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MMOG Currency Seller Owns Media Network ?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the this-is-not-a-reality-I-am-comfortable-with dept.

Role Playing (Games) 268

The interview on Okratas we mentioned yesterday was mostly funny. Game currency seller IGE responded to the honest (if ham fisted) questions of a reporter with harsh marketroid speak. A reporter at Warcry responded with his own reactions, expressing publicly some of the distaste the average MMOG player has for IGE. Since then threads started last week in various online communities have started to appear on online news sites, shedding some more light on uncomfortable realities about IGE. Namely, that the currency seller apparently owns gaming media outlet OGaming. Read on for more.

Ogaming is a hub site much like Warcry, with a sub-site about most of the major Massively Multiplayer Games out there. Some enterprising /whois work by the original author of the WowCensus thread led him to realize that OGaming was registered with the same street address used for IGE's New York Office. OGaming's registration information was updated on the 10th, and now displays the name and address of a proxy registration service. Further damning is the thought that at one point a page on the Ogaming site claimed to own Thottbot.com, a universally respected and utilized tool for World of Warcraft in-game information.

The page that once claimed this (an advertising page) is now blank, with the words "under construction" displayed there. The Internet Archive's last update for ogaming.com is this time last year, so there is no way to check on the authenticity of that claim. If it is true it's disquieting to say the least. Thottbot is a massive database of in-game quest, item, character, and drop frequency information. Thottbot's information was gained through the goodwill and work of World of Warcraft players. The popular UI enhancement, Cosmos, included a plugin that sent information from the user's playing experience back to Thottbot. This included locations of enemies, the types of loot dropped, items the character had, and other specific details. While Thottbot claims to only keep information that is pertinent to other players, with the revelation that they may be owned by the disreputable IGE their trustworthiness is out the window.

This revelation didn't stay quiet for long, with MMOG sites CorpNews, Grimwell.com, and Allakhazam all creating discussions of their own about this weighty topic.

The authenticity of this story is hard to prove or disprove at this point, with the OGaming.com and Thottbot.com domains having a proxy listed under their contact information. But if it's hard to believe that IGE would go to the trouble of owning a media outlet and a popular plugin, think again. Garthilk writes "Cindy Bowens, community manager for Sigil Games online and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, outlines their stance on secondary market items, and how they deal with IGE. Most interesting is the fact that IGE approached Sigil, and had offered to cut Sigil in on the revenue that IGE might make in the future."

Update: 02/15 20:07 GMT by Z : Drey pointed out in the comments that, at least for the time being, Google still has a cache of the page listing Thottbot as an Ogaming site.

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268 comments

Ogaming and Thottbot (5, Interesting)

LearningHard (612455) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679790)

Ogaming ownd Thottbot for world of warcraft also btw. So IGE owns Thottbot which has information on almost every player ingame. To go even farther Thott setup Thottbot and worked on Cosmos in closed beta which means IGE has been in closed beta.

Frankly this looks very disturbing to me. I'm not saying IGE is going to break into accounts. I'm saying they are getting lots of information they can sort to find the best spots to farm various items and then use that to flood the market. I for one will not be using thottbot any longer.

Non-player (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679844)

As some one who doesn't play these sorts of games, I'm a little confused about the issue here. What are these people doing wrong?

Re:Non-player (1)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679880)

Same here, I am not sure what this is about.

Who (or what) is IGE and why are they bad?

Re:Non-player (1)

GoMMiX (748510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679930)

My understanding is that they employ foreign workers who 'play games' allllllll day long and collect items/gold. Then they sell the items/gold. *shrugs*

Outsource the fun! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679995)

Anything that helps to dry up the pool of third-world VB programmers is a good thing in my book!

Re:Non-player (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679991)

Well, lets show a hypothetical situation that will cover who they are what they do and why they're bad.

Let's say that to earn a certain rank in Game X, you have to get a special item Blizzrt's Tail in order to prove your strength and valor, yadda yadda. Obviously, you get this by killing Blizzrt and taking its tail. The problem is that there is only one Blizzrt in the game world at any one time, so it becomes more a test of "waiting your turn" than of strength or valor.

Now, what IGN does is called "farming". They get 30 or 40 players to all stand around in the cave that Blizzrt lives in (where it appears every time its killed, this is its spawn point). Every time Blizzrt appears, they immediately start to kill it, and take the tail for themselves. Over and over, without respect for the other people who need to kill it in order to advance.

But thats ok, if you can't get a sword in edgewise to score a tail for yourself, the IGN crew will be more than happy to sell it to you on ebay for real money, since they seem to have just "stumbled across" a few hundred extra. Now getting that tail isn't about patience or valor, just about shelling out enough dough on an auction site somewhere.

Now whether this is bad or not depends on how much you care. If you say "its just a game" then consider it as frustrating as waiting in line at say... McDonalds. You have 11 kids in front of you, and they think its real cool to keep you from getting your food by ordering a glass of water, getting it, then getting their buddy in 11th place to let them cut in front for another glass. Unless of course you slip them a buck to get to the front of the line.

Re:Non-player (1)

redivider (786620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680025)

Now, what IGN does is called "farming". They get 30 or 40 players to all stand around in the cave...

Let's not confuse IGE [ign.com] with IGN [ign.com]. IGN has no involvement in this.

Re:Non-player (4, Interesting)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680181)

I think WoW has done a great deal to solve this problem through Bind-on-Pickup items and Instance Dungeons (level requirements for gear help too).

That's not to say farming won't become a problem and such, but Blizzard also incorporated enough in-game money sinks (buying skills, mounts, etc.) that I think inflation from farmers will be slower to develop in WoW that in other games.

