Gaming and Money

27 01 2009

Gold farmers
Nowadays, the relationship between games and money isn’t as simple as game developers selling games to earn money. Ever since MMORPGs appeared on the internet, and with popular games such as World of Warcraft, many ‘gold sellers’ started to emerge in the game. These ‘gold sellers’ also known as ‘gold farmers’ are people who play a game, but not to have fun. They have another motive. Money. MMORPGs have evolved into a money-making tool.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft, a well known MMORPG

Illegal gaming services
They usually try to get as much in game currency (commonly known as gold) as possible; they also try to obtain the extremely rare items, such as weapons or armors. Afterwards, they will try to sell the ‘gold’ and items on online marketplace, like eBay, for real life currency. Another service related to gaming and money is power leveling. Power leveling is a service that levels up an in-game character to a certain level after a fixed time. However, this service is also very costly.

RPGstash.com, a website that provides illegal services like gold selling and power leveling.

RPGstash.com, a website that provides illegal services like gold selling and power leveling.

Fixing the problem
With websites dedicated to provide such services like RPGstash.com, the problem of gaming and money is becoming more severe. These websites usually spam inside the game to advertise their illegal services. The advertising messages are against the rules of the game, and are very irritating for honest gamers who do not require such services. Blizzard, the developer of World of Warcraft, is now suing the companies that are providing illegal services in the game. Blizzard has also added some countermeasures in the game to block out the advertising messages, and to detect the gold farmers and ban them from the game.

A poll from the About.com forums.

A poll from the About.com forums.

Why break the rules?
Some gamers do not have the time to play a game all day to train their character to a required level. Therefore, they pay others to do power leveling on their character. At times, paying someone else to do the job may be even cheaper than doing it yourself because of the high amount of money to be paid monthly to play the game. Paying a professional to level up a character takes much lesser time and in turn, it saves on the monthly subscription fees. Acquiring a rare item can sometimes take weeks, or even months, this is why people are willing to pay a little extra to get the item they want.

guildbank.com selling WoW weapons ranging from $84.99 to $49.99

guild-bank.com selling WoW weapons ranging from $84.99 to $49.99

Dishonest gamers
Buying gold/items or power leveling with real cash is a very unfair thing to do. Other gamers who do not make use of such illegal services are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the aid from the professionals. Buying gold or items can also be considered as a form of cheating, as not much work is needed to obtain the extra gold or items compared to getting the gold/items manually.

Warhammer Online, another MMORPG infested with gold sellers.

Warhammer Online, another MMORPG infested with gold sellers.

The reactions
The game publishers have been trying to eliminate these problems. For example, Sony have successfully removed the in-game items for sale at eBay. Blizzard have also warned gamers about the policy against gold/items selling, and players who fail to listen will be banned.

Conclusion
The problem of gaming and money will become worst over the years. As more and more games are being developed, more of these new games are being targeted by gold farmers. Unless the game developers do something serious to eliminate these cheaters, this problem will continue to exist throughout many MMORPGs.

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