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WoW Database Site Sells For $1 Million

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the almost-enough-for-an-epic-flying-mount dept.

Role Playing (Games) 132

MattHock writes "Wowhead (a WoW information database) has been sold to ZAM (Affinity Media) for the price of $1 million. ZAM is the owner of several other WoW databases, including Thottbot and Allakhazam. Until recently Affinity was also the owner of IGE, a highly controversial company that sold in-game wealth for real life money. Affinity recently sold IGE, which Wowhead claims as the reason they allowed the sale to go through. But did ZAM really sell IGE? The blogger who put this story online doubts that IGE and ZAM have actually distanced themselves. He believes that the supposed sale was just actually a means of restructuring to hide the relationship, similar to how IGE's relationship to Thottbot was hidden for a number of months through a convoluted set of parent companies."

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132 comments

Another conspiracy theorist blogger (5, Insightful)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626607)

From wowhead's press release, they were explicitly told that neither ZAM or its parent companies controlled IGE or other gold-selling operations, and that no gold-selling ads would appear on wowhead.

Ultimately, as long as no gold selling ads appear, the wowhead user won't see a difference, and the wowhead staffers pocket a good chunk of change. Whether ZAM in fact does own IGE or support chinafarmers isn't relevant as long as it's properly compartmentalized away from wowhead.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (4, Insightful)

klingens (147173) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626791)

So it's OK to do bad things if you don't see them?

So it's ok if the FBI uses illegal means to snoop on citizens phones cause they also hunt serial killers, just as long as it's properly compartmentalized? Hezbollah can kill as many Israeli civilians as they want as long as they keep their soup kitchens for the poor Lebanese and build social housing for them?

If it's true that IGE is still owned by ZAM or involved with them, then wowhead is in the same position as an italian restaurant owned by the Mafia: while the restaurant itself does nothing wrong and might not even cheat on taxes, it's still part of an illegal crime operation.

Also: ZAM did own IGE in the past which means the money ZAM paid to wowhead owners was earned with chinafarming. It is "dirty" money.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627933)

Hezbollah can kill as many Israeli civilians as they want as long as they keep their soup kitchens for the poor Lebanese and build social housing for them?


Misleading comparison. Hezbollah are fighting for the right of Palestinians to return to a state with a racist immigration policy which made refugees of them as part of a Lebensraum policy. In addition, your use of "civilians" suggests that those who fund soldiers - i.e. the voluntary citizens of a country who pay the tax that funds the soldiers - are somehow less appropriate targets in fighting a war than the soldier who is holding the gun.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (1)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 5 years ago | (#19628673)

Why do people not get this:

Who the hell cares?

There is a market for gold, people are getting paid for it. Not every single GP is from chinese farmers and anyone who claims that it "ruins the game" has no idea what they are talking about. The latest enhancements have made it so that you have to do actual work on your character to get the best gear (actually fight other players) which gold can not buy you.

IGE has hired former Blizz execs. And this whole "class action lawsuit" against IGE is a load of BS. Gold selling/farming hurts nobody. If you don't like the idea of knowing that the chinese have jobs that actually pay decent considering what the cost of living and average wage is around the area of the farm, then don't buy gold. Even though a majority of WoW players do (even many of the die-hard ones) just to pay for their stupid mounts.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (3, Informative)

PhoenixAtlantios (991132) | more than 6 years ago | (#19632639)

You sound somewhat biased towards the secondary market there, I'm curious to know if you have any (reliable) sources for the claims you are making? Specifically the "hired former Blizz execs." Anyone can make wild claims based on pure speculation and rumour, but you really need to be able to back them up when trying to dismiss an argument.

My understanding of the secondary market is that it encourages the exponential creation of game currency in order to have currency to spend. As the amount of game currency on each server increases, it's value decreases. When you lower the value of a currency, the only logical options to choose are to either replace it with something more valuable, or increase the cost of items in the various player trading areas (auctions, direct trades, etc.) The players of the game are then compelled to spend more time acquiring more gold to buy items that would otherwise have been less expensive, making the game become slightly tedious. When the game becomes tedious, people leave the game or complain excessively, damaging the reputation of the company that owns the game.

I do not and will likely never understand those who actually take the time to look into the effects of gold farming and still come out believing it's harmless. I haven't really seen an argument backed by examples of places where it hasn't negatively effected those that do not purchase gold, in terms of their progression through the game.

I'll use World of Warcraft as an example since it's the persistent entity game I am most familiar with, and point out that a lot of the best gear is actually crafted so you don't necessarily need to do 'work' yourself to acquire good items. What does said crafted gear require? Some items only you can collect, but mostly a bunch of items that anybody can collect and sell. An example of acquiring decent gear purely through buying items would be tailoring; you can acquire three of the arguably best pieces of gear available exclusively through buying items off the auction (Primal Mooncloth, Spellfire or Shadowweave), and another two if you pay another player to craft gear for you (Spellstrike/Battlecast/Whitemend). That's five out of nine slots filled with some of the better gear in the game purely through buying items off the auction, so in World of Warcraft at least your statement about having to do actual work on your character to get the best gear is somewhat flawed (if we exclude raiding, and even then only the latter dungeons provide upgrades for some items).

My point is, no matter which game you're playing you'll find the economy is negatively effected by those that add inordinate amounts of currency to it. If I printed sixteen trillion United States dollars tomorrow and used said money to purchase various goods, businesses, and property tomorrow would it negatively effect you? Do you think it might decrease the value of United States currency a little? I have not studied economics closely, but I understand that money is being printed constantly as it's required so that comparison hopefully isn't too much of a stretch.

