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Skin Betting in Gaming

ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
edited December 2017 in General Gaming
Gamers, the media and governments are finally waking up to predatory practices in games. Gambling should not be in gaming.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42311533

Skin betting: 'Children as young as 11 introduced to gambling'

Media captionUniversity student Ryan Archer's love of gaming spiralled into gambling when he was 15

Thousands of children and young people are losing money on websites which allow them to trade virtual items, gambling experts have warned.

The Gambling Commission's annual report has, for the first time, looked at the problem of so-called "skin betting".

The items won - usually modified guns or knives within a video game known as a skin - can often be sold and turned back into real money.

The commission says cracking down on the industry is now a top priority.

The report found that:

  • 45% of 11-16 year-olds were aware of "skin betting"
  • 11% of 11-16 year-olds had placed bets using in-game items
  • 59% of boys knew about the activity compared with 31% of girls

Experts say third party websites enable children to gamble the virtual weapons - or skins - on casino or slot machine type games, offering them the chance to generate real money.

Overall, the report shows that around 370,000 11-16 year-olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week, in England, Scotland and Wales.

Most commonly, children were using fruit machines, National Lottery scratch cards or placing private bets.

'Struggle to buy food'

Bangor University student Ryan Archer's love of gaming spiralled into gambling when he was 15 and he became involved in skin betting.

Four years later he has lost more than £2,000.

"I'd get my student loan, some people spend it on expensive clothes, I spend it on gambling virtual items," he said.

"There have been points where I could struggle to buy food, because this takes priority."

Ryan wanted to build an inventory of skins, but when he could not afford the price tag attached to some of them he began gambling on unlicensed websites to try to raise money.

He said: "It's hard to ask your parents for £1,000 to buy a knife on CSGO (the multiplayer first-person shooter game Counter Strike: Global Offensive), it's a lot easier to ask for a tenner and then try and turn that into £1,000."

In CSGO, players can exchange real money for the chance to obtain a modified weapon known as a skin and a number of gambling websites have been built around the game.

"You wouldn't see an 11-year-old go into a betting shop, but you can with this, there's nothing to stop you," Ryan said.


What is skin betting?

 Image copyright Valve
Image caption Skins modify the look of a gun

Skins are collectable, virtual items in video games that change the appearance of a weapon - for example, turning a pistol into a golden gun.

Sometimes skins can be earned within a game, but they can also be bought with real money.

Some games also let players trade and sell skins, with rarer examples attracting high prices.

A number of websites let players gamble with their skins for the chance to win more valuable ones.

Since skins won on such a website could theoretically be sold and turned back into real-world money, critics say betting with skins is unlicensed gambling.


Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: "Because of these unlicensed skin betting sites, the safeguards that exist are not being applied and we're seeing examples of really young people, 11 and 12-year-olds, who are getting involved in skin betting, not realising that it's gambling.

"At one level they are running up bills perhaps on their parents' Paypal account or credit card, but the wider effect is the introduction and normalisation of this kind of gambling among children and young people."

Earlier this year, the Gambling Commission for the first time prosecuted people for running an unlicensed gambling website connected to a video game.

Craig Douglas, a prominent gamer known as Nepenthez, and his business partner Dylan Rigby, were fined £91,000 ($112,000) and £164,000 respectively after admitting offences under the UK's Gambling Act.

The men ran a website called FUT Galaxy that was connected to the Fifa video game and let gamers gamble virtual currency.

'Huge emerging issue'

Ms Harrison said the regulator was prepared to take criminal action, but said the "huge issue" also required help from parents, game platform providers and payment providers.

Some games providers have put more safeguards in place, but many of the sites are based abroad.

Vicky Shotbolt, from the group Parentzone said: "It's a huge emerging issue that's getting bigger and bigger, but parents aren't even thinking about it.

"When we talk to people about skin gambling, we normally get a look of complete confusion."

She called on regulators to take more action over the issue.

