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In-game items for real money: Why is this even a full-time profession?

Over the years, I have always been wondering why people can tolerate online games long enough to sell in-game items for real money, lol.

It has morphed from small time sellers making some bucks on the side by selling in-game cash for real cash(and accounts with castles and other cool stuff) in UO, to companies like IGE who are successful enough to take out full page color ads in computer gaming mags on a regular basis and cover a wide variety of the more popular games out there.

Aside from the obvious issue of people being too lazy to earn the item or money on their own, I have always wondered about the legal issues surrounding the sale of in-game items and money for real money, and more so, of accounts.

I am not a lawyer, I consider myself an informed consumer...I see the EULA's for the games I play, which seem to state in not exactly clear english, but clear enough legal language, that you aren't allowed to sell accounts or the "intellectual property" of certain gaming companies.  Yes I know there are a few games out there that actually allow this stuff, and I'm fine with that, obviously I'm not talking about them.

Is it just that this practice is so widespread nowadays that gaming companies don't even really enforce their own policies? Is it that they are worried about offending or alienating their fanbase? I am really wondering here. 

If anyone has any links to articles that may have been written concerning this issue, please post them because I am very interested in figuring out this little mystery.

On a side rant, I see many of these things for sale, with a "legal disclaimer" if you will at the bottom that says you are paying for the "effort", not the actual item.  Who the heck did the legal research that that is any more legal than selling the actual item?   

 

Bartle's test results

Explorer 73%
Achiever 60%
Socializer 46%
Killer 20%

Comments

  • MalianeaMalianea Member Posts: 314

    Oh great, another thread for people to bash IGE, etc. which will of course lead to posts about how MMORPG.com sucks for letting them advertise.

    Give it a damn rest already. New threads on this subject every other day are ridiculous.

    __________________________

    Malianea

  • VolkmarVolkmar Member UncommonPosts: 2,501

    i suppose the topic has many ramifications.

    For one, the market was not big enough to justify worries from the main companies. Now, tough, it is.

    Secondly, legal procedures and computer age are... not compatible. it takes months or even years for a single legal procedure to go to completion (if it goes to court in the first place). Most of the time when it is done, the point of the contention is already moot. So, for companies, opening many legal practices against many singular individuals is simply not feasible and as we are speaking of fraud, no murder or robbery, they do not get exactly priority.

    Secondly, it seems, and this is somewhat scaring, that the companies are more of the idea to legalize the procedure than to fight it. a microsoft spokeman, when speaking of the new X-box2 live system, said that the system will be set up so that many microtransactions would be possible from the user to the company with a points system. So that actually selling of virtual property becomes a reality and people are gonna pay 2 dollars for the secret Dante's costume or 50 dollars for a WoW mount.

    The discussion wasn't centered on MMorpgs in particular, but surely they would be part of the deal (if any mmorpg is ever released on the x-box2).

    If a big company like microsoft (susprisingly is always them that start to make money from not-so-clear ways ah?) starts SUPPORTING this kind of behaviour it is all over. Eventually it will become a common practice and all companies will follow suit.

    Before that comes, we remain in this limbo in which the only company to make some serious pressure on thos people was Blizzard (and it is still to be seen if the pressure will do anything or even be continued).

    Have a nice day.

    "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime"



  • JorevJorev Member Posts: 1,500

    Well you misled us a bit by straying off topic.

    The reason this is a full-time profession for some, is because it pays better than minimum wage.

    Perhaps you should be ranting about raising minimum wages to an actual living wage?

    image
    "We feel gold selling and websites that promote it damage games like Vanguard and will do everything possible to combat it."
    Brad McQuaid
    Chairman & CEO, Sigil Games Online, Inc.
    Executive Producer, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
    www.vanguardsoh

  • OwynOwyn Member Posts: 337

    Agreed - micropayments are coming. This IS going to be the business model of the next generation of MMOs, folks. Get used to the idea now. It's already a dominant payment format in Asia. It's coming to the US for XBox2 Live. It should hit PC games shortly as well.

    No monthly fee to play. But, instead you will have items or services you can purchase ingame for a fee.

    Frankly, I don't find the system appalling at all. I think that if a game is built well for it, this system should work just fine. I wouldn't want to pop it into an existing game without a lot of modifications, mind! But in a game that was built from the ground up for it? Sure - it'll work fine.

