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Ask the MMOG Money Traders

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the how-much-for-that-sword-in-the-window dept.

239

Late yesterday, Sparter Inc. announced the Gamer2Gamer virtual currency trading platform. The goal: to provide a secure currency trading environment for players of Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Rather than purchasing currency outright, the goal of the project is to cut out the middleman and (implicitly) the gold-farming consortiums that supply larger for-pay sites. We were contacted by a representative from the company before the release went out, looking to speak with the Slashdot community about the service. In his words, the folks at Gamer2Gamer "are devoted gamers themselves and are well aware that not everyone will like the idea -- but we think plenty of folks will like a world where Real Money Transfer is workable and unintrusive." And so, you get the chance today to put the hard questions to them. One question per comment, please, and we'll pass on the best of the lot to be answered as soon as possible. Update: 06/14 17:58 GMT by Z : Howzer points out that there is an extensive FAQ on the service, that you can use as a springboard for questions.

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God Smack Your Ass !! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19507843)


God Smack Your Ass !!

The Assured Protection of Human Rights (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507873)

So you say you work out the middle man in this horrible scheme of capitalism. But I'm still concerned that the people who are farming right now at a severely reduced pay rate are doing so because they don't have the money to front for the operation and they have no choice but to remain a pawn. They make very little money and the real profits go to some American guy [slashdot.org] manipulating them all and paying for their accounts.

Tell me again how your service does not promote this middle man from acting like a player? How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money? How am I assured this isn't still some cog in a scheme to exploit foreign workers?

Disclaimer for the rest of Slashdot: I'm well aware of the situations where this may be the person's only means of income. I still would rather not support this system.

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508125)

There seems to be a simple answer to this question (and this is not meant as flamebait): "How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money? How am I assured this isn't still some cog in a scheme to exploit foreign workers?" Since these are games, why don't gamers just play and earn their own gold instead of buying it from someone else? This smacks of the SUV driver who complains about the price of gas and the detrimental environmental effects of oil drilling. If you want to change the supply, stop creating the demand.

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508351)

oh you must be kidding. you're complaining of human rights violation in sweatshots where kids are, umm, forced to play video games?

Rice computing pioneer Ken Kennedy dead at 61 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508447)

Rice computing pioneer Ken Kennedy dead at 61. He will be missed.

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508757)

How am I assured that my gold is not earned by some innocent kid who is doing this as a job to make money?


As someone else said, the easy answer to this is to just play the damn game yourself and earn your own in-game money. Simple. Don't get involved in gold trading in the first place and you don't need any assurances about human rights.

Seriously, what kind of loser/sucker pays real money of in-game money anyway?

-matthew

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1)

AzureWrathHal (949025) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509641)

"Seriously, what kind of loser/sucker pays real money of in-game money anyway?"

I'm assuming the kind of loser who wants a particular in-game item but doesn't want to spend a few months saving the money to purchase it.

It all depends on what has more value to you, the time you spend at work, or the time you spend at home.

So honestly? I kind of sympathize. Kind of.

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (2, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509917)

It all depends on what has more value to you, the time you spend at work, or the time you spend at home.


I find ironic that the most popular online *game* in the world is so readily compared to work.

-matthew

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509057)

So if the farms closed up shop, the now-out of work people would be much better off?

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1)

Disseminated (1022915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509383)

I'd reckon they'd be better off not working a menial job that contributes nothing to themselves or society in general except to perpetuate a system of victimization. It's true they could starve but at least then they wouldn't be making the problem worse. One would hope instead that they'd do something productive and help change the system.

And if your response is "yeah right, they can't change the system" then, well, what's the point of not starving?

Off topic, I know, but the question was asked.

Re:The Assured Protection of Human Rights (1)

EgoWumpus (638704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509923)

No, but they wouldn't be worse off. The difficulty with arbitraging labor is that it piles the wealth in one corner. If someone is performing a service for x amount of money, for people whose demand supports y amount of money, where x is much less than y, the middle man - the person performing the arbitrage - is getting the difference, without actually doing anything. Human rights aside, some people are willing to pay for a service, but not willing to pay to have that service arbitraged. The argument of, "Well, the people working the farms starve then" is a fallacious one. People will find other work; and that's a matter of historical record.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19507877)

As someone who has sold gold in World of Warcraft before... I can assure you that there is a demand for these things from "regular" players...

Although the website linked to in this post (Sparta, right?) is full of scammers...

Why? (1)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507895)

Why do you think this will eliminate the middle man? They will now just have a set of prices to beat and offer 30% cheaper then the other company.