Finally, keep in mind that the ultimate way to stop farming and such is to play on a PvP server -- because if you don't like the farmer, you can round up a group of buddies to put an end to the farmers.

Re:Non-player (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680231)

How is that a problem with IGE? It sounds like the game's screwed up if it's possible for 30-40 people to prevent anyone else from getting the item.

If play like that is against the TOS, then the GMs should enforce the TOS. If it isn't against the TOS, then maybe it should be.

If the GMs aren't enforcing the TOS, then maybe people should just stop playing the game.

Sounds to me like this is a problem that the developer should be able to solve, not something that has anything to do with the market for in-game items.

Basically, it sounds like people are actually complaining against in-game griefing, not people selling items outside the game. Selling items outside the game should be OK. In-game griefing should be solved by the GMs in-game. If it isn't, then the players should simply quit playing the game, if the GMs aren't doing their job.

Re:Non-player (1)

ThomaMelas (631856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680004)

They make characters and use them to gather large amounts of ingame currency to then sell for real money. The major reason players hate them is that they tend to camp rare and expensive items so much that the only way to get them is deal with them. Attempts to try to get the items yourself at met with the currency sellers using monsters to attack players.

Re:Non-player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680116)

The major reason players hate them is that they tend to camp rare and expensive items so much that the only way to get them is deal with them.

Question: How does that make IGE the bad guys?

It sounds to me like they're exploiting a weakness in the game. If it's against the TOS, then the developers should just ban them. If it's considered fair play, then I'd say that the developers screwed up their design.

IMHO, it shouldn't be possible for one group to prevent everyone else from getting "rare and expensive items" and if it is, then it's the responsibility of the developer to deal with it, either programmatically or through GMs.

It sounds to me like the developers screwed up, people are exploiting a weakness in the game for real money, and instead of laying the blame where it belongs - on the developers - people are blaming IGE.

Re:Non-player (1)

ThomaMelas (631856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680234)

IGE acts as a facilitator for the transactions. The gil sellers get payment (not salary) from them. And players do blame the devs and other companies. But just because something can be exploited doesn't make it right to do it.

Re:Non-player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680293)

Question: How does that make IGE the bad guys?

It sounds to me like they're exploiting a weakness in the game.


I think you just answered your own question. Just because something isn't illegal doesn't make it acceptable behavior. And just because a game isn't perfect, doesn't mean we have to happily accept anything that exploits that fact.

Re:Non-player (2, Informative)

YomikoReadman (678084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679921)

IGE hasn't specifically done anything in violation of the TOS. However, they provide a sell point for people within the game to sell items and ingame currency for real world currency.

As you profess to play MMOs, I'll assume you've read through the Terms of Service(ToS). Unlike a shrink wrap EULA, this is a perfectly binding, legal contract which you are required to follow in order to use the service. One of the common, yet usually unenforced clauses is that you will not resell ingame content as it is property of $MMO_Company, and doing so infringes on their rights.

Now, as for how IGE gets around that is this: They don't actually own any accounts, nor directly employ anyone who sells currency. As I mentioned, they are simply a sell point; a place for people who do farm items/currency to advertise their wares and sell them to turn a buck. The best way to think of them is as a really really big eBay store.

Re:Non-player (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679954)

They exchange game currency and items for real money. I.e., people with lots of real-world money can achieve in games what normally takes hard-working players a long time to accomplish.

It's an arrangement that works out well for the buyers, but is annoying for other players. I actually knew someone who ago (before they banned it) determined that he was making about 5$ an hour selling Everquest stuff on Ebay.

Re:Non-player (5, Insightful)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680046)

people with lots of real-world money can achieve in games what normally takes hard-working players a long time to accomplish.

Sad to say, but it sounds just like the real life. Replace "game" by "university" and you get one such example.

So basically, people blame IGE for being just one more company servicing the "rich people"? I don't see any difference with what I see everyday in the capitalist world.

Re:Non-player (1)

EulerX07 (314098) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680147)

Sad to say, but it sounds just like the real life. Replace "game" by "university" and you get one such example.

Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on.

Re:Non-player (3, Informative)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680256)

Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on.

Sadly, there's no such thing as a level playing field in Universities either. If you're rich and stupid, you can get by in any University. I've seen in in the Ivy League, I've seen it in the Pac10. Does is suck? Of course it does, but the parent poster is right on in his assessment.

Re:Non-player (2, Informative)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680300)

Totally flawed analogy. What IGE does is akin to paying off teachers so they give you good grades, not having the money to go university. Having the money to pay for university is like having the money to pay your subscription fee, you expect a level playing field from that point on

Obviously you never had to work full time to pay your studies. That is where the analogy is. Some are rich enough to provide few efforts to get the same thing that poorer people cannot afford without huge efforts.

It's also a fact that students who do not have to work while studying are much more successful than the others

I hope you get the picture,

Re:Non-player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680190)

What does university have to do with this? I don't understand if you're being sarcastic or just stupid.

Re:Non-player (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680220)

I don't see any difference with what I see everyday in the capitalist world.

And that is exactly why so many are opposed to IGE and other such operations. When you start blurring the line between game and reality, you lose a lot of what makes a virtual world so exciting to begin with. I want to play a game, not log into "DnD sponsored by EBay". IGE, farmers, sweatshops, etc. just suck all the fun out of the experience for me. Particularly when you're talking about an RPG, as most MMOs claim to be, introducing such real-world influences just corrupts the feel of the world. I mean, roleplaying doesn't have to mean using "thee" and "thou" all the time, but it seems to me that at a bare minimum, you would "play the role" of a character within a fantasy world. When that character starts making financial transactions with beings from another dimension, and when the finances of the player have more effect than the actions of the character, it just doesn't appeal to me anymore.

