(Things to do on first day of blogging: write piece about news article that will potentially piss off all readers. check. Bear with me here guys, this one’s a doozy!)
So there’s a Warcraft news story and an opinion piece that I found today, both about online gold selling. And, at a glance, the two seem to be rather contradictory. I”m talking, of course, about these:
- Blizzard wins permanent injunction against In Game Dollar (Peons4Hire)
- Buying MMO Gold is like funding prostitution
OK. So the gist of the first article is that Blizzard won a lawsuit against In Game Dollar as a part of their policy to get rid of in-game spam from gold sellers. Though there’s not any money listed, it’s a step in the right direction, legally, for getting rid of the wonderful chat spam we all SO love to get while standing around capitol cities.
“Essentially, the injunction puts In game Dollar out of the World of Warcraft virtual item and power-leveling business. The Peons4Hire website is down.”
So yay on that count. One down, who knows how many left to go.
The other article is a little more controversial. The comparison of gold selling to the worlds oldest profession seems, at first glance, to be an odd one. But Imre Jele of RuneScape makes an interesting point.
“It’s not necessarily the prostitution which is a problem, although you might have moral problems with it. The real problem is the organised crime that’s built around prostitution; the human trafficking, the drugs, etc. And that’s the same with illegal real-world trading. The problem comes in when they start doing other illegal activities. One of the biggest is the use of stolen credit cards.”
Jele’s solution? Well, he offers two. Runescape has managed to crack down severely on in game gold selling (according to the article), through disabling trades that involve someone getting a large amount of money without giving something in return – implying that the “something” they gave was out of game. The other option Jele mentions is one for the MMO’s of the future: design your games with real world trading in mind. Either regulate it, hoping that by controling the out of game trade you’ll prevent the identity theft, or make the game such that grinding 5K gold for your epic flyer (or 6K if you want a Cenarion Hippogryph) is fun enough that you’re not bored to tears and opt to go hire some peons with real money to make the gold for you.
So which is the option of choice? Can Blizzard really get rid of the gold sellers by suing them? Probably not, in my opinion. The lure of free epix is just too much for some people, who want their fix and want it now. Even if you shut down the major gold selling companies, the only way to get rid of it is to get rid of the demand – which has, by now, become something of a part of the Warcraft culture. I honestly don’t expect to see much difference in the level of goldspam in Warcraft now that this lawsuit has been settled. There are too many companies, and In game dollar is just one of the many.
At the same time, I really rather dislike the idea of Blizzard instituting a standard policy for selling gold. They sell name changes now, and server transfers – but the jump to a little screen that has gold prices for dollars still seems to me a little offputting. Perhaps WotLK will be better designed for farming – I think Burning Crusade was a step up in terms of number of farming options (unless you’re a healer, lulz!) – but somehow I think that the biggest tie between these two articles is that neither of them is going to make a whit of difference in the long run.
So don’t dust off that /report spam command just yet.
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