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Square and Blizzard Drop The Banhammer

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the splat dept.

244

Gamespot has the news that Square has banned some 2000 accounts from FFXI, and Eurogamer reports that Blizzard has banned 59,000 accounts from World of Warcraft. The bans come as game publishers continue to attempt to crack down on Real Money Traders in their titles. From the FFXI article: "The news follows Square Enix's crackdown of 250 accounts in June over money-farming and real-money trading, which is the practice of selling in-game currency for cash in the real world. Concerns over real-money trading prompted the Japanese government--particularly worried about large-scale money-mining operations in video games--to launch its own investigation last week."

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Wrong Headline (5, Funny)

Drogo007 (923906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793546)

Should be something like: Game companies expect revenue increase as banned gold farmers buy new accounts...

Same Crap, Different Day

Obligatory (0, Offtopic)

Drogo007 (923906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793569)

Sorry, forgot the obligatory:

Frist Post!!111oneone!111!omg Ponies!!11!!And Kittens Too!111oneoneone

Re:Wrong Headline (4, Interesting)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793575)

Yeah really... The one thing I have to give to Eve is it's mature attitude towards PvP... players actualy hunt down the farmers and disrupt there trade. I would like to see a WoW player care that much about the health of there game.

Re:Wrong Headline (4, Interesting)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793616)

There was some of that on my server, back when I played. But certainly not enough. It didn't take long before it was simply too dangerous to go into the farmer's territory. If you tried to tag mobs before they could kill them, they'd call in their farmer friends of the other faction to start killing you over and over.

Re:Wrong Headline (4, Insightful)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793641)

A lot of WoW players do care about the game and farming just as much. Unfortunately the game is not setup the same way EVE is and there isn't a mechanism to allow anyone to go out and kill/impede the farmers. Some PVP servers may allow for a small amount of policing but the majority of servers don't even have that.

Re:Wrong Headline (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793796)

To police effectively in WoW, you have to be able to police your own side. It's too hard to tell who's farming on the other side when they're immediately hostile, and you can't talk to them anyway.

I've been on guild "Squish the Farmer" events, but all to often it turns into a pitched battle because people on the other side misinterpret your assault on the farmers. Anyway, that's of extremely limited utility anyway, because the economics of the sides only impact each other through the little-utilized neutral auction houses.

Re:Wrong Headline (2, Informative)

rpillala (583965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793869)

This would only be possible on a pvp server, where farmers often farm in cross faction teams and just kill anyone who gets close. Maybe with overwhelming numbers you could stop them for a short time but they'd just move elsewhere or stop for as long as it takes for people to get bored.

Re:Wrong Headline (2, Interesting)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794035)

I haven't played EVE in a while, and I've never played WoW, but doesn't farming have a different effect on the economy in Eve? Rather than inflation, doesn't it make things cheaper? If there is a huge influx of minerals, the price of them goes down and items get cheaper to manufacture. Where as in WoW you get raw gold coming in and devaluing the current gold that people have. Or am I way off here? What is the real problem with farming in Eve?

-matthew

Re:Wrong Headline (3, Informative)

Wintermute__ (22920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794473)

I haven't played EVE in a while, and I've never played WoW, but doesn't farming have a different effect on the economy in Eve? Rather than inflation, doesn't it make things cheaper? If there is a huge influx of minerals, the price of them goes down and items get cheaper to manufacture. Where as in WoW you get raw gold coming in and devaluing the current gold that people have. Or am I way off here? What is the real problem with farming in Eve?

-matthew


The basic problem is the same, the devaluation of the currency. The farmers in EVE sell the minerals in-game for ISK, the equivalent of WoW gold. Then they sell the ISK for real-world money, thus de-valuing the currency in-game. The deflation of mineral prices (which adversely affects players who have chosen mining as a profession) is a secondary harmful effect of their activities.

Re:Wrong Headline (2, Interesting)

Durrok (912509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793756)

Lets see here...

59,000 X $40.00 = $2,360,000

Damn, time to invest in blizzard stock....

Re:Wrong Headline (1)

pxuongl (758399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794104)

good math... only a slight problem... that 59,000 accounts gone for this month, and if they all make a new account, then that's 59,000 new accounts. let's see...

(59,000 - 59,000) * $40.00 = $0

if anything, blizzard stands to lose money due to bans, if not all 59,000 people make new accounts.

Re:Wrong Headline (1)

Durrok (912509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794149)

They have to buy a new copy of the game if they ban the account. They are not banning characters, they are banning accounts which (if they are smart) means they are making the serial number invalid as well.

Then again you may be right, they may not check the s/n on login, which in that case someone over there should have sensed a disturbance in the force when 59,000 level ones were suddenly created.

Re:Wrong Headline (1)

Valharick (903629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794616)

Not exactly. A serial number can only be used once. It is there forever tied to a login. If they ban the account, there is no way to reuse either the serial number or the login. So if we assume all 59k buy new accounts Blizzard is still way ahead since you pay for your access in advance. Figure out of 59k accounts roughly 2k of them were paid for the next 30 days, another 2k for 29, another 2k for 28, etc.

Re:Wrong Headline (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794159)

Well, he's working under the assumption that they're in the western markets, where you need to spend 40ish USD to buy a license to play the game, on top of the $15 a month.

Of course, they get a free month with that, so it's sorta like $30 considering they were probably into one of their paid months. But then again, intelligent plat farmers wouldn't be using western accounts anyway, as they're more expensive per USD, so it's sorta a moot point.