Re:Non-player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680127)

Thats all? I knew someone in college who was trying to figure out how to report on his taxes the $60k he made in one year selling items and powerleveling people.

Re:Non-player (1)

PedanticSpellingTrol (746300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680003)

I play WoW regularly and I really don't see the problem here either. They've used a wide network of volunteers to build a comprehensive database of all the items, quests, creatures, and NPCs in the game. Sure, IGE could use this data to set exchange rates, but they could get it anyway, even if someone else was behind the project, because all of their data has been made available to the public.

Anyway, with thottbot's site claiming to run 40 servers, I'm suprised nobody tried to follow the money sooner.

Re:Non-player (3, Informative)

Doc Creep (855754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680066)

Thottbot [thottbot.com] is a very useful web site containing data about in-game items, quests, monsters, classes, player profiles, skills, etc. in World of Warcraft.

How did they get this data? One of the more popular add-ons for World of Warcraft is called Cosmos [cosmosui.org]. One of the many features of Cosmos is a plugin to Thottbot so that information that your player sees gets uploaded to Thottbot to improve Thottbot's data - if you see monster X at coordinates Y,Z and no one else has, Thottbot now knows that monster X can potentially be there, and what items you can get from killing it.

IGE is a well known online currency and item broker, and many people within the World of Warcraft community are concerned that once IGE and the so-called "Asian Farmers" get a large presence that the in-game economy will be permanently ruined - better equipment for your character will be out of your price range unless you go to an in-game gold broker, paying real money for game money. World of Warcraft is the only MMORPG I've had experience with, but I've heard that activities like this have made some MMORPGs unplayable.

Most people assume that the Thottbot service was benign, but with the news that IGE owns it is somewhat alarming to people. This means that IGE now has information on what a large portion of the characters in game have and get their items and money, which could be used to more effectively farm high-demand items, collect in-game money at a higher rate, etc.

I don't neccessarily see this as the end of the world, but it is a bit of a concern. I'll probably stop using the Cosmos UI enhancements, or at the very least disable the Thottbot data aggregation.

Re:Non-player (1)

drzhivago (310144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680434)

Somewhat related was that 800 accounts across all the servers in FFXI were banned last night, mainly for participating in currency selling along the lines of what IGE does. Some of said accounts were most definitely tied to IGE.

Re:Non-player (2, Insightful)

captwheeler (573886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680139)

IGE is like eBay for online games (like World of Warcraft.) You can arrange to pay real money, and get in-game items or 'gold' from other players. The cash payments are made outside the game, the items are transfered in-game between players.

The game makers universally ban this sort of sale:

If you were playing risk, would you want your opponent to 'buy' ten armys from third player? Companies also can't regulate the sales to ensure fairness, and don't want any liability issues; like a DB error deleting an item someone paid cash for.
Some players argue buying in-game items is fine:
The in game items are yours, and you can give them to any player for whatever reason you want, including cash payments. Why is it be OK to give a sword to my friend, but not a stranger? How does using money, rather then an in-game barter, or plain altruism, change this?

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679916)

I blame Blizzard for allowing the use of Cosmos in the first place. The only way to protect players from their own stupidity is to ban all 3rd party plugins. The fact that Thottbot is so widespread in WoW brings to light what a terrible decision it was for Blizzard to allow 3rd party plugins in the first place. Hopefully Blizzard changes their policy as a result of this.

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (1)

YomikoReadman (678084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680013)

Cosmos isn't a plugin per se, so much as a UI enhancement mod. You don't have to upload any data to thott just by using it; you don't even have to upload your characters data.

As an avid WoW player, I don't think I could go back to a point in time before I used Cosmos. I've used it since beta, and have come to be heavily reliant on the additional button bars, party status monitors, etc that Cosmos adds to the UI.

As to whether or not Blizz will change their policy concerning UI modifications, I don't think they will. They have been very proactive about enforcing their ToS, however that same ToS explicitly allows players to modify the UI to make it more adaptable to their specific needs/desires. It's almost like WoW is an OSS MMO, to a small extent. That's a good thing, isn't it?

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (1)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680002)

I for one will not be using thottbot any longer.

Not use, or not contribute to?

There's no advertising on the site, so they aren't directly making money from it. In fact, every map burns bandwidth, so every person who uses it without contributing is a loss for them.

I remember bandwidth issues during Open Beta, and I figured that for them to handle access from a portion of 5,000 players to a portion of 500,000 (or whatever) the original guys just bought space on someone else, or had it donated to them. I could be wrong there, but I'm pretty sure it at least started as fan-based, even if it's not now.

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680064)

Theres nothing wrong with making money from a hobby.
When somebody spots a business oportunity, they would be a fool to miss out on it.
Slashdot started as "fan based", now look at the mega corporate beast its become :)

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (2, Informative)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680187)

> There's no advertising on the site, so they aren't directly making money from it.

They are ironing out an advertising system. I caught a banner ad a week or so ago, and whatever poor server was serving them up quickly choked because the whole site was grinding to a halt.

30 minutes later the ads were gone and thottbot was responsive again.

Do a dns query on 'ads.thottbot.com'. ;)

Re:Ogaming and Thottbot (2, Interesting)

LearningHard (612455) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680040)

They (IGE) sell items, accounts, and gold for various games including World of Warcraft. This is expressly against the ToS Blizzard makes you sign. Blizzard has cancelled several auctions and sales through ebay and other sources but have done nothing about IGE's business. IGE's owner at one point in an interview mistakenly admits to having contact with the developers and producers of several of the games they deal with. To me this makes me think maybe there is collusion between IGE and some game publishers. The reason is because well before anyone was high enough to farm gold IGE was selling lots of 100 gold off their website.