The Office for National Statistics will publish the research, carried out by the Gambling Commission.


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  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,846
    edited December 2017
    The gambling is done on websites outside of the game. Although I do agree children should not be gambling but how can the game control something that is happening on websites outside of the game.

    I don't in any way support lootboxes or anything like that but what I'm saying is that any virtual item can become an item that can grow into a wanted item that can appreciate in value and thus have a value unassigned by the developers of the game. So how can you control every virtual item as a developer and monitor these items and their potential.

    A developer might introduce skins as a way to earn money in a F2P game but then the skins are sold and betted on outside the game. How can the developer reasonably be expected to control that ?

    Also aren't these betting activities that involve children considered illegal and it is the sites that promote this that should be brought before the courts.

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Member RarePosts: 5,484
    edited December 2017
    It's not gambling because nothing of worth is wagered for.
    Children already know what gambling is unless they were raised without access to the outside world. 
    I'm still wondering where kids are getting all this money.

    "We have met the enemy and he is us." ~Pogo Possum. 

  • KrematoryKrematory Member UncommonPosts: 608

    I'm still wondering where kids are getting all this money.
    From bad parenting figures who sill think this is not gambling, I guess.
    ScotKyleranIselin

    "EVE is likely the best MMORPG that you've never really understood or played" - Kyleran

  • laxielaxie Member RarePosts: 1,065
    edited December 2017
    The betting websites are as close to gambling as you can get.

    Traditional betting websites are designed around the idea of taking people's money and returning less. You take $100 from 10 people each ($1000), give one person $900 and keep the rest. Most of the casino games work on the exact same principle.  Slots usually return around 95% on the high spending machines, around 80% on the low bet ones.

    If you try to come up with strategies for casino games that disrupt this premise (returning less), by involving your skill, the casino frowns upon this and you will be removed. Like counting cards in blackjack - where by looking at what hands that were played before, you are able to bet on statistically promising hands to come in the future. This shows that casinos are all about returning less to people on average, and anything messing with that is unwelcome.

    The videogame betting websites are based on the exact same premise. People bring items that map onto a certain value (e.g. $1000) and on average, items of smaller value are returned. The participants are simply hoping that by luck, they will be the person who gets what others have brought to the table. It's identical to a casino. The website owners are making incredible amounts of money by taking a cut in the process - millions of dollars.

    So if you boil it down, the betting websites work on the premise of taking millions of dollars worth of items from gamers. Based on their marketing, it's clear the websites are targeting younger people. My Minecraft servers did adverts targeting 14-18 year olds. What I've seen from the betting websites is content targeting younger people than that, so presumably 12-16.

    It's officially not gambling, because you can't directly exchange your virtual items for real world currency. I think in this case, the law is not representative of what's going on. The items you wager do have a perceived value, and do map on to real world currency in the background. The value assesment is what drives the algorithms that are at the core of the website - the website needs to know how much items are valued at, in order to return a specific percentage of the value back to the player (just like a casino keeping a 15% cut). To know what 15% is, you obviously need to know the value of every single item participating in the transaction.

    Gambling regulation is there in part to protect the customer. People spend money on gambling and are guaranteed to lose most of the time. Regulations are in place to prevent the society from crippling itself by moving all the money from people to casinos. I don't see a difference in game betting websites. People spend money on virtual items, that they gamble away and are guaranteed to lose most of the time.
    Torval
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    edited December 2017
    kitarad said:
    The gambling is done on websites outside of the game. Although I do agree children should not be gambling but how can the game control something that is happening on websites outside of the game.

    I don't in any way support lootboxes or anything like that but what I'm saying is that any virtual item can become an item that can grow into a wanted item that can appreciate in value and thus have a value unassigned by the developers of the game. So how can you control every virtual item as a developer and monitor these items and their potential.

    A developer might introduce skins as a way to earn money in a F2P game but then the skins are sold and betted on outside the game. How can the developer reasonably be expected to control that ?

