Tobold's Blog
Friday, March 12, 2010
Gold, entitlement, and morality

As I mentioned in the previous post, Tobold the tauren shaman of Single Abstract Noun is now level 20. What I didn't mention is that he has 851 gold pieces in his pocket, having earned 1,092 gold over his live already, starting from nothing, and with no outside help. That is something I *am* proud of. But I also realize that this is just me having unusual goals in World of Warcraft. Some people care for fast leveling, others care for achievements, I like to earn gold. And one of the reason why I'm planning on earning some more gold with that character is that I plan to go dual spec at level 40, plus buy an epic mount, so by then I need to have over 1,000 gold on hand.

Suzina from Kill Ten Rats started playing World of Warcraft in a more conventional way. She reached level 40. She wanted to have dual spec. She didn't have 1,000 gold, nor the experience with the WoW economy to know how to make 1,000 gold fast. So she bought those 1,000 gold for $10. And I can totally understand her. The *less* you know about the WoW economy, the more seducing the idea of buying 1,000 gold at level 40 for your dual spec becomes. Hey, it's just 10 bucks. Hey, I really should have dual spec at this level to have one spec for soloing and one for groups. Hey, you can't expect me to grind lots of green mobs to earn that gold. Hey, you can't expect me to wait another 20 levels for the dual spec while I get the gold together.

But of course the other players in the game don't see it like that. A friend of hers put Suzina on ignore after she told him about her purchase, and not all of the comments on her blog entry are sympathetic either. Other players are likely to make a connection between gold buying and their accounts being hacked, although nobody actually has good data on how much of the sold gold is from hacking, and how much is from farming. It is obvious that there *is* farming going on, which proves that *not all* sold gold is from hacking, but I don't have any idea about the percentages, whether it is 10% hacked and 90% farmed or the other way around. Would you say that buying a used watch is evil, just because there is a chance that the watch might have been stolen? But in any case, bought gold is tainted by that association with such dubious business practices like hacking or scams.

Other players also see buying gold as cheating. Now a Google search on "cheat codes" gets you 26 million results, which tells you that cheating in video games is very widespread. But while most people think it is okay to cheat in a single-player game, cheating in multiplayer games is frowned upon. Even in a game like World of Warcraft, where players are not in direct competition against each other, buying gold to get ahead of other players isn't acceptable to everyone. There is a clash between two different senses of entitlement, the new player who thinks he should be entitled to everything the game offers at his level, and the veteran player who thinks he should be entitled to more than the "n00bs".

In the end there is no easy answer. There are a lot of good arguments why you shouldn't buy gold in a MMORPG, but there are also a lot of good arguments why that action could be regarded as relatively harmless video game cheating. The kind of people who are talking about RMT in morality absolutes are all veterans of the game, whose view is influenced by knowing people with hacked accounts, and whose idea on how difficult it would be to earn 1,000 gold on your own is necessarily different than those of a new player. If we could remove the strawman argument of "all gold is from hacking" from the discussion, and I can only advise everyone to contribute and install an authenticator, we could maybe feel a bit more sympathy towards people like Suzina.
Buying gold isn't evil. Selling gold is.
It is absolutely insane that dual spec costs 1000g at level 40. The price was set as a gold sink for level 80s when the original design was not to be able to dual spec before that.

Then they lowered the dual spec level but didn't reduce the cost. Of course no new player would have that much gold, and of course if you are playing a hybrid you might want to try a healing spec alongside your soloing spec.

I don't blame Suzina at all, and it's a sad (and unusual) fail on Blizzard's part to not correct this. I really hope they reduce the cost of dual spec in Cataclysm if they are seriously expecting new or returning players not to freak out when they see it.
This is ridiculous for more points than I can imagine:
* Tobold has just proven that a lvl 20 can get 1000G by FARMING.
* I collected 5-10K before reaching lvl 40, via business TWO TIMES and documented it on the blog
* Everyone is free to roll a DK, that start as lvl 58, having bags and 20-30G, all flight points, epic mount. This DK can easily farm 1000G.
* Dual spec is NOT an essential feature, even less than mounts. My wannabe ganker lowbie does NOT have dual spec, despite I could buy it 10 times. I simply don't need it, nor anyone else at lvl 40.
* There is no "harmless cheating", unless we claim that the rules are themselves wrong, or meaningless. If everyone else have dual spec, then the REAL newbie can get kicked from Razorfenn Downs for "lol no Dual, what a noob rolf". Which is nonsense.
* Suzina spent MUCH more time leveling 40 than it would take to get 1000G. So risking a ban by telling it to others is a really stupid move.
Grrrr Curse this evil woman for wanting to play a game and not spend her time in front of an auction house making pixelated gold.

The only reason why you- gevlon- ever make any gold, is that most other players play this game to have fun. And for most people fun does not consist of making gold.
So what you should do, is thank players like Suzina who makes sure that there is even a possibility that gamers like you, who find reaching the gold-cap fun- can make gold.
"Everyone is free to roll a DK, that start as lvl 58, having bags and 20-30G, all flight points, epic mount. This DK can easily farm 1000G."

You can only roll a DK if you already have at least one level 55 character.
And it still costs 5K for epic flying, and/or another 1K for cold weather flying. Am I supposed to be sympathetic towards players who rationalize themselves into the position of buying gold for that expenditure as well? Where do we draw the line on what is acceptable and what isnt?

The simple truth here is that entitlement, as Tobold points out, does not justify someone feeling that their time is somehow more valuable than someone elses, especially in a game where the ability to earn gold is so darn easy.

WoW is a subscription game that provides more than adequate means of earning gold using the in-game mechanics. It's about setting goals and making the necessary commitment to reach those goals using the mechanics of the game.

If people dont want to make these goals and reach them playing the game as it is designed, then in all honesty they should quit and play another game instead of cheating and buying gold.

