Years ago, goldsellers were the great plague of gaming. They were everywhere, they were annoying, they were criminal conspiracies that were hacking accounts and credit cards. I flipped the eff out when WAR launched without a working /ignore function and the majority of chat was goldspam during off-hours. Pitchforks and torches appeared when one of our former writers patronized a goldseller.

I know they’re still out there, so why don’t I hear much about them? I regularly get phishing spam at an address not even associated with a WoW account. I do not know how long ago I last saw goldseller ads, because they no longer mentally register, but my sense is that I have seen them recently. Account security is still a big thing, particularly for WoW.

Is it mostly a WoW thing at this point? There is only so much profit available in niche markets. Maybe companies have gotten better about anti-goldspam techniques.

I just don’t hear much about RMT in a F2P environment, and most MMOs have gone F2P or hybrid. If a player won’t pay for the game itself, you probably will not be able to sell him much gold. If a player is willing to pay to get ahead, s/he now can usually pay the developer directly.

: Zubon

Maybe it’s just me.

15 thoughts on “RMT”

  1. Some games are a lot worse than others, made a brief visit to AoC recently and the gold spam in that game is bad, contrast that with Lotro, and I can’t recall ever seeing spam in the game. Both are ‘F2P’ games, and I’d say Lotro has 2 or 3 times the active users than AoC. Is it the business model, or the importance of in-game currency or the players each game attracts, really hard to say.

    1. There’s no profit for goldselling in lotro — there’s nothing on the AH to buy typically. I’m overflowing in gold (650gp at last check) and I don’t even try.

      The game is gear limited and top raid items are BoA. The only thing you might want to buy off the AH is a worn symbol.

      PvE is rediculously face-roll easy so the top gear is only needed for the top raids, where it drops anyway.

      Maybe I’m just a lotro hater after years of playing it and watching it devolve into a complete grind fest with uninteresting non-raid content and unbalanced PvP.

  2. Outside the MMO world, Diablo 3 added a Real money Auction House to the game, in addition to their normal gold based AH.

    Despite that I still get lots of spam in General Chat from players trying to sell gold directly. Even with the means for a player to pay their own money directly (and legally) to the developers for items, there still exists a market for gold farmers to make money. I’m not sure there is any solution out there that will entirely wipe them out.

  3. Atlantica still sees regular gold spam, despite the fact that you can (basically) buy gold from the shop directly.

    EVE devs are constantly fighting botters/sellers, and with more force than ever now.

    As you mentioned, everyone gets WoW spam in email accounts.

    I’d say its still out there, probably as active as ever, but like a lot of other things in MMO land, we have grown to accept it. Or just numb.

  4. Spam doesn’t seem to have much connection to the business model.

    If you take a look at it from the company’s perspective, it’s actually not that bad either way:

    1. In a free-to-play model (one that sells gold directly), the company gains so much from selling gold themselves, that third-party farmers typically hurt them a lot less. There is some financial lost. The company looks slightly greedy for trying to enforce their monopoly on the trade (which is perfectly fine, really).

    2. In a subscription model, the company isn’t financially hurt by goldselling, but it hurts the game quality. However, by periodically banning thousands of bot accounts, those same farmers and botters have to re-purchase the game in order to continue. The company still makes bank. The company also looks good by trying to remove a pest from the game.

  5. I never thought about the F2P shift. Assuming a gold farmer steals X/accounts per day… in a F2P game it is more than likely that they will steal a worthless account. In a subscription game nearly all active accounts will have some worth. That kind of makes F2P games, regardless of how the cash shop runs, much less worth the time of an account stealer. Interesting musings. :)

  6. Rift had plenty of goldspammers when I was playing regularly. There were always a couple in the main square in Meridian spamming in /say.

    In EQ2 I rarely see them now. I get an in-game goldselling email maybe every other month, at most.

    Every true F2P game I play has lots of them, though. Generally they use local chat not global (I imagine global gets them GM/CS attention much faster) so if you aren’t in the newbie areas or around the banks you might well be unaware of it.

    What I do see in almost all MMOs nowadays are open solicitations for Powerleveling services, sometimes RMT. sometimes in-game currency. Not doing your own leveling seems to be booming.

  7. We still have influence sellers in CoH, but they’re mostly just hanging out in Atlas Park at the CH. The devs have done a good job of making it impossible for them to spam broadcast/email the way they used to, so they’re pretty much a non-issue these days. Of course, the idea that anyone would need to BUY influence in CoH is pretty laughable anyway – 10 minutes on the CH sets you up very easily.

  8. I recently checked out C9 (Continent of the Ninth Seal), a new F2P action-RPG. Holy crap. I have never seen so much gold spam in my life. More than every other game put together, it feels like. And this too does not have a working ignore function, as far as I can tell.

  9. There’s still gold (ecto, zkey, maybe strongbox?) selling in GW. I think the only place I’ve seen spam in a long time is GToB, but there’s still at least a little bit of a market for it, and as far as I know there aren’t any real blocks on it.

    As for D3, I sold all my gear as a set through the official forums after playing for a few weeks. I figured I had a chance of making more money if I sold it as a set (I’m nearly 100% sure I did) and wouldn’t have to pay the 15% or whatever it is to Blizzard. I’m not a farmer, but I still had a strong motivation to sell outside the official channel.

  10. I wonder whether a mandatory authenticator would permanently eradicate the ransackery?

    Though players would probably shun forced inconvenience, it would essentially shut down account stealing (although gold-selling is another issue). Ever think we’ll see a required authenticator MMO?

    Though on second thought, it’s probably not worth the effort.

  11. It seems attitudes have changed. Someone told me recently:

    “Buying yourself an account with a pimped char or gold from gold sellers gets you into the big guilds, as it shows dedication.

    Social suicide and instant /guildkick in ages past…”

    1. The big guilds adapt to whatever is effective. I’ve found them to be generally fairly relaxed about gold buying since at least about 2006 as long as you’re not a drag on a raid. If you bought a max level character but don’t know what any of your buttons do, the instant /guildkick is still there I’m sure.

      1. The attitudes changed with the goals. Beating the boss first is more important now than being a recognized entity in a virtual world.

  12. A lot of it is down to game design. In WoW gold buying peaked around the time of Naxx 40. In order to be a top raider you needed a string of potion and flask buffs up almost all the time and would be wiping all night. This meant one night’s raiding would use dozens of flowers and many guilds raided 6 nights a week. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to pick those flowers which were heavily camped on the older servers as well as going to work and raiding all evening. So it was a pretty open secret that virtually every hardcore raider bought gold or didn’t work fulltime.

    They limited the amount of potion buffs you could have at once in TBC which did a lot to make things more manageable. In WotLK it became much quicker to put a raid instance on farm status so that further reduced the workload.

    Gold is a substitute for work and the market for gold varies with the workload designed into the game for the game’s most dedicated players.

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