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Posts with tag economy

Why the IRS won't invade Azeroth

The Weekly Standard is the latest media publication to take up the flag on an interesting but so far theoretical subject: the idea of placing taxes on goods bought and sold in online universes, including our own World of Warcraft. Their latest issue has a look at the markets, both virtual and real, appearing around online games, and they claim the markets are "much bigger than you might expect."

They quote both CNET and Wired on studies of the interaction between real and virtual dollars inside games like Project Entropia and Second Life, and come up with what seems like a pretty inflated figure to me: $880 million to $1 billion annually in the market for virtual goods. That, they say, is a big target for the IRS to go after. They end on a recent summit, at which an economist apparently claimed he was striving to determine "what is a taxable event in a virtual world."

Interesting article, even though it does get a little bit too overspeculative at the end. For those of you who want it, my analysis is after the break.

[ Thanks, Vince! ]

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy

Why buy from vendors?

Undying just dropped an interesting question in our comment box: "Why," he says, "buy stuff that a vendor sells?" Of course there's exceptions, he adds-- reagent and tradeskill vendors sell some things you can't get anywhere else. And some rep vendors sell stuff that's better than you can find anywhere in the world, leading to what amounts to "item overpopulation" (I've seen all the thousands of you out there wearing the Immovable Object-- Lemmings! That's what you are!). But what Undying asks is why anyone would buy those white items vendors sell at all, when it's easy to grab something dropped from an instance, or even buy it off the AH for cheaper.

Which is a good question. There's a lot of good reasons to buy some things from vendors. I always keep an eye on what they're selling in terms of recipes and magic items-- Auctioneer will sometimes tell me that I can resell a vendor item for more on the AH, and that's easy money. And I have-- only once-- bought one of those white items from a vendor. My warrior was in Stranglethorn Vale, and I was leveling up so fast I'd forgotten to get a new weapon, so it turned out the vendor's axe was better than the one I had equipped, so I used it until I could make my way into an instance and get an upgrade. And I know some level 60s that will buy some cheap boots from a vendor, just to put Mithril Spurs on for riding.

But Undying's right, especially at the higher levels, the stuff the vendors sell seems, well, filler. Is there a reason to buy from vendors at all? Or are they just the garbage receptacles of Azeroth, destined to take your trash and never sell any of their own? And what exactly do they do with all those Bear Gall Bladders, anyway?

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Economy, NPCs

Breakfast Topic: Where does your money go?

Ever found yourself looking at your pitiful stash of gold and wondering where on earth it all went? Log in daily to find yourself spending more cash than you earn? Once you reach a 'comfortable' amount of money (for me, it's about 200g) it's easy to spend freely, but a gold here and there quickly add up, putting you on the fast track to Brokeville.

Personally, I find almost all my cash goes on repairs and potions -- with a recent unlucky streak of multiple wipes due to lag, I've definitely been haemorrhaging money during raids. PvP is also costly, though at least I don't have to provide ammo or feed a pet. Thank goodness I have profitable tradeskills! Where does your cash go, and how do you juggle the demands on your pocket?

Filed under: Economy, Breakfast Topics

Blizzard Closes Another Round of Accounts

In their never-ending war against the evil gold farmers of the planet, Blizzard has announced that during the month of May, over 30,000 accounts have been suspended, removing over 30 million in gold from the economy across all servers. Now, just look at those numbers for a moment: 30 thousand accounts closed. That's a number of subscribers that many small game companies would love to claim as their entire playerbase, and those are not only just the cheaters in WoW, but only the ones who got caught! And 30 million gold out of the economy...that's...well, I'm actually not sure what the hell that means, because I'm not an economist. i'm sure Ben Stien could tell you.

In any case, the bottom line is, don't cheat, or Blizzard will get you. If they're lucky. You can read the full announcement at the official homepage right here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

How to Spot a Bot Farmer

I'm not sure if this counts as racial profiling or not, but the official Blizzard forums have an interesting thread on ways to spot a bot farmer. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a bot farmer is a program, running without direct human control, used by lowdown, cheating gold farmers to collect money in the game without even having to actually play it.