I think the name answers that (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508113)

Why do you think this will eliminate the middle man? They will now just have a set of prices to beat and offer 30% cheaper then the other company.
They didn't call it gamer2company. :-)

I think they are trying to fill in, where Ebay like companies have failed, and that's to allow one person to trade with another person (more personable), rather than having to deal with a company.

Re:I think the name answers that (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508323)

They didn't call it gamer2company. :-)
And yet nothing is there to prevent a company from having a representative post on the site to sell gold... and commercial gold farms will likely be able to undercut individual gamers' prices.

I think they are trying to fill in, where Ebay like companies have failed, and that's to allow one person to trade with another person (more personable), rather than having to deal with a company.
Ebay did not fail to provide a marketplace. They chose not to, stating that they were trying to reduce their users' exposure to risk (assumedly, from both fraud and legal action by the game companies). I'm certain they were also reducing their risk and expenses, both from dealing with fraud (in-game currency transactions have a high rate of fraud) and from legal fees if asked to C&D by game companies.

Ebay did fail (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508625)

And yet nothing is there to prevent a company from having a representative post on the site to sell gold...
If you want something that would prevent a bussiness from being able to conduct bussiness, then the only way to achieve that would be to pass a law that could then be enforced by a government.

Ebay did not fail to provide a marketplace. They chose not to, stating that they were trying to reduce their users' exposure to risk...
Haha, ya, and Slashdotters choose not to get laid all the time too. How about I decide for myself how much risk I'm willing to take, in fact, in my experience I've been ripped off numerous times for DVD and CD transactions, but never, not once on a game transaction.

Re:Ebay did fail (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508977)

Haha, ya, and Slashdotters choose not to get laid all the time too.
Well, first off, speak for yourself. Second, you're saying that Ebay was not capable of serving the market for virtual transactions? Apparently you never looked at Ebay before they prohibited the trade. I suggest you do a little basic research on the topic.

How about I decide for myself how much risk I'm willing to take
As I said, Ebay stated one reason, but I explained what I thought their real reasons were.

in my experience I've been ripped off numerous times for DVD and CD transactions, but never, not once on a game transaction.
On Ebay? Because if that's the case, then apparently Ebay was able to satisfy the market. Or not on Ebay, on some other site? Did you find a listing on Ebay that directed you to another site, where the transaction actually occurred? Does it perhaps occur to you that maybe you experience isn't indicative of the norm -- maybe you were smarter about who you bought from?

That's what Gamer2Gamer is doing (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509647)

you're saying that Ebay was not capable of serving the market for virtual transactions? Apparently you never looked at Ebay before they prohibited the trade. I suggest you do a little basic research on the topic.

Is this a joke? Yes, it's obvious that Ebay isn't capable of serving a market that they are prohibited form serving. If Gamer2Gamer steps in and successfully serves the marketplace, where Ebay failed too, then what's your point, or are you just playing semantic games?

MMOGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19507905)

...making it easier for kids to waste their youth, one MMOG at a time.

Re:MMOGs (1, Troll)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508299)

the average age of gamers is 33

whizzBANG!

Legal? (3, Interesting)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507909)

With the recent lawsuit against peons4hire.com, Blizzard appears intent on cracking down against the larger players in the business. How do you intend on avoiding legal issues?

Re:Legal? (1)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507933)

There was no lawsuit filed... It was a C&D only.

Re:Legal? (2, Interesting)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508235)

My mistake. I still believe it's a relevant question though. Will they C&D if Bliz asks? If not, how are they going to defend against further action?

While I'm not against currency transfers, this seems a little bit like the business model of Sharman Networks, profiting on unauthorized transfers and sitting somewhere in the grey area of the law.

Re:Legal? (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508659)

And when the C&D has been ignored for a while?

Re:Legal? (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507999)

And companies don't have to file lawsuits to make life difficult for people using the service; if it's against their policies (and it usually is) to exchange virtual currency for external considerations, they'll happily boot players from the game if they find out they're doing it.

I'd like to know how/whether this company will work with the companies that run the games to keep this from happening.

Re:Legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508373)

Very unlikely, any company that was in favor of something like this would just let players buy game currency for real currency.

As far as eliminating the middle man, for a long time other gold selling sites have been buying game currency off of regular players. It may make it harder to track since it sounds like it'd be player to player, but ultimately it is some other companies systems where the transfers take place and they can and do track things like that and punish people they find doing it. Blizzard for example will terminate an account permanently with virtually no way to appeal if they believe its being used to buy or sell currency.

Also since it isn't supported by the game companies you have basically no way to make claims against fraud in these transactions that wouldn't result in you getting banned from the game world as well.

