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China bans gold farming:Follow

#1 Jun 29 2009 at 1:01 PM Rating: Good
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http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/ebusiness/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=218101859
Quote:

Trading virtual goods for real money has been banned in China, putting hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity at risk.

By Thomas Claburn
InformationWeek
June 29, 2009 02:20 PM

In addition to its ongoing crackdown on Internet ****, the Chinese government has declared that virtual currency cannot be traded for real goods or services.

Virtual currency, as defined by Chinese authorities, includes "prepaid cards of cyber-games," according to a joint release issued by China's Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

"The virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services," the Ministries said.

The Chinese government estimates that trade in virtual currency exceeded several billion yuan last year, a figure that it claims has been growing at a rate of 20% annually. One billion yuan is currently equal to about $146 million.

The ruling is likely to affect many of the more than 300 million Internet users in China, as well as those in other countries involved in virtual currency trading. In the context of online role playing games like World of Warcraft, virtual currency trading is often called gold farming.

The most popular form of virtual currency in China is called "QQ coins," a form of virtual credit issued by Tencent.com.

Tencent.com, which has about 220 million registered users -- about as many as Facebook -- is quoted in the Chinese government news release as "resolutely" supporting the new rule. The government justifies its ban on virtual currency trading as a way to curtail gambling and other illegal online activities.

The trading of virtual currency for real cash employs hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and generates between $200 million and $1 billion annually, according to a 2008 survey conducted by Richard Heeks at the University of Manchester.

He estimates that between 80% and 85% of gold farmers are based in China.

"[M]any online games have a virtual economy and an in-game currency," he states in his survey. "Gold farmers can play in-game to make some currency. They then sell that for real money -- typically via a Web site and using the PayPal payment system -- to other players of the game."

Game companies typically forbid gold farming but committed virtual currency traders find ways around such rules. Some game companies have recognized the futility of trying to ban the practice and have built virtual commerce into their game infrastructure.


Hope this actually works :o
#2 Jun 29 2009 at 1:04 PM Rating: Good
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Awesome. I hope this works too.
#3 Jun 29 2009 at 1:18 PM Rating: Decent
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It's a Ban, of course it will work. The question is HOW good?
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#4 Jun 29 2009 at 1:25 PM Rating: Good
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"He estimates that between 80% and 85% of gold farmers are based in China."

They will have fun tracking all of them down, I bet.
#5 Jun 29 2009 at 1:49 PM Rating: Good
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This is great, if nothing more, at least the major companies in china will get found. Its not possible to track down every company, but the major ones are easier to track because they have more transactions.
#6 Jun 29 2009 at 1:49 PM Rating: Good
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This won't eliminate gilsellers entirely, but will definitely pose a hurdle. Gold/gil supplies will go down, driving unit cost up, thereby discouraging gil buyers.

I wouldn't be surprised if they moved operations across borders to another country, though.
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#7 Jun 29 2009 at 1:59 PM Rating: Decent
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Bardalicious wrote:
This won't eliminate gilsellers entirely, but will definitely pose a hurdle. Gold/gil supplies will go down, driving unit cost up, thereby discouraging gil buyers.

I wouldn't be surprised if they moved operations across borders to another country, though.


There aren't very many nations with semi educated but dirt cheap labor of the kind that's available in China. In fact, only Russia or other former Soviet Republics come to mind. Maybe Malaysia.

#8 Jun 29 2009 at 1:59 PM Rating: Good
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This is a double-edged sword though. China is already severely restrictive as far as what content they allow people in their country to access. I'm afraid that more laws like this will hurt more than help an already oppressed people.

It's really easy for us to assume that everyone has access to all information like we do, but it's just not that way in other countries. Google routinely has to remove results from their search engine at the request of foreign governments, when it is deemed unsuitable or inflammatory to the current regime.

It will be good for us, but might also cause problems for innocents in the process when they start tracking people down. This is basically a green light to take down anyone who is suspected of being RMT and I am not sure that we can trust that government to be entirely objective.

*shrugs nothing we can do though but wait and see how it plays out.
#9 Jun 29 2009 at 2:15 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
"He estimates that between 80% and 85% of gold farmers are based in China."

They will have fun tracking all of them down, I bet.


They're all hanging out in the same room, shouldn't be too hard to find.
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#10 Jun 29 2009 at 2:30 PM Rating: Excellent
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Lol true.