If you can give me one scenario where having people pay money to acquire game currency that was generated via illegitimate means ("Gold Farmers" are on the fall a bit in some places, whereas using trojan viruses to steal accounts and sell the proceeds is on the rise) I'll be, well, surprised.

I don't personally oppose two people trading accounts, or one person selling theirs to another for some form of compensation. A gamer would want compensation for the time invested and if someone is prepared to pay for that then so be it. It really is the people that take simple trades to the extreme and focus solely on creating goods for said trades (high level characters via bots, gold via stealing accounts, etc.) that could potentially damage a game (and company's reputation) irreparably.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626893)

Baha, wait until they shitcan WowHead to drive traffic to Thott. Why on earth would they run two?

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627043)

Why on earth would they run three?

Fixed.
Seriously, why not? At most that site costs around $1,000 to run, obviously meaningless if they can afford to shill out $1,000,000 for the site in the first place. Probably less since it's not providing much content (such as UI mod downloads). Forcing people away from a familiar interface certainly won't increase ad revenue.
On an added note, the talent calculator is quite useful.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (3, Interesting)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627461)

Wowhead provides a LOT of content. More crucial is what it doesn't provide - pages of lame comments full of crap from kids. It has genuinely useful and informative WoW-related information, written up by intelligent players. The dross sgets very quickly moderated down by the site users.

It also has a very powerful and customisable search tool compared to other sites.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (1)

said213 (72685) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628067)

The database is incidental. They bought a substantial source of ad revenue from within their target market (exploitation of WoW player resources for profit). The shitcanning and traffic redirecting will come shortly after WoW populations begin to significantly decline.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger -- No (3, Informative)

Snaller (147050) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627221)

He worked for them.
He bought thottbot for IGE.
He has more cred than you.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger -- No (1)

AhmedF (1119109) | more than 5 years ago | (#19628973)

Sweet I have cred :) IGE has done this before. People keep falling for the same trick.

Re:Another conspiracy theorist blogger (1)

Eisenstein (643326) | more than 6 years ago | (#19633013)

It's the same deal you already have on thottbot and Allakhazam (no gold selling ads). WoWHead was interesting because it wasn't owned by a Gold Farming company and well maintained - at least one of these advantages is now gone.

dollars?!? (5, Funny)

doxology (636469) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626609)

how much is that in gold?

Re:dollars?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626821)

I'm not sure but I think it's about 20,000,000 soft fur pelts.

WoW is for fags... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627257)

Wow. No one cares about this shit except Comic Book Guy and his clones wasting their lives in front of their computers while they munch on Cheetos from a bag resting on their massive gut. Munch away, fatties...

that's 50 VW beetles ! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627265)

That's 50 VW beetles. ... ow, you wanted it in gold?
That's 500 arcane crystals please!

or no .. as the best gnome I can be .. I will tell you for a price, how about that?

Re:dollars?!? (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628383)

The best deals current run about 10g per US dollar, so that's 10 million in WoW gold. Enough to buy epic flight training for you and all your guildies and have enough left over to get that [Elegant Black Dress].

Amazed (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626627)

Wait how do they make money?

Re:Amazed (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626655)

Wait how do they make money?

Ads, of course.

Re:Amazed (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626685)

That amazes me. How many of you clicked on that ad to make the site worth $1 million?

Re:Amazed (1)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626857)

All these high dollar buyouts seem to taking a bubble shape once again. Sure ad revenues provide more solid revenues than the late 90's bubble, but I'd imagine there will be a breaking point at some point in the future.

Re:Amazed (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627755)

Selling gold, of course. Even if they've sold off IGE they still made INSANE profits when they owned 'em. Considering how IGE has been more or less endorsed by Blizzard, you just KNOW they made a shit-ton of cash.

Re:Amazed (0, Flamebait)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626749)

More importantly, how are they going to continue to make money? WoW is pretty old. When was the last time anyone logged in? It takes away for your eyes to adjust and make sense of it. At first, it just looks like a 2D game, before you are immersed enough to realize that it's just poorly done 3D cartoonish graphics.

The game is something like three or four years old. I doubt it's going to be around long enough for them to get their million bucks back and then some. Especially no with other games that have more depth, variety and much better graphics circling about (like Vanguard, for example - though that's boring as hell as well - but it loooks great).

Re:Amazed (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626795)

The graphics are meant to look like that, you may as well complain about anime characters having strange hair styles. Warcraft has always been about having cartoony graphics, quite good ones in my opinion.

I can't speak for all the servers but mine certainly seems to have a healthy population. I've a reasonably large guild and we've only seen one person leave in the past few months.

If you're pitching Vanguard as a better game, mainly because of its graphics, but still saying it's boring as hell, I think you might want to consider a different genre or just rent LoTR on DVD. That looks better than WoW.

Re:Amazed (1, Troll)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626853)

No, your brain really does have to adjust. It reminds me of when I tried to play Counterstrike a few years ago after having played a lot of Counterstrike: Source. While I was able to play it with no problem when it came out, returning to it after several years was difficult because it no longer appeared to have depth to it. It looked like a flat cartoon with no dimensionality. It was a strange experience.

And that was the same experience I had when I tried to play WoW a few months ago. My first thought was "I don't remember it looking this crappy" followed by "wow, it almost doesn't even look three dimensional".

And yes, Vanguard is a deeper game. Enormous world. Great crafting. Far more character creation and less forgiving of stupidity in one's style of play. However, it's still just another level treadmill and is very much derivitive of WoW (right down to every inch of the interface and combat system). But the point is that WoW is old and like every MMORPG that has been, is or will be - it will lose steam as new players have little interest in joining an older game and people who have been playing the game decide it's time to try something new.

