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What baffles me about fighting RMTFollow

#1 Sep 16 2010 at 7:49 PM Rating: Decent
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Why cant MMOs have a built in auditing system that traces back bought gil/gold/kineh?
For example, log all player to player currency transactions, have the STF buy a small amount of gold, check server logs and trace it back to the farmers, who btw work in Linkshells/guilds, follow the farmers transactions to other farmers, mules etc and ban.

Or just log the upper 0.05% richest linkshells, its not gonna be hard to see the RMT ones from the legit ones.

The thing here is, MMO characters dont have civil rights and privacy laws.
#2 Sep 16 2010 at 7:53 PM Rating: Decent
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Square owns the RMT. Just my opinion, don't judge me, I have an over-reactive sense of humor. But seriously... I think they do.
#3 Sep 16 2010 at 7:57 PM Rating: Decent
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Because they create an account and buy a cd key. Thats 40-60 bucks. Then they ban them. Cha-ching.
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#4 Sep 16 2010 at 8:25 PM Rating: Good
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I honestly think that they have implemented (at least on FFXI) good measures in order to combat RMTing.

The thing is making money in FFXI is really hard, and some players simply give up and resort to the credit card, as long as there is a demand for it, the RMT will find the way to provide it.

The key factor is competition, if I offer you unlimited money for an offline game, I bet most will reject it, however when that money translate on bragging in an online game suddenly some are ready to pay 30$ per million, I just hope those guys can realize how silly is to brag about virtual solvency, but well I know some people who play just for the chance to do that.

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#5 Sep 16 2010 at 8:25 PM Rating: Good
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If SE owned RMT, why bother having them farm for the items. SE can literally just create gil with a few keystrokes and sell it that way.

I'd assume its not as easy to pinpoint RMT with transaction logs as we might think. Early on, maybe. but late when their is people in endgame it's harder. A lot of linkshells get to the point where they still farm hnm and sell the items. In most cases its a leader/co-leaders mule etc that sells the items in bazaar and then distributes via the mail delivery in ffxi. So that could look like RMT to imo.

Hopefully now that they are aware rmt will be there in the begining they have some new measures.
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#6 Sep 16 2010 at 8:43 PM Rating: Decent
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When I came back to FFXI last year, there was only one website being spammed at me to buy gil. Either:

1. There was no money in it for any other company.
2. Or someone was double-dipping.

If I built a MMO and people were making money on the side. I would crush it and make it mine.

I have no proof, I just say that it becomes suspicious when only one company is advertising. The RMT is suspicious and always has been. It seems to have an endless supply of money/gil so are you so certain that it is not being generated by the developers?

If I log into another mmo that I play, that has a subscription service, I will not see any advertisements for money services. And for the past 4 years have not seen any.

If it is really being dealt with, then it will not survive. If it has a silent partner, then it will survive.

#7 Sep 16 2010 at 9:08 PM Rating: Decent
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Tracking RMT isn't that easy. The currency is laundered through trades, auctions, etc.. Once the currency goes through the market, it becomes very difficult to track who is involved in RMT and who isn't.

That and there's no way to tell the difference between legitimate farming for ones own purposes and farming for intended RMT. Who's to say I'm not helping my spouse/friend/child farm gil for a high-end item? I farm a ton of gil then simply hand it over and nobody but myself and the other person would know whether or not any RMT happened outside of the game.
#8 Sep 16 2010 at 9:44 PM Rating: Excellent
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In theory, let's pretend you own a game like FFXI or WoW and genuinely want to get rid of RMT.

Part 1: Getting rid of the advertisements.

When players report a character for advertising gil/gold/plat/etc selling or paid powerleveling, etc... check that character that was reported and check the chat logs to verify they're spamming currency services. Check the IP they're logging in from. Ban that character outright, and ban new accounts or characters from being created on this IP. If any other characters were used on this IP, send them all an ingame message (ingame, not email) that their account has been flagged for RMT and inform them that they have 24 hours to petition a GM ingame (not reply to an email, not go to a website) to verify that they are in fact not RMT. If any of these characters have also logged in to other IPs, send the same message to them that they have 48 hours to petition a GM ingame (same as above). If any of these IPs are shared with other characters, send the same message, with a 72 hour warning. Three steps is probably enough. Any characters who fail to petition a GM are automatically suspended. Any characters who do petition a GM, just have the GM talk to them for 3-5 minutes and get their side of the story. If they're a legit player, put a flag on their account indicating they have been suspected of and cleared of RMT activity and try not to bother them in this way more than twice unless you need to.