    - Think about Runescape - with going on 300k subscribers, and over 50k players online even at way off-peak hours. And it's a really poorly built game. But because it's free, they have one of the largest populations of any MMO in the US. Of course, they earn their money by charging a fee for higher end content...

    - What about personalized adventures? You and a few friends reserve a GM for a certain day, who takes you through a special, personalized quest - basically just like a GM in a pen and paper game. Four hours of fun for only $20 each...?

    People will complain that those with more money will gain an advantage; that it will disrupt the "purity" of the genre. Guess what? That already happens. In WOW pvp, my high speed internet and state of the art computer mean that I get no lag, even in large melees, so I can duck and dodge around players, cutting up higher levels who are mired in lag, for instance.

    What about time, too? With the current system, can't a player who actually works for a living complain that they are at a disadvantage compared to people who can play 12-16 hours a day? That they are getting less for their money because they are not able to play as much?

    Well, no, I don't really think they have much room to gripe, because they knew the game mechanics before they started playing. ;) But the point IS valid that current games use Time as a currency as much as Microsoft is talking about using Money. Which is used is not really relevant (with the avg age of an MMO player being over 26 now, anyway!). What matters is that players know which is being used before they start playing, and that the game is designed to handle the system chosen.

    Owyn
    Commander, Defenders of Order
    http://www.defendersoforder.com

  • OwynOwyn Member Posts: 337

    Oh, whoops! Got off topic too there.

    To answer the original topic:

    Cost of a DSL line, $40.
    Cost of a bot to run a game: Free
    Cost of 10 computers to run a game: $5000

    Hourly income from selling ingame items and coin, per machine: Varies, but generally in the $2 range or so.

    So one guy, watching a bank of 10 bot clients, can make somewhere around $20 an hour. Now, that's not a lot in the US, considering the investment. But in some countries, that's a small fortune waiting to be made.

    Although US players certainly do sell the odd bit of coin from time to time, the majority of these products are not coming from the US. They're coming from MMO Farms in underdeveloped countries, where you have some low-paid workers manning a bank of machines in shifts.

    Owyn
    Commander, Defenders of Order
    http://www.defendersoforder.com

  • IragaelIragael Member Posts: 29

    To go straight back to the question, I will answer it from the point of view of a guy that as been playing MMORPG's for 8 years.

    Alot of folks play these games and sometimes to get to the "high-end" content fast, you need to get all of the best items, and you need to be at your computer for extended periods of time. Alot of the players have kids, have families, have full-time jobs, etc.

    When you have a full-time job, a wife, 2 kids, the activities that it implies, assuming the parent just doesnt sit the kids infront of the t.v. all the time, you would see that you have from 1 to 2 hours of "freetime" a night, because guess what? You need your sleep, which usually is roughly 8 hours. Which means that if you calculate work per day, travelling time for activities and work, time spent with family, and other regular activities, you find that an adult as very little time "per day".

    That leads me to my main point, if these guys can "buy" an item for 20$, or can buy money or whatever else, that means that they enjoy their gaming all that much more. For these people with limited time every day, that means that they can get something sweet, for very little money and they get to spend quality time with their family instead of sitting at their computer camping some mob for 5 hours. For them, time is money, and if you make $40+ an hour, it's pretty trivial. So they go to an in-game services like IGE or whoever else out there, get what they want, pay for it, and are happy with it, and they didn't have to spend alot of time on it.

    That's pretty much why this turned into a full-time profession, because of constraint put on some people, they rather pay abit of cash, and get what or where they want.

    ~Iragael Vandayanaa,
    Elder of the Vandayanaa Dynasty,
    Knight,
    Order of the Shield,
    Sacred Silver Blades.
    My icon is copyright Jonathon Earl Bowser.