    Also aren't these betting activities that involve children considered illegal and it is the sites that promote this that should be brought before the courts.

    You make the items/boxes/outfits bind on acquiring/purchase. And yes they should go after website owners that are hosting this.

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  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,846
    edited December 2017
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    The gambling is done on websites outside of the game. Although I do agree children should not be gambling but how can the game control something that is happening on websites outside of the game.

    I don't in any way support lootboxes or anything like that but what I'm saying is that any virtual item can become an item that can grow into a wanted item that can appreciate in value and thus have a value unassigned by the developers of the game. So how can you control every virtual item as a developer and monitor these items and their potential.

    A developer might introduce skins as a way to earn money in a F2P game but then the skins are sold and betted on outside the game. How can the developer reasonably be expected to control that ?

    Also aren't these betting activities that involve children considered illegal and it is the sites that promote this that should be brought before the courts.

    You make the items/boxes/outfits bind on acquiring/purchase. And yes they should go after website owners that are hosting this.
    You need to be able to trade it in game though so that would not work. They need to change the law on gambling to reflect the sale of virtual game stuff and anything of value in game that can attract real money value should be considered of value outside or gambling definition needs to be changed. Takes too long to change laws though.

  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    edited December 2017
    kitarad said:
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    The gambling is done on websites outside of the game. Although I do agree children should not be gambling but how can the game control something that is happening on websites outside of the game.

    I don't in any way support lootboxes or anything like that but what I'm saying is that any virtual item can become an item that can grow into a wanted item that can appreciate in value and thus have a value unassigned by the developers of the game. So how can you control every virtual item as a developer and monitor these items and their potential.

    A developer might introduce skins as a way to earn money in a F2P game but then the skins are sold and betted on outside the game. How can the developer reasonably be expected to control that ?

    Also aren't these betting activities that involve children considered illegal and it is the sites that promote this that should be brought before the courts.

    You make the items/boxes/outfits bind on acquiring/purchase. And yes they should go after website owners that are hosting this.
    You need to be able to trade it in game though so that would not work. They need to change the law on gambling to reflect the sale of virtual game stuff and anything of value in game that can attract real money value should be considered of value outside or gambling definition needs to be changed. Takes too long to change laws though.

    Why do you need to trade it in game? If they created a trading system that encourages gambling then remove the trading system.

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  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,846
    edited December 2017
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.
    KrematoryTorvalKylerancheyane

  • RenoakuRenoaku Member EpicPosts: 3,119
    kitarad said:
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.
    Trading is fine, Betting is a different story.

    I am fine with skin betting, but not when it comes to Real Money involved without giving people a warning on the game itself like CSGO for example where people bet skins.

    Now RNG Boxes are a different story, and all these game companies running what they call Micro Transactions, there is nothing Micro about them and they are just extremely greedy.

    Perhaps this is one reason a lot of people play Black Desert Online, go to think about it a costume is $27, but who cares when you can spend $200 on Arche Age RNG Boxes for a costume and not even get it I've been there.
    Scot
  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,211
    Scot said:
    Gamers, the media and governments are finally waking up to predatory practices in games. Gambling should not be in gaming.


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42311533
    This is quite an odd article. It is almost as if they have cut and paste together stuff from different articles. For example this:

    Overall, the report shows that around 370,000 11-16 year-olds spent their own money on gambling in the past week, in England, Scotland and Wales.
    Most commonly, children were using fruit machines, National Lottery scratch cards or placing private bets.


    This is used as proof that  skin betting is a problem. Here is another one:

    The report found that:
    • 45% of 11-16 year-olds were aware of "skin betting"
    • 11% of 11-16 year-olds had placed bets using in-game items
    • 59% of boys knew about the activity compared with 31% of girls

    I suppose if they asked the same groups if they were aware of gambling, or had gambled  (see values from first quote) they would have much higher numbers.