Repeat this process for every ad until the ads go away. They'll keep using proxy servers, but they have to run out eventually. It's just a war of attrition.

Part 2: Cleaning house.

Buy some currency from one of these sites. Wait for delivery. Ban the player that gives it to you outright. Trace back via IP -and- via credit card -and- via address as noted above (24 hour warning for linked accounts, 48 hour warning for second level links, 72 for third level links) where they have X hours to petition a GM ingame and explain that they are not, in fact, RMT. As above, if they are legit players, green flag them and try not to bother them again in the future.

Part 3: Cleaning up the mess.

Sometimes, a player will get banned and they don't deserve it. Have your customer service TIED INTO THE GAME. That is to say, log into the game, and you can contact a GM through the player select screen. NOT livechat on a webpage or a long distance phone number.

Let people plead their case if they got banned, and be willing to overturn the ban unless there's a good reason not to. Always err on the side of the player unless there's a definite reason you shouldn't. I wanted to say "give them some free money or a free month as an apology but then people would intentionally let themselves get banned for the free reward, so forget it.


Repeat parts 1 & 2 with a dash of part 3 as needed. Couple these aggressive RMT countermeasures with top level customer service that has short wait times and genuinely sincere reps and GMs and you will have a happier playerbase in the end, and no RMT.



The reason this will never happen: Money. RMT make accounts and play the game, so they're paying money. And more importantly, RMT only exist because people are buying from them, and currency BUYERS will quit if there is no currency for them to buy. You and I can say "good riddance", but to a company, money is money. There's also the time and money involved in actively (instead of passively) banning accounts and actually standing by for your players who get hit with the banstick instead of having a blanket policy of "permaban everyone with no appeal".

Eliminating RMT is not impossible, but most games still have it because the devs simply don't WANT to totally ban it.
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#9 Sep 16 2010 at 10:44 PM Rating: Good
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kenage wrote:
I honestly think that they have implemented (at least on FFXI) good measures in order to combat RMTing.

The thing is making money in FFXI is really hard, and some players simply give up and resort to the credit card, as long as there is a demand for it, the RMT will find the way to provide it.


It's not so much that money was hard to earn, so much as the fact that certain highly-desirable items were stupidly rare, either by being rare drops, or by being crafted from rare drops (or in some cases being crafted from other items that themselves were crafted from rare drops). Rare + desirable = expensive, no matter how easy money is.

Remember, goods have no inherent value; they are worth what people are willing to pay, no more. And increasing the supply of money doesn't increase people's purchasing power, it just devalues the currency. If money had been easier to obtain in FFXI, people wouldn't have had an easier time buying those items - they'd just be paying higher prices.

The real issue was that the structure of the economy in FFXI led to a highly stratified society with relatively low class mobility, with some people having billions of gil (having to use mules for money storage) while others struggling to build up a few hundred thousand.



It's worth pointing out, after all, that there's RMT presence even in games with a far less stratification and far more class mobility - so RMT in a game like FFXI is pretty much a foregone conclusion, and any successful anti-RMT measures in such a game would have to, pretty much by necessity, hassle legitimate players as well.



Mafi0s0 wrote:
Why cant MMOs have a built in auditing system that traces back bought gil/gold/kineh?


Who says they can't? At least one particularly high-profile MMO tracks so much data that they can do things like, after a player has scammed money from other players, not only return the money to it's rightful owners but undo all the purchases he made with their money and all in-game rewards from making those purchases.
#10 Sep 16 2010 at 11:05 PM Rating: Good
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You are talking about WoW, and that has a big RMT problem aswell, its just that they provide money sinks such as the mechano hog to counter it.

I am not just specifically refering to SE here, I am talking about all MMOs.
#11 Sep 17 2010 at 12:54 AM Rating: Good
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
The reason this will never happen: Money.


Actually, there are several other more concrete reasons why not.

