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Posts with tag goldselling

Chinese prisoners forced to farm gold

The Guardian ran a heartrending story yesterday about prisoners in China forced to farm gold on behalf of their prison bosses. After spending their day doing backbreaking labor, they would spend the evenings farming gold in games like World of Warcraft.

According to the report, it's likely that the prison bosses made more money from the sales of these online currencies than they did even from prisoners' manual labor. If prisoners were unable to produce enough gold during their shift, they would be physically punished.

"They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things," said one prisoner in the report.

Blizzard's been fighting gold farming practices for a long time; we'll likely never see "legal" gold selling if Blizzard can doing anything about it. This story illustrates one more reason you should not support these services.

Note: Comments on this post will be closely monitored. Racial insults, personal attacks or any of that nonsense will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be banned.

Filed under: News items, Economy

Drama Mamas: The case of the gold-selling guildie

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

I received the gift of massive drama for the holidays, which is why we went on an unscheduled hiatus. But that hiatus ends now. The promised roundup post will be next week, which means there is still time to get us the results of a letter we answered should you wish to be included. Just drop us an email at DramaMamas@wowinsider.com.

In the meantime, we have what this week's letter writer calls a "dilly of a pickle."
Dear Drama Mamas,

I have a situation in my guild that I could use your advice on. I am a senior officer in my guild, and some troubling news came to my attention a few days ago. It seems that one of my guild members is selling gold in real life. He's been using guildies' cool downs and the other guildies' professions to make items to sell on the AH. Originally, I thought it was to make items for himself, but that turned out to be false. The dilemma is that he's been in the guild for a while. He was an original member, then left, and came back about 4 months back. The other thing is that he's not selling the gold on a website. He's selling it to his real life friends because he's on work disability and his disability money will not allow him to play WoW, so he supplements his income by selling his WoW gold.

Thank you.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

The Lawbringer: Legal gold sales? Not a Blizzard's chance in Hell

Welcome to The Lawbringer, wow.com's weekly feature on the intersection between World of Warcraft and the Law. I am a third year law student acting as your crossing guard and trying not to get run over myself.

As an introduction to our promised discussion on gold farming, I wanted to address an idea that's been circulating in the WoW blogosphere. There has been some talk that Blizzard could solve the problem of gold farming and hacked accounts in one fell swoop by simply selling the gold themselves. It's an attractive idea on its face, as some feel as though Blizzard's current ban on Real Money Transaction for gold ("RMT") is nothing but an ill advised Prohibition. Permit people to buy gold through Blizzard, the argument goes, and the keyloggers, site spoofers, hackers, and spammers will go back to the rock from under which they came, just like the Mafia disappeared after alcohol sales were permitted in 1933. Oh wait...

The obvious problems have been pointed out before, including: rich brats will have more advantages over folks with jobs and bills; inflation will cause Azeroth to resemble Zimbabwe, the Weimar Republic, or -- God forbid -- Norrath; players will be forced to pay up to stay competitive; WoW-clone MMOs will follow Blizzard's lead, leaving players with few refuges from RMT markets; Blizzard devs will be "encouraged" to design the game around acquiring and spending more gold; players who can't remember website names will still think "www.l3g!t-w0rlduvw0wcr@ft-g0ld.c0m" is Blizzard's website and download keyloggers, etc. Some don't believe this parade of horribles is enough to discourage Blizzard from creating this quixotic market. To the doubters, let me add some legal issues that would affect Blizzard and players, namely: property rights, taxation, and investment advice.

Any of that sound like improvements to you?

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

Avoiding gold-selling scams


Tobold has an interesting post up on getting scammed by businesses claiming to sell in-game gold or items. While, yes, it's easy enough for them to take your money and hand you some in-game cash, it's easier still for them to take your money and then not bother doing anything else. (And try to explain that to your credit card company when you dispute the charges...) And once you've lost real money to such a scammer, what's your next recourse? Well, a lot of people will call customer service and complain -- Sony cited frequent customer service calls as one of the reasons they legitimized the trading business with their Station Exchange. But Blizzard's not going to be able to do anything but snicker when you call and complain that a gold-seller took your money and ran, so, really, buying gold could just leave you with a hole in your real and virtual pocket. The only way to be 100% sure you get what you pay for is obvious: don't buy gold in the first place.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Economy

Mail system changes (ftw?)

In a change that didn't quite make the 2.1.3 patch notes, the behavior of in-game mail has been tweaked in order to help ensure that monetary transactions made via mail are legitimate. To give Blizzard more time to check mail-based money transfers, mail sent with coins attached will now take an hour to arrive (yep, just like all other mail). Now, before you get upset about this, let me add that transfers of both money and items between characters on the same account will remain/become instant. So you can shuffle things around between alts and bank characters faster than ever -- this change only applies if you're sending coin through the mail to other players.

Though I doubt this change will stop in-game gold-selling completely, it's good to see Blizzard continuing to be proactive about the issue.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard

New gold seller tactic: Trying way too hard

This picture, available in greater detail here, comes to us from Sid on Proudmoore.

Apparently, a certain gold seller got creative when trying to figure out ways to advertise past Blizzard's spam filter. The gold farmers created hundreds of identical level 1 gnomes, postion-hacked them into mid-air, and let them fall to certain doom in a way that spelled out the web address of their gold-selling site, which I'm not going to name here because I don't want anyone to get keylogged or anything. Looks like they've lost part of their "W", though. Players on Arthas, Frostmane and Eitrigg have reported the same tactic by different companies.