This isnt about hacking and where the gold comes from, it's about the entitlement that players exhibit when they say that their time is more valuable than yours or mine.

Blizzard did not include these provisions in their TOS/EULA because they arent making money off of it, they included those provisions because they make the game and the rules as they see fit and consider gold buying to be cheating. The morality of the issue only comes into play when a player decides to break the terms of the TOS/EULA. Morality, in this case, falls squarely on the shoulders of the players in how they choose to play the game as defined by the rules.
Nils said, "Buying gold isn't evil. Selling gold is."

No one would sell it if no one would buy it. The two are intertwined in such a fashion that they cannot be separated. If one is evil, the other has to be as well.

As for Suzina, I'd have had far more respect for her if she'd not bought gold and posted a rant about how it is silly to have something that costs 1000 gold for level 40 players and called for Blizzard to adjust the cost instead.
Blizzard did not include these provisions in their TOS/EULA because they arent making money off of it, they included those provisions because they make the game and the rules as they see fit and consider gold buying to be cheating. The morality of the issue only comes into play when a player decides to break the terms of the TOS/EULA. Morality, in this case, falls squarely on the shoulders of the players in how they choose to play the game as defined by the rules.

I don't feel comfortable with the idea of a private company telling me what is moral and what isn't. Behind those rules and game design decisions might be considerations that have nothing to do with morality, but everything to do with profitability. Speeding your way up through a MMORPG ultimately always hurts the profitability of the game company, because you *didn't* spend those X hours farming those 1,000 gold.

There is no "harmless cheating", unless we claim that the rules are themselves wrong, or meaningless.

So you never, ever used a cheat code or editor in a computer game?

Sorry, but the rules of a video game do not carry the same weight as lets say the laws of your country. If for example you buy a single-player video game that has 10 levels and you get stuck at level 5 due to lack of skill or reaction time, using a cheat code to play the other half of the game is a viable option, and probably preferable to just uninstalling the game. In a multi-player game the important question is by how much your cheating diminishes the game for the other players, and that isn't all that easy to answer in the case of a PvE MMORPG.
@Tobold: Never. Not once in my life, not even when I was 14. I figured out the solution. And when I succeeded, I was proud of myself.

If I found that the game does not worth the energy to figure it out, I simply stopped playing.

I'd like to emphasize it wasn't a "moral" choice, like "braking the rules is wrong". It would be stupid from me, as I urge people to break the social norms and be selfish.

I simply always thought (yes, even as 14 years old) that cheaters take the fun from themselves, changing the "game" into a "pointless timesink".
It seems a design flaw is behind this.
Through early levelling, characters earn some money (questing and selling items gathered). That makes them rich enough to buy the new features that come into game as they level up (well, new spells). They learn as well that these new features are compulsory.
And then at level 40, they are presented the dual spec, which cost is totally beyond what they can imagine being able to gather. Nothing points clearly that this features is not meant compulsory, and that they will be able to reach 80 without it (which is totally different from not buying new ranks for their spells).
I guess some feel that they have to buy it ; and getting the gold for RL money is the easier way for a first character.
I disagree that there's no moral aspect to cheating in games, Tobold.

If you are playing a single player game, of course, who cares? But if you're playing with other people you're cheating at their expense, and that's wrong even if you think they are imaginary people because they are on the internet.

The "it's just a game" argument is a double-edged sword. If it's just a game, and nobody cares, then why lie (cheating essentially is) to get ahead? If you really believed that the game wasn't important, you wouldn't want to lie to get ahead.
**still not Snotty, still Tam**

I have a vague disquiet about buying gold - not because it's Morally Wrong TM but because it seems slightly dangerous - I mean, opening yourself to the possibility of being hacked or, as you say, the chance the gold was 'stolen' from some other poor soul.

Somebody wiser than me once observed that WoW is not a game so much as a space in which games are played - and although you *can* enjoy the gold-making game (as you seem to be doing on your shaman at the moment), I suppose there's an extent to which it's just a part of the whole experience and actually if it's not a part in which you have any interest having to farm up 1k gold to be able to do the thing you really want to do (dual-spec) is bloody frustrating.

Although what annoys me mainly about this story is the moral outrage directed at Suzina.

Whether 1k in-game gold is "worth" $10 is another issue entirely - and it's a question of whether gold is easy to farm in gold, it's a question of how much not have to farm it is worth to the individual concerned.
Nils said "Buying gold isn't evil. Selling gold is."

Gold buyers are the problem.Get rid of them and gold sellers will vanish.
"If people dont want to make these goals and reach them playing the game as it is designed, then in all honesty they should quit and play another game instead of cheating and buying gold."

Thats. Well said. If you gonna play with other people, play by rules others uphold.

Sorry, but dual-spec is just a convenience. Nothing persuades me that what she did was fair and good. And I think she got exactly what she deserved - she broke "no cheating" rule, so person she played with, decided that further gaming with the cheater isn't desirable.
I don't feel comfortable with the idea of a private company telling me what is moral and what isn't.

They aren't telling you what's "moral," they're telling you what the rules to the game are. When you sign up for a multiplayer game, you implicitly agree to play by the rules. The entire point of a game is that it's a structured activity.

With respect to RMT, obviously some players prefer games that are RMT free. That could be because they think it's more fair, because they don't like gold spam, or for any other reason. That means that developers should be able to offer games that don't include RMT. The only way they can do that is if they can make and enforce rules against gold-selling. The whole structure falls apart if players pick and choose which rules to follow based on their own whims.
I read that post too and to be honest I found that my sympathies were rather on the side of her disappointed friend than on the writer. I just couldn't feel sorry for her. In the end, it's the people buying gold that makes account hacking worth the effort. Regardless of if you have or haven't got any authenticator.