Re:Legal? (1)

Neo_piper (798916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509109)

I was wondering about that as well...
I didn't see the "What will Sparter do if I lose my account because of them" question on the "extensive faq"
And anyway I thought that the appeal of online games was the equity of them, that it was all merit based and not based on raw purchasing power.

Market Control & Conversion System? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507923)

Will your site will work out converting currencies in one game to currencies in another game--so that if I play Warcraft and Final Fantasy I can spend my gold for gil? If you are doing this, how are you going to keep these markets in check? Will it all just be normalized against the dollar?

Bottom line question is whether or not you'll control dumping of virtual currency or if you'll institute ranges. If you're not instituting limits or regulating in a Federal Reserve type manner, how are you going to protect against a single person running the market (buying all the gold and sitting on it while letting it drip out slowly at an extreme amount of USD)?

Will you post graphs of each MMO's currency so we can watch currencies like SWG's credit against Warcraft's Gold?

Re:Market Control & Conversion System? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508031)

So much for one question per comment.

Also, you should have read TFA. TFS is a little misleading, the site is just a bulletin board for in-game currency sellers, with a couple extras -- rankings for sellers and escrow of funds.

Re:Market Control & Conversion System? (1)

L7_ (645377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508421)

I'm pretty sure that the people linked from this article are not too reputable**. I'm not sure that they have even thought things through enough to deal with 1) the type of people that sell gold and 2) the lack of any in-game or RL repercussions

Basically, setting up a service to circumvent the Terms of Service for these games (like these Real Money Transfers) is like setting up a service to purchase and distribute illegal RL items like firearms, gambling or narcotics: there isn't going to ever be an official complaint channel to deal with the problems and shit that goes along with them. Ebay has the scamming problems that these are going to deal with, yet they maintain a reputable trading site (even though there are Ebay horror stories). An ebay reputation, while not the end all be all, sure helps when trying to figure out the reputatabilty of a seller and buyer.

There was another website to get around In game character trades set up like 5 years ago when Ebay stopped allowing in-game trades. PlayerAuctions.com or something, I forget. People used it, but it was up to the individual to understand that they might get thier purchased account jacked after 2 months, a year, whenever because these games are set up so that people can always re-set thier password using the original Credit Card and Address. It happened with UO back in the day, multi-thousand dollar accounts reverted back after someone purchased them off ebay. Three months later, what can Ebay, the Purchaser, or even the seller (if it was second hand to them) do? Absolutely nothing.

** So who cares what they have to say.

Re:Market Control & Conversion System? (1)

L7_ (645377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508485)

Blah. I meant to reply to your Cheating the System [slashdot.org] post.

Man, eldavjohn you sure to have a lot of replies in this thread!

Re:Market Control & Conversion System? (1)

EotB (964562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508599)

The situation is a little different as the currency used in most MMOs is not a limited resource, it's more like a service. You could monopolize all of the currency being generated at a specific time, but as you push up the demand then the price should rise causing a higher supply of currency.

Re:Market Control & Conversion System? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508955)

Bottom line question is whether or not you'll control dumping of virtual currency or if you'll institute ranges. If you're not instituting limits or regulating in a Federal Reserve type manner, how are you going to protect against a single person running the market (buying all the gold and sitting on it while letting it drip out slowly at an extreme amount of USD)?


Isn't this only really feasable if the market is small?

The way you talk about it temps me to play this currency trading system to make a little money myself. You know, just make a small initial investment in real $$$ and just buy low, sell high. I don't even play any MMOGs!

-matthew

Items? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19507927)

There is more to sell in MMOGs than just money. Do you plan on expanding to also sell rare items like a +10 Sword of Awesomeness? If not, why not?

Taxes (5, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507961)

Inevitably, when Governments hear about money being passed around, their first thought is how to tax it. MMOGs can take the position that their currency isn't real, and therefore shouldn't be taxed. However, being able to transfer virtual currency for real cash weakens that argument.

I personally don't want to play a game where I have to pay sales tax on buying items, or income tax for an in-game business, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Given this, do you see any foreseeable ways to keep taxes out of games?

Re:Taxes (3, Informative)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508123)

Legally (in most countries anyway), barter is taxable.. and it doesn't make much difference whether the "currency" is stamps, Mars bars, cans of Red Bull, or actual "cash".

That said, hardly anyone actually declares barter to tha tax man.. so the question really should go to the taxman.. are they going to enforce taxes on bartering of virtual cash, or not?