And I agree, hopefully the Chinese government can use adequate discretion so no one gets oppressed anymore than they already are.
#11 Jun 29 2009 at 2:36 PM Rating: Default
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They should create a Gold Farmer website where all busted RMT's pictures will be posted, lol. That would be a nice little treat.
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#12 Jun 29 2009 at 2:45 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
This is a double-edged sword though. China is already severely restrictive as far as what content they allow people in their country to access. I'm afraid that more laws like this will hurt more than help an already oppressed people.


Restricting the sale of video game money has nothing to do with censorship.
#13 Jun 29 2009 at 3:11 PM Rating: Decent
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As much as I am annoyed by gold farmers you do have to feel pity for some of them. In many cases gold selling might be the only means a family can provide for itself.
#14 Jun 29 2009 at 3:56 PM Rating: Decent
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"The virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services," the Ministries said.


In other words, the ruling will protect developers which have their own "cash shops". This makes sense - if they want to print virtual currency, it's their intellectual property so it's their right to exploit it for real world profits.

Quote:
Game companies typically forbid gold farming but committed virtual currency traders find ways around such rules.


This is what I don't understand. The larger companies (such as IGE) are breaking the end-user licence agreements many times over for many different games. A breach of an EULAs is a breach of contract, and in most countries, this should mean that they will be liable to pay damages if the game developers sue them. If such a big company is consistently breaching contractual law openly to the knowledge of the game developers, I wonder why massive lawsuits haven't been brought up in court by Blizzard/SE/etc against these big virtual currency trading companies.

I guess one way they get around this is by registering the company in a loosely regulated jurisdiction, in which the game developers cannot hope to bring a coherent lawsuit against them.

Another issue which arises out of this stuff is the real life taxation on virtual currency trading. It's too long to go into in detail in a thread like this, but suffice to say, in highly regulated economies, there is an argument that profits from selling virtual currency are taxable. The Chinese ruling assists in clarifying who and what is taxable - i.e. because only the developer will sell virtual currency and thus make profits from trading virtual currency, you tax the developer and not the gamer (unless you levy an indirect tax on the currency purchase, in which the tax is paid by the gamer).

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#15 Jun 29 2009 at 4:40 PM Rating: Default
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You know what I've heard before in FFXI, that I would like to discuss here? Someone, well, a couple of people have told me that major Gold-Selling websites like IGE could be working Directly with SE/POL. Major sites give SE/POL a cut of the profits that come in for allowing them to run their businesses off their game.

Could this maybe be True? Again, I personally do not feel this way, but this is something that has been told to me a lot of times, and I'd like to clear the air.
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#16 Jun 29 2009 at 5:39 PM Rating: Decent
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They can't look at **** those poor bastards.
#17 Jun 29 2009 at 6:16 PM Rating: Decent
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Skeptic wrote:
You know what I've heard before in FFXI, that I would like to discuss here? Someone, well, a couple of people have told me that major Gold-Selling websites like IGE could be working Directly with SE/POL. Major sites give SE/POL a cut of the profits that come in for allowing them to run their businesses off their game.

Could this maybe be True? Again, I personally do not feel this way, but this is something that has been told to me a lot of times, and I'd like to clear the air.


I would tell your friends that they need to quit wearing their tinfoil hats.
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Don't play that game anymore. :P
#18 Jun 29 2009 at 6:21 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
If such a big company is consistently breaching contractual law openly to the knowledge of the game developers, I wonder why massive lawsuits haven't been brought up in court by Blizzard/SE/etc against these big virtual currency trading companies.


Most likely reason: They're afraid to lose and the ramifications what would go along with losing.
#19 Jun 29 2009 at 6:29 PM Rating: Default
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I would tell your friends that they need to quit wearing their tinfoil hats.


I figured, but after you keep hearing the same thing for a while you start to wonder..
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#20 Jun 29 2009 at 7:02 PM Rating: Decent
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You know what I've heard before in FFXI, that I would like to discuss here? Someone, well, a couple of people have told me that major Gold-Selling websites like IGE could be working Directly with SE/POL. Major sites give SE/POL a cut of the profits that come in for allowing them to run their businesses off their game.

Could this maybe be True? Again, I personally do not feel this way, but this is something that has been told to me a lot of times, and I'd like to clear the air.


Gullible is written on the ceiling.
#21 Jun 29 2009 at 7:21 PM Rating: Decent
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they say items will still be sold, so basically the farmers will just make raid guilds and sell pre-made chars decked out in gear. bleh
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#22 Jun 29 2009 at 7:22 PM Rating: Default
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Gullible is written on the ceiling.