  • ianubisiianubisi Member Posts: 4,201


    Originally posted by Iragael
    To go straight back to the question, I will answer it from the point of view of a guy that as been playing MMORPG's for 8 years. Alot of folks play these games and sometimes to get to the "high-end" content fast, you need to get all of the best items, and you need to be at your computer for extended periods of time. Alot of the players have kids, have families, have full-time jobs, etc. When you have a full-time job, a wife, 2 kids, the activities that it implies, assuming the parent just doesnt sit the kids infront of the t.v. all the time, you would see that you have from 1 to 2 hours of "freetime" a night, because guess what? You need your sleep, which usually is roughly 8 hours. Which means that if you calculate work per day, travelling time for activities and work, time spent with family, and other regular activities, you find that an adult as very little time "per day".That leads me to my main point, if these guys can "buy" an item for 20$, or can buy money or whatever else, that means that they enjoy their gaming all that much more. For these people with limited time every day, that means that they can get something sweet, for very little money and they get to spend quality time with their family instead of sitting at their computer camping some mob for 5 hours. For them, time is money, and if you make $40+ an hour, it's pretty trivial. So they go to an in-game services like IGE or whoever else out there, get what they want, pay for it, and are happy with it, and they didn't have to spend alot of time on it. That's pretty much why this turned into a full-time profession, because of constraint put on some people, they rather pay abit of cash, and get what or where they want.

    An eloquent description of what I've been saying all along. The bartering of time for money is simply too compelling to be overcome by the objections of purists and the greed of developers.

  • MisfitZMisfitZ Member Posts: 368

    You're all missing the point.

    The reason that the sale of ingame items has become a full-time profession is this: The inherent gameplay flaws that began with EQ and became a tradition with the subsequent generation of games promote grinding, that is, mindless, repetetive tasks that offer little or no entertainment value and require a lot of time.

    Examples are grinding experience, camping spawns, grinding for drops, uber-equipment "spawns", etc.

    Few people wants to play through these tasks, and many find paying for someone elses's work an easier alternative. Notice the usage of that word: work. That's what it is. And that is why people are willing to pay money to avoid doing it. If game developers would design an innovative system that reduces the effect of these problems, adding new, more entertaining timesinks, then you would see a proportionate decrease in IGE sales.

    -----------------------------
    Listen Asmodeeus, seven years ago, Ultima Online didn't even have those pathetic "quests" that you refer to or those "professions" of ninja, samurai, necromancer, and paladin. Nor did it have any of the neon crap, or bug mounts. It didn't even have any "combat moves." You turned on attack and jousted with simplistic swings. It was a better game then. if you can't guess why then just uninstall the thing and move along. - Crabby

  • ianubisiianubisi Member Posts: 4,201


    Originally posted by MisfitZ
    If game developers would design an innovative system that reduces the effect of these problems, adding new, more entertaining timesinks, then you would see a proportionate decrease in IGE sales.

    I absolutely agree with this. I do believe that mindless, repetitive (and thus scritable) tasks are the primary problem. Doing x task y^10 times not only causes people to want to avoid it but causes others to realize opportunity to automate...and hence they can easily bot their fortunes.

  • MisfitZMisfitZ Member Posts: 368



    Originally posted by Owyn

    Cost of a DSL line, $40.
    Cost of a bot to run a game: Free
    Cost of 10 computers to run a game: $5000




    Actually, Owyn, as far as Lineage2 goes, you can run upwards of 8 or 9 accounts from a single computer, possibly more depending on your machine. The bot program requires low amounts of memory, as it doesn't even activate the game client. I don't know if bot clients for other MMos are the same, but I assume they are at least similiar.

    -----------------------------
    Listen Asmodeeus, seven years ago, Ultima Online didn't even have those pathetic "quests" that you refer to or those "professions" of ninja, samurai, necromancer, and paladin. Nor did it have any of the neon crap, or bug mounts. It didn't even have any "combat moves." You turned on attack and jousted with simplistic swings. It was a better game then. if you can't guess why then just uninstall the thing and move along. - Crabby

  • kb4blukb4blu Member UncommonPosts: 714



    Originally posted by Owyn

    Agreed - micropayments are coming. This IS going to be the business model of the next generation of MMOs, folks. Get used to the idea now. It's already a dominant payment format in Asia. It's coming to the US for XBox2 Live. It should hit PC games shortly as well.
    No monthly fee to play. But, instead you will have items or services you can purchase ingame for a fee.



    Well at my age maybe I will be dead when this CRAP becomes the norm.

    At least I hope so.

    Selling ingame Items is just an excuse for being lazy. image

  • BarryManilowBarryManilow Member UncommonPosts: 701

    Minding your own business and dont worry about what others do.  I've been playing online games for 7+ years and ebay and whatever has been around since then and if someone decides to buy or sell online goods, more power to them. 