Re:Taxes (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508201)

I believe that was the substance of a /. article some months ago...a state gubmint made some noises about taxing ordinary MMOG players on their virtual income, on grounds that gold farmers were endowing it with real value.

rj

Re:Taxes (1)

neongrau (1032968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508259)

from my point of view there can only be a taxation for the transaction that actually involves real money.
as far as you only play the game and earn and spend everything in-game there can be no tax. (you already paid taxes for the box and you pay VAT for the subscription.

the gold-selling for real money? hell they can charge a 1000% tax on it. i don't care at all.
i never bought any game-money or game-items for real cash, and never will. as soon as i feel that real money spoils my personal gaming experience i quit that game.

there are casinos and the stock market to play with real money.

Re:Taxes (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508519)

from my point of view there can only be a taxation for the transaction that actually involves real money
 
I realise that what you mean by 'real money' is 'legal tender' but there are any number of things that are used as money in the world that may or may not be a legal tender. The trick is trying to define where to draw the line between "handing over cash for physical goods" and "virtual world virtual transactions". There's no obvious clear cut answer that fits all situations between.

Re:Taxes (2, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508791)

from my point of view there can only be a taxation for the transaction that actually involves real money.

That's your point of view. The point of view that really counts here is the government, which tends to make up whatever rules will maximize its revenue without (we should hope) seriously impacting the overall economy.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508291)

Tax should be collected in-game for the virtual government. It's only because virtual tax is missing from the virtual world that meatspace governments notice a void and think about filling it.

Simple (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508983)

Genuine Sealand Hosting Services.

Re:Simple (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509843)

  1. HavenCo had a falling out with the Bates family
  2. A fire recently destroyed a lot of the platform, and needs a lot of repairs
  3. MMOGs take a lot of bandwidth and physical space for their server clusters, which Sealand may not be able to provide

I say some geeks go take over Antarctica and dismiss any current territory claims. Shouldn't have any problems with server cooling.

Re:Taxes (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509511)

I think sales tax on selling in-game resources will always be sufficient. The resources in the game have no value until they're sold, and there's no default expectation that they ever will be sold.

Don't be silly (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509865)

Learn how taxes actually work. The government isn't looking to tax online game transactions in virtual currency. They are looking to tax the transactions where somebody converts virtual game property into real money, and only the real money side.

This is not very different from the taxation on investments. As a general rule, when you buy an investment and it appreciates, the government doesn't tax you for the appreciation. They tax you when either the investment pays you dividends or interest (in cash), and when you sell it (again, for cash). They don't make you give them 28% of your shares each year.

Litigation (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507971)

How do you plan to deal with the litigation against you that will inevitably spring up from companies like Blizzard & Sony that state this violates TOS and restrict auctions/selling on eBay and everywhere else?

Will your servers be foreign based to avoid this?

How? (3, Interesting)

the_kanzure (1100087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507975)

Particularly what internet protocols are you using, or equivalently how are you accessing these banks electronically? As an example: are we talking Financial Information eXchange [fixprotocol.org] or something different?

Re:How? (1)

Kryai (976997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508531)

I work in the financial industry (trading) and I do not think you really know what the FIX protocol does. Take a look at their adopters, This is a stock/option trading protocol not a banking exchange protocol. http://fixprotocol.org/adopters/18 [fixprotocol.org]

Taxes (3, Interesting)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19507983)

Do you currently have a plan in place for when these "Real Money Transfers" become taxable income? Will you be supplying tax documentation for your customers, or will that be their sole responsibility?

Re:Taxes (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508735)

If they make less than $600/year, or make purchases out-of-state, it's their sole responsibility to report income/use, just like any other non-employee or out-of-state exchange of money. God forbid the citizens actually be exposed to the ridiculousness of their own tax system without a corporation there to fill out the forms.

Something unforseen: (2, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508033)

If this does fly it could produce a method to invent and earn money by paying attention to the up-and-coming games and investing when they're undervalued or overvalued and additionally, their popularity. Unfortunately this will also prompt an age minimum and consumer taxes, but it would be interesting to see if it would even fly on a global level.

Cheating Your System (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508039)

Purchases can be made using credit cards or Paypal, with Gamer2Gamer providing an escrow service to guarantee a safe transaction for the buyer. After in-game delivery is confirmed by the buyer, the site releases the transacted funds to the seller, completing the sale. The service is supported across games such as Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest 2, and CCP's EVE Online.
How will you protect against 'buyers' who put the money in the escrow service, receive the goods and then claim they never got them and demand the escrow back? In Warcraft, I could forward the gold to another character and claim I never got it. Then you have two customers in a dirty dispute. Wouldn't it be smarter (but more work) for you to also have an intermediary account in game to hold the goods and money at the same time? How do you plan to resolve these issues that auction sites like eBay have to deal with?