I guess if it was a close friend of mine who had done such a thing I would forgive them. Eventually. But it would definitely make me genuinly upset and disappointed when I found out about it.

I'm horrible at getting gold myself since the gold game doesn't interest me. i would need 1k gold for a dual spec at my new server where I don't have any assets what-so-ever. But I would NEVER EVER sink as low as to buy gold.
In general cheating can shorten the lifespan of your game immensely. In SP games i would seriously recommend against it (that said, i sometimes search the net when i hit a brick wall in a game). But MMOs are a special breed of games. What Suzina did was "cheat" around a built-in time sink, solely designed to keep you in game/subscribed for much longer. "Farming" for HOURS or paying a tiny sum of money and getting on with the fun stuff immediatly, wow, that must have been one of the easiest choices he/she ever made.
(Just thinking out loud here...)

"Hi, Blizzard! I want to activate the dual spec on ToonX, but don't want the grind to get it. $10, you say? Sold!"

Granted, for any alts I create on the same server as my main, this is not an issue. But for a character that I create without logistical (crafting) or financial (gold) support on a new server - I would like take advantage of that sort of RMT, for a completely OPTIONAL feature that we all prospered without for nearly 4 years.

That $10 goes straight to Blizzard, not the gold sellers. As for the argument of shortening the subscription lifespan and financial losses, $10 equates to 20 days of playtime in the US. A casual player would need most of those 20 days to farm up 1000g. Blizzard get their compensation, players gets their dual spec sooner - EVERYONE WINS.
One more thought (though it doesn't apply to the new player so much)...

Cross-server mail within your account to mail BoAs is in the works (yes?). If they included the ability to send gold, that likely remove a major contributor to the reasons people buy. Yes, it helps the gold sellers, too - but if the number of buyers drops, it's still a big win.
I sympathise with both parties, to be honest. The situation - albeit it's in a game - is analogous to the case where a friend does something that you consider legally or ethically wrong, and they don't. We've all been there.

As for making dual spec cost less, I don't really see the need. You can still respec from time to time for a reasonable price if you want to. IMO there's a lot to be said for making a player's first character at least experience the game in something like it's intended fashion.

[IIRC my first character got her horse several levels past 40. I never saw it as a problem.]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gold selling is like prohibition. Its become so commonplace that the act of fighting it is making blizzard the bad guy.

When the general populace refuses to accept that a law is valid and useful then all the enforcement of that law does is undermine the rule of law.

Here in the US we've had a "War on Drugs" going on for over 30 years. without any real headway against the issue.

The only way to stop gold selling is for blizzard to sell it or change the game so its not worth 10 dollars. (unlikely in a game built around time sinks)
A few others have commented on their blogs on this, myself included.

My opinion is she shouldn't have done it, and should be banned, even though it won't affect her in the medium term.
Sympathy? I sympathize with the victims of the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, with lepers who still live lives of terrible ostracization and pain in India, and with my dad who stood at the bedside of his own dying father, never having had the chance to say good bye.

But for the lack of in-game currency to purchase a largely superfluous upgrade for one's avatar that's aimed primarily at level capped players? I find the suggestion mildly offensive.

Instead of taking the purchase of dual-spec as a goal to strive for or the opportunity to explore another aspect of the game (professions perhaps), Suzina contributed to the problem that helped set the 1000g price tag. There is a reason that the achievement of earning's one epic mount in vanilla WoW looks like a pittance in WoW's current economy, and it's not simply the four year span.

Several years worth of undergraduate and graduate philosophy seminars haven't left me any more confident to judge the ethics of Suzina's actions but there are scarcely better examples of entitlement, and the culture, as evidenced by some of these comments, that encourages it.
This feels like that commercial that says...

"You wouldn't steal a womans purse?"
"You wouldn't break into a car?"
"You wouldn't buy gold?"

In so many words, lets say this guy walks up to me with a VERY pirated CD of the latest whoever (Beyonce and her new hit "Shoulda put a GOLD farmer on it") and I buy it.

Who is wrong?

Just because this person did not quite understand the issue, does not mean they also could not educate herself.

Wow has so many signs up EVERYWHERE about buying Gold, that if this person spent even a minute reading websites...would understand how bad buying Gold is.

I can't help it that they were so lazy enough to not read up on this before hitting buy...

Sorry, but, she does not get a pass.
I don't care. Yes she broke the rules and by the letter of Blizz's law should get suspended at the least. However lets take a step back and look at the entire situation.

Given only 1 spec I'm going to choose a solo spec because I can be carried in a group with a crappy spec. If I have two specs then the 2nd one is going to help the group. By making duel specs 1k Blizzard is encouraging people to be carried in a group setting.

Why aren't duel specs cheaper? Sure when they first came out I was fine with the 1k price tag but why haven't they dropped in price?

I'm relucant to advocate Blizzard selling duel specs for $10 in their store because of the slippery slope theory, but if they did I would buy it for my alt.
Wow, there's a lot of anger over someone who spent 10 bucks for fake gold. Pointing out how this is not the same as earthquakes in Haiti and Chile? Really? Wow, thanks for that information.

Anywho, it's wrong because its against the rules, no one can really argue that. I personally wouldn't do it, but then again I also remember not getting my basic riding training until level 43 or 44, so I understand the temptation and don't fault her at all.
Sure, she's getting something with little effort that most other players have to work for. And I do believe by buying gold she's missing out on a certain satisfaction in making her own way in the game, BUT, I'm not the moral/ethical police here. It does not affect my game play so why should I care? In that respect it is like a SP game.

Unless someone here can tell me how her buying gold affects me. (because I just can't feel morale outrage over gold sellers either)
Forrest and Sam have a good bead on this. 1000G in the midlevels is a time sink. Blizzard can datamine some numbers and find how long it takes midlevel players without rich benefactors (new players, maybe even) to grind up that bit of gold, and since time is money in a sub model, they can tie a price tag to it. They can then sell it directly, totally bypassing gold sellers. That's really the only way to flank black markets; change the demand and control the supply.