Fail.
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#23 Jun 29 2009 at 9:20 PM Rating: Default
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Big deal. Instead or working for a bowl or rice companies are going to find people to work for a taco or something.
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#24 Jun 30 2009 at 4:00 AM Rating: Good
Not entirely surprising. I wouldn't want to have companies being able to literally print their own money if I was the government either.
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#25 Jun 30 2009 at 4:28 AM Rating: Decent
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The jury is still out on this one. They made lots of drugs illegal but that doesn't really make them any harder to find... or any less cool! Peer pressure.
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#26 Jun 30 2009 at 6:21 AM Rating: Decent
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Those ppl should be given alternative means to build a future.. most of gold farmer do it to pay for school, because a normal job wouldnt pay enough to grant the possibility to study.
As much as they annoy me i am sure they dont like to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and hated by the world, either
#27 Jun 30 2009 at 8:53 AM Rating: Decent
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That's life.
#28 Jun 30 2009 at 9:04 AM Rating: Default
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#29 Jun 30 2009 at 9:20 AM Rating: Good
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This is nice and all, but it's not like China supply 100% of RMT Gold, even if this did stop it completely in China, other countries would still be there feeding a steady supply. China isn't the ONLY place RMT takes place remember, and you're all falling to a huge stereotype.
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#30 Jun 30 2009 at 9:51 AM Rating: Good
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So they'll just move their shops to Cambodia, or North Korea, or Myanmar, or Vietnam. There are tens of other countries in the sub-Asian continent that will host these companies.

#31 Jun 30 2009 at 10:45 AM Rating: Decent
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By that logic we should all start buying gil, because it's not like they're just going to stop selling it if we don't.
#32 Jun 30 2009 at 10:54 AM Rating: Good
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Quote:
By that logic we should all start buying gil, because it's not like they're just going to stop selling it if we don't.


Not what I claimed. Do you think cracking down on the cartels in Mexico are going to effect the US drug problem in any way? Sometimes you have to work the problem from a different way. We don't even know if the new game will have a money based system.
#33 Jun 30 2009 at 11:01 AM Rating: Decent
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If we killed them, **** yeah it would make a difference. Current policy is ineffective though.

China's ban may kill off China based RMT, as far as I know it's never been tried before. If nothing else, upping the price helps keep the negative effects in check.
#34 Jun 30 2009 at 11:13 AM Rating: Good
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China's ban may kill off China based RMT, as far as I know it's never been tried before. If nothing else, upping the price helps keep the negative effects in check.


Why would it drive up price? Myanmar, North Korea, Thailand, Indonesia all have wages at or below Chinese levels.

Quote:
If we killed them, **** yeah it would make a difference. Current policy is ineffective though.


If there is demand there will always be a supplier. Drugs, Gil, whatever that is deemed illegal will always follow that model. Spend all your resources on the suppliers and you aren't curbing demand.

Edited, Jun 30th 2009 1:16pm by baelnic
#35 Jun 30 2009 at 11:23 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
If there is demand there will always be a supplier. Drugs, Gil, whatever that is deemed illegal will always follow that model. Spend all your resources on the suppliers and you aren't curbing demand.


The idea isn't to completely wipe it out, that's impossible without giving up freedoms.

Quote:
Why would it drive up price? Myanmar, North Korea, Thailand, Indonesia all have wages at or below Chinese levels.


Do Myanmar & North Korea even allow the internet now?
#36 Jun 30 2009 at 11:30 AM Rating: Decent
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The idea isn't to completely wipe it out, that's impossible without giving up freedoms.


Why not just develop a game where no one has the desire to buy money?
#37 Jun 30 2009 at 11:37 AM Rating: Decent
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Because in game economies attract more players than a weak RMT force repels.
#38 Jun 30 2009 at 3:14 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Why not just develop a game where no one has the desire to buy money?


Because it would be of my opinion and I feel many others out there that the game wouldn't be good. The reason people buy money is because they want to skip ahead in the game. Crafting, buying gear, etc. A lot of people play the game for the adventure and the trip that comes a long with it. Where is the sense of satisfaction if everything is given to me? There is none.

As long as there is a craft to level or some piece of really nice gear that not everyone can have (it's rare) then there will be people that want it without putting in work to achieve it. You see it everyday in real life by people trying to scam, it's practically the same thing.
#39 Jun 30 2009 at 3:20 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Why not just develop a game where no one has the desire to buy money?