    There is a reason why there are poor and rich people in the world.  People that whine about money and how the other person is making more then them are usually poor.  While people who are innovative and smart make the money.

    It all comes down to jealous and envy of the people who were smart enough to start this.

  • MisfitZMisfitZ Member Posts: 368

    Yea, Barry. I totally agree. I've been kicking myself for years, ever since I decided not to invest in the trafficking of human organs. Man, I could have been rich! Unfortunately, I'm just not smart enough to know a good thing when I see it.

    I'm so envious of those rich Guatemaleans. They're so smart, and innovative!

     

    Maybe my scheme to get rich off the sale of stolen merchandise will pan out better.

    -----------------------------
    Listen Asmodeeus, seven years ago, Ultima Online didn't even have those pathetic "quests" that you refer to or those "professions" of ninja, samurai, necromancer, and paladin. Nor did it have any of the neon crap, or bug mounts. It didn't even have any "combat moves." You turned on attack and jousted with simplistic swings. It was a better game then. if you can't guess why then just uninstall the thing and move along. - Crabby

  • BarryManilowBarryManilow Member UncommonPosts: 701



    Originally posted by MisfitZ

    Yea, Barry. I totally agree. I've been kicking myself for years, ever since I decided not to invest in the trafficking of human organs. Man, I could have been rich! Unfortunately, I'm just not smart enough to know a good thing when I see it.
    I'm so envious of those rich Guatemaleans. They're so smart, and innovative!
     
    Maybe my scheme to get rich off the sale of stolen merchandise will pan out better.



    Oh boy...  Guess some people are so insane and take things WAY TOO SERIOUS. 

     

    Chill, relax we are talking about online gaming and how people buy/sell thier "goods" in them.  Not immoral or grand criminal acts that TRUE criminals do.   Not sure how anyone can equate selling online sellers/buyers to felony acts (joking or not).  But that is a common practice used by fanatics, who want to make sure thier point of view is heard. 

  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Member RarePosts: 3,796



    Originally posted by MisfitZ

    Yea, Barry. I totally agree. I've been kicking myself for years, ever since I decided not to invest in the trafficking of human organs. Man, I could have been rich! Unfortunately, I'm just not smart enough to know a good thing when I see it.
    I'm so envious of those rich Guatemaleans. They're so smart, and innovative!
     
    Maybe my scheme to get rich off the sale of stolen merchandise will pan out better.



    Ouch! Barry just got owned heh....

    Seriously though, If u are that short sited to see that this will cause major problems with the MMO genre than i feel sorry for u...and me for that matter. For those of us that actually enjoy playing the game to get our items and lvls ourselves...the whole buying make believe items for real money will leave us in the dust as it becomes more commonplace.

    Played: AA, AC1, AC2, Aion, AO, AoC, CO, CoX, DAoC, DCUO, DN, EVE, EQ1, EQ2,
    ESO, FE, FFXI, FFXIV, FF, GW1, GW2, Istaria, L2, LoTRO, MO, MxO, NW, Rift, RoE,
    Ryzom, SB, SWG, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, WAR, WoW, WURM...

  • OwynOwyn Member Posts: 337


    Originally posted by BarryManilow
    Minding your own business and dont worry about what others do. I've been playing online games for 7+ years and ebay and whatever has been around since then and if someone decides to buy or sell online goods, more power to them.
    There is a reason why there are poor and rich people in the world. People that whine about money and how the other person is making more then them are usually poor. While people who are innovative and smart make the money.
    It all comes down to jealous and envy of the people who were smart enough to start this.

    Barry, what are you talking about???

    If you're referring to people who are upset about items being sold - the reason is that the people doing it are gaining an unfair advantage through breaking the rules, and are cheaters. People don't like being forced to play with cheaters.

    If you're talking about the cash farmers in these games - are you CRAZY? Envious of people who earn less in a year than I do in a month? Not.

    Fact is, cash farmers in "MMORPG Sweatshops" earn next to nothing. An indie person working for themself could maybe make a living in the US - barely. Why would anyone be jealous of them?

    Yes, people without any drive are often jealous of those with it. But that's not even vaguely what we're talking about here.