    Lastly, the whole way it is mixed together, it gives the impression that real gambling (which they know is happening) is ok, but that possible skin betting (which they dont have information for, is a major problem.


    Torval
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    kitarad said:
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.

    We have had a very different game upbringing. I never played Space Invaders to trade anything. :)

    Trading is fine if its from crafters or the buying of cosmetic items, never had problems with that. But when you get real money involved in trading, that's when the problems start. This is quite an easy problem to solve, we just go back to the systems we had only a few years ago where this did not occur.

    As to Supermanox's comcerms about the article, I can't answer for the BBC, I do see some of the incongruity you mentioned, but that's down to them.

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  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,934
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    The gambling is done on websites outside of the game. Although I do agree children should not be gambling but how can the game control something that is happening on websites outside of the game.

    I don't in any way support lootboxes or anything like that but what I'm saying is that any virtual item can become an item that can grow into a wanted item that can appreciate in value and thus have a value unassigned by the developers of the game. So how can you control every virtual item as a developer and monitor these items and their potential.

    A developer might introduce skins as a way to earn money in a F2P game but then the skins are sold and betted on outside the game. How can the developer reasonably be expected to control that ?

    Also aren't these betting activities that involve children considered illegal and it is the sites that promote this that should be brought before the courts.

    You make the items/boxes/outfits bind on acquiring/purchase. And yes they should go after website owners that are hosting this.
    Should all online game items be bound on acquire then because this same mechanism can be used in any online game. That would affect most every mmo, except maybe Black Desert and games that don't have any sort of trading. Doing this would crush the ingame economies of every mmo out right now.
    Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

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  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,934
    edited December 2017
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.

    We have had a very different game upbringing. I never played Space Invaders to trade anything. :)

    Trading is fine if its from crafters or the buying of cosmetic items, never had problems with that. But when you get real money involved in trading, that's when the problems start. This is quite an easy problem to solve, we just go back to the systems we had only a few years ago where this did not occur.

    As to Supermanox's comcerms about the article, I can't answer for the BBC, I do see some of the incongruity you mentioned, but that's down to them.

    lol you're fine using an article with specious facts that misrepresent because it furthers your crusade. Interesting. Honesty and facts aren't important when it promotes your agenda.

    The problem with your argument now is you've shown this isn't a problem related to games monetization. There is a problem outside of games where people bet on virtual items. How is that the responsibility of the developer? And it has nothing to do with current monetization, which may be predatory, but isn't related to external gambling issues at all.


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  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    edited December 2017
    Torval said:
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.

    We have had a very different game upbringing. I never played Space Invaders to trade anything. :)

    Trading is fine if its from crafters or the buying of cosmetic items, never had problems with that. But when you get real money involved in trading, that's when the problems start. This is quite an easy problem to solve, we just go back to the systems we had only a few years ago where this did not occur.

    As to Supermanox's comcerms about the article, I can't answer for the BBC, I do see some of the incongruity you mentioned, but that's down to them.

    lol you're fine using an article with specious facts that misrepresent because it furthers your crusade. Interesting. Honesty and facts aren't important when it promotes your agenda.

    The problem with your argument now is you've shown this isn't a problem related to games monetization. There is a problem outside of games where people bet on virtual items. How is that the responsibility of the developer? And it has nothing to do with current monetization, which may be predatory, but isn't related to external gambling issues at all.



    No, I am honest enough to recognise the piece was oddly constructed. But such misrepresentation is what I have come to expect from you.

    Problems are rarely single issues, they impact on other areas, feed into them and are influenced by other issues. Just because this is bigger than just gambling in gaming, does not mean gambling in gaming is not an issue. It is the responsibility of the developer because they set up a in game system that was not needed. I would not hold them accountable for the gambling that has occurred outside their games, I would hold them accountable if they do not change their internal systems in light of it.