I'm kind of surprised they haven't already added that as a "value added service" for $10 or whatever, to be honest.

Then again, I think they should put a price tag on instant raid-capable (at the low end of the spectrum, of course) level-capped characters and sell those directly. If "the game starts at the level cap", let people get on with it already if they want to and are willing to pay Blizzard for the privilege.
She did something very stupid; she told people about it. At the very least, she should have said she did it to free up 30 hours of grinding so she could volunteer on behalf of global warming and orphans. Although, alas, the political correctness police have a poorly developed sense of irony.

Personally, I don't get this bizarre hyper-socialist idea against selling gold but many others have a different opinion.

Besides, this is not a console where xBox are quite similar. Someone who has a fiber Internet connection to an 6GB I7 SLI DX11 30inch (750mm???) screen has an advantage over someone dialing in on an elderly laptop with integrated graphics and limited RAM. It would clearly be more fair if Blizzard limited everyone to a 13" viewport and 4 FPS.

I also am uncomfortable to with the "entitlement" rhetoric. You don't have to feel entitled to decide that you prefer 1000g to 0g. or would prefer to make $200k per annum rather than $100k. Deciding that she would rather have 1000g immediately rather than $10 would be a reasonable
choice, absent these other issues.

Instead of player A and B both needing to grind for 20 hours and pay $10, why not allow the option of A to spend $20 w/o grinding while B grinds for 40 hours but doesn't pay? E.g. EVE Online

P.S.: your comment re some gold is hacked, some farmed, and who knows the % is far more rational and accurate than what you tend to find in these discussions. As everyone knows, 87% of all statistics are made up.

P.P.S: In defense of dual spec: prior to DS and LFD, it was quicker and simpler to just level 1-79 as frost/ret/cat without doing an instance. So the first time you were healing or tanking or arcane was at 80. DS makes it easier to at least try out your final spec while you are leveling.
Tobold: "In a multi-player game the important question is by how much your cheating diminishes the game for the other players, and that isn't all that easy to answer in the case of a PvE MMORPG."

This is true and I'd like to address the point.

First off there is clearly quite a lot of account stealing going on by gold sellers. And the authenticator doesn't eliminate the problem.

Next for me as a competitive player matching myself up against other people matters to me. If I get a raid boss killed because I farmed mats go me. If I didn't have time to farm mats and wipe I don't like the notion that the guild next door got the kill because most of them buy gold. I was usually in one of the top three guilds on my server when I was raiding and I'm competitive. I want to compete in an environment where other players aren't cheating.

A very large amount of the WoW experience is being compared to others. Are you doing crappy dps when you do 4k and others do 7k? Did those guys cheat to get that high?

Do you lose your raid spot to the other healer who buys gold for flasks and mana pots?

Unless you are playing in an incredibly casual way how other people perform will affect your game experience a lot. If other people take short cuts your experience becomes worse.

I cannot believe you object to rational gold buying. You preach that time is money.

To this player, the time required to either farm the gold or to learn how to farm the gold is not worth $10. Therefore, the rational choice is to purchase the gold.

Obviously, this person is not stupid, as she is able to earn $10 real life wages with relatively little effort (if she thinks nothing of spending it on virtual currency, a RL luxury).

Therefore, purchasing currency seems the logical choice. Perhaps if she was struggling financially in real life, it would not be, but how can we know, without that information.

Certainly, without knowing her real life earning potential, you cannot judge whether purchasing gold is or is not a rational move,
I find it hard to get too upset about people who buy gold. Whilst I do disapprove of it and wouldn't do it myself, I can't say it's very high up my list of bad things.

It's all very well to say that players could easily make money by farming and selling stuff on the AH (that's what I do as well), but doing that requires a level of understanding of the game, its markets and mechanics that inexperienced players simply don't have. It takes years of playing experience to get to the stage when you know these things.
After grinding and farming and finally being able to buy that epic mount, the sense of actual achievement (yes! I did it!!) made it all worthwhile. Buying gold and being able to get whatever you want, whenever you want it, would diminish that sense of achievement, for me at least - doing things that take time, killing bosses only after getting it right, obtaining out-of-the-ordinary achievements is one of the few pleasures I still get out of the game after years of playing (came in with BC).
Having the feeling of achievement is a personal thing. I didn't get that when I bought my first epic mount or duel specs. On the contrary I was sad to see all that gold go for something I didn't want, but needed to play.

Gold buying/selling is against the rules. I think debating that is moot at this point. Honestly after reading this I'm tempted to buy a couple thousand gold for my alt just to get his epic flyer and duel specs.

I have limited amount of time each night to play video games. On the other hand I make a decent amount of money and spending $50 to get my epic and duel specs is almost worth it to me. My time spent farming/earning the gold is worth more to me than what I would earn.

Further more the WoW AH isn't fun to me.
Buying gold negates every reason that you play the game in the first place. What if you could use money from your wallet to buy more Monopoly money? Or buy back a piece you lost in a chess game? Why even play Wow at all, if you could just pay a little more money than anybody else, and say that you won? Selling gold is evil. Buying gold is pathetic.
How does buying gold negate everything in the game?

Gold can't get me instances or groups. I play the game to beat the encounters not earn gold. This is World of Warcraft not farmville.

If I buy gold to purchase an epic mount and duel specs how am I negating the game? I'm bypassing a time sink to focus on the actual game, dungeons, raids, etc.
He either wasn't a real friend for putting her on ignore, or he's into the game like it's a cult.

What would he forgive her doing, in terms of the game? If he'd forgive nothing, he's not a freakin' friend to begin with. Friends have some capacity to forgive.