As far as thottbot goes, that site has data provided by the community. This data is uploaded by a program that you use from your computer. We don't know exactly what information it sends but the fact that IGE has went through great lengths to hide their ownership of thottbot makes me very suspicious of their motives.

slow... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679791)

Slow newd day!

Re:slow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680305)

Slow newd day!

I believe it's spelled "nude".

Bad day for IGE (4, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679802)

I'm a regular FFXI player. I just noticed an announcement regarding the suspension of accounts of known violators of the TOS on PlayOnline (the DRM-client-thingy that FFXI runs through). So I log in, do a few searches and not one of the usual known gil-sellers on my server is online. I wonder how badly this is going to hurt their margins.

Re:Bad day for IGE (1)

YomikoReadman (678084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679826)

Most likely, it won't. IGE hasn't been sued for the sole fact that they don't employ currency farmers directly, nor do they own any accounts. IGE is simply an intermediary in the whole process, providing a sell point for independent contractors who essentially work freelance.

Re:Bad day for IGE (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679883)

Yeah, but if those independent contractors all get banned, the money flowing through IGE will dry up and so will their margins.

Re:Bad day for IGE (2, Insightful)

YomikoReadman (678084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679948)

On those things, yes. However, SoE has never been truly vigilant about enforcing ToS[1], and Square-Enix wasn't either when I was playing FFXI.

In addition to that, now that they own Ogaming, they can essentially live off the ad revenue from there, and even if they lose out on an MMO or two, of which WoW will likely be the one to really enforce ToS, they'll still roll along, skimming off the top from sales in games where nothing is done about the blatant ToS violations.

Re:Bad day for IGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680549)

No real point to this post, but:

Square-Enix finally got off their ass and executed the St. Valentine's Day Gilseller Massacre [playonline.com], finally banning 800 accounts for TOS violations.

Which, to me, and probably to you too, is too little, too late. Yay. So they actually can enforce their terms of service. If they did this, say, a YEAR ago, I might still be playing.

Evidently Square-Enix doesn't actually care about the gaming experience until other MMORPGs start threatening their bottom line. They basically did a complete 180 when it came to announcing updates and actions against botters and "gilsellers" with the release of WoW. Curious...

Re:Bad day for IGE (1)

ranolen (581431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679965)

Who cares if it hurts their margins? The gil selling hurts all the players experiences. I've actually noticed a price difference at the AH in the past couple weeks and hopefully things will keep going now that they are being kicked off.

Re:Bad day for IGE (1)

ghukov (854181) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680304)

I hate gil-sellers and I am glad they got banned. Maybe the economy on my server will get back to normal.

interesting (0)

mpower1 (858744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679811)

I wonder how much Thott got for his website, if Im not mistaken, Thott is a player from EQ that developed the website. IGN is known for offering insane amounts of cash to website owners. /shrug

IGN != IGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679867)

IGN != IGE

In other, more important, news... (3, Funny)

Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679813)

... a faint trace of Brownian motion disturbs the surface of a tea-cup a billion trillion light years away.

i am 1337 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679816)

dfgfgdfg

harsh marketroid speak? (4, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679907)

Huh, I just re-read the interview to be sure, and it seemed to me that IGE was quite reasonable in their responses. Even the "PR mouthpiece" ones.

Re:harsh marketroid speak? (1)

miu (626917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680151)

IT WAS JUST THAT HE TALKED LIKE THIS
(annoying, no?)

and the last two PR responses were definitely on the shirty side.

"Page under construction" (4, Informative)

Drey (1420) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679912)

Google's cache still has the page which is now mysteriously blank.

http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:s7q2fzgQjeM J: www.ogaming.com/data/2115~VIPClub.php+thottbot+oga ming&hl=en

Re:"Page under construction" (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679956)

C'mon, how hard is it to slap an anchor around that?

This keeps slashdot from putting spaces in the url, messing them up.

Re:"Page under construction" (3, Informative)

yotto (590067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679982)

Ooops, there's a bit of egg on my face. Let me try that again.

This keeps slashdot from putting spaces in the url, messing them up [64.233.167.104].

Re:"Page under construction" (1)

Drey (1420) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680115)

Do you have any idea how much kinetic energy is required to type extra keystrokes, energy that could just be used doing left-clicks on other sites? I mean, really.

Yeah, sorry, normally I remember to put it inside an anchor tag and it looked fine on my screen when I previewed it (ie., no extra spaces). I am duly chastised and wish to surrender any karma I acquire.

Wow, news... (4, Funny)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679931)

So, let me get this straight...

People will try and exploit other people for profit.
People will release closed source software that does more than advertised.
People in MMORPGs are asshats, and cause the more honest MMORPG players harm.

Right. Thanks for the heads up, I -never- would've known...

Conspiracy (4, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679940)

If everyone gets banned off ebay within an hour of their MMORPG item listing, but one seller mysteriously has 10 pages of gold selling on every sever, what do you think is the case. Especially considering the amount of gold being sold would be impossible to obtain without the main company creating it. Also consider this seller is selling this same style for two different MMORPGS(DAOC/AO).

My only guess is that some MMORPGS give selling rights and items to select individuals for a deal. I've done the math, the market this guy had was $100,000 a month, so it wasn't so trivial a company would ignore it.

So don't be suprised if these sellers are actually 'financed' in virtual goods by the MMORPG companies themselves. The key is that they don't want the public to find out or it could negatively impact the MMORPG's image.

Re:Conspiracy (2, Interesting)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680030)

This reminds me of something that happened in Ultima Online a while back.