For starters, let's look at your step 1 - IP-level bans.

Quote:
Repeat this process for every ad until the ads go away. They'll keep using proxy servers, but they have to run out eventually. It's just a war of attrition.


Not going to happen. There are over 4 billion possible IP addresses - even considering the fairly large subset of them which aren't usable, there's still far more potentially usable IPs than there is time to ban them. The situation gets even worse with IP v6, which has over 3 * 10^128 possible addresses - i.e. more than 23 quintillion addresses for every nanosecond since the big bang. With IP v6, you could ban entire subnets and still make no real headway.



Then there's step 2 - sting operations.

Definitely not going to happen. For starters, it's legally questionable.

Secondly, no MMO really wants to have their ToS or EULA tested in court, because they don't want to risk their various anti-RMT clauses being ruled unenforceable. And really, if you were an MMO developer, would you want to risk being the one who gets anti-RMT activity ruled as "restraint of trade"? (There's a reason why Blizzard v. Alyson Reeves, wherein they sued a for-profit private server operator, was tried on grounds of copyright, not breach of contract.) But if a developer resorts to what is basically industrial espionage, you can bet the issue is going straight to court.

It's not pleasant but it's the truth - RMT is a fact of life, and an MMO's ability to control it is entirely contingent upon tolerating some amount of it.

The only real way to get rid of RMT is to do away with in-game economic activity altogether.
#12 Sep 17 2010 at 2:48 AM Rating: Decent
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fighting RMT with "force" is like trying to fight "terrorism":

You can bomb and try to proselytize, dump endless pits of money against it in efforts to control it: it will continue to exist and will continue to adapt.

You can't 'force' an amorphous group or movement, the best you can do is reduce the effects of their methods and impact. I highly doubt the RMT guy who's trying to make ends meet cares that he's inconveniencing you while you're downing sodas and chips and playing a game for pure entertainment value.



Edited, Sep 17th 2010 4:56am by ghosthacked
#13 Sep 17 2010 at 3:06 AM Rating: Decent
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So what if I found borrowed my parents credit card to open a SE account.

It's MY RIGHT if I want to name my character Lmlakdrgj Dlopeikru.

And if I want to "trade" my GIL that me and "my 5 friends" earned in two hour shifts to others, then that's also MY RIGHT (I really don't know what the word 'Right' means exactly).

That's why I left China to work in a undisclosed warehouse in downtown Los Angeles "the 'burbs" to get away from "the man."

**** SE.

Redacted.




Edited, Sep 17th 2010 5:08am by Kierk
#14 Sep 17 2010 at 3:40 AM Rating: Decent
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Fighting RMT is all very good but with the exception of Mikhalia noone has mentioned fighting the Gil buyers.

In my opinion You need to be as strict with Gil buyers as you are with Gil sellers. At most, you might want to give out one warning to Gil buyers but if they do it a second time then perma ban.

BastokFL's point of view that MMO companies might not want to test their legal leash is all well and I can see that happening but will only impact in corts, inside the game itself the game developer has the right to restrict/stop access to their game by anyone they so wish.

If you deny the demand then the supply will falter and eventually disapeer.
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#15 Sep 17 2010 at 3:49 AM Rating: Default
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It amazes me that the RMT are allways the enemies in these conversations and the way to get rid of RMT activity is allways to "Ban RMT IPs" or "Dont let china play the game at all" or "Blow up china". All these hateful remarks toward the RMT themselves. Granted through the years i've had run ins with RMT and they arent pleasant. They cheat(third party programs), they spam, and they dont talk to me when i send them tells :( how rude.

All this is hate for the man/woman trying to put food on thier table with *Gasp* real money. And yet THEY are considered the problem.

Hmmmmm. lets take a look at the customer for a second. Yeah the Douche in your LS who logs on for 3hrs a day and yet has {the sword of so freakin expensive}. Guess what guys... he buys gil. Or the noob in your social LS thats all decked out in lowbie NM gear... guess what guys... he buys gil. These people are the enemy guys. And quite frankly ALOT easier to deal with. Follow the guy who just bought the big ticket item see how he obtained the gil. If logs suggest that 1 day he had no money, then yesterday he met a friendly lvl 1 mule named Ggdsfgddggd who traded him 19mil...... he proooobably bought gil. Strip him naked, take his new weapon and all his gil, flag him indeffinitly as PVP to both factions w/e. Make his life ingame misserable. He either quits or learns a lesson.