Re:Cheating Your System (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508609)

What if WoW catches wind of their accounts and shuts them down or, even worse, put the gold in a black hole instead of sending it to the buyer? Blizzard's not liable because they've got plenty of CYA in their policies, the buyers are demanding their money back and the sellers are out their gold and demanding their payment.

Re:Cheating Your System (2, Insightful)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509601)

What happens if I make a delivery but the buyer claims otherwise?

We anticipate this scenario being extremely uncommon, particularly since Sparter uses state-of-the-art technology to root out fraud and to create a clean and safe marketplace. However, in the rare event of alleged buyer-fraud, we provide a dispute mechanism process to help you resolve the situation.


I had the same question and found this on their FAQ. It all sounds like a bunch of marketing BS to me. So my question is, what assurances or explanations can you give, technical or otherwise, that there actually is a plan to deal with this situation. Right now, there is no reason I would have to trust them.

RMT Legality (5, Insightful)

Cirak (992412) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508041)

I'm concerned that this platform is devoted to promoting activity that the largest game (WoW) explicitly forbids. How do you plan to handle the fact that the entire premise of your site is one that could get your "customers" banned from the games they play?

Re:RMT Legality (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508181)

This is true for other MMOGs as well. I definately want to see this one asked. Could game producers issue take-down notices if they find ToS-restricted currency transactions (e.g., Guild Wars gold)?

Question One (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508047)

When did you shower last?

What are the real measures that will be taken? (3, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508049)

A lot of MMO content is less enjoyable because of gold farmers and others looking at playing the game for monetary gain rather than enjoyment. What measures, if any, will be used to make sure that the sellers are legitimately playing the game? If not, how is this service actually helping the gamers for whom gold selling is an inconvenience?

Where Do I Sign Up? (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508077)

We were contacted by a representative from the company before the release went out, looking to speak with the Slashdot community about the service.

Is there an online form or something to sign up for Slaverts? What's the rates?

Terms of Service (4, Interesting)

grommit (97148) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508093)

Will you be trading on games that specifically disallow RMT activities in their Terms of Service?

Same argument used by cheaters (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508175)

What they're saying is people should be able to affect game play out-of-band just because they don't have the time to commit to legitimately compete with other players. The end result? Legitimate players get tired of BS headshots, or in this case, artificially inflated prices that force others to spend even more time farming for the items they want. So, everyone loses.

MUDflation (3, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508179)

"...we think plenty of folks will like a world where Real Money Transfer is workable and unintrusive"

It's well known that real money for game currency helps contribute to mudflation by providing volumes of game capital to players unable to achieve the same. Such dilution of the value of currency on a game thereby impacts every player of that game as costs go up but gained rewards by playing the game does not.

If you envision a world where Real Money Transfer is "unintrusive", how do you compensate for MUDflation? What steps do you intend to take to truly be unintrusive on other players?

Re:MUDflation (5, Insightful)

Howzer (580315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508647)

Selling in-game cash for real cash is not the primary cause of MUDflation! I know you've heard a lot of people say it is, but that doesn't make it true.

Think about how most MUD game economies work from first principles for a minute: you "harvest" unlimited resources mostly to sell to in-game "vendors" that have unlimited cash. That's what causes the inflation -- an unlimited supply of money!

Consider, too, what most purchasers of in-game cash use it for: to pour into the in-game money sinks (buying your "spells", buying your "horse") which instantly removes it from circulation.

MUD economies are broken, and primed for massive inflation from the get-go. In-game money-sinks are efforts to stave this off, but whenever there is infinite supply of money, there will be inflation.

Most MUDs also have players of widely disparate levels (and thus "incomes") playing "together" which further exacerbates the inflation (Eg. It's worth less to me, a high level, to haggle with you, a low level, about some in-game resource I'm buying from you than to simply pay you whatever you're asking. Pretty soon the "accepted price" for whatever it is rises.)

All the above considered, gold farming might slightly increase the inflation rate --- but this is dwarfed by factors that are built into the system.

Game Terms of Service (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508195)

Many MMOs explicitly state in their Terms of Service that buying and selling of in-game goods for real currency is prohibited. While Sparter does not seem to be directly violating the ToS in this regard, Sparter will likely be deriving commercial benefit from use of trademarks owned by the game publishers. Another area of possible legal liability is in enabling and encouraging players to circumvent their contracts with game companies (as with Blizzard and Vivendi's recent countersuit against the creator of WoWglider) -- this would apply to any game where trading in game items or currency using real currency is prohibited.

Can you please comment on how Sparter plans to protect itself from the inevitable lawsuits and C&D notices from game publishers?

How do you (1, Funny)

jzuska (65827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508251)

How do you sleep at night? /pillows stuffed with money, sheets of spun gold?