Not to mention all of the people who finally grow out of the fisher-price stage and want to try something a little more complex than a Tomagotchi with a maul and hoofs after several years.

I know that Blizzard is working on something as we speak. I don't know the details about it and I haven't asked the people I know who are involved (why ask when you know they're not going to tell, right?) - but it isn't going to be the current iteration of WoW, surely... and that will render the database useless and cut off the revenue generation rather quickly.

Even if it has another three years left in the game... How are they possibly going to generate at least $1.2 million (about what you would need to justify the purchase at all) in only three yeras? Just from banner ads!?

Re:Amazed (4, Insightful)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626959)

No, your brain really does have to adjust. It reminds me of when I tried to play Counterstrike a few years ago after having played a lot of Counterstrike: Source. While I was able to play it with no problem when it came out, returning to it after several years was difficult because it no longer appeared to have depth to it. It looked like a flat cartoon with no dimensionality. It was a strange experience.

I have to see that I never thought this a problem myself, it looks and feels like a 3D environment to me. When I frst started playing, I saw a lot of similarities between WoW and WCIII and that is probably why I continue to play WoW - I like the Warcraft universe and those graphics are what I expect. I suppose people will have differing opinions though on the graphics - some people prefer the more photo-realistic approach.

I like the cartoony approach because it doesn't look odd. With fantasy worlds, there's difficult decision to be made. Cartoony graphics can work very well because it's easier to reproduce fantasy monsters. If you go down the photo-realistic approach, it becomes tricky because it can end up looking bad or just plain freaky. I'm probably not doing a good job of explaining this but I've seen rotoscoping used to recreate human animation and it just looked freaky. It wasn't a photo, it wasn't a drawing - it was a strange hybrid.

I hope the wowhead thing works out, they have a nice site there. It's true that interest in all games will wane but WoW seems to be going strong at the moment. Besides, there may be more to wowhead than the site itself. I'm sure there is some expertise and technology that comes along with it - stuff that can be applied when the next big MMO comes along.

Re:Amazed (2, Informative)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627023)

Look everybody! It's another fucking Sony Shill. Look at the pattern.

1. Hawking an inferior product in an off-topic post. (Vanguard is on the verge of closing down, having merged servers already.)

2. Thinly veiled insults aimed at anyone who disagrees. (Yeah, yeah. 8 million Fisher Price kiddies must be wrong, right?)

Get back to your astroturf, you cunting whore!

Re:Amazed (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627977)

Actually, the new numbers say there are over TWELVE MILLION active World of Warcraft accounts.

Re:Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19628361)

It's not too far fetched to come to the conclusion that 12 million people could all be idiots. I mean, look at how many people voted for Bush.

Re:Amazed (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630979)

If a game stops being fun, you can easily stop paying for it.

It's a lot harder to stop paying for a President once you bought one.

Re:Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19631709)

I know that Blizzard is working on something as we speak. I don't know the details about it and I haven't asked the people I know who are involved (why ask when you know they're not going to tell, right?) - but it isn't going to be the current iteration of WoW, surely... and that will render the database useless and cut off the revenue generation rather quickly.
Erm, I believe that "top-secret" project they're working on is Starcraft 2. Did you just copy-and-paste this troll?

Re:Amazed (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627009)

WoW is pretty old.

Get your prejudices straight. EverQuest and Ultima Online are pretty old... and still in operation for that matter. EQ turned eight this year, Ultima Online turns ten in a few months.

WoW and EQ2 are fairly young in comparison at just over two and a half years old.

Re:Amazed (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627209)

"When was the last time anyone logged in? "

8 million logged in yesterday.

"At first, it just looks like a 2D game, before you are immersed enough to realize that it's just poorly done 3D cartoonish graphics."

You misspelled "brilliant graphics".

Re:Amazed (1)

krelian (525362) | more than 5 years ago | (#19628781)

You misspelled "brilliant graphics".

I totally agree. I started playing WOW not a long time ago and one of the things that amazes me is the beauty of the graphics. Perhaps the actual characters are not the best ever, and maybe they are not using the latest technology but the scenery is simply amazing. I think this style of graphics was an excellent choice simply because it still looks fresh and beautiful 3 years after release and will still look like it years from now. That's an important point for a MMO which is meant to last much more than the average single player game.

Re:Amazed (2, Insightful)

Holmwood (899130) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630845)

I partially disagree with parent and Grandparent.

You guys are talking about two different things.

The graphics for WoW are fairly primitive, with low polygon counts, and, yes, cartoony.

The art for WoW is fantastic.

The decision to go with great art and fairly modest graphics was brilliant. The game stays fresh as parent says, and also (importantly) runs well on older hardware.

I started playing WoW about 3 years ago during one of the betas. I was struck by how well it played on my aging PC. I tried EQ2 at release (around the same time as WoW's general release), and lasted about a week. With WoW I'd get 30-40 fps. With EQ2? Maybe 10-15 fps.

Worse yet, though EQ2's graphics were more 'sophisticated', the game (IMHO) just didn't have the art that WoW did.

Now Vanguard, which someone above mentioned?

Yes, much better graphics than WoW, though seemingly quite poorly implemented. Art that's as good as WoW, perhaps even better in some places (and worse in others). (They had the late Keith Parkinson as Art Director, and it shows in parts of the game).

Deeper game play than WoW, though less elegant and less tested. (The entire sphere of Diplomacy is a great example).