Some time ago, a GM, who went by the name Darwin, was creating millions of gold and selling them on eBay. Eventually, he was discovered because there was no way that any one person could have so much gold on so many different servers.

He was fired right after the news broke.

Re:Conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680403)

Let me guess, if they let you write the game, this wouldn't be a problem?

Get free music from Napster all you want! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679955)

Burning through Napster's collection, free

Hundreds of music CDs, zero dollars*, obtained legally.
*Not including the cost of blank CDs, PC only.

0. Download and install Napster, sign up for 14 day free trial.

1. Download and install Winamp
http://www.winamp.com/

2. Download and install the Winamp Plug-in Output Stacker
http://www.winamp.com/plugins/details.php ?id=86033

3. Open Winamp Options->Plug-ins->Output->Dietmar's Output Stacker->Configure
a. Add out_ds.dll from Winamp/Plug-ins folder
b. Add out_disk.dll from Winamp/Plug-ins folder
c. Select out_disk.dll in the Output Stacker->Configure
d. Set the output directory and output file mode to Force WAV file
e. Exit preferences

4. Load downloaded Napster protected WMAs into your Winamp playlist

5. Press play and each file will be converted to WAV as it plays

6. Burn WAVs to CD with your favorite burning program

http://blog.kordix.com/marv/archives/000400.html

25th floor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11679973)

Has anyone confirmed that this company claims the entire 25th floor of this New York office building? Or perhaps it's shared with a few other companies?

Many office buildings have several companies per floor. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. But the coincidence is a bit much, I admit.

Mod post down. (0, Troll)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679987)

Why is this even remotely newsworthy? Isn't "Stuff that matters" part of the slogan of Slashdot?

Re:Mod post down. (0, Troll)

PaulK (85154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680072)

There's a dramatic difference between "stuff that matters" and "stuff that matters to NaruVonWilkins". There are other people here with other interests.

Re:Mod post down. (1)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680215)

In context, I'm sure this would be useful. As it stands, even the topic is horribly obfuscated by assuming a lot of prior knowledge. Part of journalism is understanding one's audience, and that seems to be seriously lacking in the last few weeks and months here. There are a few people who care a lot about this particular topic, but they aren't the majority - I doubt they even make up ten percent of users of the site. That's bad management, and it needs to change if Slashdot is going to survive the next few years.

Re:Mod post down. (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680480)

What about those of us who like seeing the MMORPG news (even if I did know about it a couple days ago), and would rather not see VOIP or HDTV or (gasp!) Linux news as every third article? Are we somehow less important as Slashdot readers?

Again, just because it doesn't matter to you doesn't mean it isn't news.

Kierthos

Re:Mod post down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680142)

I don't know but it's gone down hill lately.

The story about Linux feeding cats was scraping the bottom of the barrel but was quite telling about the sort of mentality.

They should have a new 'fluff' section for Cats+Linux stories, mpog stories (whatever that is), lame book reviews, obscure Linux distro updates, anything about databases and other such trivia.

The only stories which should make the front page should be the big news of the day ie. Microsoft, Big Linux stories, Apple and the YRO stuff.

Reputations (3, Insightful)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11679993)

I still don't understand what makes IGE disreputable

They have found a niche market where they can make a lot of money. If it works, fine. Nobody's being harmed or spoiled - they are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?

They sell in-game content, which purchase the game provider prohibits? Well, fine again, don't buy it if you don't want your game account cancelled.

For all the rich idiots that buy 100 gold in World of Warcraft for 45 USD. Fine again! Have fun! Spend your money!

Re:Reputations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680097)

Nobody being harmed my ass. You obviously didn't play EverQuest during the plat dupe days a year and a half ago when the in-game economies experienced 10,000% inflation overnight. Who profited during all this? It certainly wasn't the regular players.

Re:Reputations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680128)

I'm tired of the game worlds being full of a bunch of 3rd world slaves farming stuff to sell.

It completely violates the spirit of the game. Saying this is OK is like saying wall-hacking is OK in Counterstrike.

It is illegal both to buy and sell virtual item, per the ToS you agree to before playing. So, yes, don't buy stuff to avoid being banned, but its also illegal to sell, so the accounts should be banned before the items can even be sold. The moment they hit Ebay or IGE or whatever, ban. Except that takes time/money/manpower.

Re:Reputations (2, Insightful)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680252)

I agree with you but..

I'm tired of the game worlds being full of a bunch of 3rd world slaves farming stuff to sell.

This is the effect of living in the leasure society we're in. I'd rather the 3rd world sitting in front of a computer and play online for farming virtual money than have them be paid 10 cent a day to make my next (left) shoe at the expense of the health of a 10-year old.

Farming for gold is the worse of two evils IMHO.

Re:Reputations (3, Insightful)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680200)

I'll bite.

As the interviewer in the previous article (which I believe this article summary links to) compared it to, if we're playing monopoly and I land on Boardwalk, I owe the owner (lets say it's you) $2000 with a hotel. Not chump change. But if I can turn to the banker and slip him five *real* dollars in exchange for $5,000 Monopoly dollars, I have violated the rules of the game (possibly, depending on your reading of 'no gifts') and undoubtedly violated the spirit of the game.

Likewise, MMORPGs are designed to have a specific amount of money in the economy and a specific number of items, distributed in a specific fashion. While the amount of gold in a game is effectively infinite (if you spend time 'farming' you can sell items and drops for as long as you want) it is assumed that the ammount of gold/items you have will at least somewhat relate to the amount of time you've spent playing. This does not take into account gifts or guilds helping new members out, but friends giving a couple gold is not going to effect the economy on the same scale as someone buying 100,000 gold off eBay.