Re:Wrong Headline (3, Insightful)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794448)

Except that in order to play on the WoW US realms you need a US account, and you can't interact between the different segments of the world (US/EU/China/Korea/etc.), so in order to farm gold for US buyers they'd need a US box.

Re:Wrong Headline (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794602)

Why'd we make that assumption? Seems like it's a problem in the east, too, if the Japanese government is launching an investigation into it.

Good, Ban Them (4, Interesting)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793560)

Back when I played WoW, the server I was on was pretty much owned by gold farmers. They drove up the prices on everything, and unfortunately a lot of players just went along with it. People would buy in-game currency with real money to pay for things in the game sold by those selling the in-game money they got from those inflated sales. A vicious circle, but I guess some players felt it was worth it.

Re:Good, Ban Them (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793845)

It's not always just gold farmers, as players reach 60 and run out of things to buy, money piles up quite a bit. As the servers get older and the money piles up, people create secondary characters and twink em, spending large amounts of gold to make their earlier levels easier to get through. If you're server is older than a year (which most WoW servers are) - and with a market that doesnt constantly change and eventually stalls, money piles up and prices get sky high.

In real life you run out of things to buy and that's full of free enterprise, now take a closed off world where new items aren't constantly introduced and you end up with this problem thats plagued any and all MMPORGS.

Re:Good, Ban Them (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794004)

Oh yeah, that aspect of it certainly didn't help. Twinking of alts was a big part of it as the server aged. But it got rather obvious that buying some materials or high-level epics was directly going towards gold sellers. Heck, just trying to ask for Runecloth in Ironforge would get you 10 different tells from people who didn't speak english well and were apparently selling hundreds of stacks of Runecloth.

Re:Good, Ban Them (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795005)

In real life you run out of things to buy and that's full of free enterprise, now take a closed off world where new items aren't constantly introduced and you end up with this problem thats plagued any and all MMPORGS.

Nah, there's a simple solution for this particuar form of MUDflation, and a few MMORPGs have used it: allow equipment to be improved abritrarily but with an exponentially increasing cost. This creates an infinite money-sink for high-level characters. The downside is: the best items in the game are effectively bought for "gold" (or whatever) instead of quested, which is a turn off for some.

Re:Good, Ban Them (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794997)

I only ever bought gold to spend on repairs and stuff like epic mounts. I almost never bought anything off the AH, and if I did it was a less expensive item or two that I needed to craft something. Besides, Blizzard built a game that renedered the economy almost irrelevant once you hit endgame. Endgame raiders can more or less remove themselves from the economy and surface once in a while to sell things for gold to spend on repairs. Most of the high level items are bound to your character.

Re:Good, Ban Them (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795216)

I'm not a player so maybe this is a naive question, but in these games it's legal and somewhat expected to make war on other players, right? So couldn't a gang of disgruntled players mount an in-game vendetta against real-money traders -- pillage and burn their estates, kill their characters, and just generally get medieval on their assets? If you think about it, from a game perspective the Real World is kind of like another plane of existence, and characters trafficking in the real world are sort of like evil clerics making contracts with demons. I say they must BURRRRN!

Oh Noes!!! (5, Insightful)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793564)

Now what will I do?? - Oh wait - I know, I'll keep ignoring WoW like I have been since it first came out! How ANYONE can support Blizzard after the whole Bnetd thing is TOTALLY beyond me. Screw them. Screw them right in the ear.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793581)

Care to explain what you're referring to? I've never had a problem with battle.net...

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793612)

Have you been under a rock???? Bnetd was an open source implimentation of the Battle.Net server. And Vivendi/Universal/Blizzard sued them out of existance - for doing something we're ALL supposed to believe in and support here - Oh, except when it comes to playing the latest small shiny object. </sarcasm>

Re:Oh Noes!!! (2, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793635)

For Bnetd information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bnetd [wikipedia.org]

I don't buy anything from Blizzard based on this idiocy and support of unconstitutional laws in order to control content. No thanks.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793913)

Bnetd was an open source reverse engineer of Blizzards battle.net server protocol.

In a nutshell, it provided the ability to play the game online with a cracked CD, so they sued and had it taken down, thereby pissing off a horde of OS geeks who apparently can hold a grudge FOREVER. There are so many worse DMCA abusers out there, I really don't see the point of going nazi over one of the few cases where it was actually semi-legitimate.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (3, Interesting)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794073)

I really don't see the point of going nazi over one of the few cases where it was actually semi-legitimate.

1) Arguing that bnetd enabled piracy is dumb; pirated copies could still be played offline, over a LAN, or through other workarounds. Furthermore, the bnetd developers offered to add support for verifying CD keys against a Blizzard server but were ignored (yes, individuals running bnetd could hack the source to disable the check, but that'd make it pretty obvious what they were up to, and Blizzard could've nailed them, not bnetd itself).

2) People are banned from bnet for other things, such as cheating, and there's a fair population of jerks on bnet. Someone with a valid license may want to play online but be unable or unwilling to use bnet. I own a legit copy of war3 but I'd definitely rather play with friends on a private server.

3) Blizzard's (well, I think it's Vivendi's) management and legal department already had a reputation among a lot of people for being grand assholes, so people weren't inclined to give them any benefit of the doubt.

I'll agree it's not the WORST use of the DMCA, but it's still pretty indefensible. People have a reason for holding this particular grudge.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794727)

Considering the uses the DMCA is commonly put toward, a game company using it so say, "If you're going to play one of our games over the internet, you've got to use our free service" is so low on the list so as not to register.