Also my rant on it:
Tobold is one of the biggest gold buyers of WoW. That's why he always defend these noobs that buy gold for real cash.

You forget the most important point: once people buy these golds from gold farmers, they are supporting their illegal actions and they (the farmers) will do everything to acquire more golds for sale. I remind you that gold farmers don't play for fun, but for money.

Do you think they don't have any people working on finding out bugs, exploits or dupes that can give them a faster and unfairly way to acquire gold or items?

Gold buyers are the most cheaters ever, because they conquer better things without playing the game itself. Different from the real players, who like to enjoy and to learn a lot about the game they play.
How many newbies I already saw, on the game I play in, with level cap characters and max sets that didn't know about some basic game information?

Since there is no control of this, who pays more will always stay one step ahead of the real players, who waste time by playing, enjoying every part of the content, learning more about the game and conquering their things legally.
Or maybe Tobold is a gold seller. ^^
I'm with Hagu. She should have bought the gold, and kept quiet about it.

10 bucks is not a lot of money for some people. I have friends who earn that much in 10 minutes. Would I spend 10 minutes worth of RL wealth to avoid a couple of hours of ingame boredom? Obviously.
@ Epiny

Gold can't get me instances or groups.

Of course it can....if you have enough. There are guilds on just about every server who will offer ICC runs and your choice of loot for the right amount of gold. If I were someone who didnt believe in playing the game as designed, I could easily pull out my plastic, buy gold and be wearing the top gear in the game in very short order.

It's up to you to determine what is immoral or unethical in the above scenario, and what role you want to play in the process.
Buying gold per se... Whatever.

It's not the act of buying the gold that disturbs me. You want to cheat in your game, mmo or sp - your choice, your life.

What I hte with a passion is the source of the gold and the methods used to gain it in the 1st place.

TBH, I almost have more sympathy for the ignorant/innocent people that buy it without comprehending the source.

I have no sympathy for those that know and shrug it off... Because it doesn't personally effect them - yet.

The same people won't fight for human rights, don't care about "global warming" (or other long term issues, because it will effect the next generation, not them), laugh when their next door neighbor gets burgled, care not about people being mugged, harrassed, discriminated against etc... The list goes on.

The only time they care is when it personally effect them.

I expect that many companies that farm and sell gold "legitimately" also gather through hacking, therefore I doubt that there are many honorable goldsellers.

1,000 is a bit rich, so was the epic land mount prior to recent price drops. There are many examples of seemingly impossible costs to overcome. Yet it is possible to do... I have been doing it for years playing 1 night a week.

In nearly all cases of "want to have" items or skills they are non-essential. The "essential" items have to be earned in game.

I am tempted to fall on the side of RMT for these things - as much as I would be annoyed by the prospect of it. Still I'd rather someone paid blizzard $10 for the dual spec, mount, riding skill whatever and the recieved a BoP item in return.

I have disliked goldbuying/selling for a long time, but until last night it was an annoyance. Now that a mmate has lost 5 years worth of achievemnts and his guilds have suffered too, I am just plain angry.

Sure he will get it all/most back, but it shouldn't have happened and only happened because there was a market for the gold that could be generated by spoiling his fun to make someone elses life slightly easier.
Am I the only one who thinks that comparing this to Haiti or Global Warming is stupid?
For once, I totally agree with Gevlon. Buying gold is absolutely stupid on a number of levels.

One, why waste 1000g on dual specialization at level 40 when you hardly have enough talent points to have an effective dual spec to begin with. You do not need it.

Two, anyone can easily have a 1000g just through farming and working the AH by level 40. I've done it several times on alts with no concentrated effort.

Third, gold-selling seems to be a victimless crime until you get hacked. Then its personal. It doesn't matter if the overall number of gold obtained through hacking is less than farming, people still get hacked over it (and honestly, I see far fewer botters and farmers than I used to, I'd be willing to bet a lot more of the gold sold today comes from hacking than in the past).

Fourth, while making the documentary, Second Skin, the director Juan Escoriaza found that a lot of the gold-selling shops were run by the Chinese mafia. That's not exactly the kind of organization we should be sending money to. So buying gold is hardly "harmless cheating."
Besides the unbelievable amount of unsolicited electronic messages in and out of game, think of botters / paid farmers who ruin everybody’s fun by dominating spawns and gathering nodes for example.

The spawn rate of mobs in WoW might be so fast that this in particular is not a real obvious problem in WoW. But ever failed to advance a heritage quest in EQ2 because named quest mobs that also drop nice loot where constantly farmed by gold/plat-sellers?

That's why buying gold directly helps to ruin the fun for everybody else. Not because of whatever you might buy with that gold, but what is done to “produce” it.

How anyone who not just started playing MMOs could still not grasp this is completely beyond me.
it's all very well talking about how easy it is to make gold, when you've played the game enough to know how to do it.

Pretty sure I didnt have even the 100g required to buy the 1st mount, when I got to it, the first time I played.

The answer is not to reduce the cost but to replace the cost altogether with some appropriately difficult quest content.

One thing ffxi has right is that all the major character stuff like dual-classing, mount, being able to ride the airships, access to certain areas are all rewards of quests that are mostly lengthy, a bit tricky and often require help.
I can honestly say I have never had an instance occur while playing WoW where I thought a gold farmer ruined my experience.

Yes buying gold is against the rules, but I don't think it is ruining the game.
Or maybe Tobold is a gold seller.

