost of gold to be way less than my per-hour work rate. Since I rate my free time at an even higher premium than my work-time, I chose to buy gold so that my free time can be better spent doing something that I enjoy.

The people complaining about gold farming are the people who have more time than money.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716985)

But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.

Find out why we want to suffer and break the cycle of self abuse. The world can be a much batter place if we all learn how to stop doing useless things. [anxietyculture.com]

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (4, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715873)

why do people cheat in any game? its the triumph of ego over id.

You've got it backwards there. According to Freud, the (super)ego was the "higher" area of the mind, responsible for conscious, rational thought. The id was the subconscious, responsible for our baser impulses. Therefore, he would have viewed a cheater's conduct as the triumph of id over the ego, not the other way around.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715919)

Well its a paradox of requirements as well. To make a game challenging you have to build in things for the character to do to proceed throughout the game. No one would pay to skip missions in GTA 4 for instance though once they are tired of the game they might want to skip just to see what they missed. In a MMO the big draw is the social aspect of the game. But some people simply have more time for this activity than others. Like a real life competitive sport, some people may have hours a day to practice the sport, others may be willing to pay a professional to help them train in a more limited time frame. You also have to relatively keep up with your group if you are in a Clan. WoW does attempt to reward people for logged off time, but it simply isn't enough. Maybe someday someone will find a game mechanic that will allow people with limited time in their lives to enjoy these games alongside their friends who have more time, but maybe not.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716227)

WoW does attempt to reward people for logged off time

Until you hit 70, and then the endgame content requires a time commitment on a whole different level. At that point it becomes quite detrimental to the player to be away from the game for any length of time because they're failing to make progress. That's when you see people spending real money on in-game gold rather than spend three solid weeks running the same damn dailies just so they can get their epic mount and not have to spend forever just getting from one place to another.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716869)

While not entirely familiar with game content after the expansion, I did see many players literally freak out over not having enough gold to purchase their epic mount the moment they turned level 60.

This always bugged me how people feel like they aren't doing alright in the game if they don't have everything by a certain level. My first character was on-foot a solid five levels beyond where he could have gotten his first mount and level 60 for probably two weeks before being able to afford an epic mount. I got wise-cracked a bit in both cases, but I wasn't a big merchant and just enjoying the game.

By my second character, I had two different types of epic mounts at 60 from all the gold my first character ended up with. Not a big deal, but it was nice being able to take a shortcut the second time around by having resources I could just mail over.

I guess I am trying to say the game shouldn't be driven by desperation of getting "the best" right away. By design, most of these things were meant to take forever and not be things you can just run out and get, otherwise everyone would have exactly the same loot.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716457)

EVE online is the only mmo I know that has one of the key progression metrics proceed regardless of online or offline statust (indeed regardless of paying customer status!), start a skill training and it'll keep training till you stop it or it hits the next level, and considering it can take weeks to train the 5th(last) level of some skills it's a good thing too.

Mycroft

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

Tontoman (737489) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715931)

That's an interesting opinion you have, and to for the most part it's true. But, think of the everyday blue collar worker who simply doesn't have the time or patience to farm lets say a netherdrake mount, that costs hundreds of thousands of WoW gold and that as you can imagine takes lots of time. It isn't like a beginning player is going to spend $30 for 2,000 gold to tweak his level one character; most of the people who buy gold have as I've come to learn have indeed their own max level character on their account(s). Players simply don't want to spend the time grinding for gold and better gear, so they purchase gold and power levelling, or known as (PL) in the gaming world. In power leveling someone levels your character or the whole account for a set fee, and has total control over your account; yet players still take the risk, and they will keep taking the risks and there's nothing we can do about it. What players do can't be helped, if they choose to play a game, and in some ways cheat, there is very little we and Blizzard can do about it but to hand out temporary account bans, as Blizzard would prefer not to lose customers as any other company would.

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716031)

That's an interesting opinion you have, and to for the most part it's true. But, think of the everyday blue collar worker who simply doesn't have the time or patience to farm lets say a netherdrake mount, that costs hundreds WoW gold, but mostly time spent earning reputation, that's unable to be bought. It isn't like a beginning player is going to spend $30 for 2,000 gold to twink his level one character; most of the people who buy gold have as I've come to learn have indeed their own max level character on their account(s). Players simply don't want to spend the time grinding for gold and better gear, so they purchase gold and power levelling, or known as (PL) in the gaming world. In power leveling someone levels your character or the whole account for a set fee, and has total control over your account; yet players still take the risk, and they will keep taking the risks and there's nothing we can do about it. What players do can't be helped, if they choose to play a game, and in some ways cheat, there is very little we and Blizzard can do about it but to hand out temporary account bans, as Blizzard would prefer not to lose customers as any other company would.