So, in a sense, people *are* being harmed by such 'reselling' of in-game items, in the very broad sense that it throws off what was hopefully a carefully planned economy, put in play by the developers.

In a more down-to-earth sense, farmers disrupt my ability to play the game. Ignoring the fact that I think it's "unfair" (a very subjective term, I admit) for someone to buy the latest Sword of Pwning +10 from eBay, the item was obtained by killing monsters, and thus preventing 'real' players (another subjective term) from killing them and obtaining the items/gold.

World of Warcraft (the MMORPG I am currently playing and thus most familiar with) solves this partially by implimenting 'instanced' dungeons, where every party in the dungeon gets their own 'instance' of the dungeon, with seperate monsters and such. This allows each party to fight through without the posibility of running into other players. While this is a great sollution on a small basis, it does not prevent a gold/item reseller from farming in a high-traffic area, or an area with important quest-related NPCs.

On an entirely different issue, saying "hey are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?" is just stupid. Even if you don't think selling items/gold from MMORPGs on eBay immoral, saying that it's moral because it's *legal* is disgusting. I am in no way comparing selling a WoW item to any of these things, but slavery, preventing women from voting, segregation, preventing blacks from voting, husbands beating wives, and torture have all at some point been legal. Again, I am *not* comparing MMORPG item reselling to any of these things. Merely pointing out that legality does not indicate morality, nor the other way around.

Just my thoughts.

-Trillian

Re:Reputations (1)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680405)

Thanks for your answer. That makes a lot of sense!

On an entirely different issue, saying "hey are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?" is just stupid.

What's stupid? It's legal - is all! I cannot change that! And I am not commenting on wherether it should be or not.

Even if you don't think selling items/gold from MMORPGs on eBay immoral,

Being "moral" has nothing to do with laws, and that is in many case unfortunate. I am not arguing about the morality of it.

saying that it's moral because it's *legal* is disgusting.

Re-read my post, I have never said this, and never will!

Merely pointing out that legality does not indicate morality, nor the other way around.

Same wavelength here. Again, I am not discussing the morality of it. Law is for everyone in a society, moral is for each separate individual. And one cannot impose to the other.

Re:Reputations (1)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680539)

The problem with this assessment is that if IGE wasn't doing it, or the Plat farmers weren't doing it, someone else would. You'd have the uberguilds ingame cornering the market on the rarer items and then selling them for exhorbitant prices or taking them out of circulation entirely. Is it good that the farmers are making a buck off of this behavior? No, but the alternative isn't significantly better either. Either way, it still amounts to extortion.

Re:Reputations (2, Interesting)

ewhac (5844) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680281)

They have found a niche market where they can make a lot of money. If it works, fine. Nobody's being harmed or spoiled - they are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?

Sounds disquietingly like the morality of a spammer.

Schwab

Re:Reputations (2, Interesting)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680513)

Sounds disquietingly like the morality of a spammer.

Or other corporations. Whatever they are: PROFIT!

And I agree, it's disgusting logic, but it is the way it works in our world, isn't it? You cannot deny that fact, like it or not.

Re:Reputations (0, Flamebait)

anonicon (215837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680291)

"I still don't understand what makes IGE disreputable...They have found a niche market where they can make a lot of money. If it works, fine. Nobody's being harmed or spoiled - they are not breaking any law, so what's all the fuss about that?"

Ah, I see some of those Indian players have some downtime to troll the Slashdot boards and play damage control. Tell me, are all of your colleagues also this vacuous, or is it just you?

Re:Reputations (1)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680483)

Ah, I see some of those Indian players have some downtime to troll the Slashdot boards and play damage control. Tell me, are all of your colleagues also this vacuous, or is it just you? I'm pushing the logic a bit far, but worse comes to worse, I'd rather have indians play WoW and farm gold, than farm my own job. All I'm saying that it's NOT illegal, and no amount of whining will change this, and some people WILL use it.

Re:Reputations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680510)

It's a variant of the tragedy of the commons.

The value of the in-game item comes about only because there's a certain amount of effort, organization, and/or skill required to obtain it. You'll notice that there's no real-world market for the items you get easily (say, unlimited spawns on the ground in the newbie zone).

When an item is bought for real-world money, the value of that item is reduced for EVERYONE in the game. It's taking a little bit of value from all the players to make one player happy that he has his uber toy. In-game inflation is one sign of these problems, but it's the inflation of the cost to the experience that's the real killer.

The indirect cost is that for any item that's limited in availability, the farmers and bots interfere with others' ability to play and enjoy the game. What if a player doesn't want to be forced to buy the item out-of-game -- yet can't get it in game because the commercial companies bots are always camping the source of the item and regular players can't get in to play? Even if you're willing to pay real-world cash for your items, this changes the entire game to simply a online store. No one's playing the game, they're just shopping at Amazon. See the difference?

Analogies to spammers here are appropriate. Spammers are taking a little bit of value from everyone on the Internet, taking up their bandwidth and time, so that they can make a little money. Similarly farming companies are taking up other peoples' game, both play time and enjoyment, so they can make a little money.

You'll see a few posts from people that say "well, I have a job, and I have to buy items to keep up with the kids that play 20+ hours a day". Well, obviously there's someone out there buy v1agr@ from the spammers, too. Saving some embarrassment for those few doesn't justify the cost to everyone caused by existance of spamming.

IGE: The MMMORPG. (4, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680005)

MMMORPG: As in, "Meta-MMORPG".

Let us take for example you invite your friend and myself to your house to play Monopoly . I land on park place and buy it. Your friend then lands on Boardwalk. I offer your friend 5 real life dollars to sell Boardwalk to me, and he does. I now have an in game advantage. Does this behavior undermine the spirit of the game?

