Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 21, 2007
 
Live Gamer

A reader alerted me to a new company named Live Gamer, who is trying to provide a legit platform for RMT with the support of the game companies themselves. Several companies, including SOE, back the venture. Raph thinks that "Will the gamers like this? Flatly, no. At least not publicly. But a heck of a lot of them will pay up quietly." and calls the idea a no-brainer because uncontrolled RMT is "impossible to eradicate" and "worth billions to someone else". Controlled RMT would be "controllable and therefore potentially less damaging". Blizzard disagrees and won't use Live Gamer.

I think that RMT is possible to eradicate. You just need to make gold "bind on pickup". That is, you need to remove all possibility of asymmetric trades where one player can give or send gold to another player. And you need to change the auction house system to make it anonymous and blind, so that players can't buy a worthless rock for 1000 gold and transfer money that way. This is totally possible, but it would have a cost: it would also remove twinking (unless you program a shared bank) and sending money to friends or guild mates. But possible it is, the only thing that is missing is the will of the game companies.

I still believe that Blizzard, in spite of their public anti RMT stance, is secretly regarding RMT as a feature, and is therefore unwilling to eradicate it. They did a good job in reducing secondary negative effects of gold selling, like gold spam. They *could* eradicate gold selling itself, but they won't, because lots of players do buy gold and would be annoyed if they couldn't.

So in a way the companies signing up for Live Gamer are more honest. It just isn't a "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude as Raph suggests. Game companies just realized that RMT is a way to close the gap between people playing a lot and people who don't have that much time. Far from being damaging to the game, RMT actually prevents millions of players from quitting the game because they can't keep up with the Joneses. And once you realize RMT as a feature, of course the game companies want to cash in on that feature themselves, and not leave it to third parties and potential scammers. Right now Blizzard is only "taxing" gold sellers by periodically banning a huge number of them as publicity stunt, and then selling each of them new game boxes and accounts to let them back in.
Comments:
The biggest problem I have with "legitimate" RMT is the moral hazard it creates for game companies to design games in such a way that people spend more and more money. MMORPGS could become like trading card games where players have to spend large sums every month to stay competitive.

As evidenced by the resulting comments you were off the mark criticising arena net for their skill unlock packs Tobold. Arena net have been remarkably restrained and their offerings to date are generally welcomed by the community. However the risk is still very much there. What happens when game company shareholders realise that they could be raking in €100 per month per customer instead of just €12?

I suppose there is some security in a pay monthly game like WOW. The game company risks losing a lot of paying customers if they try to abuse rmt but no such constraints apply to free to play games.
 
Raph is wrong, yet again. I've yet to hear one good argument in favor of having tradeable goods in a mmorpg; especially currency.

Do away with the economy and make everything no drop.

Problem solved.
 
The only problem with the "keeping up with the Joneses" scenario is that the Joneses can RMT too. So if you can't play 12 hours a day, and aren't willing to fork over money for imaginary hats, you will be left in the dust by anyone willing to do both.
 
It's not spelled "erradicate".
 
I'm also afriad that legitimizing RMT would encourage developers to start designing games to maximize RMT potential and not fun. This would cause the majority of development time to be spend only on content that could be sold for extra revenue.

Also as for RMT allowing people to keep up with players with more free time. It doesn't. Characters who bought large amounts of gear or who were power leveled are obvious. Some of these classes are complex enough that you can't expect RMT to compensate for time spent playing the class. I'm sure one of the reasons WoW has such a bad reputation for PUGS is because of powerleveling and bought raid epics.
 
It's not spelled "erradicate".

I eradicated that spelling mistake. :)
 
Raph is wrong, yet again. I've yet to hear one good argument in favor of having tradeable goods in a mmorpg; especially currency.


Ooh, I think you just prompted a blog post.

In short: because it's about the other people.
 
you will never be able to "close the gap" completely unless you have no life, however you definitely can shorten the gap for. No very many people who can play 16 hours a day are going to have very much money for RMT, so yes we can shorten the gap. I think wow has a bad repuation for PUGS becuase of the sheer number of players (greater number of people=greater number of stupid people) also solo leveling encouragement
 
You're kidding yourself if you think RMT could be eradicated, even with enough dedication.

Make the auctionhouse blind. Go ahead. People will just tell each other to buy Worthless Rock #1, on sale for 1023 gold right now. Haven't solved anything that way.