The thread lists several different, highly debatable (all alliance bots are Night Elf females?), criteria for spotting a bot , and even gives some screenshots & video examples to back them up. I don't know how close to the truth it actually is, but it's an interesting read. I've never knowingly come across a bot myself (although I probably have & didn't realize it), but I'll be keeping a curious eye out after reading this...

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Cheats, How-tos, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, News items, Economy

In-Depth Article on Gold Farming

One of my favorite new WoW sites, Metroblogging Azeroth, has a great article today that goes deep into the controversial world of gold-farming. Author Jonas Luster details the many ways that buying gold outside of the game impacts players, developers, and the gameworld itself, with a knowledge of the game that makes his observations all the more relevant.

There are plenty of things that the average gold buyer (who is almost certainly not some intrinsically evil person) probably never takes into account when they purchase gold from a farmer, aside from what shiny new armor it will buy them; they could care less what it does to the economy of the game. Then, there are those who actually believe the practice of gold farming is healthy for a virtual economy, and for people coming from that school of thought, Luster makes a convincing case why, in the end, everyone suffers from the actions of those few. Not to mention the connection he makes between the largest network of online gold-selling sites, and a trio of convicted child molesters.

It's good readin'. Check it out here. Thanks to Sean for the link.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Odds and ends, News items

Interview With Author of Synthetic Worlds

We reported a while back on Edward Castranova, one of the prominent economist studying the economy of MMO's.  Businessweek Online has a featured interview with Mr. Castranova (I wonder if he's related to the new drummer for Journey?), in which he discusses his new book on the subject, and the future of online MMO economies.

The economic aspects of MMO's are a fascinating subject for me, as I've said before, and this article is a great read for anyone interested in the subject. You can find the full interview here.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

Gold Farmers Sending Out Press Releases?

As you might imagine, part of my job (aside from crime-fighting) involves poring through the latest WoW-related news items on the web & deciding which are worth pointing out. Sometimes there are some questionable items out there, but today I came across a story on PRWEB, apparently out of Halifax, Nova Scotia (Trailer Park Boys rule!), that is essentially nothing more than a big PR release for a gold farming/powerleveling site, no doubt trying to further bleed our beloved virtual economy dry.

I won't mention the actual site in question, as I don't want them to recieve any traffic thanks to us, but I do think that this is A: a pretty ballsy move by the company in question (although they claim not to sell gold or powerleveling, only to rate other sites that do), and B: a pretty telling comment on the state of the virtual goods market; if these businesses are making enough money to have their own community of peer-reviewed sites, then it's obviously getting to be a bigger issue than anybody intended...most of all Blizzard.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Economy

Dubious practices #2: Buying gold

A secondary gold market has sprung up quickly within Azeroth, offering players the ability to use real world earnings to endow their characters with virtual gold, and it's now flourishing. There are two sides to this business -- buying and selling -- and we'll leave discussion of the farming aspect for a future article, concentrating for the moment on the activity players either love or loathe: buying gold.

Our recent survey of readers showed that a surprisingly large percentage of you have bought gold or are considering doing so. Especially for the casual player, without spare hours every day to dedicate to endgame raids or grinding for mount money, buying other people's hard-farmed gold may seem like an easy option which enables you to keep up with your guildmates and friends. The benefits for your character are immediate: you can shop in the AH to your heart's content, buy that epic mount, and have some cash to flash when twinking an alt.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Economy

POLL: Do you buy gold?

GoldFollowing today's trend of activities some find unethical, here's a head-scratcher for you. Many services have sprung up across the Internet offering in-game gold for real-world cash, marketed by gold farming corporations.  Scraping together enough for your mount may seem like a drudge at times, and especially for the casual player who hasn't the time to run thousands of instances, buying gold seems like an easy option to "catch up". What's your stance on buying gold?

Sorry, this poll is now closed. Thanks for voting.

View Results

Filed under: Polls, Cheats, Economy

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