I'd love to see that crappy law thrown out and copyright intelligently reformed, but this is hardly the place to pick your fight.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793700)

How is this a troll? This is a very important opinion and one that I support 100%. Blizzard used the DMCA to blow an open source company out of existance (and take over their domain name and property). The attitude here should not be "Blizzard is doing this and that" it should be "Blizzard, the company that used the unconstitutional DMCA against individuals committing no property crime, is still in business. Let's remind each other not to ever buy anything by Blizzard or Vivendi again."

I'm always shocked how pro-freedom geeks forget their morals when it comes to a game or a product they like. Blizzard is Vivendi, folks, and Vivendi is evil based on their corruption of Congress. Why are we still caring what they do to players who forgot they're evil?

Re:Oh Noes!!! (5, Interesting)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793948)

Standard answer: Slashdot is more than one person. There are people out there who watched the whole Bnetd mess and really are not buying Blizzard or Vivendi products right now. There are people out there who ignored or missed out on the whole Bnetd mess and are buying Blizzard or Vivendi products solely on their own merits. There are even people who watched the whole Bnetd mess and decided the outcome and the issues it raised were not important enough to make them give up the experience of playing future Blizzard products.

Also, it wasn't just some random company blown away because Blizzard felt like being mean. Bnetd was intimately tied to Blizzard's products and business model and they created this relationship without any cooperation or even permission from Blizzard.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15794188)

I think more importantly, people get up in arms when a corporation does something distasteful but within the letter of the law. However, do we chide the lawmakers or the law itself? I realize the DMCA is big piece of crap with holes larger than the moon that allow all types of abuse... I get it. But if the law is that broken the course of action should be to petition your gov't to change it and teach others about the how the law is broken in this regard so that they can petition with you. It's hard to fault a corporation, it's basically a soulless entity with no concept of fair. Thats why you need the law to keep them from going beyond the bounds of fairness.

As far as BNetd... do we have to go through this every time we get Blizzard news? I'm dreading coming across the obligatory "Sony Sucks!" posts in this one to boot.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (2, Informative)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794611)

I will fault the corporation because it's the corporation's money that causes legislators to pass this stupid garbage in the first place. So, when corporations stop hiring lobbyists and donating to political campaigns I will stop punishing them for bad laws.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794934)

well, the end of the world is coming right up so you might just get to do that.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794514)

Standard answer: Slashdot is more than one person.

Very true. When you deal with large groups, often you really can't fairly characterize the group as a whole as hypocritical, only individuals. At Slashdot, different types of stories often attract different groups of posters.

For example, if you looked at slashdot using just one type of story, you might think slashdot as a whole being anti-IP. In some other types of stories, the general vibe might seem to be the opposite, but I would bet that there are different groups of people with different "hot button" topics that they respond to.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (2, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794660)

So, before I come up with a new use for a red swingline stapler, or feature one in some piece of media, I have to get the permission of the company who makes them? That argument just doesn't fly. I don't care what relationship that company had with Blizzard's product and business model, Blizzard had no right to do what they did. Or rather, they were granted a right by a stupid law that shouldn't exist and they should've had the sense not to invoke.

Can you sue your sewage treatment company for selling your processed feces to a farm that grows GMO food? I didn't think so. You have a pretty intimate relationship with that stuff. Your own body made it.

And I don't care what you say about corporate ethics. If corporations have no ethics, we should punish them to make sure they behave properly when they do stupid things like buy bad legislation and use it for evil purposes. And if they do have ethics, they should be punished for violating them by buying bad legislation and using it for evil purposes.

but... the free market.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794253)

shouldn't the free market decide if the gold farmers are successful or not? :)

I kid, I kid. Screw the gold farmers for messing up in-game economics and screw Blizzard for selling out.

I'm always shocked how pro-freedom geeks forget their morals when it comes to a game or a product they like. Fanboys will be fanboys, that's the reality of the situation.... Lots of these guys grew up on Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo, but the reality is that the Blizzard of today wasn't the Blizzard of your childhood.

constitutionality? (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794476)

Blizzard, the company that used the unconstitutional DMCA against individuals committing no property crime...
How is the DMCA unconstitutional? (I'm not trying to be contrarian here; well, OK, maybe I am, but I'm honestly curious as well.)

Re:constitutionality? (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794887)

How is the DMCA unconstitutional? (I'm not trying to be contrarian here; well, OK, maybe I am, but I'm honestly curious as well.)


Good question. The U.S. Congress has very specific enumerated powers as listed in the U.S. Constitution. Anything that isn't specifically enumerated for Congress to govern/make laws for is considered a right of the State or the Individual.

The DMCA has no provision in the U.S. Constitution. I believe that the law passes muster only because individuals of today have accepted an outrageous definition of what the "interstate commerce clause" offers as a Congressional power. Rather than have power over making sure that interstate commerce wasn't regulated by the States (as originally envisioned by the founding fathers), the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court believe that the clause offers Congress the right to regulate Interstate commerce as a force instead of as a watchman for individual rights.

The DMCA and all IP laws show that you need to use government force to support inefficient and unprofitable businesses. Without government force, these businesses would be much more competitive, and new markets and profitable sectors would arise out of the creation of content. Unfortunately, the average consumer, taxpayer and voter doesn't see the freedom that real freedom would bring us -- instead they think we need more force to battle the problems that previous use of force created.

