Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 15, 2010
 
Does Blizzard support goldsellers?

Gevlon posted an article in which he argues that Blizzard secretly supports goldselling, "proof" being that they haven't eliminated the practice yet. People who disagree have their comments deleted, so Azzur asked me to post his reply on my blog. While I can hear you snickering in the back about Tobold the defender of free speech, I think you'll find that my comment section is full of people who disagree with my point of view, and I never censor them as long as they do it politely. Thus here is Azzur's letter:
Hi Tobold

I tried to respond to Gevlon's blog directly but looks like his comments moderation has silenced all of his critics. I come to you because I believe that your blog is a neutral place to post arguments. I am hoping that you can post this on your blog.

This is my response to Gevlon's post: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-blizz-supports-goldselling.html

A short summary: Gevlon claims that Blizzard supports gold-selling because they have not done 'all they could' to stop it. This is all despite Blizzard banning accounts, having detection measures (e.g. Warden), etc. But Gevlon ignores all of these evidence and are instead claims Blizzard are lying. Several commentators (including myself), question his theory and propose that gold-selling exists because stopping it completely is impossible - for it would lead to unacceptable server performance.

The problem with so many Gevlon posts is that he frequently makes a wrong assumption (in this case, Blizzard supports gold-selling and that it is possible to stop it). Even with this wrong premise, he continues adamantly claim that he is right. The commentators who question his base assumption are all silenced (in his view, we are 'trolls')! In this case, how is there recourse for sensible argument?

In fact, in the comments section of his post is this from Gevlon himself:
"The debate is about WHY Blizzard tolerates goldselling and you are welcome to come up with answers conflicting mine.

Denying the obvious fact that they do it is either trolling or being retarded."

When some commentators question his logic, Gevlon responds with: "Server load: come on! The server can handle 2*120 players spamming spells in WG, but can't handle text chat? Are you computer illiterates or trolls?"

If you read all the comments, there are computer programmers (me included, but I was silenced!) who question him on this statement. Gevlon is wrong, for text filters will impose an unacceptable server load. Of course Gevlon is too stubborn to see this. And note his use of 'strong language' of 'computer illiterates or trolls'. Many people will be swayed simple because of this. But don't be fooled: If you know better, real-time filter of text will lead to unacceptable server performance.

Of course, rather than admit wrong, he goes on with this one about licensing from Google: "@Drew: that's why LICENSING exists. They don't have to develop tools. They can license tools, for example from google. Or from the guys who made the "free speach filter" for the Chinese.".

This is all nonsense. Firstly, it's no guarantee that Google will even licence their technology. Secondly, Google queries and performs string matching on an existing database. World of Warcraft relies on real-time input from other people. They are totally different things! The latency that will result from string matching will result in unacceptable performance.

Gevlon also comes up with ridiculous suggestions like capchas for killing 'non-quest monsters' (so that bot farming can be identified), banning low-level ppl from trade, etc. I suppose he doesn't understand that gold-sellers and bots can easily circumvent this and measures like this will harm innocents instead. He doesn't even understand the basic tenets of freedom (lucky Blizzard does!). He thinks that it's alright to have the majority constrained due to the actions of a minority. Bank alts? Low-level newbies? They're all acceptable collateral damage!

An article (http://www.wow.com/2010/02/15/trial-account-restrictions-and-the-30-percent-problem/) shows that Blizzard already puts restrictions on trial accounts to stop goldselling spam. Why would they do so if they tolerated gold-selling?

Gevlon is living in a fantasy land where he imagines all these bizzare conspiracy theories. His imagination is so vivid that "Blizzard tolerating gold-selling is an obvious fact" (slightly paraphrased from Gevlon). Obvious to himself only, despite having no evidence whatsoever. Perhaps he'll like to live in a land where people are guilty until proven otherwise!

