Thursday, October 22, 2009
Buying gold makes baby murlocs cry
Blizzard explained this week that buying gold not only made baby murlocs cry, but also had a range of other negative consequences, as much of the gold being sold would come from hacked accounts or bots "which can cause realm performance and stability issues". Blizzard says: "The negative effects these companies create depend directly on people using their services. Without them, the companies have no way to continue their unethical actions." So if you'd please just stop buying gold, hacking and server instability would magically disappear!
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s Uniform Crime Reports, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 26.4 seconds. So I want to urge my readers never to buy a used car again, as that would obviously encourage car theft.
You most likely balked at the flawed logic of the second paragraph. So why didn't you balk at the identical flawed logic of the first paragraph?
I am not saying that account hacking isn't happening. What I do say is that it is a lousy argument against gold buying. If this was the main problem of gold buying, then why not make the Authenticator mandatory and end hacking forever (and power leveling at the same time)? What if Gevlon offered to sell his 214k gold, which he acquired without hacking or botting, would that be okay?
The fundamental question when prohibiting something is whether the activity *by itself* is bad, or whether it just is connected to something else criminal. Take drugs, or prostitution: The Netherlands for example decided that cannabis and prostitution by itself weren't all that bad, but the related drug crimes and white slavery were, so they ended up legalizing both cannabis and prostitution. If Blizzard says that gold-selling related crimes are far worse than gold-selling itself, then they open the door to future legalized gold exchanges, like SOE already did, or even to selling gold themselves. "Buy our legal gold, because not only won't we ban you for it, but also you don't cause hacking and server instabilities!"
Attacking gold-selling just for the related crimes of hacking and botting is as weak as the reason that it makes baby murlocs cry. If EVE Online can hire an economist, then World of Warcraft could easily finance an economist as well. I'd love to see a well founded and researched argument against gold selling based on hard economic data, not murloc tears or playing on the customer's darkest fears. But what Blizzard does here reminds me very much of right-wing parties arguing against immigration by saying that immigration makes crime rates go up. By using such weak arguments, they are actually weakening the case against gold-selling, not strengthening it.