Re:constitutionality? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794891)

It's a semi-shady argument based on the fact that reverse-engineering has always been protected by common law, and by the fact that the constitution only provides for copyrights lasting a "limited time", which goes against the DMCA's strengthing of copyright law.

The whole problem revolves around the fact that the founders really had no conception of copyrights as applied to non-tangible things. Can't blame 'em. But now its a huge mess because the corporations want IP to fall under the same protections as, for example, office buildings, and this is strongly contradicted by peoples intuition that their purchase of a physical thing, gives them rights with regards to that physical thing.

It's going to be decades before this crap is ironed out to everyone's satisfaction.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15794671)

This is a very important opinion and one that I support 100%.

Funny confluence, that.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793903)

I still have a copy of the Bnetd source code lying around, if you're interested.

LK

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

yomahz (35486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794092)


I still have a copy of the Bnetd source code lying around, if you're interested.


So does SourceForge [sourceforge.net]

Re:Oh Noes!!! (0, Redundant)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793918)

Can someone please explain the Oh noes meme to me, I must have missed that one between lol, internet and the never changing face of lindsey lohan.
I must admit, it is one of the less cute utterances that I have ever heard. It scratches my brain like nails on a chalkboard.
Thanks,
Dave

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794058)

Urban Dictionary: oh noes [urbandictionary.com]

Apparently it comes from the same Hell dimension as "Kewl!"

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

ultramk (470198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794336)

Personally, I guess I just forgot to care about "the whole Bnetd thing". I have yet to see a reason why I should give a shit, honestly. But then, I'm not a politically-motivated open-source advocate. I doubt many of their customers are, considering that their products only run on closed-source platforms, and the most rabid of open-sourcies refuse to use anything that they didn't compile themselves, auditing every line of code and all.

I like their products, and frankly that's good enough for me.

m-

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794566)

Uh, no, most of their products run fine under wine, which is not closed.

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794558)

I was around when the Bnetd thing was going on. I think I used bnetd to play the Warcraft III beta. It was cool, and I wish it was still around, but think about this for a second from a companies perspective. On Battle.net you see ads right? Well being able to put the ads on bnet generated revenue for them. If tons of people started leaving bnet for all these different bnetd servers, they will lose that revenue. Furtheremore, pirates wouldn't have to pay for the games to play and compete online. Not to mention the game experience would be screwed up by player-run unstable, insecure, and slow bnetd servers.

You can't argue that Blizzard wouldn't have lost money if they let bnetd continue. Even if you account for the people who are all pointlessly bitter about it and aren't buying games. They are a company, their goal is to maximize profits. Did you really expect them to let this slide? Blizzard obviously makes great games, and they are making tons of profit because of it. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't give a shit if a few people stopped buying their games for such a stupid reason. I gladly support Blizzard. Maybe someday they'll make Starcraft 2!

Re:Oh Noes!!! (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794767)

You can't argue that Blizzard wouldn't have lost money if they let bnetd continue.

You can't argue that, period. It's non-sequituer. I host slash sites for $24.95 a month. Can I sue someone out of existance if they want to do it for free, or for less? No. Why? Because that's retarded, and completely contrary to our legal system - just like the DMCA is.
Maybe someday they'll make Starcraft 2!

Oh yes, just so - in fact, I hear it's being bundled with Duke Nuke'em Forever! Almost all of the tallent that made SC left Blizzard - I don't trust the people there now not to screw it up, frankly.

Who cares? It's nothing new. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793577)

First off, no one cares about FFXI outside of Japan. But even pretending anyone does:

No one cares about Blizzard doing it, either. Why?

Because they've been banning accounts all along. It's not news. Blizzard bans more gold farmers, twice as many spring up. It's not going to go away just because some accounts were banned.

Now, if this were news about how Blizzard was planning on redesigning their MMORPG to make gold farming a non-issue (and, to be honest, it really is already: the best stuff is gotten through raids, which side-step the gold-seller aspect entirely), then this would be news.

As long as the gameplay rewards people for collecting large sums of gold that can be traded amongst other players, people will be willing to pay others to collect that gold for them. It's nothing new.

Banning cheaters isn't interesting. Trying to fix the root problems that result in cheating would be interesting, but they're not, they're just banning people who cheated.

Re:Who cares? It's nothing new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793816)

You know that FFXI has about 500,000 subscribers, right, which means it has more than any other non-Asian MMORPG outside of WoW? A good half of those are not Japanese, on top of that.

Learn what you're talking about before you make yourself look like an ass next time, please.

Re:Who cares? It's nothing new. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793835)

The news with FFXI is that the Japanese government [gamespot.com] is looking into gold farming. (That's the link from the Slashdot summary, you might want to read the entire thing.)

Plus, if you actually read the articles, they mention that the banning activity has greatly increased this month.

So, yes, it's news: MMORPG companies are banning more accounts over gold selling activies than they have been.

Re:Who cares? It's nothing new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793997)

No, jackass, it's nothing new. That's about as interesting as the US government announcing that it's caught another terrorist cell.

1. We have no way of verifying the claim.
2. We have no way of verifying that the accounts banned were actually gold sellers.

And, the most important part:

3. They still aren't solving the root part.

The fact that the Japanese government is looking into gold selling isn't interesting at all. When they decide to tax it in a couple of months, that will be newsworthy. But right now, it's just more evidence of people looking to try and legislate a technical problem.