This makes me kind of glad I'm Horde, because I can't see anyone finding enough flat ground in Orgrimmar to do this successfully. I also have to give credit to the gold sellers for trying way, way too hard on this one. Taking the time to make all the level 1 gnomes, hack them into midair, and then arrange your company's name for ... what? Is there anyone out there who actually sees gold selling advertisements and goes, "Gee, buying gold. I never thought of that before, but now I will visit your lovely web site. Thanks, Jmhmltcawf/random dead gnomes!"

What's next? Raids made of gnomes whose names, read in conjunction, make up an advertisement, kind of like those old Burma Shave signs?

Thanks for the tip, Sid!

Filed under: Economy, Humor

Exclusive Interview: Wowhead and Affinity Media

I was actually running Wailing Caverns with a few guildies from IctfB on last Friday night around midnight when I heard the news: Wowhead had sold for $1 million to Affinity Media, the company that supposedly ran IGE, the notorious goldsellers. We'd received a tip from someone who claimed he used to work for IGE, and we rushed to get the story up and also make sure it was right-- word was that Affinity didn't own IGE any more, and that Wowhead had maybe sold because of that.

Still, in the week or so since, players have had plenty of questions. Did Wowhead sell out to goldsellers? Did Affinity really sell IGE and are they really out of the goldselling business? And why did Affinity want to buy yet another database when they already owned both Allakazham and Thottbot? And perhaps most importantly, what kind of changes would come for Wowhead?

WoW Insider got a chance to sit down for an exclusive chat with both John Maffei, president of the ZAM content network at Affinity Media, and Tim Sullivan, CEO of Wowhead, to talk about Affinity's past, the sale of Wowhead, and what's coming next. They wanted to clear up questions, and we wanted to get answers. To read the full, exclusive interview, click the link below.

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Filed under: News items, Economy, Features, Interviews

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

Why the botters do it

Frybread over at Notaddicted yesterday posted about a chat that he had with the owner of an American gold botting company. Evidently the massive gold farming bans that went through on Monday hit his company especially hard. First of all it's interesting to note that there are such companies in the US as well, so China doesn't have complete monopoly on the illegal gold selling market. So what is it like inside a botting business?

Well, the anonymous business owner runs an office with about 150 computers. It sounds like a lot for a guy who runs his business using bots, but he explains that all tells need to be made by actual people since they are monitored constantly. When asked how many accounts he lost in the ban sweep on Monday, he says 100. All of his characters were between levels 40 and 70, which answers a lot of questions I've been having about all those people I have been competing with over primals.

The question came up, why do it if you risk losing your business? The reply was clear and without hesitation: I'd rather deal with the risks then [sic] work a normal office job. This is now the third time I have read an interview enlightening the reader to the plight of the poor goldfarmer just trying to make a living at the game he loves. But if you love the game that much, why do you abuse its rules and harm the player base to make a profit? Sure he lost 100 accounts, but he'll have those back in a month, and will be out skewing economies once again.

[via Notaddicted]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

Who's buying all that gold, anyway?

Really, I'm curious. Who's buying this stuff? I've seen goldsellers advertising gold in amounts of up to 11,000 -- for over $1600. Perhaps you're doing a double-take at that number, but it's not a typo -- I do mean sixteen hundred dollars. Now, I paid $50 for the game itself, another $50 for the expansion, $15 a month to play, and the occasional $25 to move characters around, which means I've spent over $500 on this game in the two years I've played it. That already seems like a huge amount of money to me -- but if gold sellers are out advertising $1600 worth of gold, that must mean that at least a few people are interested in spending that much.

All I can think of are the cries of agony that surely follow when the buyer is inevitably banned from the game. Blizzard does keep track of gold transfers, and I imagine that transfers in such high amounts set off red flags in their system. So what happens when you've just spent $1600 on virtual property that Blizzard has politely reminded you belongs to them? (Yes, Blizzard does hold on to the idea that all in game items are their property, and thus cannot be bought or traded for real money.) I can think of less risky ways to invest!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

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

Where's all the spam gone?


In today's breakfast topic, I noted that I haven't gotten any gold spam in the time I've played since patch 2.1.0 came along. And oh, what a change it is! I was always a good little player, taking the time to report any gold selling spam to a GM, but usually by the time a GM got around to looking at my ticket, I'd have gotten at least five more piece of spam -- and that was if I opened my ticket during off-hours.

So what's the magical change that's stopped spam in its tracks this patch? Obviously, there's the new spam reporting system, which makes reporting anyone an easy task: just right-click on their name and select the "report spam" option. You'll no longer get whispers, see text, or receive mails from that player for the duration of your game session and the incident is automatically forwarded on to a GM. But even if every player were duitifully reporting every spammer, I wouldn't expect such a dramatic change in the level of spam. CM Drysc notes that as of the patch, trial accounts can no longer whisper other players -- at least not without players whispering them first. I don't know about you, but I think this simple step may have been the magic bullet.

Filed under: Patches

Breakfast Topic: Favorite 2.1 change


We've all had at least a day (our European friends are a bit behind us, but I have no doubt they have also managed to form their opinions) to play with patch 2.1.0 and digest the many changes contained therein. While the Children's Week quests (and the non-combat pets you get from them) are super fun, but what I'm enjoying most is the lack of gold selling spam. At least for me, this near-constant nuisance has completely vanished since the patch came out -- though perhaps I'll have a different opinion tomorrow. So, I ask, what's your favorite aspect of patch 2.1.0?

Filed under: Patches, Breakfast Topics

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