And generally horrible performance on release and even today. Frequent crashes, framerates slowing to 0.2 fps and even freezing up for seconds at a time on high-end machines with the latest graphics hardware.

Result?

WoW, with its cartoony but endearing graphics that run on any half-decent machine sold in the last 4-5 years has nearly 10 million players with fairly modest churn.

Vanguard hit perhaps 200,000 subscribers, and lost perhaps three quarters of them after people had played for a month or three.

Everyone coming out with an MMO is going to be looking at those numbers, for good or ill. Delivering a polished title that runs well on the actual base of hardware that's out there is what matters.

-Holmwood

Re:Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19632051)

Dear Sigil Employee,

My condolences on your lost job.

Better luck next time.

Removing the word rumor always helps (4, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626713)

The rsit like of TFA:

There's a lot of buzz in the World of Warcraft fan site universe this morning, with reports and rumors flying about fan sites being sold, about $1 million sale prices...

not quite as exciting as the slashdot headline I guess...

Re:Removing the word rumor always helps (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626737)

I have a tendency now to mentally apply the suffix 'Allegedly' to all slashdot headlines in the best tradition of HIGNFY. I find it makes the vast majority much more accurate.

i call bullshit (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626729)

this is just an attempt to suck someone else into buying into it. no wow site is worth 1 million or even CLOSE

Re:i call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627291)

Do you realize the amount of traffic these sites get on a daily basis? They make money via advertising.

Re:i call bullshit (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#19628683)

you realize these sites make MILLIONS in ads right? When a site can actually pay its moderators money (something most sites dont even think about), you realize that said site must be racking in the dough.

Grammar check on aisle 5, please. (1)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626751)

Wowhead (a WoW information database) has to ZAM (Affinity Media) for the price of $1 Million.

Has to what? WHAT?! DAMN YOU, MattHock! I NEED TO KNOW!

Re:Grammar check on aisle 5, please. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626827)

Can't you read? They have to ZAM, at least if they want the million dollars they do.

I hate to be the grammar nazi... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626753)

but 'just' goes after 'actually' and you can't remove the verb 'bought' from the first sentence just because it's in the headline. I hate to be this guy, but that blurb was just about the most painful read I've experienced in recent memory.

Send in the clones. (5, Interesting)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626765)

The reason Wowhead is, in my opinion, the best WoW database around is the quality, depth and range of the content followed by the actual design of the site. Compare it to Alla's/Thottbot's/etc hideous design and swollen out-dated information, filled with crap comments, spam and overloaded with adverts. It's a bit like how Google was a few years ago compared to Yahoo and Alta Vista.

This sale is probably a bad thing, in terms of quality of the site as it currently stands. Thottbot was used to launch that .ani vulnerability [worldofwarcraft.com] a while back too. I expect more adverts, changes in the design to accommodate more adverts, a flood of new users filling it with crap and spam just like all the other sites...

Still, not bad money for what is essentially a pretty front-end to content other people have created for you! What a shame that something about the whole deal just seems...suspicious. The press release [wowhead.com] is cringeworthy - full of "We're sure these guys are HIP and COOL!" and "We'd NEVER do anything EVIL! We're not GOOGLE!" crud.

Excuse me... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626817)

Why the hell is this taking up space on my feed? This isn't newsworthy.

English? (4, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626833)

Can someone translate this article into English for the rest of us please?

WoW? WoW Database? WoWHead? Database site?

Rich.

Re:English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626851)

Its about World of Warcraft and third party internet sites with information about the game

Re:English? (2, Funny)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626905)

From the attached icons, something to do with "role playing games", whatever they are.

Re:English? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627097)

WoW: World of Warcraft

Wow Database: A database which contains information useful to players of the game. This information includes items usually obtained by killing monsters in the game, recipes obtained from vendors and also from monsters, character classes, races, locations, quests, etc.

WowHead: Located at www.wowhead.com it has become the most popular WoW Database site since Thottbot, www.thottbot.com was sold to IGE. IGE is a site that sells in game gold for real world money. The virtual economics of doing this are beyond the scope of this post, but it generally ruins the complex virtual economies of the games. WoW is by far not the only MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) to have virtual currency being sold by IGE and others for real world money.

Database Site: A web site which is primarily used as a database. This could be for an online game, an inventory checker, values for your collection Beanie Babies, anything. Just raw data that can be searched and compared with other data. In a gaming database such as WoWHead, this would allow you to see if your "Sword of Ultimate Doom" has an upgrade available, and which monster you'd need to kill or quest you'd need to complete in order to obtain this upgrade.

Rezzah
70 Priest of Radiant Dark
Windrunner Server - Alliance :)

Re:Yiddish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19628451)

And now in Yiddish, please?

Oy, you better record this. This is going to sound soooo good.

Re:English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19629547)

You didn't define "database" for him.

Re:English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19628831)

Why do WoW players feel they should explain a common term to a troll?

all my mod points... (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626943)

... go to someone who can sift through the rumors and tease out the facts, if any, in this story...

Re:all my mod points... (5, Interesting)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626987)

FACT: ZAM now own the three most visible sites which support players of World of Warcraft. These sites provide in game support, listing rare in-game items, as well as locations of rare spawns. Combined, these three sites could provide a goldmine of information about what is popular and what will sell well at the moment.

FACT: ZAM once claimed ownership of a Gold Farming and Selling business, IGE. These businesses thrive by attempting to gain a monopoly on popular and rare in-game items which are then subsequently sold for real world cash.

