Jul 2nd 2007 7:33PM I'm sorry to hear it obviously. I think there are some people we can reach, and some people we can't--and it'll always be that way. Regardless, I'm sorry to see any customer go.
I still think it's dangerous to say "I refuse to support the kind of people who MIGHT support RMT if it was profitable." EVERY company is in the business of self-preservation. GOOGLE would support RMT if it was profitable--and in fact, they do. Look at the top of the page and check out the Google Adwords. Wowinsider "supports" RMT to--there are RMT ads on every page of this site. I've even gotten personal emails from people who browsed this site and saw my comments, and decided to ask me if I knew where they could get 1000g cheap.
By saying "I'm not going to support a business that is willing to support RMT if it made them money" you paint yourself into a moral corner that's hard to get out of. I think your energy would be better spent boycotting Kraft foods to take money out of Phillip Morris' pockets. Or, if you're concerned about the RMT industry and the state of the games we both play (Horde side on Draenor ftw), I recommend you spend your effort ensuring that RMT continues to be an unprofitable business. Report spammers, gold farmers and bots. Keep your computers secure and prevent keyloggers. Boycott the RMT companies directly--Don't spend your time, energy and effort trying to bring down Wowhead. If you do, nothing's going to happen to Affinity Media--they'll keep right on doing their thing. It's Evilseed, Skosiris, Mystadio and myself that are going to suffer if Wowhead goes downhill, and our little corner of the company will get sold off to someone less scrupulous just like IGE did.
Jul 2nd 2007 4:59PM Still reading.
Yeah, I agree. Allowing people to buy gold for real money in World of Warcraft is silly. It's just like sitting down to play chess with someone only to have the shell out ten bucks to play with an extra queen. It defeats the purpose.
The point though is that Affinity isn't doing that anymore. I don't pretend that it's because the Chairman of the Board suddenly "saw the light" or some such. It was purely a financial decision, I'm sure. But it reflects a happier reality, I think--that thanks to the combined efforts of both the players and the publishers, RMT in the traditional sense is no longer a viable business model in the US, unless you intend to dodge the law. Businesses are starting to get the idea that the customers don't WANT RMT in their games, and whatever short-sighted financial gains may be spurred by getting into the business will be outweighed in the long run by the loss of face and reputation in the gaming industry.
In short, the good guys are winning, and I couldn't be happier.
Jun 29th 2007 1:18PM To answer your questions--
Firstly, Brock Pierce is still on the Board of Directors. He's stepped down as CEO of the company, but remains on the board, as dictated in the announcement at www.affinitymedia.com. No doubletalk there.
Second of all--regarding IGE. Firstly: I am WHOLLY out of my depth here. As stated in the interview, there isn't any crossover between the two businesses, and as such I know basically nothing about the inner workings of IGE, except what I have managed to gather through personal conversations with Brock. So if you want details, I recommend you contact a representative of IGE directly. But I can give you my own personal impressions.
Brock is two things--he is a businessman, and he's a geek (and I use that term with fondness as one I identify with myself). He loves technology, he loves the internet, he loves games, and he loves being an entrepreneur. He started IGE in the very early days of online games, before RMT had any sort of moral connotations to go with it. He saw a point where his two loves, technology and business, came together--and he jumped on it. I think he envisioned a world where RMT would be embraced.
For better or for worse, that's not the world that developed. I think Brock had the choice of either abandoning this business model which excited him so much, or fighting to make it both viable and accepted--and to me, the choice is obvious. I imagine that the scum of the earth that now fills the RMT business saddens him, because every stolen account makes it harder for the company to become an acceptable, legitimate form of doing business, which I firmly believe has been his goal all along. But again, this is just the feeling I get from having met him.
I think it's worth noting that EVERY major player in the MMO industry that has actually met the ZAM Network Staff has walked away from the meeting by saying "That's a pretty cool bunch of guys." Allakhazam, Thott, and now Evilseed have all heard the stories about ZAM. But sit down and have dinner with the team, and it becomes clear who we are and what we do. It's only the hordes of people who want to cast judgement upon us from afar who can maintain such a negative opinion of us.