Ok, I fixed the stuff for you that didn't make any sense. (Thanks for weighing in on how WoW works, despite the fact that you've clearly never played.) As for power-leveling, that occurs orders of magnitude less than gold-purchasing does. Although people want some gold to help make their playtime smoother and a bit easier (because, frankly, wouldn't you find your life easier if you earned $1000 a day?) they actually enjoy playing the game, and continue to do so.s,

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716263)

You should probably get your own house in order before accusing others of never having played, because that netherdrake mount most definitely does cost thousands of gold, or did you just not remember that you have to have the 300 riding skill in order to get it, which costs 5 grand?

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715985)

you actually destroy your own happiness (though you don't realize this) because you are no longer solely concerned with pleasure, but winning.

Pardon me? I'm destroying my own happiness, although I don't realize it, and somehow mistakenly believe that I feel happy? How is what I feel not the correct definition of happiness? Who are you to make decisions about what I think is fun, or pleasurable, or right?

You know what? I played Sim City with all of the cheats turned on. (Yes, iamweak.) Why? Because I have a better time sitting in front of my computer for an hour, building a city and winning a game, than I do nail-biting my way to an "honest" victory.

I play Age of Empires on easy mode. Why? Because I get pleasure out of obliterating the other team, even when it's a computer.

I have bought gold from gold farmers in WoW. Why? Because starting a new character on a new realm and being unable to afford an 80c skinning knife gets old quick. I get pleasure in being able to complete quests and leveling my professions, not dying repeatedly because I can't afford appropriate gear.

Oh, wait. Except, I apparently don't actually find those things fun. You know me better than I do, it seems. Doing those things has destroyed my own happiness without me realizing it.

Why do you assume that people who find a *different* aspect of the game fun necessarily ruining the game for others? Maybe it's because they've decided the time they spent farming their items wasn't worth the pleasure they got out of them. Maybe their pleasure wasn't heightened. On the other hand, most of these games were written to accommodate many different types of play and players.

I have no problem with people who spend 8-10 hours a day playing WoW, who have full T6 gear and are top-rated in the Arena. Why do you have to take issue with me for playing casually and wanting to maximize the time I do play on the tasks that I actually enjoy?

Re:it shows you why happiness is fleeting (1)

MyIS (834233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716163)

you are talking about people who do not know how to enjoy the gaming experience

Save your holier-than-thou philosophy for someone else. For anybody, there is no enjoyable gaming experience in farming the 100th critter for that 0.02% chance drop. No skill, no exploration, nothing. Chinese farmers do it for money. Western players pay them money to avoid same drudgery themselves.

THAT'S NOTHING (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715659)

THAT'S NOTHING... I farm Karma on Slashdot for $0.12/hour

Re:THAT'S NOTHING (2, Funny)

comp.sci (557773) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716655)

Don't believe this man! After paying him almost $1 for his services the account "Anonymous Coward" he gave me still posts with a score of zero. Don't be fooled by Slashdot karma farming!

Growing problem that can't be fixed (1)

Tontoman (737489) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715667)

While gold-farming does go against the game's policies, there is not much that Blizzard can legally do about it. Gold-farmers are stationed mostly in China and Japan, and players are willing to buy buy their products such as gold / armor and items. it is disappointing but I don't see how that should affect gameplay, as some people do not have the time to farming gold and armor. Players use their virtual money to enhance their character, yet Blizzard feels that this is against the game's policies, which in many ways it is, but people do what they want, no MMORPG has ever been perfect, and i seriously doubt that blizzard can do much about stopping the spread of gold farming and gold selling. Players do what makes them happy, even if it may violate the GUI's and so forth.

Re:Growing problem that can't be fixed (3, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715687)

Gold farming is in some ways comparable to illegal immigration in the US. It is technically against the law, but covertly tolerated, because things would break down if it didn't happen.

The day that players start getting banned en-masse for buying gold is the day that Blizzard gets tired of making money.

Re:Growing problem that can't be fixed (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716145)

Blizzard has had pretty good luck suing the bejesus out of these guys. Those guys may be in China and Japan but threaten to have them arrested if they ever set foot in the USA and they WILL sit up and take notice. There's plenty of unpleasantness a US Judge can apply to make his displeasure known. And I wouldn't be surprised if many of those companies had US citizens at the top. Cheap labor is all well and good, but exploiting cheap labor is something Americans excel at.

I bet Blizzard could make more criminal charges of "Unauthorized access to a computer system" as well, seeing as most of the gold farmer activities completely violate the EULA. If they were so inclined...

Wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715673)

If that money or the items bought with that money could be destroyed or lost in game.

Re:Wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue (2, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716181)

Yeah, With EvE online you can lose all your stuff when you die, and isk farmers TOTALLY aren't an issue there. Oh... wait...

Re:Wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716517)

No you can't.

You can lose your ship, your implants, your pride, and if your really stupid, your skill points.