Gold selling is caused by poor game design. Period. WoW is designed so that the best items in the game can't be bought using gold. There is a lower tier of items that can be bought with gold, so lazy people buy gold and use that gear. Blizzard could solve that problem, but they haven't - yet.

Until MMORPG developers start attacking the root problem, a game design that encourages gold farming, banning accounts isn't news. The games are designed to encourage gold farming. Fix that design flaw, and you'll solve the problem.

Banning accounts isn't fixing it, and news about it is worthless.

Now, if the Japanese government decides to regulate Japanese MMORPGs to force developers to remove the farming flaw, THAT would be worthy of a Slashdot story. Some government committee deciding to investigate some random thing they don't really understand isn't interesting, governments have been doing that all the time.

Re:Who cares? It's nothing new. (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795114)

You can't be serious. *Anything* which somebody would rather pay to have done than do themself, will get paid to get done. If you take away money incentives, then people will start selling items where they can, or assistance where they can't (I don't know WoW so I don't know what can't be sold). A less scalable but entirely possible scheme would be for people for a service of building your character for you while you're doing more useful things (like working, resting or watching paint dry) at a rate not unlike a day job. It'd be like a boss hiring an employee to organize things in the office, except that it's completely stupid because nobody should be playing WoW anyway.

I wish Guild Wars Would Follow Suit (1)

Roody Blashes (975889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793596)

ArenaNet keeps claiming they care about gold farmers and item sellers and that they're doing something about them in Guild Wars, but it's not true. Sitting in Droknar's Forge you could just watch endless strings of people going out to farm gold and items to sell because, let's face it, stealing an account from a 10 year old isn't hard, and there's no real incentive for them to stop them since they didn't buy the accounts they're using in the first place.

MMORPGs are being ruined by some of the same money-grubbing crap people play them to escape for a few hours. It saddens me that humanity is so pathetic that even something as simple as this can't escape jackasses who are happy to make everyone else miserable for their own small gains here and there.

i report farmers (3, Interesting)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793602)

Inflation in games is a lot easier to trace than inflation in the real world. It's a much smaller economy- until you drag the 'outer' economy into it.

I think we should be banned from BUYING gold, too.

Report sellers, report bots, the next time someone whispers to you ingame to visit their WoWgold site, report it under the behaviour tag in the reporting options. This becomes especially important for casual players, who just can't compete.

I know, isn't that just an artificial control? No, it's more like cracking down on forgery- this is wealth that was created for the purpose of selling it, which makes it an otherwise unnecessary element in the economy that hurts the whole.

I say yay, keep up the farmer bans.

On an unrelated note, every time i clean out my bookbag, i wish vendors in real life bought the trash...

What's the Problem, Exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793832)

Can someone explain, for the benefit of Slashdot readers who don't play, why "gold-farming" is harmful? If some schmuck wants to spend three hours collecting fake gold and magical items to sell on eBay, and if some other schmuck wants to buy that fake loot using real money...who cares? How does it affect other players?

Re:What's the Problem, Exactly? (2, Informative)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793949)

Economy is the problem. If there is 10x as much gold because people are "producing" more of it by farming, then those who don't farm can't buy the good items. It actively decreases the value of other players' gold.

That's how it affects other players' experiences. Blizzard has made a decision that this is a bad thing in terms of fun, so they delete accounts accordingly.

I personally think it's a Sisyphusian task, but I'm certainly not against trying.

Re:What's the Problem, Exactly? (2, Interesting)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794261)

Sorta, but if there's 10x as much gold, you can usually make money off doing things a player with two years in the game and a bunch of upper level characters wouldn't want to do. Everquest did a good job of this by requiring low-level mob drops in a bunch of crafting recipes and as spell reagents. They were just inconvenient enough that a level 60 wouldn't want to go out and farm themselves, but plentiful enough that as a newb you could make decent money off them.

And especially in today's quest-based games like WoW and EQ2, I'm a bit surprised plat farmers make money at all. Even with two maxed out characters in EQ2, when I ran up alts, I didn't bother twinking them out at all. It's just not worth the money when you can quest items and blow through levels ridiculously fast while you're doing it.

Re:What's the Problem, Exactly? (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794457)

I'm a bit surprised plat farmers make money at all


DISCLAIMER: I don't play in MMORPG and haven't since The Island of Kesmai (and if you get that refference, say "hi" :) )

My understanding is that the differences in real world economies is where this becomes a problem. If you can get cheap enough labor to sit there and farm things, and then give them a cut of the profits as their wages, then it can suddenly become a profitable buisness.

The very cheap labor available in the far east, combined with high-speed connectivity and ebay are what make farming profitable. (well ... that and that people are willing to spend an amount of money THEY don't consider high, and that you consider fair value for the time you spent to accumulate it).

For the end-user the problem comes when you don't have the resources (either the time to play, or the money to buy), to compete with those buying farmed goods.
If you were just competing with other spending lots of time, then there is little that can be done (hard-core players exist in all games), and the expectation is that there are:
                      1) only so many of those players
                      2) they play only so long before getting bored
except that farming magnifies the impact, since everyone who buys farmed items acts as if their character has spent time in the game, additional to what it would take to procure that item.

This is where the casual gamers who spend less time, and are also less likely to spend 'real world' money on game things get clobered in the equation.

This can also artificially shorten the expected growth cycle of the average character since it allows a higher percentage of characters (especially once you factor out the farmers), to grow to higher levels with more 'stuff' so either the developers have to come out with new content faster, or people might get bored of the game faster (leaving aside the impact this has on the economy).