Jun 28th 2007 11:35PM It's also worth noting that the C2C auction side of the business is another, totally different type of RMT. We're not talking about farming large amounts of virtual currency and offering it to the user, we're talking about providing a platform upon which players can buy, sell, and trade virtual items to one another. This works in one direction--i.e., needing a rare magical item and buying it from another player for $5--but it also works the other way, as in a player can find a rare magical item and sell it for $5, instead of for gold. It's a system designed to synergize with games that are BUILT for that kind of play. For instance, "free-to-play with the chance to buy virtual currency directly from the publisher" is a very popular business model over there right now.
I don't know if this system would work in the US--it doesn't seem very likely, especially considering the anti-RMT sentiment that's prevalent in this country. But nonetheless, this is NOT the RMT that the players are typically subjected to in WoW. I hate even USING the word RMT, since it has such negative connotations, but I fear that if I used a different word, it would be branded as "corporate linguistics".
Jun 28th 2007 8:06PM The issue primarily is that the anti-RMT environment that exists in the western world does not exist as such in Korea. As far as I understand it, the Korean market is very excited to embrace the auction platform that Affinity is developing.
The RMT business as it is prevalent in the United States is a bad thing. I wholly agree. Gold farming, keylogging, exploiting other user's accounts, and the sleazy corporate politicking found in RMT companies in the US are a scourge to gamers everywhere.
In the Korean market, though, the RMT trade is totally different. Games are built from scratch with RMT in mind--games that would flop in the US for the same reason. It's not just allowed, it's expected. This is not an environment that you or I would thrive in--but I don't think it's fair to to boycott a company on those grounds unless you're prepared to make the statement that ALL RMT--including consensual, above-board RMT between legally governed parties in an environment where RMT is encouraged--is INHERENTLY morally wrong. That seems presumptuous to me.
Jun 28th 2007 7:54PM Ah! I think I see the source of the misunderstanding.
Let me quote for emphasis: "And, you know, he had some concerns about our past affiliations with IGE-- WE HAVE SOLD THE BUSINESS, but we actually told him, they're different businesses, we're very interested in investing in the content space, and this is where we really want to focus on."
IGE has been sold. We no longer own them. It was not sold to a representative of the company--it was not sold to someone who has any direct affiliation with us whatsoever. There is no shell game here--the class action lawsuit pending against IGE does not affect Affinity Media at all. There is absolutely NO connection between IGE and Affinity Media, aside from past history.
Affinity Media does still own some assets in Korea, which are based around the theory of facilitating transactions between players, rather than farming gold for resale. In Korea this is a widely popular, mainstream, accepted practice. It is not accepted practice in North America, and so Affinity has made no significant effort to develop that business here. We're trying really hard to integrate our business with publishers.
Even when IGE was a part of the company, it struggled because of Affinity Media's insistence on remaining a legitimate business. IGE didn't use unscrupulous means to further their business, and as a result they're being forced out by businesses which DO use less scrupulous means--like the aforementioned Peon-related website. This, I believe, was the primary motivation behind the sale of the company.
Knowing now about Brock's resignation, I hope it makes Brock's comments at the VGSummit a little more clear.
Jun 28th 2007 7:43PM Sorry, that was unclear. Brock Pierce decided to sell IGE in April, and soon after resigned his position as CEO of Affinity Media on good terms.
Jun 28th 2007 7:40PM Brock Pierce is the founder of IGE, and at the time of that article's writing, was the Chairman and CEO of Affinity Media. It was his decision to sell the IGE business.
You can see our announcement at www.affinitymedia.com.
Jun 28th 2007 7:00PM Shefki--I'm really doing everything in my power to answer these questions as straight as I can. What is there that you feel is unanswered?
Jun 28th 2007 3:51PM Everybody knows there's no way to kill a WoW site faster than with gold ads. IGE's name was well known enough that they don't need the extra publicity from us. And as far as the business in Korea goes, Wowhead isn't really a very popular site over there. :)