Let's ask questions not in the FAQ! (4, Interesting)

Howzer (580315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508261)

Sparter has an extensive FAQ [sparter.com] which answers everything from how they make money (commission) to how they "guarantee" you get the "goods" (they stick your money in escrow until you say "got the gold!" from the seller)

So let's ask some questions not in the FAQ, eh?! Here's mine:

For such an incredibly simple service, you seem to have a hugely top-heavy management team, which means big running costs, which explains your exorbitant 10 percent commission. What's to stop me (or anyone) setting up a simpler, leaner service doing exactly the same thing and charging 5 percent?

Or, if that's too hard, try this one:

You claim you use (quoting from your site) "state-of-the-art technology to root out fraud". Since simple fraud -- I say I didn't get something that someone says they gave me in game -- can't be checked by you unless you have the keys to WoW or EQ2 or SWG (or whatever) what "state-of-the-art technology" would you be talking about?

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19509691)

You make some very good points.

Cheating (1, Troll)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508281)

Why would anyone play a game when you can buy the end credits rolling (why bother developing any content when you can pretend cash = 1337), why would anyone play a game where some can play in relative "god mode" to other players (if they spend enough cash)? It's because of SCUM like you that I will never play another mmorpg again. How many billions of dollars in long-term losses will the multiplayer on-line gaming industry rack up because of activity like rmt when people won't pay for monthly subscriptions to "compete" against plague infested servers of cheaters (not to mention the accelarated pace at which fresh economies become stale)? Do you feel good causing game companies and all their employees lost salaries and profits? Do you feel good ruining games for "devoted gamers like yourselves?" That's more than one question, but here's one answer: FUCK YOU!

Against EULA (1)

ganiman (162726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508339)

How do you feel about breaking the EULA of some of these games and having possible law suits for providing a medium in which people are allowed to sell things that they (the player) legally do not own? I think you will find in almost any EULA for an MMORPG, that the company owns all of the data and not the player. Last time I checked, selling something that didn't belong to you was against the law.

Re:Against EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508509)

Actually, they aren't selling anything, it's all still in the game, all that's changing is which in-game avatar has the item, it still doesn't belong to either the buyer or seller, so "ownership" isn't changing at all, the seller never actually owned it to begin with. No ownership is changed. The MMO companies can stick their EULAs.

Re:Against EULA (1)

TrueJim (107565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508783)

I've noticed this question several times on this list. Since Sparter doesn't actually play the MMORPG itself, why do people keep thinking that Sparter must abide by the EULA? The EULA is a contract between the game player and the game provider. 3rd parties such as Sparter are under no obligation to abide by the terms & conditions of contract to which they are not a participant.

This question would be like asking why Sparter shouldn't be required to pay my mortgage. My mortgage is a contract between me and my bank; Sparter isn't a party to that contract.

Also, Sparter isn't selling MMORPG gold. The sellers are. Sparter is a "dating service" to connect connect buyers to sellers. The question would more accurately be phrased as, "How do you feel about being in the business of mating-up parties who are willing to break the EULA of an game? Last time I checked, being in the business of matching-up MMORPG cheaters was against the law." Except, of course, it isn't against the law. So this poster's whole premise vanishes under even modest scrutiny, as does the premise of all the other people here who have been posting essentially the same question.

Burning question (-1, Troll)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508389)

How I mine for fish?

Product Source (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508417)

Where will you be getting the gold that you will be selling? Do you purchase your initial stock from players? Will the game companies themselves be giving you a cache of cash to turn into cash? How will you keep your supply going? If you need to replenish your stock by yourself, are you going to farm gold, or hire third parties to do it for you?

Re:Product Source (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508815)

Did you read the FAQ? they set up a system like ebay. Al gold comes from third party players.

How do you know the seller isn't a farmer? (2, Interesting)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508425)

How do you determine that the "seller", isn't a farmer just looking for another avenue to move his goods?

Possible solution- (4, Interesting)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508475)

(I will use WoW as my example- but I don't play it, so I apologize if I get terms or numbers wrong).

I think this could solve the problems of gold selling. You have an in-game auction house where you can sell and buy gold for real money, using the credit card you have on the account. Blizzard would probably take a small cut of the money (say 5-10%). However, it would be set up so that the gold you sell will be taken off next month's bill, with the stipulation that you can reduce your bill to 0, but you can't reduce it past 0. People trying to make a profit would have to use another system (and since people aren't actually making money with this system, Blizzard can avoid alot of IRS madness).