    Owyn
    Commander, Defenders of Order
    http://www.defendersoforder.com

  • MisfitZMisfitZ Member Posts: 368

    I was using a sarcastic exaggeration to drive home my point, Barry. I'm quite aware that selling a person's intellectual property that you don't own is never going to cause even the barest amount of suffering and misery that is a by-product of the trade in human organs. However, they are both wrong. I couldn't care less what some guy makes, if money was my motivation, I would sell drugs.

    Gold farming ruins games economies, which in turn sours the whole gaming experience, causing a decline in subscriptions, and in the end hurts the company who's game is being exploited. Some games seem to be less affected by this, such as Lineage and Lineage 2, and possibly World of Warcraft.

    Also, the attitude that these farmers have affects everyone they come into contact with. They play the game for profit, not for fun. This directly affects the way they interact with other players. Aggression, rudeness, hostility and harassment are common. Think this doesn't effect you? Wait until you get griefed a few dozen times by some farmers who want to run you off "their camp spot".

    -----------------------------
    Listen Asmodeeus, seven years ago, Ultima Online didn't even have those pathetic "quests" that you refer to or those "professions" of ninja, samurai, necromancer, and paladin. Nor did it have any of the neon crap, or bug mounts. It didn't even have any "combat moves." You turned on attack and jousted with simplistic swings. It was a better game then. if you can't guess why then just uninstall the thing and move along. - Crabby

  • RazorbackRazorback Member Posts: 5,253

    A very good RL friend had a 60's Barb Shaman in EQ1 really early. He spent the next 2 years more or less living off the sales of Plat and Rares. Watching him play EQ for a living and have a lot of fun doing it while making better money than he could have ever earned at his age in RL. I was left in no doubt why he did it.

    IGE etc have just taken the idea to its logical conclusion as many people do with many ideas.

    The real issue is for the game developers and manager to ensure that the generation of the cash and items is done in a way that doesnt breach the major rules of play within the game. The trouble arises when the Devs/Managers turn their backs on blatent exploiting by these people.

    If its all done in a way that doesnt effect the normal gamer... I dont see the drama.

    +-+-+-+-+-+
    "MMOs, for people that like think chatting is like a skill or something, rotflol"
    http://purepwnage.com
    image
    -+-+-+-+-+-+
    "Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees. To hear the softly spoken magic spell" Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon

  • OwynOwyn Member Posts: 337

    Seriously - I think games can (and should, these days) be designed so that out of game sales of ingame goods does not harm the game economy. WOW did a fairly good job of that, for instance. And you notice, IGE has very little for sale in their WOW category.

    On the flip side though, you see games like L2, where hordes of farming 'bots run rampant, using up good leveling areas, and logging in high level "enforcer" characters if they need to clear anyone out who's poaching their turf. Because you end up with scores or hundreds of these characters on at any one time, they actually do interfere with normal play. Because they flood the market with coin (not actually using it up, as it's supposed to), they can damage the game's economy.

    That's just poor design though. It can be done better, and designers need to be aware of this sort of thing.

    No, my main issue is the game rules. Those things you click "OK" to every time you play, y'know? The ones that (in most games) say selling ingame items for real cash is forbidden? What those rules mean is that every person who breaks them is a cheater, and through cheating is gaining an advantage over honest players who don't cheat. Either the rules themselves need to go away, so that this activity is open to all players (not just the ones willing to cheat to get ahead), or game companies need to start enforcing their rules, and banning accounts found selling/buying stuff.

    Owyn
    Commander, Defenders of Order
    http://www.defendersoforder.com

  • ajaxxajaxx Member Posts: 476


    Originally posted by BarryManilow
    Minding your own business and dont worry about what others do. I've been playing online games for 7+ years and ebay and whatever has been around since then and if someone decides to buy or sell online goods, more power to them.
    There is a reason why there are poor and rich people in the world. People that whine about money and how the other person is making more then them are usually poor. While people who are innovative and smart make the money.
    It all comes down to jealous and envy of the people who were smart enough to start this.

    Your an idiot no matter what Microsoft says. The average person isn't gonna buy this. It has nothing to do with personal wealth, I make plenty of money and I'm not gonna pay for virtual gear or play any game that condones it. It's called integrity and you can't buy it even it your rich.

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