It's all about damage control. Make the RMT cause the least possible pain.

Or design a game with no economy ala Mr. Anonymous; but don't expect me to play it, that's a big part of the fun.
 
I like being able to help out friends by giving them items and money. I think it will be impossible to distinguish between those acts and RMT. But I believe Blizzard has done a decent job stopping the secondary effects.
 
I wonder why so many gamers get so offended by RMT. I never ever used it myself but I have no problem with it

If you are really against against RMT then support an open PVP MMO like Darkfall in which would allow you to openly gank the Asian farmers and still all their loot. So then, the Asian farmer would really provide a lot of entertainment.

I'm not saying RMT would go away in an open pvp game that has looting but I am saying players are more empowered to self regulate

The idea solution though is to pursue a system whereas loot is not so hard to acquire in the 1st place.

Anyway I agree with Raph on this issue I really dont see the big deal. Heck even Guild Wars allows you to buy all the skills you want how does this hurt other people? It doesnt
 

Anonymous:

Raph is wrong, yet again. I've yet to hear one good argument in favor of having tradeable goods in a mmorpg; especially currency.

Raph:

Ooh, I think you just prompted a blog post.

In short: because it's about the other people.


No. It's about milking the subscribers. It's about shifting responsibility from the developers on to the customers. It's about conning the subscriber base into believing that creating their own content, while still paying the same monthly fee, is an advantage, which is actually the equivalent of visiting a restaurant where you're required to cook your own food.

Many mmorpg players love crafting, but I've met very few that profess some deep enjoyment for hustling the economy. It's seen as a means to an end and a time sink. MMORPG economies contribute to cheating, hacking, farming, and a host of other ailments, while offering very little in return.

Not to mention that they require a whole slew of gimmicky rules in order to keep a handfull of crafters from completely dominating a server.

This is not to say that they are entirely without merit, but the negatives far outweigh the positives.
 
@ #==# I beg to disagree. I love the fact that a game has an economy. I like buying, I like selling , I like hunting for a bargain. I can't claim to be particularly good at it but I admire folks who can earn a lot of gold buying low and selling high. I think it adds richness to the game world. Sure I get annoyed when some body tries to corner the market in a widget which I need to progress but many other times I am grateful to be able to buy the ingredients I need from the market rather than having to go out and grind a thousand mobs myself for the drops.

In fact I would go so far as to say that if you get rid of the market you are knocking down one of the key pillars which makes MMORPGs different from a single player game.
 
We clearly have a different opinion on what "richness" means )))

No matter. I fully accept being in the minority on this subject.

Where there's money - there's corruption, and we've seen what corruption can do to mmorpgs - both within the customer base and within the company.

The amount of resources necessary to address the problems brought about by trading/buying/selling would be better spent on developing new content.

I would have responded the same way you did - seven years go, but I now realize how hopeless the situation is and am feed up with the status quo.

And "legalizing" the problem isn't a solution - it's just another way for publishers to milk their customer base.
 
Make the auctionhouse blind. Go ahead. People will just tell each other to buy Worthless Rock #1, on sale for 1023 gold right now. Haven't solved anything that way.

Did you ever see a blind auction house system? There will be 5 Worthless Rocks listed, and the buyer *has no way* to see which one of them is #1.

And WoW also already has a system to stop selling worthless rocks for 1000 gold. You now get the money only with 1 hour delay, and I bet that if something sells for far more than its worth, some alarm goes off and GMs can check what happened, and block the 1000 gold from reaching their destination.

Yes, that is a design challenge. But asymetric trades can be prevented.
 
Did you ever see a blind auction house system? There will be 5 Worthless Rocks listed, and the buyer *has no way* to see which one of them is #1.

My next response as the RMT'ers would be to find something not for sale anywhere and place that up for sale.

Other than the specific example, I'm just convinced that you can do **too much** in trying to disallow RMT. Bind on pickup gold is frightening. Now I can't help out new players and be a nice person either.
 
Hahahaha bind on pickup gold. Yeah, you're going to stop RMT... right. Yeah, you're going to get rid of currency.

When there is a lack of viable currency, players invent one. Stone of Jordan anyone?

RMT exists because people want it. The among of griping about it is miniscule compared to the millions of people participating it (and spending billions on it).
 
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