Killing the Gil trade is won 1 gil buying pathetic loser at a time.


That is all
#16 Sep 17 2010 at 4:08 AM Rating: Good
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Quote:
Couple these aggressive RMT countermeasures


Aion tried to do the aggressive way, the only thing what happened was that they banned a lot of players who had nothing to do with RMT, resulting in bad publicity.

Running a MMO is business, the way you describe it will cost SE a lot of money, where in the end the result will be that it is impossible to ban out RMT. SE will probably take action in a certain way that RMT is not that annoying for the active players without investing to much resources and/or money.

All in all, if you want to get rid of RMT, you need to take away the demand and that is ingame economy. Till then, RMT will exist and there is nothing you can do about it, you can only try to lower the annoyance.
#17 Sep 17 2010 at 4:16 AM Rating: Decent
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DionysusJones wrote:
It amazes me that the RMT are allways the enemies in these conversations and the way to get rid of RMT activity is allways to "Ban RMT IPs" or "Dont let china play the game at all" or "Blow up china". All these hateful remarks toward the RMT themselves. Granted through the years i've had run ins with RMT and they arent pleasant. They cheat(third party programs), they spam, and they dont talk to me when i send them tells :( how rude.

All this is hate for the man/woman trying to put food on thier table with *Gasp* real money. And yet THEY are considered the problem.

Hmmmmm. lets take a look at the customer for a second. Yeah the Douche in your LS who logs on for 3hrs a day and yet has {the sword of so freakin expensive}. Guess what guys... he buys gil. Or the noob in your social LS thats all decked out in lowbie NM gear... guess what guys... he buys gil. These people are the enemy guys. And quite frankly ALOT easier to deal with. Follow the guy who just bought the big ticket item see how he obtained the gil. If logs suggest that 1 day he had no money, then yesterday he met a friendly lvl 1 mule named Ggdsfgddggd who traded him 19mil...... he proooobably bought gil. Strip him naked, take his new weapon and all his gil, flag him indeffinitly as PVP to both factions w/e. Make his life ingame misserable. He either quits or learns a lesson.

Killing the Gil trade is won 1 gil buying pathetic loser at a time.


That is all


As you can see from my previous post I agree in general with your point of view but the specifics I have to disagree. Do not bring the "They need to RMT to get food on their tables" card since if anyone is that desperate and they have enough skills to work how to play a computer game they sure can find another job, even if it is just sweeping streets.

I think your statment on how to deal with Gil buyers comes out of fustration and hanger so I will just say that a ban would sufice.
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#18 Sep 17 2010 at 4:20 AM Rating: Default
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
In theory, let's pretend you own a game like FFXI or WoW and genuinely want to get rid of RMT.

Part 1: Getting rid of the advertisements.

When players report a character for advertising gil/gold/plat/etc selling or paid powerleveling, etc... check that character that was reported and check the chat logs to verify they're spamming currency services. Check the IP they're logging in from. Ban that character outright, and ban new accounts or characters from being created on this IP. If any other characters were used on this IP, send them all an ingame message (ingame, not email) that their account has been flagged for RMT and inform them that they have 24 hours to petition a GM ingame (not reply to an email, not go to a website) to verify that they are in fact not RMT. If any of these characters have also logged in to other IPs, send the same message to them that they have 48 hours to petition a GM ingame (same as above). If any of these IPs are shared with other characters, send the same message, with a 72 hour warning. Three steps is probably enough. Any characters who fail to petition a GM are automatically suspended. Any characters who do petition a GM, just have the GM talk to them for 3-5 minutes and get their side of the story. If they're a legit player, put a flag on their account indicating they have been suspected of and cleared of RMT activity and try not to bother them in this way more than twice unless you need to.

Repeat this process for every ad until the ads go away. They'll keep using proxy servers, but they have to run out eventually. It's just a war of attrition.

Part 2: Cleaning house.