Re:What's the Problem, Exactly? (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794585)

I personally think it's a Sisyphusian task, but I'm certainly not against trying.

Dennis Miller called. He want his reference book back.

Another day another GP (5, Insightful)

entmike (469980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793624)

(Bannings) -59,000 * $15 = -$885,000/mo
(New acct) 59,000 * $40 = +$2,360,000
(Monthly fee) 59,000 * $15 = $885,000/mo

Looks like the business model is working for the farmers and Blizzard. Kind of like a farming tax. :)

Good Job! (1, Funny)

BigNumber (457893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793649)

I would like to congratulate the Japanese government for solving all of its countries other problems. I mean, they must have solved everthing else if this is somehow now a priority to them, right?

Re:Good Job! (0, Troll)

entmike (469980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793675)

I didn't know Square-Enix was part of the Japanese government.

Re:Good Job! (1)

TheAngryMob (49125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793778)

Concerns over real-money trading prompted the Japanese government--particularly worried about large-scale money-mining operations in video games--to launch its own investigation last week.

It's bad enough that people don't RTFA, but skipping the summary? Damn.

Gold farming potentially a serious economic issue (2, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794695)

I would like to congratulate the Japanese government for solving all of its countries other problems. I mean, they must have solved everthing else if this is somehow now a priority to them, right?

I'll assume you're just relatively ignorant and haven't spent much time living in Japan. As it is, they keep a very tight grip on the economic reins in a number of areas, and money laundering and taxation are two of the big ones. These are serious issues for anyone doing business in / with Japan, as banking and wiring service websites will show anti-laundering / anti-fraud messages from time to time, and the government's efforts to prevent money laundering and tax dodging are partly why it's so difficult now to get a bank account in Japan. If dodgy types have found out that gold farming is a quick and dirty way to skirt the laws, it makes perfect sense to me that the government would be interested in finding out about it -- hence the investigation.

As another poster noted on the linked GameSpot page [gamespot.com] ,

Right just think what would happen if bill gates got rid of a **** of his cash in vertual gold before filling out taxes, then was able to sell it off and spend it slowly.

For crime, as with anything, follow the money. That's what Japanese law enforcement does, they follow the money as one of their many tools in trying to run a tight ship. And as virtual money starts to look more and more like the real thing, you can expect all sorts of government attention in other countries as well.

Lesson to be learned (2, Interesting)

thelost (808451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793706)

There's a lesson to be learned from this, banning gold farmers and the people who buy from them doesn't work. 59k accounts banned in WoW? That's ridiculous. It tells me the economics are still not working (I played WoW for a year and saw how bad they were). If games companies want to solve this they will have to come up with some stronger defence. such as:

a) better economics.
b) no tweaking.
c) tie characters to credit card details (will cause problems with gamecards).
d) better economics.
e) allow gold/character selling, but moderate and oversee it.

Blizz and any other games company who thinks about doing another MMOG better get this sorted before they write the next blockbuster, as otherwise I foresee thousands of bald programmers in darkened rooms pulling out their hair and screaming as they have to deal with the intricacies of propping up dying economies and stopping farming rather than writing stuff they actually are interested in.

Re:Lesson to be learned (1)

PaulMorel (962396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793842)

"59k accounts banned in WoW? That's ridiculous"

Out of 5 million paying accounts, 59k is nothing. You seem to think that 59k accounts is a lot?

Re:Lesson to be learned (1)

thelost (808451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793915)

you seem to think it's very few? Do you think 59k represents the totality of the cheaters in WoW? If 59k have been banned, then don't think there aren't five times as many who have bought gold or cheated who haven't been banned. The only word is Pandemic. Also do you think that there are really 5million people actively playing WoW in the world? the number of active players I think you'll find is smaller.

Re:Lesson to be learned (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794730)

59k of 5 million is roughly 1%. That's hardly nothing. Not all of those 5 million buy/farm gold either.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that this probably hits the Chinese gold farming companies pretty hard. The article mentions that Blizzard destroyed 22 million gold. If you use the rate of $.15 per gold (which is about how much it's worth these days.) This set of bans has set back the farming companies in the order of millions of dollars.

Re:Lesson to be learned (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794048)

Every time someone starts screaming about the game economics being utterly broken, I have to wonder about their actual evidence. I've played seriously on about 5 servers, and I currently play the auction house on two, and all I see are very predictable supply and demand fluctuations. Stuff goes up today, and down tomorrow. Prices run up on the weekends, and taper off during the week.

Sure you see items that are overpriced, and sometimes those get purchased. More often, however, you see the same item up for sale for a week or more, and get to watch its price trending gradually down until someone buys it.

It's not rampant inflation. It's exactly the sort of cyclical activity I would expect given variable supply.

So give me some data on this completely broken model, because I'm not seeing it.

Re:Lesson to be learned (2, Funny)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794912)

thousands of bald programmers in darkened rooms pulling out their hair

If they're bald, what hair are they pulling on? Ewww.

Re:Lesson to be learned (1)

DoninIN (115418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795101)

How about. 1: Sell gold, items and characters themselves, thereby short-circuiting and defeating the whole "farming" industry in one fell swoop. 2. See one. 3 Profit! Seriously, you're buying the option to play a game, it's like buying a ticket to go to a basketball game, if you want you can pay more and set right by the court and yell directly at the players, or you can set in the cheap seats, or you can go for the open source option and shoot hoops in the park with your friends, but at no point should you bitch 'cause some idiot paid ten thousand dollars for courtside tickets.