It undermines the spirit of the game "Monopoly". It does not undermine the spirit of the meta-game being played by (in this case) Parker Brothers against other board game manufacturers. If being able to buy Boardwalk for $5 makes Monopoly more fun to play, odds are greater that I'll buy Monopoly. (And if it makes Monopoly suck, I'll be less likely to buy the game.)

IGE (and SOE and Blizzard) are all playing the same MMMORPG, the object of which is to use the MMORPG market to make RL money. MMORPG Producers sell the ability to play WOW, SWG, EQ, EQ2, and so on. IGE sells the ability to more easily play the aforementioned properties.

If the MMMORPG were a game of Monopoly, I would start with representations of sheep (gamers), squares (producers such as SOE or Blizzard), houses/hotels (properties such as SWG or WoW), credits (dollars), bling (in-game loot, in-game credits), and bits (software).

The market has yet to the extent to which folks like IGE make MMORPGs "more" or "less" fun. Consequently, MMORPG producers are still experimenting with the question of whether to ban eBaying for credits, or to encourage it. (An interesting question: how many dollars would you have paid SOE for a Jedi out of the box, rather than craptastically grinding your way through a year and a half of, umm, craptastic grinding, only to find... well, more craptastic grind at the end of the tunnel?)

The MetaMMORPG - how to get the most bucks from the gamer, while not completely eliminating the fun and thereby killing the goose that laid the golden egg - has just begun. Game on.

Re:IGE: The MMMORPG. (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680131)

I think the problem is the same as me saying:
"I'll give you $100 for you 5 digit slashdot account."

Its not an issue for the buyer or the seller, it doesn't really impact on slashdot.

However, the minute the other readers find out they will kick up a hell of a stink and the account would be trolled and the $100 would be wasted.

Why is it a big deal who owns thottbot? (2, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680052)

I use the cosmos XML UI enhancements without the thottbot plugin but I do use the thottbot.org website for lookups.

Why does it matter who owns the thottbot site? It's my understanding that you can look at the plugin and see that it's not sending any extra information back to thottbot.org such as login or password.

Ultimately the worst case scenario I see is that the owner could start charging for access to the sites content that the players have built. Big deal, someone will start a new site.

I personally like the fact that blizzard has really cracked down on people selling gold and items. Selling accounts to me is not as big of a deal. I'm betting blizzard doesn't like this though. If I was completely done with the game, and would never play again, I would have no problems selling my level 60 shaman account.

Am I missing something?

Re:Why is it a big deal who owns thottbot? (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680230)

> It's my understanding that you can look at the plugin and see that it's not sending any extra
> information back to thottbot.org such as login or password.

Nope, because the bit that actually submits the data is a binary executable. Not within the reach of average users to identify what that program is doing.

Re:Why is it a big deal who owns thottbot? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680299)

Somethings:

The thottbot add-on is obfuscated, meaning that while you can still figure out what is being sent, you'd have to spend alot of time working on it to be sure.

I don't believe in selling items or characters when the company running the game specificly prohibits it. But I do consider contributing to game sites that work similar to thottbot simply being a good citizen.

I contributed to both sites that had plugins to allow them to collect data. Now I only contribute to Alkazam. I don't like people who hide their affiliations like that, and I certainly don't want to help out someone who is working hard at something that I consider as making my game less enjoyable.

Your worse case scenario is far more rosey than the one I have. Mine is that IGE collects information which allows them to farm better, and decides to start either holding back info to have a 'competitive edge' or worse, starts faking information. Yeah, people can start their own sites, and I consider Alkazam a better site anyway, but only if they know they need to.

Hey, Children! (3, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680063)

One day, you'll grow up and move out of mom's basement. On that day, you'll see that the real world is not fair. People who wine about it generally get crushed.

You may consider it unfair that I can spend an hour on e-bay and get an item that took you months to earn.

I consider it unfair that I have to work 50+ hours a week.

So, I'll make you a deal: You spend 50+ hours a week doing something else besides Fishing and Skinning in WoW, and I'll stop spending real money for virtual items.

They say there's a PA for every moment in your life:

http://penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2004-12-3 1

But look at this as reality. You and I started the day it went live. Now you have a nice mount and I just made 25.

Your unfair advantage is that you are willing to play constantly.

My unfair advantage is that I have a good job.

Until there is a law that says the world has to be fair, I guess we are both fucked.

OMFG... PWN3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680166)

WORD

Re:Hey, Children! (2)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680404)

If I had mod points, I'd mod this guy up. He's a little inflammatory, but underneath it is a nut of truth - that the people complaining are basically those that have tons of time and nothing to do with it, and those using the service have money because they work their asses off. I can basically only play WoW on weekends. I am level 23 and happy with my progress - I don't play every weekend and I don't play all weekend. WoW has some built in properties to limit farming anyway - the best equipment comes from instances and there are as many instances as there are players.

Re:Hey, Children! (0, Troll)

Zangief (461457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680409)

The market of ingame items for real money is illegal in WoW, so, you are clealy cheating, and your account may be terminated if you are discovered.

Re:Hey, Children! (1, Insightful)

jbich (819618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680528)

People like you should be shot.

I think you missed the point entirely. It's not that we whine about it being unfair exactly, it's that we like the game.
I also have a good job dickus. I also work 50, 60 hours a week, dickus. And I also can't play the game all the much. But guess what? I still work at getting items and improving my character with what ever time I can afford. If someone offered me an item for some real life cash I'd tell him to stick it, because -- oh oh here's a freaking reality dose for you buddy!! -- it's NOT ABOUT HAVING THE ITEMS, it's about GETTING THEM. It's about PLAYING the GAME, not WINNING it. Life's a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION ... to shamefully rip off a quote.