This would pose a huge problem for dedicated gold sellers.
1. Since you can't earn more money than you are paying Blizzard anyway, you can't turn a profit using this system.
2. People trying to turn a profit will need to establish a secondary 'black market'
3. The black market would be less convinient than the legitimate one- you'd have to set up a meeting outside of the game entirely, just like gold sellers do now.
4. The black market is less trustworthy than Blizzard's market- your gold isn't guaranteed the way Blizzard's system would be.
5. Since anyone can sell gold easily, the competition in the legit market would be huge.
6. #3 and #4 means that the black market would have to sell gold at a fraction of the price of the legit market to sell gold at all- and #5 means the base price is low.
7. End result: Gold farming for massive profit is impossible. Gold farming for minor profit is really hard. Gold farming for for free WoW time is possible, and those with plenty of time will be able to.

I know some people object to gold buying because they believe that it's cheating. These people could be placed on server(s) that don't have the cash-gold auction house. Most people's objections to gold farmers, though, is that profit-seeking groups destroy fun by wrecking economies, camping mobs, hogging quest items, etc. Those groups will cease to exist once they can't turn a good profit. Everyone wins- people who object to the trade get their own server where there is no selling, and people who want to trade get servers where gold farming groups don't have a motive to disrupt anyone else. Oh, I guess the gold farmer's don't win, but that's sorta the point.

Re:Possible solution- (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508695)

Everquest 2 took this system, and it was a main reason that many people avoided it. The average user doesn't "want" to buy gold, and they want a level playing field. Gold-selling inherantly makes a system more biased towards favoring those who spend more money on the game.

Re:Possible solution- (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508833)

You don't get it!

If Blizzard lets you buy gold for money, they have just established gold as having economic value, making them potentially liable for server crashes and so on. They fake hassle if gold has monetary value.

Re:Possible solution- (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508865)

there was an ebay-like service that opened like that about a year ago, ebid or something. Wouldn't let you withdraw money from the system. It folded like a sheet of giftwrap. There's no incentive to sell other than to work off debt from an earlier purchase - as such it relies on a constant influx of new users and is topologically equivalent to a pyramid scheme with a low rate of expansion.

Derivatives market? (1)

garyrich (30652) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508495)

Are you planning on making option and futures contracts available? It would be interesting to be able to do things like strangles, collars and calendar spreads. And Forex! WoW against Everquest currencies! Schools don't teach finance anymore - maybe something like this could take its place.

Selling things you don't own? (1)

syntaxeater (1070272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508497)

Every MMO's ToS and EULA in the simplest form states that everything in game is property of the parent company. Therefore, you are inevitably selling Blizzard/Sony/Etc.'s assets and knowingly purchase stolen goods. Many people here have asked whether or not you're violating the license/agreement, but that answer is obvious; "Yes, you are." Their policy is clear and there has been many cases of these companies retaking their property. Since no one can stop you from making an attempt to legitimize this market - my question is; "when they ask you to stop, what kind of a response from your company can we expect to see?"

Copyright != Stealing (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508731)

Therefore, you are inevitably selling Blizzard/Sony/Etc.'s assets and knowingly purchase stolen goods.
Stolen goods? How are the goods removed from Blizzard's servers? How can we return the good to their rightful owner? Do you work for the RIAA? ;-)

Re:Copyright != Stealing (1)

syntaxeater (1070272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508923)

I used the term "stolen goods" for the dramatic effect - but is not far from the truth. If I sell you something I don't own, am I not in essence selling you something that was stolen?

This is dumb. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508507)

That's all I have to say about this.

Re:This is dumb. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508743)

You still going for that world record in cocksucking, DogFuck?

Keep up the good work!

That's all I have to say about this.

Dont click! (1, Funny)

Deathdonut (604275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508535)

Keylogger.

What about agreements? (3, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508593)

Given that nearly everyone in this industry asks you to agree to some kind of EULA to get access to their servers, you must break promises to be in this business at all.

So why should we trust you? If you're willing to lie to them, how do we know you aren't lying to us, too?

Re:What about agreements? (1)

Alterion (925335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509121)

what gives you the right to break licensing agreements and perform what is effectivly money laundering while helping to ruin the enjoyment of the vast majority of the players of these games...

Re:What about agreements? (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509855)

Given that nearly everyone in this industry asks you to agree to some kind of EULA to get access to their servers, you must break promises to be in this business at all.

So why should we trust you? If you're willing to lie to them, how do we know you aren't lying to us, too?


Reputation and testimonials. If I hear from a half dozen people in my guild that they've had succesful transactions with GoldRUs.co.xk, then I'll probably trust them. Similarly, if WeGotGold.co.xk screws people regularly, word will probably get out.