... says the guy called Zao Zao :)
you all who judge suzina need to step back a little bit...

those who got 'holier than thou' attitude should think it again..

the friend who ignored her on basis that she buy gold is taking the wrong way by ignoring her.

a good wow friend would said that what she did was wrong but he would never judge her so harshly by ignoreing her.. he would teach her how to get gold.. he would point her to the right direction..

ppl who judge and hate suzina on the basis that she bought 10$ worth of gold should check their real world priority, after all WOW is just a game..
I really don't see why anyone "needs" dual specs at lv 40. They aren't essential for game play. After all the rest of us made it to 80 without them. I'm currently levelling another druid and she's happily sitting at lv 42 without dual spec even though my main has more than enough gold to buy it dozens of times over.
The argument about being carried through instances holds no weight at low level. I've seen plenty of dps specced characters heal and tank low level instances just fine. Plus you don't need dual spec to respec, respeccing worked for four years after all. I would argue you really don't need dual specs until level 80.
Whilst I wouldn't ignore someone I liked because they bought gold, I'd be trying to discourage them from A. doing it again and B. telling the whole server.
I think Blizzard probably should re-evaluate the cost of things though. The difference in cost between the epic mounts at lv 40 and say epic flying or indeed dual specs is somewhat large.
This is a case of someone opening themselves to exploitation for being two things:

1) Uninformed
2) Someone who mistakes "it's available" for "I have to have it"

I'm sitting on six digits of gold on my main, and I once made 5000g on a level 16 on a fresh server over about two weeks of AH trading (about ten minutes a day) with no outside assistance. I couldn't have done it if I weren't already familiar with the player economy. It's okay for new players to be uninformed; I don't blame anyone for that. Dual spec is for informed players and their alts.

The problem is in the second behaviour. This is widespread whether we're talking about legal activities or not. There is no shortage of players who dump their entire lives into a game because the mere existence of achievements, items, or rewards sends them the message, "I have to have this." Their sense of fun comes from having rewards, not earning them. I'm unwilling to reduce their motivations to a single theory like Gevlon's belief that these are all morons insecure about their place in the social hierarchy; often it's just a raw response to what's available in the game. And it's an unhealthy response.

I find it very encouraging that Suzina was ostracized in the game and roundly criticized by other players on the blogs. It tells me that most other players haven't accepted this behaviour as a norm (unlike how complacently most people accept behaviours like media piracy). Forget legality for a minute: gold-buying inflicts direct harms on the player community. I don't really care about gold-buying giving the purchaser an "unfair" advantage; it's not like a StarCraft map hack where we're competing head-to-head, and it doesn't affect me if they cheat. The harm is in making the player environment worse, in polluting the design of the game. In the absence of a serious deterrent, I welcome a social deterrent - ostracism - with open arms.
I still fail to see how gold sellers/farmers are making any sort of major impact on WoW. It feels more like this entire gold farming pandemic was blown out of proportion and mainly created due to forums.
@ Epiny - I think you seriously underestimate how many accounts are hijacked daily in order to keep the gold supply flowing to people who buy gold. The gold sellers rob guild banks, sell off all of a toon's possessions, and slap a bot on it to make it run around a high-level zone and farm on autopilot.

Guilds may lose a reliable raider for two or three weeks, guild masters and affected players go through an ungodly hassle to get their affairs back in order, customer service gets tied up, and the fact that Blizzard restores accounts by creating the lost items out of thin air means we have an oversupply of items crashing prices on the AH and pissing off the players who do, in fact, play the market as a game. Oh, and there's the chat and whisper spam.

If none of this convinces you that gold sellers and buyers have a significant impact on WoW, then I can only surmise the following:

1) You don't run a guild.
2) You don't raid in a consistent progression group.
3) You don't care about the integrity of the market (you've already admitted this).
4) You don't use public chat channels and don't care about them being inundated with spam.
5) You have never been hacked and are fully confident you never will be.
6) You have never had to wait for a GM to respond to a ticket request.
7) You don't know or care about anyone who runs a guild, raids in a core group, plays the AH, uses a public chat channel, has ever been hacked, or has ever waited for a GM to respond to a ticket request.

I don't play much and am not very socially connected on my server, yet on average someone I personally know has an account hijacked by a gold seller every two or three weeks. If you've never seen this and you don't think it affects your experience at all, I can only imagine it's nice and sandy where you've buried your head.
This comment has been removed by the author.
First of all, don't accuse me of getting suckered by external propaganda when everything I described I've seen firsthand.

Second, your belief that none of this affects the game reflects more on your inability to perceive the harms rather than the game itself. "I can't see the problem" doesn't entail "There is no problem."

Third - well, of course being hacked is an avoidable problem. I'm informed about computers and I take serious measures to ensure my account security, and I assume that's also the case with you. The question is whether Blizzard, or for that matter the player community, should take steps to curtail the exploitation of less informed customers. The best way to do that is through education - for instance, through establishing a community-wide stigma against gold buying and informing people of the harms. What you call propaganda, I call education, and a service that informed players perform to build a more positive community. Since Blizzard's purely reactive policies are an ineffective form of prevention, it's up to the players to do this themselves.

Being hacked is avoidable. Guess what: buying gold is also completely avoidable. Driving under the influence is completely avoidable. But the fact that not everybody avoids it transforms a theoretical problem into a practical reality. "The problem is avoidable" is no reason to not deal with the problem once it exists.

Since you don't believe the problem exists, however, nobody will persuade you of anything and there's no point in reasoning with a solipsist. If you can't see me, I can't see you, eh?

Wow I really fired you up, good because you still miss the point I'm making.

The negative effects of the gold buying/selling trade are insignificant compared to amount of people that play. Millions of people play WoW and only an extremely small minority are ever actually hacked.

Everyone makes a much bigger deal out of it than it really is. You can call it an accusation, that's fine. However you do show all the signs of the type of person I'm talking about. You act as those gold sellers are ruining WoW every time you log in, that they are actively destroying your enjoyment of the game. I think you are delusional.

The fact is we have no real numbers on how many people get hacked. We don't know the amount of fiscal impact gold sellers have on the WoW economy. Every fact we do have is based on personal experience and thus no more than an opinion. How can you claim to educate anyone intelligently when you don't have any facts other than some people sometimes get hacked.