FACT: Both Alkhazam and Thottbot were recently 'compromised' by an Internet Explorer vulnerability that installed a keylogger. This Keylogger gathered WoW login details from unsuspecting visitors, and used these details to dissolve the players' virtual assets - transferring them to Gold Farming and Selling businesses. This occurred after ZAM claimed to have sold their stake in IGE.

SUPPOSITION: WoWhead will find itself similarly 'compromised' in the future.

Re:all my mod points... (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627067)

While I'm not sure since I am a bit unfamiliar to WoW since I sold my account to IGE (ironic, eh?), but apparently character selling/buying and gold farming is a very lucrative business. Yes, I know that selling characters is a contraversial legal issue, but I had to. Making a profit from playing a video game is very appealing. For those who buy characters for a large sum of money... I don't quite understand it. You are essentially paying someone to play a game that you pay for. Seems like a lot of paying and not a lot playing.

Lastly, IGE actually legally threatened me a year after the transaction saying I stole the account back (which I didn't). At this point, I was singing a different tune. I threw legal facts in their face saying that I had nothing to do with it and would like to see them even attempt to sue me when their whole business rests upon the trafficking of Blizzard's intellectual property. Hypocrite? Possibly. American? Indubitably.

My son's experience trying to sell a WoW character (4, Interesting)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627477)

I am not into WoW and barely know what it is, but my son has is trying to sell his character and has gotten several offers of $200-$400. But selling them has so far proved impossible due to fraud. Since he is underage, he has been using my PayPal account, so I know what's going on there. So far, he has been scammed no less that FOUR times trying to sell his WoW account - each time the payment was reversed after several days by PayPal because the payment was "unauthorized". Most recently, he thought the problem could be solved by selling only to a PayPal "verified" account; the money actually went through and I successfully initiated a transfer to my checking account. No go - a couple of days later, the transfer was reversed by PayPal because the transaction was "unauthorized".

Each time he has given the WoW character to the buyer when the payment came through, and each time he was able to get the character back via Blizzard. But they must be getting tired of this, and I don't know how long they will keep giving him back his "stolen" WoW account.

I told him to wait for a week (or two?) until the money has finally cleared before giving the WoW account to the buyer. He says no buyer would go along with this - how do they know he's not just scamming them?

Overall, this has been a unpleasant experience. I have no idea if these fraudulent transactions are threatening cancellation of my PayPal account, hurting my credit rating, or whatever. Another mysterious thing - someone (unrelated to any purchase) deposited $0.01 into my PayPal account.

Each one of these buyers, when contacted via email, simply didn't answer. If their accounts had been stolen - say via all those PayPal phishing emails - as PayPal suggests, one would think they would at least have the courtesy to reply that "yes, my account was stolen, and I didn't authorized that transaction" - but no, silence. Weird.

So, I have no idea how he can sell his WoW character reliably. As an outsider, to me the WoW community looks like a den of thieves and scammers. How do other people sell their characters? How does the seller insure the buyer won't reverse the payment? How does the buyer prevent the seller from taking it back, claiming it "stolen"?

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (4, Insightful)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627803)

So, I have no idea how he can sell his WoW character reliably. As an outsider, to me the WoW community looks like a den of thieves and scammers. How do other people sell their characters?
It's not that WoW is a den of scammers. The character buying and selling is where the scammers are. You're dealing with a bunch of people who want to buy a character and pretend that they did all the work for it. By definition, these people are somewhat dishonest.

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (2, Informative)

BrerBear (8338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627907)

I am not into WoW and barely know what it is, but my son has is trying to sell his character and has gotten several offers of $200-$400. But selling them has so far proved impossible due to fraud.
Just so you know, what your son is doing is against the Terms of Use [worldofwarcraft.com] (Section 8) of the game. So you shouldn't be too surprised to encounter shady dealers in the process.

Each time he has given the WoW character to the buyer when the payment came through, and each time he was able to get the character back via Blizzard. But they must be getting tired of this, and I don't know how long they will keep giving him back his "stolen" WoW account.
Somehow, I'm guessing the phrase "the person we sold our account to never paid up" did not occur during these Blizzard support calls.

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628377)

Thanks for the info, I didn't know that. It seems they are saying that selling the character would violate their copyright ("Blizzard owns, has licensed, or otherwise has rights to all of the content that appears in the Program"). However, this seems to go against the first-sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] . I guess it would boil down to whether the "Terms of Use" constitute a legal contract that trumps the buyer's rights under copyright law. Or something like that.

Anyway, perhaps I should give my son a "timeout" for doing something shady. Too bad he's grown bigger than me.

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628625)

My understanding is that Blizzard leases with you the right to play with their "toys", that Blizzard, rather than the player, owns the character, and that the items within the game are not considered goods as such, any more than the score of a baseball game is a salable good.

I do not find this completely convincing, myself, but it is consistent in its way.

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#19629761)

So, I have no idea how he can sell his WoW character reliably. As an outsider, to me the WoW community looks like a den of thieves and scammers. How do other people sell their characters? How does the seller insure the buyer won't reverse the payment?

One word: Cash.

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630627)

Even then (from what I've read in the WoW forums), you can revert the info on an account using the original credit card it was signed up with in the first place... at least I heard there of a couple of cases of people that bought a character, and after the payment went trough and they changed the account details, later found it reverting back to the original owner and password changed.... so it's really a two way avenue, you can't really insure you'll get the payment anymore than the buyer can't assure you'll not take the account back.

I guess it's kinda like in game when you want someone to craft you something/enchant an item... you give the materials, and then if you don't know the person it's a leap of faith that they won't just run away with them and ignore you (which is why when I've done it, and so far has gone good all the time, I tip generously)... and at least on the european side, according to forums, the GM's see it as "working as intended".