Unless you set yourself up for it, people can't plunder your items. Last time I checked half a billion of my assets are still, sitting safely in a station that Band Of Brothers took from my alliance 3 months ago. It will be there forever assuming I don't sell it. Of course depending on the ship, and the mods, you can negate part of that cost with insurance.

Eve is a step in the right direction. Greater risks entail greater rewards.

Money spent on Isk looks to go alot further than Money spent on WoW gold.

Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of Gold Farmers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715681)

Why don't anyone hire them as NPC. You could pay for dynamic quests.

Econ 101 (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715683)

The principles of economics could not be contained by the iron curtain, nor will they be by the digital or legal curtain.

The agricultural economy had it's currency, as did the industrial economy. The digital economy is no different.

The foundation of micro econ is marginal utility, so as long as there is one sniveling 13 year old (or 31 year old for that matter) that says "I want", there is real economic value in the virtual gold in them there iron hills.

That's right folks that nice shiny new digital dagger contributes to the real GDP.

Re:Econ 101 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715829)

In short, Blizzard should be selling the gold. They'd get money, it would be easier on their servers, and the money would go towards American interests, not Chinese ones.

Re:Econ 101 (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716045)

If Blizzard wants to be Communist and have a command economy that would be one way to do it.

If, on the other hand, one is in more of an Adam Smith mind set, Blizzard could license gold farmers and let the market forces take their course.

In fact perhaps instead of another lame upgrade they could make Azeroth more interesting by introducing more robust commerce and merchandising.

It does not work that way in MMO's (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717195)

If, on the other hand, one is in more of an ... mind set, Blizzard could license gold farmers and let ....... forces take their course.

However, force is quite swift at removing them, and solves the problem.

fix it! (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715737)

either

A: force all transactions through a NPC vendor and charge a incremental tax on all transfers between non linked accounts transfers.

after the first few transfers your tax rate gets up past 30% - 40% and its no longer profitable. this will also work as an excellent gold sink, keeping the economy in check.

B: the company sells gold for less than the farmers, making it no longer profitable.

this of course would kill the games economy.

Re:fix it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24715787)

Brilliant! Because no gold farmers use throwaway accounts! It would obviously no longer be profitable if the farmers had to pay fifteen bucks per gold vending character!

Re:fix it! (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715937)

how much transfer does a gold farmer do a day?

how many accounts would you have to burn through every day to keep up with your work?

$15 a pop, adds up fast

Re:fix it! (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715967)

lets do it this way, say their are 1000 main gold farmer accounts in all the MMOs out there, thats a very conservative estimate.

each farmer throws out one account a day at $15 a pop, thats 5.5 million a year to the industry on just throwaways.

thats one reason the industry isn't pushing very hard to deal with this problem.

News flash! (4, Insightful)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715743)

This just in! People get paid to do work others don't want to do! Details at 11.

Re:News flash! MATH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716453)

145 * 400,000 = 58 million, not 500 million.

I'm sure all the rest of the story is 100% accurate though.

Re:News flash! MATH! (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716977)

There's a difference between what the industry pays its workers and what the industry is worth. In an industry where costs and wages are so low, it's probably a difference significantly larger than that of more traditional businesses. Who knows though, the article is far too light on details to make even marginal guesses.

This sort of news must be awfully tempting... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715775)

To Blizzard and friends. Seriously, the party that owns the world can make anything they want, in any quantity, for essentially zero dollars, and they see that half a billion worth gets sold every year?

Sure, they currently make money on the gold farmer's accounts; but they just have to be salivating at the prospect of cutting them out of the action. They'd take flack for it, though, so a means of laundering would need to be developed.

Who cares? (0, Troll)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715847)

It's just a silly game.

If "gold farming" twists your panties up too tight, maybe you're playing too much.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716151)

It's just a silly website.

If "gold farming articles" twist your panties up too tight, maybe you're posting too much.

More power to them (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715865)

Another item on my list of things I don't buy, but support their right to earn a living;

Fashion designers, Dry cleaners, Professional Athletes, Nail salons, and now, virtual gold miners.

Bless you all - as long as you are earning money and keeping off the welfare roles, I applaud you.

Need Help! (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 5 years ago | (#24715997)

Where can I find the company that will let me out-source by posts at slashdot? I don't have time to make clever witty comments, and the quality of my postings were low anyways. By out-sourcing my posting my productivity will jump 100%!

Inflated Figures? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716053)

Out of the 50 million total MMO players worldwide, is this suggesting that every player drops $10 a year to gold farmers?

Re:Inflated Figures? Nope, bad arithmetic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716409)

Unreal. Anybody know Google works like a calculator?

http://www.google.com/search?q=400000+*+145

$58,000,000. I guess that's worth 'about' $500mln.