Risk Mitigation (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508613)


Are you adding anything to the mix that will aid your customers (buyers and sellers) in mitigating the risks involved? Will games that prohibit this in their EULA be included in your service offering? Will you be using accounts in game to obfuscate the source and destination of the transactions? Will you be taking any pains, of any kind, to conceal the identity of your customers? If you do get served a lawful subpoena requesting your customer database, will you comply? If not, how do you intend to avoid it?

On it's face, this seems nice, but the Admiral Ackbar in me has something else to say on the matter...

this will change exactly what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19508651)

What makes you think this will change anything? IMHO, the currency traders will just use this system like the ones currently in place, only now they get to keep more of the money, and don't have to maintain their own website.

A new twist on casual vs. hardcore... (1)

whitebread (154176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508717)

First off, let me say that I'm *not* against the buying and selling of in-game currency with real world funds. I think that Sony really hit a home run with the Station Exchange (their service where they actually serve as the same middle man that these guys are trying to become - except for the whole legality thing).

Since the early days of UO, people have complained that the kiddies that don't have to work get to play all day and all night, and those with jobs, families, etc, couldn't keep up. Now, the other side of the coin shows up, and those with jobs are able to afford to spend a little money to "keep up". If I can spend $25 bucks to buy a few gold or platinum, and negate the need to farm for money in game for several weeks, sign me up.

I do understand that some people are strongly against this, and in response I'd suggest that more game companies just build servers where this wasn't allowed. If they'd do like Sony did in Everquest 2, and set aside exchange servers and non-exchange servers, I feel like they'd not only resolve a long standing battle with those who are going to do this anyway, they'd also have a nice tidy new revenue stream. As I said, when EQ2 introduced the exchange service, I jumped at the chance to move to the "legalized" server. When iTunes released, I bought alot of MP3s; it only makes sense to legalize (and I realize that talking about the TOS/EULA of a game in legal terms is shaky ground, but I don't know how better to state it) something that a large contingent of your user base wants.

I don't have a specific question for the guys looking for free publicity, really. I'd personally much rather pay a premium for it directly from Blizzard, Turbine, etc.

Re:A new twist on casual vs. hardcore... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508939)


Something worth pointing out, by the way, is how Blizzard has moved to curtail the value of portable goods in their game. Gold can still take you far, but the real things you need for end-game can't be traded: Reputation/Faction, Keys, Bind on Pickup items and tokens, Arena Points, etc.

They simply do not seem to want the casuals to 'buy' their way in.

Honesty? (2, Interesting)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19508943)

Are you going to be clear to your customers that trading virtual money might get them banned from the MMO they are playing?
World of Warcraft's Terms of Service is pretty nasty. It basically reserves the right to ban any account they feel like without providing any reason. Your FAQ says that you realize that some game companies don't want players trading virtual goods while you think it is a gamer's right to be able to trade virtual itmes. I'm pretty sure that statement isn't going to save your customers from getting banned from WoW.

Also, how does your company feel about possibly ruining game experiences for others gamers? Many MMO companies design their game economy around the fact that players can only obtain money through the game mechanics, without any outside effects. If your company destroys the fun factor of a game by ruining the economy, how will you deal with the possible legal action coming from the companies that have a decimated user base?

Two Questions: (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509189)

1) Doesn't providing this service make YOU a middle man? It would seem that it does not eliminate middle men at all.

2) Does it disturb you that I'm wishing cancer on you right now? I'm wishing every employee of your company from the lowliest janitor to the CEO gets cancer and dies. Of cancer. In the ass. Does that disturb you at all? Because that's what I'm wishing for. Right now.

Doesn't the game system experience inflation? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509313)

In the real world, inflation is caused by an increased supply of money, it's simple supply and demand, the government prints it, the banks loan out something like 20x their deposits and all the existing money in the economy is devalued an equivalent amount causing prices to increase.

If you are pumping money into the game economy, I'd expect commodities like items to start increasing in price.

 

I'll FTFY: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19509327)

We were contacted by a representative from the company before the release went out, looking to speak with the Slashdot community about the service^w^wSlashvertise.

Two Questions.... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509329)

First question...

How is a user of your service able to determine if the gold they are buying has or has not been acquired through illegal means such as hacked accounts or corporate insider theft, and thus protect themselves from legal liability issues?

Second question...

In the event that government decides to tax such transactions, how could the service assure me that my personal information would not be used to further such taxation?

Tower of Babel (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509333)

What in the HELL are you people talking about????

My one question (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19509937)

Here's my question: I already have to deal with RMT spam on a constant basis inside the MMOGs that I play. Why are you making me look at the same thing on Slashdot?

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