Buy some currency from one of these sites. Wait for delivery. Ban the player that gives it to you outright. Trace back via IP -and- via credit card -and- via address as noted above (24 hour warning for linked accounts, 48 hour warning for second level links, 72 for third level links) where they have X hours to petition a GM ingame and explain that they are not, in fact, RMT. As above, if they are legit players, green flag them and try not to bother them again in the future.

Part 3: Cleaning up the mess.

Sometimes, a player will get banned and they don't deserve it. Have your customer service TIED INTO THE GAME. That is to say, log into the game, and you can contact a GM through the player select screen. NOT livechat on a webpage or a long distance phone number.

Let people plead their case if they got banned, and be willing to overturn the ban unless there's a good reason not to. Always err on the side of the player unless there's a definite reason you shouldn't. I wanted to say "give them some free money or a free month as an apology but then people would intentionally let themselves get banned for the free reward, so forget it.


Repeat parts 1 & 2 with a dash of part 3 as needed. Couple these aggressive RMT countermeasures with top level customer service that has short wait times and genuinely sincere reps and GMs and you will have a happier playerbase in the end, and no RMT.



The reason this will never happen: Money. RMT make accounts and play the game, so they're paying money. And more importantly, RMT only exist because people are buying from them, and currency BUYERS will quit if there is no currency for them to buy. You and I can say "good riddance", but to a company, money is money. There's also the time and money involved in actively (instead of passively) banning accounts and actually standing by for your players who get hit with the banstick instead of having a blanket policy of "permaban everyone with no appeal".

Eliminating RMT is not impossible, but most games still have it because the devs simply don't WANT to totally ban it.


If you find a mule you should not delete it immediately you should instead watch it and track the money back to the banks.



Edited, Sep 17th 2010 7:22am by Lobivopis
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I thought of it first:

http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/forum.html?forum=10&mid=130073657654872218#20
#19Lobivopis, Posted: Sep 17 2010 at 4:28 AM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) You are mistaken.
#20 Sep 17 2010 at 11:30 AM Rating: Good
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Quote:
Aion tried to do the aggressive way


Oh I remember how Aion were so gung-ho in getting rid of the RMT. It's amazing see the RMT setting up show for 3 solid weeks outside of the bank.
#21 Sep 17 2010 at 12:56 PM Rating: Good
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I still assert that the primary goal should be banning BUYERS, not sellers. People buy gil/bold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs: Because they think they won't get caught if they're careful enough.

If you put the fear of God into people and liberally ban for gil buying, people will be a lot less inclined to buy in the future with the knowledge that they could get banned. Less people buying = less demand. Less demand = less RMT.
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#22 Sep 17 2010 at 1:09 PM Rating: Decent
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
People buy gil/gold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs...


Not really, no.
#23 Sep 17 2010 at 3:10 PM Rating: Good
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Redyoshi wrote:
Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
People buy gil/gold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs...


Not really, no.


Or instead of just saying "no" and rating me down, you could try to provide a counterargument? Just a suggestion.
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#24 Sep 17 2010 at 7:21 PM Rating: Good
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Lobivopis wrote:
BastokFL wrote:

Definitely not going to happen. For starters, it's legally questionable.


How exactly is it "legally questionable"?


Performing an action that is against your own terms of service in order to catch someone else violating your terms of service, in an attempt to enforce a contract clause of unresolved enforceability?

If RMT is a legitimate business (which legally, is still an open question), this amounts to industrial espionage. Industrial espionage is an actual, real crime.

Quote:
BastokFL wrote:

Secondly, no MMO really wants to have their ToS or EULA tested in court, because they don't want to risk their various anti-RMT clauses being ruled unenforceable.


You are mistaken.

http://virtuallyblind.com/2008/02/01/peons4hire-blizzard-injunction/


Okay, almost none.

Note though that in that case, they settled rather that having the case tried, so any legal questions are still unresolved.

And the suit was primarily grounded on Peons4Hire's ad spam - the right of property owners to regulate speech on their property is well-established, especially in the state of California - with the TOS being only a small part of the suit, which listed 6 complaints, including 2 violations of CA state law. This is why they went after a major chat ad spammer like peons4hire rather than a more well-known gold-selling outfit like IGE, which doesn't advertise in-game.