I have to back-up @Nick in this argument.

While we don't have statistics from Blizzard on the number of hacked accounts, we do have a large amount of circumstantial evidence for the impact that gold-selling and buying has on the game. Just from a casual review of the requests for help with hacked accounts on the customer service forums we can pretty safely say it's several thousand players a month that get hacked. In addition, while subscription levels for WoW have leveled off over the past year, service support times have increased from hours to several days now for in-game service tickets. That effects every player in the game. Blizzard has even stated on their website, "We regularly track the source of the gold these companies sell, and find that an alarmingly high amount comes from hacked accounts."

Several university studies on the subject from 2008 estimated that over 400,000 people worldwide were employed as gold farmers as of late 2008, with the global trade worth at least US $1 billion per year (Richard Heeks (2008). "Current Analysis and Future Research Agenda on "Gold Farming"". Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester, UK). Other studies think this underestimates the industry with up to 1 million alone in China working as gold-farmers with the trade as high as US $10 billion. Granted not all gold-selling is solely directly at WoW but again I think we can safely assume since WoW is the largest MMORPG that it captures the vast majority of gold-selling. That's an awful lot of people employed and a lot of money involved — for something that you think has an insignificant impact on the game. This is big business for a reason.

And I'm not delusional when I say gold-sellers have directly impacted my enjoyment of the game — I know at least half-a-dozen people that have been hacked causing problems for my guild, seen hackers flying around Sholozar Basin mining ore right out from under my character, and had botters farming quest mobs so relentlessly that I couldn't finish quests.
I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm saying that;

A. The impact on the actual game is over exaggerated

B. The vast majority of players are never hacked

C. We are both using circumstantial evidence to justify our opinion so it sort of negates one another.

I completely agree that gold sellers should be stopped because it is against the rules. I just refuse to believe they are as big of an impact on the game as you.
@Epiny, I agree that we've got no real numbers on how many accounts get hacked. But I fear I have to join the chorus saying that you've only ever known a single person to get hacked, in a long time playing in a large guild, then your experience is on the outlier. My experience is that a number of guildies have had accounts hacked, our gameplay has been disrupted on multiple occasions due to key people being out of action, and we have had a couple of guild bank lootings along with it. The circumstantial evidence I'm seeing is that my experience is more typical than yours.

Also, I'm seeing quite a strong streak of blaming the victim in your posts. Yes, a cautious and informed computer user is unlikely to get themselves hacked, but come on, a lot of not very technically savvy play this game: a lot of children, a lot of people who aren't much into technology beyond a bit of gaming. Your contempt for their ignorance seems to be a lot stronger than your condemnation of those who do the actual account stealing.
People shouldn't get hacked, but the internet isn't Disney Land, it is a dangerous place. There are viruses, adware, trojans, and millions of other little things out there that can get you. With a little common sense you can avoid 99% of these out there. Bottom line is the internet isn't safe.

I'm a fan of the old saying burn me once shame you burn me twice shame me. If you get a virus that at all damages your system once or you have a friend who does from that point on you should be aware of the risks.

Yes I do blame the user a lot because quite honestly the majority of the time it is the users fault. Blizzard HAS taken steps to eliminate the threat of account hacking with the authenticator. There are aids out there.

This has sort of spiraled away from my original point. Hacking aside I don't see any impact from gold sellers on WoW.

I also feel the amount of people being hacked is over exaggerated and everyone feels circumstantial evidence should count as conclusive evidence when citing how often it occurs. The forums are a poor place to get a true census of the 11 million WoW subscribers and what is effecting them.

That doesn't mean I think it should happen or I don't feel bad for the victim. I do however recognize that more often than not it could have been avoided if the victim had practiced better personal security as it pertains to the internet.
@ Epiny

You can't blame the victim for a getting hacked. You can practice the best internet security practices known and still get can exploit installed on your computer. There's a small secret about virus and malware protection that most people don't realize. Anti-virus and malware software only protects against currently known attacks. There is always a potential window of vulnerability when an exploit is released.

For example, just like a few years ago, a programmer devises a Flash ad exploit and distributes it via online ad purchases for his gold-selling employer. That exploit is in the wild for hours or days before Adobe can patch the exploit and anti-virus software companies can update and distribute their virus definitions and sites can take down the ads. Or, take the new trojan that installs the man-in-the-middle attack on the authenticator and was effective because it used the same sort of window of vulnerability. It's not the user's fault that they get infected merely because they aren't a computer programmer and can't recognize potentially suspicious code when their own anti-virus or malware software may not catch it either.

As for the impact of gold-selling on the game, think about this. Revenues for gold-sellers are between $1-10 billion dollars annually. Even on the low end, that's more revenue than Blizzard makes from WoW subscribers annually. One gold-selling firm even says 70% of their revenue is WoW-based (see:

That's an awful lot of gold injected into the game that wouldn't be there normally causing inflation for mats and crafted items, a lot of farmed mats in the game that wouldn't be there normally, again affecting the game economy, and a lot of accounts hacked that wouldn't be hacked otherwise (and who cares if it's thousands, hundreds of thousands or a million hacked accounts annually). Blizzard has said over and over that dealing with the ramifications of gold-selling and buying dramatically affects their day-to-day customer support and game design operations. Why would they even care if gold-selling had little or no impact in the game?
Maybe not all gold seller's money comes from hacking, but all money from hacked accounts go to gold sellers and hacked accounts are used for gold farming. I know, because I've got hacked...thrice.
Even if number of hacked accounts was relatively negligible, the fact, that buying gold directly supports account hacking shows, that it is unethical.
Or put it more bluntly...In order that hundreds of Suzina-like gold buyers have better game experience, hundreds of hacked players have their game ruined. And the latter can "thank" the former for that.
Every stolen car is resold second-hand. Thus buying cars second-hand is unethical, because it directly supports car theft. Or at least that is what you are saying here.
Ok, my argumentation was not completely logical, so let me refine it using your example of stolen and used cars.