Only way is to make a game that doesn't have any economic system.
#40 Jun 30 2009 at 3:57 PM Rating: Decent
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Because it would be of my opinion and I feel many others out there that the game wouldn't be good. The reason people buy money is because they want to skip ahead in the game. Crafting, buying gear, etc. A lot of people play the game for the adventure and the trip that comes a long with it. Where is the sense of satisfaction if everything is given to me? There is none.


No one ever said things should be given to you. I'd bet a large amount of money that most elite gear will not be camped in a world setting in this next game. It could be spawned, it could be instanced. Those changes alone would tilt the balance back to normal players.

EDIT -

Quote:
Only way is to make a game that doesn't have any economic system.


No, you can make RMT a non-factor with an economy. RMT doesn't disrupt ingame play in WoW for all intents and purposes. To be honest, there is no reason to buy gold in WoW because every player can make a good amount of money with a reasonable investment of time (reasonable for MMO's, maybe not so much in real life). Do people still buy RMT gold? Absolutely. Does WoW hand you gold without you working for it? Probably, but gold doesn't buy you progression in that game. I bet RMT would be virtually eliminated if WoW didn't have Mount gold sinks.

Edited, Jun 30th 2009 6:04pm by baelnic
#41 Jun 30 2009 at 4:53 PM Rating: Good
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On the other hand, crafting in WoW is basically useless.
#42 Jun 30 2009 at 7:34 PM Rating: Good
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baelnic wrote:

No, you can make RMT a non-factor with an economy. RMT doesn't disrupt ingame play in WoW for all intents and purposes. To be honest, there is no reason to buy gold in WoW because every player can make a good amount of money with a reasonable investment of time (reasonable for MMO's, maybe not so much in real life). Do people still buy RMT gold? Absolutely. Does WoW hand you gold without you working for it? Probably, but gold doesn't buy you progression in that game. I bet RMT would be virtually eliminated if WoW didn't have Mount gold sinks.


If not for the gold sinks (mounts, dalaran rings, etc) there would be no demand for gold, and the economy would experience hyper inflation, because there would be so much gold going into the economy and no one who really wanted it. Pretty soon you'd have no one doing anything to earn gold, and a whole segment of the game would be dead.

At that point you almost might as well get rid of gold entirely and just let people earn whatever they want with very little effort, because otherwise a lot of things will simply be unobtainable to those without a strong social network that will provide them essentially for free.

I would much rather have a robust economy like FFXI, even if it means that there is inequity and that some things are very hard to obtain than an economy where things literally cannot be traded for.

The solution for having a robust economy, but not letting it be dominated by RMT is to decentralize the distribution of goods. One big reason that RMT is not a disruptive force in WoW (except for the trade channel spam) is because there are very few places where a useful good can be monopolized. There are very few mobs that spawn in a particular spot and have useful, known loot, that can then be sold. Resources spawn semi randomly all around the world, and even sellabe/droppable loot generally drops randomly, or in instances, so it can't be controlled by a small group.

You can draw all kinds of real life parallels here. You rarely see cartels for unskilled labor, because unskilled labor is plentiful and widely distributed, but you see cartels for natural resources, and even cartels for specialized labor, because those things are easier to monopolize.

Look at FFXI, and look at the areas where RMT have caused the most grief. Almost without exception RMT either causes problems by exploiting bugs such as the rusty cap exploit to create gil out of thin air, or they monopolize enemies that spawn in a fixed location, aren't instanced, and drop items that can't be obtained by any other means, but can be sold.

Take away the ability for cartels to monopolize any particular aspect of the economy, and you take away a large part of the ability for RMT to disrupt the game. Now if only some one had an elegant solution to get rid of spammers in the game...

Edited, Jun 30th 2009 11:39pm by KarlHungis
#43 Jun 30 2009 at 7:35 PM Rating: Decent
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Jobangles wrote:
On the other hand, crafting in WoW is basically useless.


Not useless at all, but it's certainly not designed in such a way that it really feels like a trade skill. There is very little exchange of crafted goods (really only flasks, enchants, and gems), so tradeskills are more about what you can make for yourself than what you can contribute to the overall economy.

Edited, Jun 30th 2009 11:36pm by KarlHungis
#44 Jun 30 2009 at 7:51 PM Rating: Default
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It seems no one cares about all the jobs that will be lost for these people =P. It honestly wont end this, the industry will move. And as someone noted that there isn't that many semi-educated , cheap labor countries out there, he/she is wrong. Theres plenty, South America, a whole continent for one. Russia, and many spots around Asia. The industry will just move.