Cheers,
Azzur
I do believe that goldseller cause economic harm to Blizzard. Not because they wreck the economy, because for WoW goldselling the same is true what some people used at defense for legal RMT in EVE: Goldselling does not create additional gold for the economy, it only transfers gold from one player to another. But goldsellers cause harm because they are often unscrupulous in how they acquire the gold they sell, and their illegal activities of botting and hacking result in customer service cost for Blizzard. A single call to customer service because of some bot or hacker costs Blizzard more money than what they earn from that customer in several months. Thus I'm pretty certain that Blizzard would like to eliminate goldselling.

But when I say "Blizzard would like to eliminate goldselling" that is like saying "The WHO would like to eliminate Malaria": The goal is clear and laudable, but the way to reach it isn't all that obvious, and you wouldn't want to do it at any cost. As I stated in the past, it is actually extremely easy from a game design point of view to eliminate goldselling: You just make all items bind-on-pickup. That is easy to prove: For any WoW player it is obvious that alternative currencies like lets say Emblems of Frost are *far* more valuable than gold. But there are no "emblem of frost sellers", because the emblems and most of the items you can buy with them are bind-on-pickup. Problem solved! But of course if you do the same to gold in World of Warcraft, you just eliminated the player-to-player economy, plus some ways of players to help other players. Thus making gold bind-on-pickup would work, but it would have a serious cost. A cost that Blizzard thinks is too high.

And the same cost-benefit analysis could be done for any possible way to block goldselling: Would it work? And if yes, what would the cost be? Gevlon for example has a point in that removing the ability for goldsellers to advertise websites by forming words with level 1 corpses in cities would work, and wouldn't inconvenience other players too much. On the technical point of how much lag an anti-gold spam filter would produce, I have not enough knowledge to offer an opinion. But any filter is a cost per se; for example I sometimes talk German with German friends on an English-language server, and some completely harmless words of the German language like "weniger" (less) are blocked by the chat filter as potential racial slurs. And software to catch goldselling behavior, like sending money from one player to another, will always have a "false positive" rate, e.g. I once sent several thousand gold to the account of my wife, for her to buy an epic mount.

So I think we can't make a blanket statement whether Blizzard is too weak or lenient to eliminate goldselling. We would have to examine every single proposed way to do so, and carefully consider the possible up- and downsides, as well as how the goldsellers would circumvent it. If Gevlon were right and it was just Blizzard who was deliberately inactive against goldsellers, then how come every other major MMORPG has exactly the same problems? Do you know any MMORPG with over 100k subscribers in which you can't buy gold?
Comments:
I have been reading this blog for quite sometime, mostly for things related to wow.

Although, i mostly disagree with the greedy goblin, he has his opinion and should be respected for that, even if he doesnt do with others opinions.

Anyway, to the point of this post, i believe that there is a cycle and that gold seller are a neccessary evil in that cycle.

Gold Sellers farm, put things in the auction house at competitive (if mostly) prices, they sell their stuff, and get the money. With that money, and thus is how its against the EULA, they sell it for real money.

Does blizzard support gold sellers?. Nope, they dont. They support customers; and gold sellers, being customers that "religiously" pay for their accounts, why should those clients be banned?. At the end, everything its about money.

Calculate this. How many realms on any "continent" are active at the moment?. How many companies of gold sellers have accounts in those realms?. Even if they use fake accounts to 'advertise', the accounts they use to farm arent the ones that do the 'propaganda'. That would be simple and plainly stupid.

At the end, everything its about money. Money, must flow ;).
 
I would argue that there is plenty of evidence that Blizzard has taken steps to combat gold selling. Anyone else remember the whispers and party invites we used to get from gold sellers every three minutes? (No, that's not an exageration). Also, those artistic displays of level 1 corpses are now gone, banished by another Blizzard tweek.

Gevlon has become very aggressive about blocking comments that are not trollish, but nevertheless disagree with the unsubstantiated assumptions that underlie most of his arguments. Thank you, Tobold, for tanking a stand for open discussion.
 
You're badge solution was a very good point. In a way, they've already done it. Most people in this game do not need alot of gold. Dailies/randoms are enough for a normal player to fund any repair bills he may need, flasks, gems, etc... with a minimum of work.

The things you buy with gold (beginner 80 items), glyphs, etc... are pretty small sinks, as is flying nowadays. Gold is still there for people like Gevlon who like to play the AH and collect gold. But the major items, namely gear, are and have been all BoP. One thing i've noticed is that gold is getting more and more inflated. How much more until it becomes Diablo 2? Gold is worth nothing, and everything is done via bartering?

WoW is far from that point, for now, but without a new gold sinks/gold caps to match the higher numbers of wealth, eventually it would hit that point. At the rate it is going, wow should be 'dead' and Blizzards new MMO will be out by that point though.
 
Still waiting to see if Gevlon allows my latest posts on the topic. As others have, I've attempted to explain why he's mistaken (e.g. about the captcha) in calm language, with no insults or trolling.

The irony is that only a week ago he was saying: "You can't know for sure if he is botting. You ASSUME that there is botting involved, but there is no way to be sure."

This week he says "Botting activity is obvious".

I'm starting to wonder if there is more than one Gevlon.
 
To Gevlon's credit, I should report that he has just put my comments up.
 
Sorry i kind of got a little off topic.

I'd also like to add that their CS department is starting to hit capacity, which i assume means that they're at the limit of the amount of manpower/money they're willing to devote to restoring hacked accounts/banning people etc.
Tickets can take days to get a response to, nevermind hours.
The only way they can keep up in real time would be to implement the BG solution: players able to kick/effect other players. And the griefing capacity would probably be 5x worse, at the least.

The part that gevlon does have a point are the blatantly obvious goldsellers, that don't get caught for months or longer. xcvxc who is in the oyigit guild gets caught and reported, and then you see oyigk in the same guild doing the SAME exact thing.

Gevlon's idea for not letting trials into the main city has ups and downs for blizzard. Pro: trails may be more likely to buy the game to see the big shiny city. Con: not ever experiencing the atmosphere of SW populated by people (something which trials wouldnt have experienced), they won't know what they're 'missing'. The report for spamming is already implemented more or less, it's just player only. Limiting global channels (except perhaps general) would be acceptable, imo (actually, i thought they had already done that in the past for awhile). There was also an addon back in the day that auto-ignored anyone lower than level 20. Build this into the standard ui, and people don’t have to listen to spam. If they want to talk to a friend, they turn it off for awhile. If they want to hear lvl1 bank alts, make an option to only block trials.

The only problem with limiting trials, is you would probably just see level 80's who were dumb enough to give out their account info spamming instead. (although that might scare people into not buying, especially if they see a friend!).
 
Blizzard tolerates gold selling and account selling the way most governments "tolerate" prostitution or drugs; its going to happen, nobody can stop it, at least not at any sane price. Differentiating between valid gold transactions and invalid ones is impossible for Blizz (it can't detect out-of-game transactions), and doing some in game verification of every transaction would be laborious and destroy peoples satisfaction, as who the hell wants to pay to be a citizen of an Orwellian state?

And ultimately, it doesn't really matter that much, especially now that they've inserted so many easy ways for the casual player to take care of their basic needs without grinding (which is probably the best anti-gold selling move possible).
 
Since all MMOs could stop gold selling at a stroke by redesigning their games not to allow any form of tradeable currency, you'd have to say they all consider it to be, at worst, the lesser of two evils.
 
I'm amazed. Trolling IS serious business for some. If they are censored from one blog, they go to another. Since it's not my blog, I happily answer him:

At first: trolling is derailing the conversation. The post was not about programming details and I won't start a merely technical discussion.
http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2009/10/walking-in-their-shoes.html

Reading his answer here (which is much more sophisticated than his hasty wannabe-comment on my blog), I see that he rather lacks "think out of the box", than actual programming knowledge.

Real-time text search DOES cause huge server load. But where did I asked for it?

At first it doesn't have to be real time. The channels can be logged and processed later. When the processing is complete, the disciplinary action is delivered.

Secondly it doesn't have to be server-side. The chat can be streamed to another computer to analyze. Blizzard does not have to own this computer, they can stream it over the net to a company that does text analysis. They will evaluate it for low cost (again, search engines does exactly that for free)

Even better, you can make chat filter client side. The filter evaluates the chat incoming to the players, block them if found spam and automatically press "report spam".

Tobold: there IS emblem of frost selling. It's like power-leveling. You give them your account information (imagine what's next), and they play your account, farming badges.

Also, I never said Blizzard did it for "being evil", they do it for profit. So every other gaming company should and does tolerate goldselling the same way.

Warden is against hacking the game, letting you use maphack or teleporting, therefore cheating hard content (like PvP or raiding).
 
"If it seems terribly obvious, that’s because they simply don’t care if they are discovered. The spammer is the best example. Either, they are on a Trial account spamming Local or they are on a Hacked account spamming you in a whisper."
RMT: The Unstoppable Force (Serial Ganker)
 
Tobold,please stop using EVE as an example. It is clear from your comments that you do not know how rmt works in EVE. For example in the post above you equate gold selling in Wow with legal RMT in EVE. There is a huge difference. It is not legally possible to sell ISK for real money in EVE. EVE has plenty of ILLEGAL ISK sellers who use botting and all the rest but they are not partaking in the legal rmt market- they are selling illegally on the internet for hard cassh just like they do in WoW.


I promised you some time ago I would stop asking you to play EVE and I have done so but please stop making pronouncements about the game until you learn a bit more about it.

Apologies for the off topic post and but seriously Tobold. There are some major gaps in your knowledge of EVE. That is not a problem. The problem is you keep referring to EVE and making ill informed posts about the game.
 
I wonder of Gevlon is a Truther: a person who believes the government was behind the attacks on New York because if they wanted to stop the attacks they wouldn't have happened.
 
Rumors abound, but in this case it's pretty easy to see the simplest answer, which is also the correct one. Goldsellers exist because goldbuyers exist and are paying. And that's it.
 
I have no problem with goldsellers as long as they don't effect my game experience. I think Blizzard has done a half-decent job of preventing goldsellers from ruining the game. The only thing that I think Blizzard still needs to do is beef up account security a little more.

Apart from hacked accounts and the odd trade chat spam, I don't notice the goldsellers at all.
 
Tobold,please stop using EVE as an example. It is clear from your comments that you do not know how rmt works in EVE. For example in the post above you equate gold selling in Wow with legal RMT in EVE. There is a huge difference.

A) I know exactly how RMT works in EVE. Please shut up with your "u n00b dunno anything" kind of remarks. You don't know anything about me, and what I know, so please keep your blind fanboism down.

B) My point was that neither legal RMT in EVE nor illegal RMT in WoW create gold. Because even bots don't farm coin, they farm items and sell them for gold.

C) I was referring to comments on my blog, where commenters had frequently defended legal RMT in EVE by saying "no ISK are created, they only change hands". I don't even *need* to know details of EVE RMT to refer to comments on my blog, I'm simply comparing what people say about EVE here with what I know is true about WoW.
 
@tobold: "because for WoW goldselling the same is true what some people used at defense for legal RMT in EVE: Goldselling does not create additional gold for the economy, it only transfers gold from one player to another"

Note that CCP's position on goldselling (being "Ingame resource->RL Dollar" vs their legitimised "Sponsored Subscriptions" system) is that the activities of goldsellers&macroers _do_ distort the economy, since the driver is not "more access to the game" but "give me a dollar income", resulting in substantially different behaviour and distortions of specific markets.

One highly negative impact CCP demonstrated when they presented the results of their "Unholy Rage" campaign was that macroers put a huge strain on the server cluster compared to normal players. IIRC CCP banned ~6000 accounts as part of the first phase of UR, and server CPU consumption dropped by 25%. The original devblog can be found here:

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=687

"B) My point was that neither legal RMT in EVE nor illegal RMT in WoW create gold. Because even bots don't farm coin, they farm items and sell them for gold."

Missions in EVE are an ISK faucet, ergo yes, the EVE-bots running missions do create currency. As, of course, do players doing the same activities.
 
I think you touched on it Tobold a little.

It all comes down on to players freedom. If Blizzard reduced the amount of freedom we had they could control gold selling. The problem is the gaming community likes the way the economy works now, and the drastic changes needed to elminate gold selling would more or less destroy it... or at the very least drastically change it.

There are all small changes Blizzard could make, but every change is more or less a removal of freedom. (eg bind on pickup gold)
 
Gevlon

Your post was based on the starting assertion that Blizzard are deliberately allowing gold selling. If that hypothesis is shown to be false, everything that follows from it is irrelevant.

Since I (and several others) think you are wrong on your starting claim for technical reasons, describing that as "derailing" is unfair. If you remove comments for this, you are simply censoring the evidence.
 
Ouch Tobold, I didn't expect that response.

Anyway I re-read your post carefully and I realise I got completely the wrong end of the stick. You do not equate Wow Gold selling with EVE rmt and my whole comment was based on a false assumption. My bad. I apologise.

I feel embarrassed now. The only excuse I can half put together is a weak one that the critical sentence where EVE RMT is mentioned has an awkward construction and I misread it the first time around.

Anyway you certainly let me know the error of my ways in forceful terms. That hurt a bit but was deserved I guess.

As for being an EVE fanboi. I am one even though I don't really play the game. A blind fanboi? I don't know. Perhaps in the manner that a fan of any game is blind but I do try to weigh my opinions and I do try to make sensible comments. My error this evening was based on a genuine mistake in interpretation of your post. That was my fault entirely and I do apologise.

I suppose the forcefulness of my response indicates an underlying unease with some of your recent references to EVE. There is a discrepancy between what you appear to think EVE is like and my own recent experiences of the game but that is a story for another day. Today I was way off the mark.
 
They say that you can't reason a person out of a position they haven't been reasoned into.

If someone believes that Blizzard tolerates gold sellers, even though every single piece of evidence is to the contrary, you will not convince them otherwise.
 
"If you read all the comments, there are computer programmers (me included, but I was silenced!) who question him on this statement. Gevlon is wrong, for text filters will impose an unacceptable server load. Of course Gevlon is too stubborn to see this. And note his use of 'strong language' of 'computer illiterates or trolls'. Many people will be swayed simple because of this. But don't be fooled: If you know better, real-time filter of text will lead to unacceptable server performance."

"I'm a computer programmer - so just believe whatever I say! Don't just believe whatever he says!"

Evidence, mofo, evidence! Don't wave around a position of authority as if everyone else aught to forgo any need for evidence because of it.

I dunno about the other side of the arguement, but this side is all hot air assertion.
 
@Ratshag:
"Gevlon has become very aggressive about blocking comments that are not trollish, but nevertheless disagree with the unsubstantiated assumptions that underlie most of his arguments. Thank you, Tobold, for tanking a stand for open discussion."

This is exactly what I'm referring to and the reason for my post. There is no way for readers to gain a fair and balanced view if they're not allowed to comment/view the entire spectrum of the argument.

Gevlon comes up with lots of 'creative' technical ideas but they don't work. Runtime text filtering will result in performance of unacceptable levels.

Furthermore, there is no real way to stop them anyways. freegold.com can be f r e e g o l d . com. Ban the world gold? Lets block all legitimate trades as well!

Also:
"At first it doesn't have to be real time. The channels can be logged and processed later. When the processing is complete, the disciplinary action is delivered"
This already happens. I am certain Blizzard reviews chat logs. So much for your claim that Blizzard tolerates gold-selling!

Also:
Tobold: there IS emblem of frost selling. It's like power-leveling. You give them your account information (imagine what's next), and they play your account, farming badges.

You've obviously taken Tobold's comments out of context. You can't buy frost badges the same way as you buy gold. Giving your account information (similar to powerleveling) is a totally different kettle of fish.

The crux of the matter - Gevlon's base assumptions about Blizzard allowing gold-selling is wrong. To question this will be to invalidate his entire post, hence his aggressive censorship of such comments.

He is living in a fantasy land where this assumption is "clear and obvious" to him.
 
'Because even bots don't farm coin, they farm items and sell them for gold.'

That seems like a completely meaningless distinction. In WoW, non-gameplay activities cause large quantities of otherwise artificially scarce digital objects to be created: you only tie yourself up in knots worrying whether the displayed name of those digital objects is 'gold' or 'loot', and whether this is 'deflation' or 'inflation'.

This is radically different from EvE, where the digital objects exchanged for real-world money do come almost entirely from actual gameplay activities: holding 0.0 space, which you can't do with bots.

In WoW terms, it would be if the drops from high-end raids were tradeable and sold for millions of gold or more. Assume, as is plausible, that noone had managed to set up bot networks or guilds of employees such that they could beat those raids. Then most of the value in the economy would come from gameplay, not non-gameplay.
 
nor illegal RMT in WoW create gold

Actually, that's not true. Anytime an account is hacked and Blizzard has to replace the items and gold lost, they create net new gold/items. And that assumes the hacker doesn't know how to dupe items/gold.

Whereas, with the legal system in EvE, no net new ISK is ever created.

Your assumption is basically true if the only source is automated play or legitimate players, but that's only a very small percentage of the gold sourced.
 
If GG is going to delete all comments that disagree with him, why allow comments at all? Don't pretend that something is a two way communication if it is not. Even better, he could just write all the agreeing comments himself, in order to insure they are laudatory enough. Oh well, Gevlon peaked quite a while ago.

Could Blizzard do more to stop gold sellers? Of course. In the same way they always could do more to improve reliability and decrease lag. Neither will ever truly be solved. Personally, I would do fewer/smaller features and spend a bit more resources on fighting gold spammers but even more on reliability. But would reducing my crashes from once a week to twice a month really sell more product than a new dungeon?

Annoying millions of honest people to try, and fail, to stop gold sellers is a bad idea. The capcha idea is even worse if the rumor is true that a lot of gold now comes from hacked accounts, not low-wage grinders.

I should be able to block any level 1-5 not in my guild or friends list from whispering me or seeing their say/yell (unless I am in a starting zone.)

What if their were a few achievements for this? You report someone for spamming and if a customer service person marks it as blatantly against the EULA anyone who reported them gets their counter incremented, there is a 10 point acheivement for reporting 1, 10, 100, 1000, 5000... You could have a real human, not in the First World, doing a nearly immediate quick glance of the postings of any toon that generated more than X complaints and/or met a certain keyword filter. Perhaps I am shortsighted, but some bot whispering me when I am questing/raiding is a bigger concern that there are web sites somewhere that are selling gold. But reducing gold selling spam is a bit different problem than reducing gold selling.

Pushing Authenticators clearly helps this.

As per your previous post, CCP and Linden Labs have other ways of trying to combat against-the-EULA selling. but I fear that for emotional and historical reasons that wont work for WoW. Blizzard is a lot more constrained with what it can do with an installed base of 11 million versus a new game.
 
It's ridiculous to think Gevlon is doing anything more than baiting comments and page views. It's a tactic so obnoxious that I unsubscribed to his feed some time ago. It's a little disappointing that it wasn't enough to get away from his drivel.

If Blizzard liked the idea of user's buying gold, they would just sell it to them and cut out the middle man.
 
But Gevlon, just because Blizzard has not done ALL they can to stop goldsellers, does not mean they secretly desire them to continue in their existence. There are other alternatives. Blizzard may have simply done a calculation of monetary and annoyance costs involved in escalating the battle, and determined them to be too great. Or perhaps they simply are content with the status quo and are too lazy to do anything. Who knows? You have not presented any evidence to refute the other possibilities, and the fact that Blizzard sued the makers of WoW Gliders and created Warden speaks against your theory.

There simply is not enough evidence to support your point of view here.
 
Anyway you certainly let me know the error of my ways in forceful terms. That hurt a bit but was deserved I guess.

Sorry for my forceful response. The "you aren't allowed to write about X" argument is something I'm allergic to.
 
Gevlon: Blizzard is not doing everything to stop goldselling, therefore they must support it.

Person1: One of the methods you listed is technically impractical and therefore is not useful evidence.
Re: Stop trolling about technical specifics.

Person2: Doing everything would impose restrictions which would ruin the game experience for many players.
Re: Don't derail.

I think what we have here is a failure to recognize that what may appear to be a slight tangent is actually completely relevant. If technical limitations mean that the evidence offered means nothing, then the issue at hand is defense of the evidence, which is a technical discussion. No debate can be stuck on a single topic forever, if it is, it ceases to be a debate because it will cease to take in new information.
 
I couldn't help wondering that "text filters" would cause so much lag, why are there swear filters then?

I would assume an anti-gold spam filter would have to be far more advanced than a simple find/replace on a banned word list.
 
I do wonder about the math behind goldselling for blizzard. IE a lot of accounts are bought to farm gold but a lot of support costs are created from hacking accounts to steal gold.

I think the most important argument against legal RMT in wow is then it has a value. It is much harder for Blizzard to say WoW gold has no value if they sell it to you. The potential for refunds of real $ is much higher when you loose something that blizzard charges $100 dollars for.

Boting doesn't have the same support costs as gold selling through hacking does. I think blizzard prefers to let people bot/power level enough that they want to buy another account when they get banned.

I think really this is three separate issues.

1. RMT = legal issues

2. botting = lots of profit for Blizzard with low cost (especially if they ban periodically and people buy new accounts.)

3. hacking accounts = often to sell the gold and has very high support costs. I think blizzard is working hard to stop the hacking. Pushing the authenticator is the best way to do this. However hacking is the cheapest way for gold sellers to get gold right now.
 
Gevlon had at least one valid point:
[quote]Even better, you can make chat filter client side. The filter evaluates the chat incoming to the players, block them if found spam and automatically press "report spam".[/quote]

Ive been telling Blizz for years (via forum posts and GM chats) that they need to implement a regexp (regular expression) engine client-side and allow the user to set their own chat filters. It would use the client resources thus not slowing down the servers, regexp are extremely efficient from a computer-science standpoint, and it puts the power of filtering into the hands of the people where it belongs. It could be included and updated each patch with a set of valid gold-spam filter strings that would prevent 99.999% of all spam. Plus, the user could update the matches for any new terms used by spammers.

Second point, Blizz (properly) does the bare minimum necessary from an ROI standpoint. It's the low-hanging fruit mentality. I once had an ex-boss (a CPA) whos favorite quote was "Don't violate the piggish factor." It referred to how the IRS would go after the obvious cheats to maximize profit with a minimum amount of time invested. A small "error" on your taxes can be easily explained as a calculation mistake or typo; if they can prove "fraud" you are royally screwed since it removes the statute of limitations on audits and they *will* pursue you. Blizz wisely uses this maxim perfectly.
 
Client side chat filters would not really help the servers at all.

Result would be more gold spammers creating more chat in the hope of getting to those who do not know how to set the chat filters correctly.
End result, more network traffic, more lag.

They may be incredibly efficient, but they do nothing to reduce network traffic as the chat strings get sent to the server and then to ALL the clients before they get filtered.
 
If Blizzard really wanted to stamp out gold selling, there are a lot of easy things they could do to almost completely stomp it out.

Largest among these things is the way they price certain game elements. When BC first came out, and they announced the cost of the epic flying mounts (5,000 gold), gold sellers around the world rejoiced.

They all but created the gold selling market in the first place with the (at the time) insanely expensive mount prices in vanilla WoW as well.

They again gave gold sellers a boon with the 1,000 cost for dual spec.

Instead of a huge gold cost for these things, they could have had a quest chain or some other accomplishment. Making it pure gold, and such a HUGE amount (nearly unreachable for a large percentage of the population) is what gave the gold sellers such a huge market.

As others have noted, tools to block people below a certain level (and not on your friends list/guild) could also help a ton. That has been requested for 4+ years. They don't do it because they want you to field questions from newbies and help sell the game to trial subscribers.
 
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