When I buy a used car, I require that its papers are ok and I would feel bad, if I had suspicion that it may be stolen and thus in fact I was supporting car theft. If there was not any kind of certification on used car market and I would have strong anecdotal evidence that many of used cars are stolen, I wouldn't buy one.

The problem with wow gold is, that you cannot say this 1k is stolen and this 1k is farmed and I will buy this 1k that was farmed and not that one stolen from hacked account.

So when buying used cars, you can avoid buying a stolen one and thus behave ethically.

You cannot make an ethical decision when you can't be sure where the gold comes from. And when actually you can be sure, that part of it comes from theft.
To return to the point "why is Dual Spec available at level 40, when it costs 1000g to aquire?".

What I think Blizzard should have done (and could still do) is treat it the same as the "Tome of Cold Weather Flight". Make it an item that can only be bought by lvl 80 characters (or perhaps lvl 60 or 70+ characters), and can only be used by lvl 40 and above characters.

This way, it would be clear that it's meant for people re-rolling, and not for people leveling up for the first time.

And besides, we have done for a long time without double specs, just with a single spec and re-speccing when needed.
And we went for a long time without flying mounts, so you don't need those either.

We went a long time without Dungeon Finder, so you don't need that either.

We went a long time without enscryption so you don't need that either.

Features have been added to the game and you can't just say "we didn't use to need them" as justification for someone not buying them. That can lead us to the argument that we don't need 10 man raids because we use to have 40 or that I walked uphill to school both ways in the snow.

Duel spec is a feature implemented by WoW and if a level 40 character can use it, then they have the right to assume that the game is now designed to assuem they could have it.

In the great Gevlon ideology duel specs is a Social Game feature. It doesn't so much help you as it helps the group. It has been proven that yes you can be carried with a bad spec but having the right spec makes everyhing easier, and in some cases funnier.
It's an interesting exercise if you compare these comments with those of the goldbuyer amnesty.

The outrage seems to be focussed not on the fact that she bought gold, but that she reported about it.

Perhaps this shows the limits of blogging?
So when buying used cars, you can avoid buying a stolen one and thus behave ethically. You cannot make an ethical decision when you can't be sure where the gold comes from. And when actually you can be sure, that part of it comes from theft.

What if you learned that 1% of second hand cars that seemingly have correct papers are in fact stolen, and the papers forged? Would you need to avoid buying any used car, just because of the 1% chance of the car being tainted by crime?

Sort of agree. No one seems to be upset with this potential "unfair" advantage of buying gold. It's the effect on the game that the gold sellers have that people seem to rage over, and since they can't target the seller they find the closest associate.

I'm still not convinced it is as big of a problem as everyone is making it out to be but I'm in the minority on that and I can live with that. I'm not going to lie though, this entire discussion has made me want to buy gold just to spite some of the more... fanatic posts. :)
Just amazing responces - although no has any physical cuts or bruises on them from this (show me where on the doll gold buying touched you...) they even embrace physical sanction upon someone for doing it.

And yet I bet these same people are shocked when they hear how some religion somewhere will persecute people to preserve imaginary characters.
Think the Goblin for once has a point. This case is really not about the principle of buying gold which is a totally different and complex matter. Its just not very smart to buy 1000G. Its risky cuz you might get banned and you midht get hacked. It doesent take alot of effort to get that even at level 40. Moral aspect aside, it might be worth it buying gold for epic flying + cold weather flying. 6k gold takes some time to get and you really want that 280 speed flying fast.
What if you learned that 1% of second hand cars that seemingly have correct papers are in fact stolen, and the papers forged? Would you need to avoid buying any used car, just because of the 1% chance of the car being tainted by crime?

If chance was 1% I wouldn't avoid buying used car. If chance was 33% (i.e. one of three cars on market was stolen) I would, because I would know, that the theft is fueled by the used car market. If it was 10%, I would hesitate.

You see, it all boils down how strong you perceive the link between gold buying/selling and hacking.

As someone who was hacked three times and one time my account has even been attached to authentificator by hackers and thus couldn't log on for three days and then discovered that they were farming with my account...and all this with keeping all general security measures like updating my antivirus and not falling to any scam e-mails, I take gold buying very personally and from my point of view, every gold buyer contributed to my situation. However small her part was.
For me, every gold buyer indirectly supports hacking. I cannot simply treat account hacking and gold buying/selling as two independent things, when there is really a causal link. For you, this link is negligible. In my personal history, it is huge. I was hacked, because someone wanted to sell my gold and farm gold with my characters. I was hacked, so that people like Suzina can buy their gold. For me, behaviour of gold buyers is unethical, because I know that their actions harm me.
Yaggle said...
"Buying gold negates every reason that you play the game in the first place. What if you could use money from your wallet to buy more Monopoly money? Or buy back a piece you lost in a chess game? Why even play Wow at all, if you could just pay a little more money than anybody else, and say that you won? Selling gold is evil. Buying gold is pathetic.
(12/3/10 21:55)

Having the most money wins the Monopoly game, yes. But, a skilled chess player will handily beat opponents even if said opponents are given (or buy - LOL)extra pieces. And winning in WoW is certainly not measured by the size of your coin purse.

Gold does not make you push button in the most efficient sequence, nor does it stop you from standing in The Bad™. Gold, whether acquired through the AH, dailies or bought outright, is a tool that allows you to enhance stats (consumables/enchants/gems/glyphs), buy a few select pieces of gear (that aren't necessarily the must-have best-in-slot items), or relieve some of the grindy aspects of the game - but it DOES NOT MAKE YOU PLAY BETTER.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool