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Posts with tag gold farmers

Life of a gold farmer gallery


You may recall Julian Dibbell's recent piece in the New York Times where he traveled to China and visited some World of Warcraft gold farming operations -- giving us a good look at life on the other side. However, just as interesting as his words is his recent publication of pictures from the trip on Flickr. If you take the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, then this gallery has quite a bit more to say than the original article.

[via Game Girl Advance]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Galleries

Are gold sellers the key to WoW's continued success?

On Monday, Blizzard banned several thousand accounts found using third party programs to fully automate killing and looting, aka botting. These programs are largely used by gold selling companies employing farmers to speed up the rate at which they can supply gold to the many buyers out there. But a columnist at the Lightspeed Ventures site has a different take: he proposes that gold sellers are actually the independent application developers that are integral to the success of any online venture.

No matter where you fall on the gold farmer debate ("they ruin the game" vs "they fill a need the developers refuse to acknowledge"), you have to stop and think about this particular premise. Lightspeed, a venture capital company that funds technology companies, asserts that any platform needs three critical elements to succeed.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, Economy

What are the gold farmers up to now?


I'm sure you've heard that Blizzard's anti-spam additions to the game have caused gold selling spammers to change their tactics. However, it certainly hasn't stopped their activity -- they're still out there, spamming us with raid invites, says, and messages over general chat channels since they can no longer do so in whispers. Lately I've been joining their raid groups to see what they've got to say, and, of course, report them. However, earlier today in one goldseller raid, I noticed that instead of listing their full site name, they're telling you to visit, for example http://www.i*****.com/. i*****.com? What? Is that even a valid domain name?

My questions are soon answered, as later in the message, the spammer explains that the ***** stands for something else, which does turn it into a valid domain name. But I have to ask -- why are they doing this? It just makes it more difficult for their potential customers to figure out where to go, so I presume there must be a reason they'd do this. So, even though there's nothing official from Blizzard, I have to think that they're doing something that causes trouble for the spammers if they use their full domain name. Are they flagging people using known gold-selling domains in chat for further investigation? Since we haven't heard anything from Blizzard, we can't say for certain. But until we hear something, there's room for speculation.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy

World Wide WoW: The New York Times, gold farming, and righteous anger

The New York Times has an interesting article about gold farming, which does a lot to help us understand what gold farming is really like. The author is very insightful, both in his grasp of how WoW works (though he seems confused on details, like "night-elf wizards"), and he is able to communicate well with the Chinese who work as gold farmers. The article goes into greater depth than I've seen so far in any report on the issue, and even includes a video, apparently part of the gold-farming documentary we reported on a while back, to give you a first hand look at what the farmers' lives are like.

There are many interesting things in the article, but I'd like to highlight one particular insight here, regarding our relationship to these seemingly strange people in a far away country. "On the surface," the Times reporter observes, "there is little to distinguish gold farming from toy production or textile manufacture or any of the other industries that have mushroomed across China to feed the desires of the Western consumer. The wages, the margins, the worker housing, the long shifts and endless workweeks - all of these are standard practice." Many of the Chinese who moved to the cities from the poor villages scattered all about are facing the same problem. The system provides little to no opportunity to arise out of poverty fueling the demand for cheap products to be sold in the West. Understood in this context, gold farming looks just one of many industries arising out of the relationship China has with the US, providing everything they can as cheaply as possible -- a relationship neither country is quick to change. (Some of my own friends from the countryside work under similarly grueling conditions running their own small restaurant near where I live in China. They seem happy enough but it may be that they just put a good face on things for me every time I see them. Their lives are not easy.)

This is different from the usual textile sweatshop job, however: these people work in the same virtual space that we play in, and we the players are not happy about it: "In the eyes of many gamers, in fact, real-money trading is essentially a scam - a form of cheating only slightly more refined than, say, offering 20 actual dollars for another player's Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly." So true.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, World Wide WoW

The latest in summer jobs for kids


Mowing lawns is so passé, delivering newspapers is totally last year. These days kids have found a new way to make money: selling WoW characters on eBay.

But how, might you ask, can they get around the fact that this is clearly against the TOS? Evidently they are posting disclaimers on their auctions, letting bidders know that they aren't selling the characters (which are the intellectual property of Blizzard,) but are instead selling the time it took to level that character.

In a CNBC segment on the topic, one kid mentioned that he gets around $400 for a level 70 character. He puts his profits right back into the business as any bright entrepreneur would, reinvesting in characters he will then level up again to sell to – you guessed it – Chinese gold farmers. Now, as much as I like the idea of news we have been writing on for weeks getting mainstream coverage, I have to wonder if this disclaimer business isn't just a loophole to get past Blizzard. What do you think? Is it breaking the TOS to sell the characters even with a disclaimer, or is this just a novel workaround enabling kids to make a profit off their play time?

[via Jane Wells]

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

Is real money for game items in our future?


No, this isn't something Blizzard is telling us -- they're still out there fighting with the issue of people buying and selling gold. However, Jeffrey Steefel, executive producer of Lord of the Rings Online, who seems to think that in the future, how MMO's handle the secondary market of gold, item, and character sales is going to have to change. In an interview with Eurogamer, he says:

But, we all know that something will happen in the next two to five years to business models in general, so we're paying attention to what's going on [with the secondary market]; watching what's going on with Sony Station whose servers support and manage this.

Does Steefel have a point? In the long run, is the only way to fight the secondary market to legalize it and integrate it with our games? But even if you look at Everquest II, where Sony provides an official method for selling gold, items, and characters for real cash, there's still a secondary market. And I've got to say, if Sony's method doesn't stop secondary market gold sales, I've got to wonder if any method of legitimizing the trade will. And while we wait to see what Steefel decides to do with Lord of the Rings Online, we can watch Blizzard approach the problem in their own way -- in the courts.

[Via Joystiq]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

Class-action lawsuit filed against IGE

Speaking of lawsuits, Terra Nova is reporting that there's been class-action lawsuit filed in Florida against IGE for... well, I'll let you read for yourself:

The case involves IGE's calculated decision to reap substantial profits by knowingly interfering with and substantially impairing the intended use and enjoyment associated with consumer agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and subscribers to its virtual world called World of Warcraft.

The lawsuit seeks both monetary damages and a stop IGE's gold farming activities. (If you just can't get enough legalspeak, you can take a look at the entire text of the lawsuit here, via Terra Nova.) Now, I have to admit that I am not a lawyer and cannot tell you whether this lawsuit has any substance to it. However, I can assure you that over here at WoW Insider we'll be looking for any updates on this -- so we can pass them right on to you.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Economy

Interview with a farmer


No, not a farmer in World of Warcraft gold farmer, but an Everquest 2 plat farmer. When EQ2 player Ogrebear received a tell from someone trying to sell him plat, he responded how he usually did -- with a threat. However, this particular plat seller actually responded to Ogrebear's tell, resulting in an interesting conversation that gives us a bit of insight into the industry.

So what does this farmer make? About $100 a month for seven hours work a day. (Ogrebear notes that that's 71 cents an hour if he only works five days a week.)

How many characters does this farmer go through in a week? Seven. But apparently it's profitable enough to keep at it.

What's this mean to those of us playing World of Warcraft? It means that Blizzard has an uphill battle ahead of them -- the farmers are making enough money to keep at this, despite bannings. And I've got to wonder if they can ever ban enough of them. Perhaps this explains Blizzard's recent push to resolve this issue via legal methods.

[Via PlayNoEvil]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

The spammers new (old) methods


While poking around the World of Warcraft LJ, I couldn't help but notice that the spammers are back at it again, and apparently using some of the old tactics that they used to use. Well, tactics that they used to use before they figured out how to script spamming hundreds of people in a split second from a level one character. For those of you who either don't remember them, or who aren't familiar, I thought it might be best to relay the information.

There are a couple of main tactics that they seem to have started employing since the new patch is squelching their ability to get to us. The first one involves random group or raid invites where the spammers invite a massive amount of people and just repeat the same text over and over in party or raid chat. While many people will not fall for this, these blind invites may prove problematic for those people who are using the LFG tool. The best suggestion I saw was to /who anyone who sends you an invitation to make sure that you aren't getting invites from level one characters.

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

Azeroth Interrupted: Introducing a column about balancing life in Azeroth with life on Earth

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

My husband, who plays WoW 5 to 6 hours a day at a minimum, informed me the other day that playing video games in general and WoW in particular was very unproductive. Most people would give him the Captain Obvious award, but I consider the timing of the statement a bit odd, considering WoW Insider just hired me to write a regular column (yay!) about balancing real life with WoW. Certainly, playing WoW can range from being a very pleasant escape to ruining your life, but that is actually the case with any hobby or recreational activity. The fact is that, with a little effort and planning and lots of learning from mistakes, you can successfully balance real life with WoW and even use WoW to make real life better.

There are many examples of WoW players using their hobby for being productive, and I am not even talking about the despised and pitiable gold farmers. I'm also not talking about the Blizzard employees, because anyone in the video game biz can tell you that working on a video game can not only ruin your fun in that game, it can make you not want to play any video game at all for a while. But there are people who use the social aspects of WoW for professional networking, there are the professionally sponsored arena teams and there are people who actually put their WoW playtime on their resumes.

Of course, there is more to life than just making money and WoW can help there, too.

Read more →

Filed under: Azeroth Interrupted

April Fools Alert #3: Blizzard gets rid of gold farmers

Gold barsTobold reports that in patch 2.1.0 Blizzard is planning on getting rid of gold farmers in just three simple steps. So in patch 2.1.0, you should expect the following:
  • The ability to send items, gold, or CoD packages via mail will be removed. You will only be able to send letters via the in-game mail system.
  • The ability to freely set prices in the auction house will be removed. Since players could transfer gold by putting up a worthless item for a high-price buyout, the minimum bid and buyout amounts will now be set automatically.
  • The ability to transfer gold via the trade window will be removed. However, to allow people to market tradeskills, the trade window will be transformed into a tradeskill window -- allowing the crafter to select a recipe and the buyer to insert materials, for a pre-set fee. When the buyer provides materials and the money, the crafted item winds up directly in the buyer's pack after crafting.
With no ways to transfer gold to potential buyers, the gold farming industry will quickly go out of business. Huzzah to Blizzard for finally solving this problem!

Filed under: Fan stuff, Humor

WoW Moviewatch: Chronicles of a Goldfarmer


This video is hardly new -- its time stamp places it squarely in the middle of summer 2006 -- but it remains entertaining nevertheless. Just what the World of Warcraft needed: real investigative journalism on Azeroth's true scourge, the goldfarmer!

Previously, on Moviewatch...

Filed under: Machinima, WoW Moviewatch

Breakfast Club: Gold buying is naughty

We have had a lot of Breakfast Topics over the course of the past year. Some subjects are more popular than others. Some topics only appeal to certain classes. Some only to PVP junkies or the Naxx raiding crew. And then some topics completely explode and become the most commented on Breakfast Topic thread of the year.

Gold buying and you is the topic that inspired more comments, and more arguments, than any post this year. It started innocently enough. One of my guildies mentioned he had bought gold, was promptly tossed from my guild, and I wrote a post about it. You guys took it from there. There seemed to be three camps of folks in the comment thread...
  • People who don't condone gold buying under any circumstance. Shadowbrand hopes that those that buy gold get "ganked until the end of time." Pretty harsh! They blame the overpriced economy on gold farmers, and ultimately on the gold buyers. Gold buying is bad!
  • Another, more neutral group, that while they don't buy gold, can see why someone might. Lykaon makes the point that gold farming equals time and time equals money. He thinks gold is easy to get, so he doesn't buy any, but he could see the rationale behind those that do. If you don't have the time to farm it, why not buy it?
  • A rather vocal minority who believe that buying gold is just fine, and that everyone else is on the wrong page on this issue. Forsaken points out that he has bought plenty of gold, and having a wife and kids makes it too time consuming to spend hours and hours mindlessly farming.
So there you have it. If you haven't read the comments in the gold buying Breakfast Topic, you really should. A lot of our readers went out of their way with some really excellent comments. Of course, some of the conversations get a little heated, but hey, it's still fun to read! And if you have any new opinions on gold buying, by all means, leave your comments right here!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Features

MMOs and the Secondary Market

The Escapist has a good article discussing the secondary market of various MMOs. It doesn't focus on World of Warcraft, but gives an interesting broader picture on the practice of buying and selling currency in virtual worlds. The question of whether players can remain competitive at this point without the aid of additional financial is a curious one. In Azeroth, additional gold, BOE items, or power-leveling can certainly be of help, but are they necessary to keep up with the rest of the players? For PvP, I'm tempted to answer "yes" - as the bar to reach the upper ranks of the honor system is so high as to make it neigh impossible for many players to reach - unless they do nothing but take short breaks for sleeping and eating between play sessions for weeks on end.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

Breakfast Topic: Fewer Farmers?

I wrote a while back about an odd lack of farmers on my own realm at the time. And, with yesterday's additional account closures, I wonder if other realms are starting to see similar relief. Will Blizzard's continued efforts against the gold selling community really have a long term impact on the game's economy? Or will the farmers simply continue finding new methods to avoid Blizzard's watchful eye?

I personally think it will be a constant battle on Blizzard's part - but if they stick to this sort of approach, they can make farming sufficiently difficult that it may become a less lucrative business. But that's a long-term view - the important thing for current players is how are conditions today? Does your realm seem to be lacking in farmers since all of these account closures?

Filed under: Economy, Breakfast Topics

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