    A simple solution, just go back to the systems we had prior to this, MMOs had thriving economies back then, albeit ones that did not involve real cash. I would not expect this to be done overnight, but one element, bind on acquisition would be easy to implement.


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  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,846
    The point is why would developers in a F2P game while trying to make money off skins make it bind on acquire. They have to allow the skins to be traded so there is a market for them.
    Kyleran

  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    edited December 2017
    kitarad said:
    The point is why would developers in a F2P game while trying to make money off skins make it bind on acquire. They have to allow the skins to be traded so there is a market for them.

    F2P games were making money before skin betting started. They don't have to pursue this form of revenue scheme. I do realise all games need to make money, but if you paid for a box do you think that game would not need skin betting because it was P2P? This is not about F2P or P2P, it is about removing predatory practices, particularly in games played by minors.

    My experience of F2P is they charge every which way, like BDO does. But they don't need to have trading which results in skin betting, and are a successful F2P MMO.

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  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 36,154
    edited December 2017
    Scot said:Jul
    kitarad said:
    Why do you play games then if not also to trade items . I would love to buy in game skins. That restriction totally destroys the fun of obtaining skins.

    I bought  all sorts of armour skins in SWTOR and it was great to play dress up from the marketplace.

    We have had a very different game upbringing. I never played Space Invaders to trade anything. :)
    .

    Same here,  no video games so at 14 I was shooting pool or playing air hockey for money at the gaming rooms.

    But bargaining for properties in Monopoly is where I first learned trading, and then there was trading fine art in Masterpiece, or learning how to win elections in Landslide.

    So many great board games shaped my preferences including of course Risk, Axis & Allies,  Conquest of the Empire, and Fortress America. (Explains my love for MMORPGs with territory control)

    So yeah, for me MMORPGs need open trading systems,  well at least the ones I would enjoy playing.

    One big turn off for me of both BDO and ESO is their trading systems. (Or lack thereof)


    laxieScot

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  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,211
    Scot said:
    kitarad said:
    The point is why would developers in a F2P game while trying to make money off skins make it bind on acquire. They have to allow the skins to be traded so there is a market for them.

    F2P games were making money before skin betting started. They don't have to pursue this form of revenue scheme. I do realise all games need to make money, but if you paid for a box do you think that game would not need skin betting because it was P2P? This is not about F2P or P2P, it is about removing predatory practices, particularly in games played by minors.

    My experience of F2P is they charge every which way, like BDO does. But they don't need to have trading which results in skin betting, and are a successful F2P MMO.
    Skin betting is pretty much a P2P only problem. There are only two (major) skin betting sources CSGO and FIFA. These are both P2P games. I have not ignored that any game with items tradeable via Steam could be used.. I am just stating that of these, only CSGO has wide scale adoption for this. FIFA has its own system, and is also used for betting.
  • laxielaxie Member RarePosts: 1,065
    Trying to mitigate outside betting by in-game design will destroy a lot of the social interaction. You'd have to limit interaction to a point where one person's acts can't strongly help the other. This is probably detrimental to MMORPGs, or at the very least quite limiting.

    Since the betting is happening out of game, no in-game design can fully prevent it. Even if you fully lock all gameplay down (or make a single-player game), you could create a betting website where people wager their accounts.

    In Star Wars Galaxies, I created a newbie helping program on our server. A big part of it was veteran players donating money/items into a pool, that was then redistributed to the starting players. This sort of perfectly legitimate thing would be the first to be shut down, as it would look very similar to a gambling website's activity (from the data perspective).