It IS something new (4, Insightful)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793723)

About 2-3 months ago Blizzard really started to crack down on the buyers and the sellers of gold in World of Warcraft. Before that they would sometimes ban farmers if they caught them. What they've started to do is take back gold from the buyers when they ban seller accounts. This led to a large jump in the price of gold. Where gold was selling for around 2000G for $125 USD a few months ago, it's back around 1000G for $169 USD. That is a huge jump.

I've actually heard of people quitting WoW over this, because the only way they thought they could compete with full time players was with buying gold. Between the growing gear gap, and increasing price of gold, it's making some people reconsider playing.

Gear Gap (2, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794227)

Between the growing gear gap, and increasing price of gold...

I think a lot of politications would do pretty well in November running on a platform to eliminate the "Gear Gap".

Re:It IS something new (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794554)

I wonder if the same people, seeing the incredible gap between their own income and that of high-level players like Donald Trump and Bill Gates, are considering quitting the game called Real Life(tm) as well.

You are a part of the problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15795088)

1. It is a _game_.
2. No matter how big someone else's equipment is, yours is good enough to play, have fun, and be happy.
3. Trying to compete with others for time, money, or equipment size is always going to leave you lacking.
4. Trying to play with "full time players" if you aren't one is a waste of time. Find "part time players" and play with them. The full time players aren't having more fun.

Please, if you have to compete by purchasing gold to "catch up" then don't play.

Gold farmers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15793730)

I always thought the best way to remove farmers was to create a game that's fun to play in ALL regards; farmers only exist because part of the game is so tedious that many players don't want to bother with it. Personally, I'd be insulted if people were paying money NOT to play my game...

That's a very good point (4, Insightful)

Von Rex (114907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794059)

I wish I had mod points today. You are exactly correct, people buy gold so they can skip a lot of the game. The reason they do this is because WOW is perhaps the most boring RPG ever created.

I borrowed a friends discs once and bought a month's worth of access just so I can see what all the fuss was about. I simply couldn't believe how bad this game is. All of the quests were of the "find ten of these useless things and get back to me" or "kill that asshole over there" variety. My seven year old son's Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish games have more depth.

And I really hate how everything seems to "charge" you in time. Cast a spell, wait a few seconds. Open a chest, wait a few seconds longer. It's like the whole mechanic of this game is to make me sit here wasting my life watching progress bars while charging me $15 a month to do so. And then there's the fact that half the game experience is watching your character's back while he trudges slowly across the landscape.

And there's other really dumb things in the basic interface. You click on a guy attacking you from behind with your sword and it says "facing wrong direction". Well no fucking shit, man. I thought I communicated my intention to turn around and whack that fucker when I right-clicked on the monster. The game is filled with stuff like this. I had far, far more fun playing Diablo online.

I'm just not getting why this is the most successful game of all time. Maybe it gives obsessive-complusive people something to do? Seems like the best play here is to just not get involved in it in the first place.

Re:That's a very good point (4, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795057)

Actually, no, neither of you are correct. It doesn't matter how fun the game is, there will always be people who want to get ahead of others by any means possible in an MMO. As long as some person with more money than sense wants to be greater than other people, this will be the case. If there is no economy in the game and characters progress on their own merits, then the accounts will be sold. Buying gold has nothing to do with the boredom, it has to do with getting ahead.

You played a little of the game. You are right, a lot of the quests are fairly boring kill and fetch sort of things. But for the most part, you have no idea what you are talking about. Abilities you have take time because this game has PvP elements in it. If everything was instant, then it would be overpowered and make playing against other players less interesting. The same with the turning and facing your enemy. If there wasn't PvP, fine...make you turn and face and whack away. But this game was designed with PvP in mind. Controlling you chracter is essential when competing with other players.

Beyond this, the best items in the game can not even be purchased with gold. All of it has to be done through working with other players to down interesting bosses that require teamwork and strategy. This is really where the game begins. Whacking a few bunnies at low level isn't going to show you anything.

It is more successful than other games because it is more accessible to people who don't have a lot of time. Other MMOs force you to group up and spend hours online just to level. With WoW, you can solo your way up to the highest level at your own pace.

Re:That's a very good point (1)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795267)

I'd venture a guess that it's the most "successful" game in terms of the bottom line. It's a centralized network subscription service, not an independent software title. That means no pay, no play. It's successful because it's got a relatively foolproof way to coerce payment fom players.

Re:Gold farmers (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794083)

One fact that you're going to have to face is that there are people who invest LOTS of time into these games. Dozens of hours per week. For these people, if they aren't getting something extra, then they aren't going to play. As a simple matter of time devotion, they are going to amass a lot more gold and items; this means they can afford to splurge a lot more.

Basically, it's a lot like real life. If you worked one day a week and brought in $10k per year can you legitmately complain that the guy working full time is getting so much more stuff than you are? If you want more, you got to work for it.

Re:Gold farmers (1)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794109)

always thought the best way to remove farmers was to create a game that's fun to play in ALL regards; farmers only exist because part of the game is so tedious that many players don't want to bother with it. Personally, I'd be insulted if people were paying money NOT to play my game...

Removing the boredom of farming would go a long way, but people will always pay to have an advantage at these types of games.

