Gold Farming

February 10, 2006 by Tim

Anyone that plays MMO’s is aware of this problem, which has been around since Ultima Online but as gotten progressively worse in recent years. A long-time plat-seller poster an extensive review into the “business” over the past seven years, which gives a unique perspective on how gold-farming works, and how it has become a more serious issue (note: I have absolutely no sympathy for this guy about being pushed out of business by the large asian farmer networks. They’re all scum in my opinion).

Large organizations of farmers sweep onto game servers and hog spawns and crafting resources, alter the economy based on their actions, and push out regular players by making it more difficult and less rewarding to advance in the game.

But while the gold farmers are the focus of our rage and frustration, they are not the only ones to blame. Because farmers wouldn’t exist in these games if there was no one to sell this stuff to. So while we’re being angry at these organizations for insidiously ruining our MMO’s, we should not forget to hold accountable our fellow players who make this million-dollar business viable.

Some of you may have heard recently how PC Gamer took a stand against Gold Farmer advertisements in their magazine. This is a step in the right direction.

On this very website, we have a google ad bar at the bottom of the page. We don’t decide what advertisements get shown there, but we do have the option of block certain advertisers from showing up, and we make an effort to be extra diligent about removing all gold farmer advertisements. If we miss some, I implore you to report them to us so we can remove them.

Gold farming in MMO’s may be a lost cause. I do my part by not buying gold, and by not allowing them to spread word of their services on my website. But for every person like me that prefers to play a game the way it was designed to be played, with a challenge, there is someone out there who just wants to buy their way to the top, to flaunt expensive items they didn’t earn.

I mean, let’s face it. MMO’s are about community interaction. They’re about playing the game with other people, and part of that is taking pride in the avatar you’ve built up. So the argument of “well just play the game your way and don’t worry about how other people play it” doesn’t fly with me. Because if I spend hours or days raiding with a group so that I can finally get that uber sword I want, and it finally drops, and then I’m standing next to a guy who took five minutes to go on eBay and pick it up, it does cheapen the value of the item for me. That’s just my view.

Some MMO companies do their part. Turbine, the company behind the Asheron’s Call games and the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons Online has always been an outspoken anti-farming advocate.

Sony Online Entertainment tried to combat things a different way, by setting aside official servers where players are allowed to buy in-game money directly from them. I can see the logic behind this. Sony gets to control the amount of money allowed into the game, and keeps the people who are paying for their items separate from people that are earning them. And also, the profit (and it is pure profit for Sony, since they don’t have to invest any man hours into farming, they can just generate the in-game currency) goes directly to the company running the game, which can be used for server upkeep and employee salary, etc. But does it really work? Does it lessen the amount of gold-farming on the regular servers?

Maybe this is just the natural progression of things. Like anything else, supply and demand. I guess I just wish there wasn’t such a huge demand.

Anyway, I’m just rambling. Pay no attention to the man in the bathrobe and slippers clutching a ping-pong paddel and muttering to himself.

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