Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Buying WoW gold, the other point of view
The St. Paul Pioneer Press has an article about a casual player buying WoW gold. Very well written, and balanced, telling the story from both points of view.
The author of the article is obviously a casual gamer, and he recounts how farming money by collecting tradeskill resources or killing harmless monsters was a "drudgery" to him, due to not having very much time to play. So he went to IGE and in 20 minutes got 500 gold for $60. He explains how that allowed him to concentrate on the fun part of WoW, questing and leveling up: "Like any self-respecting lottery winner, I had essentially quit my job and grabbed for life's gusto."
On the other side it is mentioned that "Many players feel that buying high-level character accounts, rare items and in-game currency devalues the long hours of play put in by hard-core fans. There is also a suggestion that buying gold inflates prices in the "WoW" auction house, since wealthy players are more likely to bid up items." The article also quotes Greg Vederman, editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, whose magazine recently announced that his magazine wouldn't accept ads from gold sellers any more. (The current PC Gamer has a quite amusing reply ad to that from SOE, saying that they are strictly against illegal gold sales, and that players should instead buy the legal gold on their Station Exchange. PC Gamer did *not* refuse to carry that ad.)
I liked the St. Paul Pioneer Press article very much, because it shows the matter from the point of view of the buyer. It raises some very valid points, like "IGE operates right out in the open, but well-heeled MMO companies like Sony Online, Blizzard and NC Soft do not seem inclined to address the issue. Perhaps they have worked the numbers and reached the conclusion that an appreciable number of their paying customers enjoy the option to buy outside normal channels." I find it hard to believe that Blizzard couldn't sue IGE if they wanted to.
In any case, I still think that the existing demand for virtual currency is a result of bad game design. If making money in the game was actually fun, and not the "drudgery" described in that article, demand would plummet, and gold farmers would go out of business. Blizzard banning 1,000 accounts once a year with loud fanfare for selling gold is just a publicity stunt which only sets back the gold farmer a tiny bit. The hardest hit Blizzard ever landed on the gold selling business might well be the line in the 1.10 patch notes announcing that soon you will be able to make gold at level 60 from questing, transforming each 1600 xp of quest xp reward into 1 gold piece instead. This has a large potential of persuading potential buyers of WoW gold for an epic mount to go questing instead of shopping at IGE.