The Banhammer (1, Funny)

Brothernone (928252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793782)

good thing a heavy chunck of banination hardware like that stays in hammer space untill they whip it out.

preferred solution (5, Interesting)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793831)

Blizzard has probably banned more players than the peak populations of most other games... What would make more sense is just to transfer the characters over to a "banned" server. Let that economy fight itself out... Just need a good name for it....

Re:preferred solution (1)

DarkDragonVKQ (881472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794061)

It shall be called.. A Private server.. speaking of those, I thought you could play WoW on a private server by now?

Re:preferred solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15794587)

Blizzard has probably banned more players than the peak populations of most other games... What would make more sense is just to transfer the characters over to a "banned" server. Let that economy fight itself out... Just need a good name for it....

Something like Station Exchange servers in EQ2? Where SOE gets a cut of the action?

(Yet another reason that I stopped playing EQ2 even though I was having fun with the game itself.)

Re:preferred solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15795199)

(mod parent up!)

Can you imagine, Blizzard sets up a whole new serves with the same names.. but if the account that was logging in was labled as "a farmer" then it would go to one of these *Bizzaro World* servers where it was only populated by farmers.

Wish (1)

spykemail (983593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793941)

When will MMORPG makers realize that when you create a capitalistic economy you're going to get capitalists?? I'm not convinced that banning people is the right solution, it seems fairly doomed to failure. Though if they're going to do these things I wish they'd clean up what's left of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.

Re:Wish (1)

Borgschulze (842056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794373)

My bot account on Diablo II: LOD was banned a few days ago too. I laughed, because I was going to sell it, then it got banned... Good thing all my real godly items are on my other account.

Re:Wish (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794899)

I don't think banning is a good solution either. There has to be some ingame mechanism for dealing with this type of thing. A better economy, for example. Or an in game, player controlled, police force. Also, I think people need to just accept some of these things as an an unintended "feature" of the game. Fact is that there are some greedy assholes/criminals in this world who don't want to play nice. Why should a game which seeks to simulate a world be any differnt?

When I played EVE there was one character who was infamous for kill-stealing and stuff like that. Everyone knew his name. Many wanted him banned. Sure, it sucks for the people who got cheated, but why should a game be completely sanitized? Personally, I thought it was neat to have infamous people like that. I thought it made the game more interesting to have real problems to deal with, talk about, and think about instead of just the more mundane things that are programmed into the game.

-matthew

Re:Wish (1)

Senzei (791599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795087)

When I played EVE there was one character who was infamous for kill-stealing and stuff like that. Everyone knew his name. Many wanted him banned. Sure, it sucks for the people who got cheated, but why should a game be completely sanitized? Personally, I thought it was neat to have infamous people like that. I thought it made the game more interesting to have real problems to deal with, talk about, and think about instead of just the more mundane things that are programmed into the game.
The other cool part about EVE is that people could deal with this because death is meaningful there. If the guy becomes too much of a problem, form up a posse and hunt him down. Decide that you want to work on that problem permanently? Start a corporation of bounty hunters that track these people down and deal with them.

FFXI was not about Gil Selling per say (4, Informative)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15793956)

In FFXI land not all the 2000 accounts where banned (most got 3 day suspensions) and most where not for RMT. The users in question had been using flee/pos/warp hacks and or engaged in MPK or other offences. A large portion of them happened to be endgame players who where using cheats to steal or easily beat high level monsters instead of playing fairly. SE is now flagging accounts for punishment if they are caught cheating and depending on the level of your offence you could be subject of a ban.

Re:FFXI was not about Gil Selling per say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15794106)

I believe you mean, "FFXI was not about Gil Selling per se" (it's Latin). I'd have to disagree. FFXI is designed from the ground up to encourage gold farming.

Whenever you have a game designed where the only way to advance is to repeatedly kill things and hope for a random drop, you've got a game designed for farming. If you allow those random drops to be traded among players, you've got a game designed for item farming. Fixing either problem would solve the gold farming problem.

But, in any case, is Square-Enix finally getting around to banning the people who use the Windower on the PC? I've been waiting for them to actually do that for ages.

An alternative (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794196)

Or you can do what I do - play a game [entropiauniverse.com] where the economy is based on a real currency. I think there are others like it. I'm guessing they don't mind if I sell currency - after all, they do, too. OTOH, why would you want to? There are few reasons why you would.

How is the economy on EQ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15794389)

Didn't Sony set up thier own service to sell characters, gold, items, etc? How is the economy doing on the EQ realms. Maybe Bliz should set that up. Then they get a portion of the profits, people that are casual players can buy the things they would like to have (epic mounts) and casual people can cut the farming companies out of the loop.

Ok... (1)

the2cheat (986144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15794974)

Personally, I believe that Square and Blizzard are mad that they don't see a cent of that money made on the side. I mewan,it's not like thay make $15 a month from millions of gamers out there... oh wait...

Anda's Game (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795008)

Every time I read a story like this I think of Cory Doctorow's Anda's Game [salon.com] . It's an interesting thought-experiment for both sides of the issue. While I certainly don't condone game currency sales, it's not a terrible way to get another perspective on who is really affected by it all.

Dieser Sonntag, David Hasselhof, mit Banhammer! (0)

rafemonkey (152890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15795241)

I'm sorry, but when I hear the word Banhammer, it makes me think of some German heavy metal band. Kinda like a cross between the scorpions and poison, big hair, tight pants and too much drama. Perhaps a side project for Mr. Hasselhof.

Please, can't we call the mass banning of players from some online game something less embarasing? Like, I don't know, mass banning?

Baaaanhaaamah! rock you very much! (tm)
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