Also, that was 2 1/2 years ago, and Blizzard hasn't taken legal action against RMT since then, even with a new group of ad-spammy RMT outfits.

The last thing they want now is for an American court to rule, much like South Korea's supreme court did earlier this year, that virtual currency sales cannot be restricted - because then RMT becomes a truly legitimate business (as opposed to it's current grey-market status), and anti-RMT activity becomes "restraint of trade."
#25 Sep 17 2010 at 7:47 PM Rating: Good
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
Redyoshi wrote:
Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
People buy gil/gold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs...


Not really, no.


Or instead of just saying "no" and rating me down, you could try to provide a counterargument? Just a suggestion.


Well technically, he is correct.

None of those things are bought simply because people think they can get away with it.

People buy them because the net benefit (i.e. benefit less cost) they get from having them outweighs the severity of punishment adjusted by the perceived risk of being caught.

The only real effect of severe punishment is that it causes consumers to act with greater caution - it doesn't significantly alter actual demand.
#26 Sep 17 2010 at 7:53 PM Rating: Good
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BastokFL wrote:
Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
Redyoshi wrote:
Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
People buy gil/gold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs...


Not really, no.


Or instead of just saying "no" and rating me down, you could try to provide a counterargument? Just a suggestion.


Well technically, he is correct.

None of those things are bought simply because people think they can get away with it.

People buy them because the net benefit (i.e. benefit less cost) they get from having them outweighs the severity of punishment adjusted by the perceived risk of being caught.

The only real effect of severe punishment is that it causes consumers to act with greater caution - it doesn't significantly alter actual demand.


I wasn't saying that this was the ONLY reason these purchases are made, merely that the frequency of these purposes is inversely proportionate to the chance of getting caught doing it.

Statistically speaking, if one could rob a bank or a convenience store, which would result in a greater gain? However, which would be more likely to result in getting away with it?

The greater the risk of getting caught, the fewer people will attempt it. If people thought they could rob a bank and had an 80% change of getting off free and clear, banks would be robbed every day.
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#27 Sep 17 2010 at 7:57 PM Rating: Good
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BastokFL wrote:
Lobivopis wrote:
BastokFL wrote:

Definitely not going to happen. For starters, it's legally questionable.


How exactly is it "legally questionable"?


Performing an action that is against your own terms of service in order to catch someone else violating your terms of service, in an attempt to enforce a contract clause of unresolved enforceability?

If RMT is a legitimate business (which legally, is still an open question), this amounts to industrial espionage. Industrial espionage is an actual, real crime.


You could always play it into a gray area and put some legalese in your ToS that says something like "The sale and trade of game currency or items without the express written consent of Square Enix is forbidden and subject to cancellation of service if the offending party is unable to produce such a document."

Then they can write themselves a letter giving themselves permission to do it, and therefore are not violating their own ToS. It's a gray area, but in theory, it could be done.

Think about it; the government writes clauses into laws that allow them to exempt themselves from certain laws as needed; I see no reason why SE wouldn't be able to do the same. Remember, the ToS is there to protect the company, not the customers.
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#28 Sep 17 2010 at 8:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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Terms of service doesnt really apply to the service provider, they can more or less do what they want, its up to them if and who they enforce it against. RMT guys wont be able to loophole themselves out of it just because SE put them through a "sting". In fact, the ToS basically says they can end service to anyone for just about any reason, nobody has a legal right to be able to play.


I agree though that the problem with RMT lies with the buyers. Unfortunately there is a demand for gil (or as some argue, the demand of exchanging out of game currency for in game progress), and because of the nature of MMOs, its impossible to prevent completely. Its an industry with very little cost to enter the market, and enough demand that they can maintain it. The best we can hope for is that SE will be on the lookout for the obvious RMT accounts and ban them.
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#29 Sep 17 2010 at 10:13 PM Rating: Good
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BastokFL wrote:
Lobivopis wrote:
BastokFL wrote:

Definitely not going to happen. For starters, it's legally questionable.


How exactly is it "legally questionable"?


Performing an action that is against your own terms of service in order to catch someone else violating your terms of service, in an attempt to enforce a contract clause of unresolved enforceability?