Re:My son's experience trying to sell a WoW charac (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630633)

So, I have no idea how he can sell his WoW character reliably.

Selling an account violates the terms and conditions of playing the game in the first place (as does buying gold). So I wouldn't hold your breath looking for a reliable way.

As an outsider, to me the WoW community looks like a den of thieves and scammers.

Well you are dealing with a section of it that runs scams (i.e. T&C violations). So that isn't surprising.

BTW, how can you stand to use a 'payment' provider that just takes back money that is in your account already, after the sale has already been accepted?

Heh. (0, Troll)

arodland (127775) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627225)

I first parsed the title as "DoD Database" and wondered why it only fetched $1m. And then I saw that it was this boring drivel.

compensation? (1)

MellowTigger (633958) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627285)

I contributed to that database, as did many other players. Where's our cut of the profit for the sale of our game data?

Re:compensation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627335)

Whoa dude, don't you read Slashdot? Information is meant to be FREE!!!!!! You gave it up for free. Someone else got paid. Tough noogies.

Re:compensation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19628013)

Oh shut up.

Re:compensation? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#19629717)

I contributed to that database, as did many other players. Where's our cut of the profit for the sale of our game data?


I don't know - what did it say in your contract when you agreed to begin contributing?

"money"? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627411)

I don't get the "money" tag.

Is it used to tag stories that are about money? Obviously not, because this about the specific sale of a site, not about money itself.

Is it used to tag stories that involve the transaction of money? Possibly, but so many things in our commercial world involve the transaction of money, the tag would become useless if applied with any consistency. Besides, the "business" tag is far more appropriate.

Is it used with a negative connotation to demonise certain parties in certain mutual transactions? Probably, but I hope someone will contradict me.

Re:"money"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19631781)

I don't get the "money" tag.

Maybe (if the "slownewsday" and other "editorial" tags are now disallowed) it's code for "adrevenue"?

As a former employee of ZAM (5, Informative)

loki_ninboy (992401) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628335)

I used to work for Allakhazam, and I was employed around the time of the Affinity Media/Allakhazam merger, and I can tell you, before the owners of Allakhazam.com signed any papers to sell the site, they wanted to make sure that the site was as far removed from the IGE portion of the company as possible. Their stance has always, and probably will always be that the selling of virtual currency degrades the experience for everyone. There was a huge uproar on the forums about this merger just for the possibility of there being gold selling ads on the site, and the site lost a few subscribers based on the fact the Affinity would be involved somehow. But it was always the stance of the admins and owners of the Allakhazam site that RMT ads were not tolerated in any way, and worked hard to stamp out those ads.

Re:As a former employee of ZAM (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628571)

they wanted to make sure that the site was as far removed from the IGE portion of the company as possible

What does this mean? That they have desks at the opposite corners of the building?

Ultimately, "owned" is "owned." What RMT operations want isn't just ad space: it's insight into the mechanics of the games and the players' behavior in those games, to design both services that they can sell (such as power leveling) and to determine mechanisms for generating in-game money (farming spaces, high-value quests, and such.) If the owners of ZAM have the ability to data-mine those databases - and I am inclined to believe they do - then they are getting a lot of value from the situation. That IGE was "sold off" - perhaps for as little as a dollar - means nothing if the owners of Affinity (including Brock) still have a substantial interest in it, and if the relationships are such that they will be able to mine that data.

There is a clouded and byzantine set of relationships between fans (who I now think of as a hybrid between consumers, who get their identity from what they buy, and the authoritarian subject, that is, the personality/cultural type that is inclined to seek out and respect authority figures) and player, game makers, "3rd party" game industries (which include IGE, Zam.com, etc.) and the content of both games and game-sites themselves. I see a present-day morality epic in the making.

Re:As a former employee of ZAM (1)

loki_ninboy (992401) | more than 5 years ago | (#19628791)

What does this mean? That they have desks at the opposite corners of the building?

ZAM, to my knowledge was still handled out of Philly, while the rest of the sites were handled elsewhere.

As for the data-mining process, the databases and client list were and I believe still are, completely seperate. Yes, the compaines such as IGE would regularly hotlink items they are selling to sites such as Thottbot and Alla, but I know when I was working for Alla, even after the merger, we would still block the access to hotlink items from the IGE site. The only way Alla and Thott ever got the item and quest database was from the users, and to my knowledge that database was never opened to anyone until Ogaming became part of the ZAM network and the sites merged together to share the same database information.

Now keep in mind, I haven't worked for the site in over a year and a half, so things may have drastically changed in the time that all this happened, i'm just relating the information as I knew it then.

And what kind of morality issue do you see? Yes, I don't believe in RMT, but sites like Alla, Thott, etc have help me out when I got stuck on something. It's like buying the strategy guide for a console game, most of the time it will tell you what to do, and maybe there is some end user comments on how it's done. I don't see any issues there, that kind of thing has been around for a long time.

As for the RMT thing, yea I think it's deplorable that some people find it neccessary to pay someone to powerlevel a brand new avater to the highest level, when you lose the experience and fun of doing it yourself. Not saying it doesn't get tedious and sometimes boring, but there is a definite advantage of doing it yourself, mainly you know what the hell you are doing.

Re:As a former employee of ZAM (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#19629043)

The databases that I am talking about are the game-driven ones: items, jobs, quests, crafting, etc. The stuff that is more the stuff of Thotbot, but which is part of every major game site. It reveals a lot of the mechanics, and particularly where supply isn't meeting demand, or where opportunities for (in-game) profit are.