Well, look at Age of Conan (2, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716615)

The game is a mess and one of the messes is items you "have" to buy ingame.

If you want extra inventory space you need to buy bags but most important are horses since the game has very little instant travel.

250 gold for the highest level mounts in total (might be 300 forgot exactly) and 3 gold for your first set of horse and riding skill. Problem? When you reach the level for your first mount you got maybe, if you sold EVERYTHING and saved up constantly and grinding some gold 50 silver.

So paying a gold farmer makes sense. Early prices made your first horse cost 10-15 dollars. Not to bad.

But when the game had launched I did the math from the constant gold spams and a level 80 mount would have set you back 1300 euros.

Prices dropped of course BUT when I left you still looked at several hundred euro's, for a horsy.

I think gold farmers don't so much get 10 bucks from every MMORPG player but a 1000 from people with more money then brains.

Sure, you can say that for some people money == time but seriously, who is willing to pay so much money just for a game that you obviously don't actually want to play?

Now Age of Conan is a bad example as it is an incredibly badly designed MMORPG, want horse mounted combat, try Mount&Blade and give this game a wide birth but I think it is an accurate way of seeing how gold farmers work, they don't even pretend to offer a reasonable product, they basically offer the same service dog-walkers offer. All the fun of having a dog without doing anything with said dog. It is for people that want an epic mount but never play with it.

But I am not entirely suprised by these figures, after all the korean "pay for ingame items" approach makes gold farming a natural extension, if you are paying for items already why not buy gold as well.

For some games, like WoW and AoC it seems logical because if you make a decent wage why not pay someone to grind for you.

But I think most gamers would rather game themselves since gold is hardly cheap if you are still making minimum wage.

This FP for GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716055)

Is also a M1serable

Here's the solution. (1, Funny)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716175)

If they want to quell gold farming they need to introduce Postal worker as a profession. All mail from that point on is handled by an in-game post office. As an added perk, all Postal workers are always in PVP while making deliveries, and if they're killed while doing their route their mail can be stolen by whoever killed them. That'd add a new fun element to the game at least.

Then when it comes to other players physically transferring farmed gold to one another in game, Blizzard could just make some sort of verification key system. For example if a player wanted to accept a 10 0000g transfer the verification would be they'd have to throw a Kara run and say 'We wiped because I'm a noob'.

Problem solved.

Korean players do use bots and farm (4, Interesting)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#24716375)

Excerpt from Brandon Sheffield article on Gamasutra :

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=18510 [gamasutra.com]

It was Blueside who first introduced the idea to me, cynically stating that consoles won't succeed in Korea until players start just playing games for fun, instead of treating them as work. I laughed then, but subsequent meetings only served to confirm the theory.

Companies from Gravity to Ntreev to Nexon agreed that a very large number - varying from 30 to 50 percent, depending on who you ask - of players in South Korea are playing games as a job. Generally, people didn't feel too good about it either, which at least indicates that people aren't designing them with that as a goal. But it's still disconcerting.

And as any player of Lineage2 can attest, some Korean MMOs really ARE designed to be grindfests and farming prone.

From L2 official boards :

PushyCat on official boards:
So, Koreans play and sell in their own servers and it covers the cost of their PC Room and meals. This is a normal aspect of Korean games. Listen to me while I say this. Ebaying is NOT CONSIDERED CHEATING in KORea. It is an important element of mmporgs. With game money, not only can you sell it to make cash, you can also order pizza, buy computers and accessories (like auto mouses, keyboards, macroprograms), and pay for your monthly fee (for those who play at home). In Korea, game money is an accepted tender for Real Life. Noone posts on message boards about cheaters, ebayers, and bots because EVERYONE does it. In Korea, the game is played much differently than in North America, and asians have different cultural backgrounds that make gameplay different as well.

It does not justify it in RMT-prohibited zones. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717179)

Lineage II in NCNA isn't being enforced with a large enough hammer. There's your problem.

Keep the banhammer running and start doing some serious blocking(read: the few that get through get banned) of botting countries. It has worked in the Philippines, it can and will work in farmer-infested parts of NCNA.

1.4 billion(and more) people are a problem solved by permanent exclusion from the game.

BBC's writer just graduated from a maths course? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716835)

Who said we're dumbing down as a country?

I mean, it's not like they were off by almost 20% there, is it?

$145 * 400,000 * 12 = $696million (which I'd call $700 million in an article, sure, but $500million?)

So, Beeb, need to buy a few more calculators?

Pussy Nazi Sez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24716931)

No pussy for YOU!

Cue the economists... (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#24717163)

...who make a justification to violate the rules(and ruining the game). It happens about every time goldfarming comes up.

This is the developed world, and it has no obligation to assist developing nations in any way. That includes those who aid and abet them. It also includes those who wish to obstruct the US/(pre-expansion)EU, within and without.

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