    Game betting we aren't happy with should be regulated on the level it is happening at, which is outside of the game. I think going after the websites is a start, or having clear policies that state if your item is find in one of the betting pools, you're risking a permanent ban.
    Torval
  • sunandshadowsunandshadow Member RarePosts: 1,985
    edited December 2017
    I really wish people would have cracked down on randomized packs of magic and yugioh cards when I was the same age as the children being talked about in this article, and also rigged claw machines and stacker games and that sort of thing.  All of those are gambling, but they are all now grandfathered in as being acceptable. :unamused:
    laxie
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  • laxielaxie Member RarePosts: 1,065
    I really wish people would have cracked down on randomized packs of magic and yugioh cards when I was the same age as the children being talked about in this article, and also rigged claw machines and stacker games and that sort of thing.  All of those are gambling, but they are all now grandfathered in as being acceptable. :unamused:
    Claw machines are pretty sad. Especially if people don't know there is a random element to them.
  • chronoss2015chronoss2015 Member UncommonPosts: 217
    edited December 2017
    It's not gambling because nothing of worth is wagered for.
    Children already know what gambling is unless they were raised without access to the outside world. 
    I'm still wondering where kids are getting all this money.
    pardon does one party spend money gettign a randomized chance at an item real or imagined? ( btw games of chance are seen also as gambling as far as 'm concerned and if you have to spend money REAL MONEY THEN...)
    YES? THEN ITS GAMBLING go try your propaganda and word twisting elsewhere....

    if this leads to less free to play and more subscription based gamin then fine
    perhaps it might even lead to them putting servers into the game they sell so we can host things as long as we like...

    ya know like star wars battlefront 2 ( 2005)
    damn thats still fun....and i dont have to pay or grind forever for darth vader
    laxieScot
  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    It's not gambling because nothing of worth is wagered for.
    Children already know what gambling is unless they were raised without access to the outside world. 
    I'm still wondering where kids are getting all this money.
    If they buy the skin for real money I would disagree with you there. Otherwise betting other things worth money but not cash would be fine (like gold).

    If it is items they looted in the games it is another matter.
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 13,019
    edited December 2017
    laxie said:
    Trying to mitigate outside betting by in-game design will destroy a lot of the social interaction. You'd have to limit interaction to a point where one person's acts can't strongly help the other. This is probably detrimental to MMORPGs, or at the very least quite limiting.

    Since the betting is happening out of game, no in-game design can fully prevent it. Even if you fully lock all gameplay down (or make a single-player game), you could create a betting website where people wager their accounts.

    In Star Wars Galaxies, I created a newbie helping program on our server. A big part of it was veteran players donating money/items into a pool, that was then redistributed to the starting players. This sort of perfectly legitimate thing would be the first to be shut down, as it would look very similar to a gambling website's activity (from the data perspective).

    Game betting we aren't happy with should be regulated on the level it is happening at, which is outside of the game. I think going after the websites is a start, or having clear policies that state if your item is find in one of the betting pools, you're risking a permanent ban.

    We are just talking about the trading of items that were paid for with cash. This is not a new development, but it has now been turned into a form of gambling. MMOs don't need it, most games don't use it. Crafters should still be allowed to sell their wares etc. But as was the MMO norm what they make is never the very best, that's for or some form of raid or PvP. That means players will want crafted gear on the way up but are far less likely to buy it outside of the game as it is not end game best.

    There is no 100% solution that satisfies every player, and the publishers are just out to maximise profit so it will never suit them. But a roll back to how game's were played only a few years ago is all that's needed.
    Post edited by Scot on

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  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Scot said:

    We are just talking about the trading of items that were paid for with cash. This is not a new development, but it has now been turned into a form of gambling. MMOs don't need it, most MMOs don't use it. Crafters should still be allowed to sell their wares etc. But as was the MMO norm what they make is never the very best, that's for or some form of raid or PvP. That means players will want crafted gear on the way up but are far less likely to buy it outside of the game as it is not end game best.

    There is no 100% solution that satisfies every player, and the publishers are just out to maximise profit so it will never suit them. But a roll back to how MMO's were played only a few years ago is all that's needed.
    I don't think a roleback woulld be a good solution but I guess it would be better then now.

    The cashshop thing isn't just a MMO problem, it is everywhere and will continue to be as long as people accept it.
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