I don't have a big stake on the RMT question myself. The fact that there is the possibility for interesting contradictions, and that people with very different views on the topic are interdependent, is intriguing.

Man, their FAQ team works fast: (2, Interesting)

sabernet (751826) | more than 6 years ago | (#19628575)

How can I believe any of this is true? I read on another site that a former employee says this is all false.

John: I would strongly caution people not to believe all the rumors they read. For example, it came to my attention that the individual who leaked the story about the Wowhead sale supposedly not only owns competitive content properties but also is the partner in a successful RMT site. Like all Internet rumors, it is just that, but please consider the source when you hear damning stuff. Why not take a free shot at your top competitor. If the rumor above is true about the source of these comments, it is of course the height of hypocrisy.

So you are sure Wowhead will not have gold ads now?

John: 100% sure. Neither Wowhead or the ZAM Network have ever had gold or powerleveling ads, and they never will. We sold IGE. We are clearly separating our business from those practices. Why would we start running gold ads now?


Re:Man, their FAQ team works fast: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19628991)

That's all nice, except I can remember when Thottbot(part of the Zam network) had powerlevelling and gold selling ads. And I know alot of people say that even if Zam and IGE are owned by the same holding company, they aren't related at all is bullshit, I worked for thottbot for a few months, and Ige was all over my paycheck

Hmmm (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 5 years ago | (#19629403)

Wowhead had an april fools joke on their front page about being bought by blizzard for 7 million. Funny that their joke is now reality.

Blizzard itself now has a WoW Database online. It has a lot of functionality and unique aspects.. the only thing it's missing is exact percentage of drop rates. I wonder if a third-party database is worth anything outside of advertising for gold sellers. I'm guessing Wowhead owners saw this as their chance to get while the gettings good.

Lastly, after thottbot was bought out, you would repeatedly see gold seller advertising in the _comments_ themselves. Which was at a minimum irritating. Thing is, the comments are able to be "rated" up or down.. raising up would add 0.1 points to the score. Most informative posts would have a 3 or 4 at best. All these gold seller comments were rated 12-15. Nearly impossible to vote out of sight. Which means the gold sellers were all bumping their own posts up, or the admins themselves were giving bloated scores to keep them visible.

It's going to suck if a well-designed site like wowhead is dragged through the mud in the name of profit.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630661)

Blizzard itself now has a WoW Database online. It has a lot of functionality and unique aspects.. the only thing it's missing is exact percentage of drop rates.

Well, thottbot drop rates are not very accurate either, for quest items.

Also, sometimes even the drop rate for non-quest items just seems to be wrong, leading me to suspect that the rate has changed at some point but Thottbot is using all historical data to calculate the percentage. It should include the option to limit drop info to say the last month.

Re:Hmmm (2, Informative)

Kabal` (111455) | more than 6 years ago | (#19631397)

The reason that quest item drop rates are particularly inaccurate is because it counts ALL kills of that mob - yet only people killing the mob WITH the quest have a shot at getting the item. Therefore the drop rates reported on thottbot are much lower than what they are in reality. How much lower depends on how popular that mob is to kill (while not having a quest to do so).

Re:Hmmm (1)

Swift(void) (655825) | more than 6 years ago | (#19631415)

Blizzard itself now has a WoW Database online. It has a lot of functionality and unique aspects.. the only thing it's missing is exact percentage of drop rates. I wonder if a third-party database is worth anything outside of advertising for gold sellers. I'm guessing Wowhead owners saw this as their chance to get while the gettings good.
Wowhead currently has 3 things that trump the Blizzard Armory:

1) It is a hell of alot faster
2) It has all the quests, which is one of the most important things for many people. If you get stuck on a quest, they have it all there, with user comments usually directing you to exactly where you need to go.
3) Everything you could want to know about all the professions. What skill level you need for what recipes, where they drop, roughly how rare the drop is etc

I fully expect Blizzard will eventually integrate quests into the Armory, along with more profession information, though i doubt you will ever see user comments on it. Also while the frontend remains horribly slow, people will still flock to Wowhead, no matter what bells and whistles it includes. I must say though, the 'find an upgrade' feature is well worth a look.

Re:Hmmm (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 6 years ago | (#19631483)

True.

I quit a while ago and my memory forgot a lot of the features.

Being able to vote up and down comments based on quality is also quite helpful.

Conspiring much? (5, Informative)

Vandell (1119599) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630193)

There's so much misinformation being spread, it's sickening.

Okay, listen carefully. Affinity Media owns ZAM, and once owned IGE. Semi-recently they have sold IGE to a private investor, since others were complaining and the company was hurting AM's image.

But, you ask, why aren't they announcing anything? There's two reasons:

1) The sale transaction between IGE, Affinity Media and the private investor that bought IGE is, well.. PRIVATE! IGE does NOT want to be known as a 'notorious company', and have very likely bartered for privacy. So if anyone asks a suit from IGE, it is an all likelihood that they will deny saying a word about it ON PURPOSE. Also, IGE is now solely based in Hong Kong, and doesn't have really have an outlet in North America or the United Kingdoms.

2) Affinity Media is undergoing reconstruction. Go to their website, AFFINITYMEDIA.COM, for more information.

Also, I'd like to point out something - if you go to any website affiliated with the ZAM.com network, you will not find a single RMT-based ad, at all. I DARE you to try and find one.

Gamasutra.com: When we first met, you said, 'Oh, I bet I know what you're going to ask me about.' What did you think I was going to ask you about?