On another note, this ban is not even directed towards WoW or FFXI games. Its mostly directed towards QQ Currency. QQ is a highly poplular instant messanger in China. They sell QQ Currency to buy special items on its website. But due to its popularity in China, many other companies started to 'accept' QQ currency as an acceptable currency to buy things. As anyone might guess this isn't exactly a good thing...

So really the ban is towards this.
#45 Jun 30 2009 at 8:49 PM Rating: Decent
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zuogehaomeng wrote:
It seems no one cares about all the jobs that will be lost for these people =P.


Gold farmers are like telemarketers. I'm sure they're fine, honest folks (at least, as fine and honest as any other bunch of folks) but it's an industry that, by and large, exists by making a miserable nuisance for every one it can.

I don't want people to lose their jobs, I just want them to find different jobs.
#46 Jun 30 2009 at 9:05 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:
If not for the gold sinks (mounts, dalaran rings, etc) there would be no demand for gold, and the economy would experience hyper inflation, because there would be so much gold going into the economy and no one who really wanted it. Pretty soon you'd have no one doing anything to earn gold, and a whole segment of the game would be dead.


I'm not saying they do nothing but remove the cost of mounts. There are other sinks you can build in that remove gold that won't leave players thinking they have a big hurdle coming up. Beyond the leap in logic I agree with the rest of your post. 90% of the problem with RMT in FFXI was because they interacted with the player base for elite items in the game world.
#47 Jul 01 2009 at 6:38 AM Rating: Decent
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HocusP wrote:
Quote:
Why not just develop a game where no one has the desire to buy money?


Only way is to make a game that doesn't have any economic system.


One thing I think would put a dent in the whole RMT thing without affecting the economy too badly (and mind you, I'm no economist, either virtual or physical) would be to make money non-transferrable outside of your own account. It'd make helping friends and lowbies out a little harder, but it'd throw a huge monkeywrench in the RMT gears.
#48 Jul 02 2009 at 4:21 AM Rating: Default
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Let's assume there are roughly 50% gil buyers across servers. If all rmts are banned, there will be 50% more farmers into this game. Which means all famous farming spot will be over populated, and price will drop like CRAZY!! SE will surely lose a lot of customers.
#49 Jul 02 2009 at 5:01 AM Rating: Decent
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CapnCrass wrote:
HocusP wrote:
Quote:
Why not just develop a game where no one has the desire to buy money?


Only way is to make a game that doesn't have any economic system.


One thing I think would put a dent in the whole RMT thing without affecting the economy too badly (and mind you, I'm no economist, either virtual or physical) would be to make money non-transferrable outside of your own account. It'd make helping friends and lowbies out a little harder, but it'd throw a huge monkeywrench in the RMT gears.


Making money not tradeable would in fact destroy the economy, which goes back to the post you were quoting/responding to.
#50 Jul 02 2009 at 5:06 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Let's assume there are roughly 50% gil buyers across servers. If all rmts are banned, there will be 50% more farmers into this game. Which means all famous farming spot will be over populated, and price will drop like CRAZY!! SE will surely lose a lot of customers.


What the **** are you trying to say?
#51 Jul 02 2009 at 10:04 AM Rating: Decent
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KarlHungis wrote:
Making money not tradeable would in fact destroy the economy, which goes back to the post you were quoting/responding to.


How, though? (And I'm actually asking, not being a confrontational smartass.)

The only times I transfer money directly are 1) to a mule to purchase something, 2) from a mule to my main, or 3) to a friend who needs some cash for one reason or another. Any other time, I'm buying something.

The only situation that would be affected by non-transferable cash would be #3. I don't see where not being able to loan people cash would have any major impact on the legitimate economy. Some impact, yes (telewhoring wouldn't be possible, for example), but not a system-breaking one.

It would force any gilselling to go through an avenue like: "Put X item up for auction on Y day, and we'll buy it from you for Z amount." Not impossible by any means, but certainly a lot less convenient than "<name> -> <amount> -> Send". Make it inconvenient enough and the demand will go down. If the demand (and profit) gets low enough, the RMTs will fade or leave outright.

The main downside I can see is it'd shift the focus from selling gil to selling items directly, but with careful itemization, that impact could be minimized.

===

Related to the last point: I hope that Squeenix doesn't go down the whole "everything is R/EX" route like other games (*cough*LotRO*cough*) have. That will kill the economy.
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