People like you take away a bit of the fun in the game, and THAT'S why we're pissed. Because cheaters suck. Period. And yes, I consider something that violates the tos cheating.

I don't even understand your mentality on this: Do you like weilding a big stick? Or you do you like getting the big stick and then weilding it? That sounds like a compensation issue to me bro.
Is it a big deal if you're only lvl 25 with crappy armor? Who cares! The point is whether or not you're having fun!

Hell, I roll new toons all the time because I have more fun at lower lvls, with no cash and crappy armor/weapons/spells.

People like you should be shot.

I hope Blizzard bans you, if you're on WoW.

Ok. I've said my piece. You can Mod me Down now.

As a world of warcraft player... (2, Insightful)

agraupe (769778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680067)

If people with more money than brains want to be parted from it, in exchange for in-game items and money, then so be it. I don't see anything wrong with this. If there were a flood of super-good items as a result of too much farming, it is only a loss for the people selling them. If everything becomes hideously expensive in-game, then everyone will be able to sell everything for the same hideously expensive prices. The most crucial thing to remember, IMO, is that everyone can do this: it's not like one organization is getting Blizzard to give them free items. I say it's perfectly ethical to make money off stupid, rich people.

So....do you? (3, Interesting)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680084)

Among all the slashdotters having high opinions on that topic, WHO actually has the experience of using such a "service" to advance in a game?

As a hard-core player who just doesn't have time to play, I'm curious what exactly you really gain from it. Satisfaction? Time? What?

Re:So....do you? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680136)

Fun. That's what we get from it. Most MMORPG's are nothing more than a "hot-topic" game. In which it's a race to have the cooler looking armor/weapon/character.

If a game isn't fun, then you either have to make it fun for you or stop playing the game. I'm sure you get what I mean. If a game isn't fun, it isn't a game after all.

So, puchasing some new armor and weaponry to catch up to the people who have 20 hours a day to play, ends up being fun for me. Why? Because now I can still go to work, and still think my character is cool. I can now get past the boring level-grinds and enjoy just playing for fun.

Somoe people find the level-grind fun, some don't. But in the end, it still needs to be about fun, whatever way you take it.

let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680260)

Let me get this straight. Because there's someone that is performing perfectly ethical and legal activities which disagree with the twisted gamer philosophy and political bent (IE, that this is wrong), we're having a smear campaign of sorts on slashdot, pointing out his legit company in the field which can now be DoSed and who knows what by those that are immature enough to bitch about something this trivial?

Urg. My head hurts.

Re:let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11680505)

You seem to have a rather broad defintion of "perfectly ethical". This company makes money simply off of encouraging and enabling people to willingly violate the ToS of many online games. Legal? Technically. Ethical? Unless you're one of those people who thinks legal=ethical, that's a tough case to make.

I don't begrudge the selling (3, Interesting)

Gondola (189182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680339)

I don't begrudge the selling of accounts or in-game items. I think that if someone wants to leave a game and get rid of their in-game resources and make a few bucks, that's cool.

The problem arises when people make this a full-time job. They create new accounts or acquire them, then strip them or build them up, then sell them. One person sits in his room with 12 computers all running a program called MacroQuest farming high level items.

When this happens, the game is flooded by materials churned out at a rate much higher than would naturally occur, and the in-game economy suffers.

Its not IGE that is necessarily bad... (2, Insightful)

Goronmon (652094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680396)

I mean, really, when it gets down to it, its the way MMOG's are designed that creates a situation where IGE is a bad thing.

I mean, loot is pretty darn predictable in most online games, after playing a for a bit, you know what items drop from what creatures, and for the most part, the best items drop from a single mob that can be killed over and over again. If the predictability of loot drops were removed from these games, that would go a long way towards keeping set-ups like IGE from becoming too important.

Plus, you have games where the entire structure of the game is built upon "The longer you play, the better your character becomes." For people with full-time jobs, its hard to play at the same level as someone who doesn't need a full-time job or has free time for other reasons. If someone can afford to throw down $20 for an in-game item that might take him 3-4 hours to get otherwise, there really is not anything wrong with it, I mean, it is just a game after all.

In the end though, this is only a big deal if IGE is somehow manipulating the information in a way that player's wouldn't want. You can't just assume that because they have connections to Thottbot that they should automatically be proclaimed as "evil."

why is this an issue? (1, Informative)

kaosrider (80341) | more than 9 years ago | (#11680509)

as someone already pointed out, it's a lot like real life. if someone can buy the gold and not have to work for it in game like you (whoever) do then you better get ready to deal with that in reality. i work only 40 hours a week...so if i can buy some gold here and there instead of spending the time i DO have to play farming for gold, i think i will buy instead.

you can give all the excuses you want about why it's bad, but it ends up sounding like you (whoever again) are bitter that some people are able to chose the buy way instead of the grind way. if you want to talk about why it's so "unfair" that some people can buy some gold and you can't, maybe you should take a look at why you can't buy the gold yourself...

this isn't meant as a troll or a flame. no comments about basements and parents.i am just really tired of hearing about this. if you can't afford it don't hate on the people that can, because that's how life works. if you know a way around things being unfair, let me know kk? so again...why is this an issue?

oh that's right! it's because the MMOG companies don't sell the gold or credits or whatever themselves.i know one game does it now (i don't remember which one sorry) but that's it. IGE just seems to be stepping in where most of these companies failed to themselves.

My sister picked up wow 2 weeks ago. When she was told by a friend that you could buy gold for it, her reaction was "well that makes sense to me."

me too!
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