John Maffei (senior vice president of Affinity Media, owners of ZAM.COM and WOWHEAD.COM) : Oh, just everyone has been so interested in the IGE thing, because IGE is a controversial business. Very controversial, and we'd always kept this incredible differences between the businesses.

If you go to any of our sites, you'll never see a gold-selling ad. The guys who founded our business, guys like Jeff Moyer and Bill Dyess, they've got absolutely nothing to do with that other side of the business.

So for us, it was a positive, in that we thought, for the people who cared, that's no longer an issue. Since it's a private company, a private transaction, we're not releasing actual news on terms. But we're no longer in that business.

Source: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?st ory=14235 [gamasutra.com]


Prove that the VICE PRESIDENT OF AFFINITY MEDIA is lying. (See my gamasutra.com snippet above.)

Seriously, do you all think that every company on the face of the earth is just one big corrupt entity? Lighten up, people. The marketplace is constantly, CONSTANTLY changing in order to adapt to the changing consumer. All of the websites on the ZAM.com network no longer have any RMT advertisements anymore. AT ALL. And this includes Wowhead.com.

I honestly don't see any reason - and I'm going to bold this now, again - for THE VICE PRESIDENT OF AFFINITY MEDIA to flat out lie to everyone, only to have people scrutinize his statement with a fine-tooth comb and then have someone explode it as controversy and bad business practices. That doesn't make money.

So, you know who has more cred than some junky blogger with a 'he said she said' news story? The vice president of a company. Shut your yaps and at least attempt to get your facts straight.

I'm getting redundant now.

But what if your blogger souce is a RMTer? (1)

Bobthewonderhamster (1119613) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630601)

Tis a pitty really that people are citing Ahmed as a reliable source when he is actually a partner in lewt DOT com (link broken deliberatly), one of the biggest spam happy RMT sites out there. I post on allakhazam and we regualrily see spam posts from them, shortly before the administrators remove them from the site. If we're seeing them, i'm guessing there are alot of them http://img479.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ammohn9.j pg [imageshack.us] I posted on his blog, but Mr. Ahmed doesn't want you to see the truth. He didn't even bother trying to refute it, he just nuked the post entirely. Unfortunatly for him as you see above, I took screenshots. Including screenhots of my second repy. http://img352.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ammo2fu1. jpg [imageshack.us] The dirty little truth here is that Ahmed is trying to slander a perfectly good and decent website to draw attention away from his own RMTer sins. Ahmed is a partner with his friend Andre Marcelo-Tanner in the incredably annoying lewt empire. See him here defending RMT: http://www.pinoytechblog.com/archives/world-of-war craft-farming-in-cebu [pinoytechblog.com] Check out the Whois data for Lewt and And whats this? domain data for a gil selling guide? http://www.aboutus.org/FinalFantasyXiGil.org [aboutus.org] This couldn't be the same person who also owns MMO Guru could it? the same MMO Guru that Mr. Ahmed is deeply involved with? The hypocrisy of his attack is truly absurd. Say what you will about Allakhazam and crew, they have never had Gold/gil/plat ads on the site, and they did get rid of IGE. Ahmed on the other hand has been outed as a dirty rotten RMTer. But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself...

Re:But what if your blogger souce is a RMTer? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#19632751)

Um, those links don't say the things you say they do.

His "defense" of RMT was more like a set of observations about legal status and producer response. And his site is a (dated) guide on how to make money. Does he have RMT ties? No more than ZAM does, apparently. And the "getting rid of IGE" is something of an exaggeration: their owner seems to have transfered ownership of IGE to another founder of IGE, but the ties are still clearly strong (the owner of Alliance Media is obviously friendly with, and worked with, the founder/again owner of IGE.)

You shouldn't keep thinking like a fan. It's a slavish way of thinking. "It is not enough to blame: one must diagnose."

Wowhead is crooked (1)

originalnih (709470) | more than 5 years ago | (#19630635)

I sign up to services like this with a particular format email address, usually something like "wowh_nospam@mydomain.com". I like to see who then turns around and uses my email address for either spam or as a return recipient.

Pretty much as soon as I signed up for wowhead I found it being used in said return recipient field in a lot of spam that has come back to me since then.

They're useless, dirty, dishonest, thieving wankers.

Re:Wowhead is crooked (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 6 years ago | (#19631395)

Odd. My wowhead-specific address hasn't gathered any spam.. yet.

Maybe it's because we use greylisting.

Re:Wowhead is crooked (1)

originalnih (709470) | more than 6 years ago | (#19631519)

My domain only recently received an SPA line in it's settings, so that could have been a factor.

SPA hasn't helped much unfortunately.

Blizzard is possibly moving into this space. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19632741)

The Armory [worldofwarcraft.com] started off as simply a way to get character profiles, but in the latest major revision, they added a functional item database. Now you can click on an item in a profile (or directly search for it), and get info about where it comes from. If it is a drop, it will tell you what NPC drops it. If it is crafted, it will tell you what is required to craft it. If it is a quest reward, it will tell you what quest you need to complete to get it. It displays this in a fashion very similar to Wowhead, etc.

What is lacking from this (right now) is that you still can't search directly for an NPC or quest, or find out the location of an NPC. I wouldn't be surprised if these features are added in a future revision. (You can find the entire loot table for an NPC, but only after clicking on an item that drops from it.) There are also no direct comments for each item, but that may not be necessary with the WoW forums a few clicks away.

It makes sense for Blizzard to do this, even though these services are added by a 3rd. party. By keeping players directly on the WoW website, they won't see ads related to commercial gold farming, power leveling services, and so forth.
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