SE writes the terms of service. They can easily write in a clause that RMT is only allowed with their express permission (and I bet they will). If they give express permission to some employees who are investigating RMT, then there's no problem.

Quote:

If RMT is a legitimate business (which legally, is still an open question), this amounts to industrial espionage. Industrial espionage is an actual, real crime.


It's industrial espionage to investigate a customer who's breaking their contract with SE? I don't think so. The RMTers agree to the terms of service like any other player. It is not industrial espionage to try and track a contract violation by a customer, no matter if that customer's business is the intentional violation of contracts. I mean, come on.

Quote:

The last thing they want now is for an American court to rule, much like South Korea's supreme court did earlier this year, that virtual currency sales cannot be restricted - because then RMT becomes a truly legitimate business (as opposed to it's current grey-market status), and anti-RMT activity becomes "restraint of trade."


I can't see that happening in an American court, there's really no basis for it. American copyright law folds like a house of cards whenever a powerful industrial interest huff and puffs. Consumers are barely hanging onto the first sale doctrine (the right to resell intellectual property, i.e. games, that you purchase for yourself) with their fingernails. SE has a contract with players. The contract says that they own all the intellectual property, we're just renting it from them. There is no legal basis whatsoever to contradict this. The court would have to go far outside the bounds of existing law -- and any court that did would probably get smacked down by the Supreme Court.

Now, in other countries, it's probably a very real danger. Many countries are a lot more pro-consumer with their IP laws. I know Germany for one has IP rules that really scare certain companies. Managing an international business is a legal quagmire. And if you win a case in one country, that doesn't really mean anything in the others. Getting RMT banned at law in every country where FFXIV operates would be a massive undertaking and almost certain to fail, because at least some of those countries are going to rule against SE. I'm sure America wouldn't, but all it takes is one haven country where RMT can't be sued. So it's just not worth the time or the money.
#30 Sep 17 2010 at 11:19 PM Rating: Good
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
Statistically speaking, if one could rob a bank or a convenience store, which would result in a greater gain? However, which would be more likely to result in getting away with it?

The greater the risk of getting caught, the fewer people will attempt it. If people thought they could rob a bank and had an 80% change of getting off free and clear, banks would be robbed every day.


Theft and robbery are a different issue psychologically than "criminal markets" (i.e. the buying of embargoed goods or services) - the latter are generally viewed as free exchanges, whereas the former are definitely not. The former violate the Golden Rule, the latter don't.

Using force to obtain something is cognitively quite different from using money to obtain it.
#31 Sep 18 2010 at 4:56 AM Rating: Good
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There is a lot of blame here for gilsellers who completely deserve the grief. There is then some blame here for gil buyers who likewise deserve ridicule and embarassment and effectively ruin the ingame economy and support the sellers who most people agree are scum.

No-one is blaming the community overall though.

In FFXI, there came a point in time where if you did not have a particular item (in the recesses of my memory I am thinking Hauby+1 but I might be wrong), you would not get an invite. For a player who does not have 10 hours per day to play, they then have a choice, buy some gold to purchase items to enable themselves to get a group, or never get into a group again.

This was ultimately why I eventually quit FFXI. I did not have time to keep up with the elitist players that I had grown alongside (as I took a more time demanding job, got a girlfried, now wife, and started a family). Had I have succumbed to buying the best gear - I could have probably continued, I just decided not to sleep with the enemy.

For as long as MMO's are jobs, not games. For as long as the bulk of the community demands you have hauby+1 or they wont play with you there will be RMT.

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#32 Sep 18 2010 at 5:47 AM Rating: Good
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Solimurr wrote:
It's industrial espionage to investigate a customer who's breaking their contract with SE? I don't think so. The RMTers agree to the terms of service like any other player. It is not industrial espionage to try and track a contract violation by a customer, no matter if that customer's business is the intentional violation of contracts. I mean, come on.


It is if the relevant portion of that contract is unenforceable. Whether or not it is enforceable is still an open question.

If such a matter were to go before a court, it is entirely possible that such restrictions could be deemed "restraint of trade" - which is generally illegal and thus unenforceable. In such a case the only way to legitimize anti-RMT activity would be legislative action.

Quote:
I can't see that happening in an American court, there's really no basis for it. American copyright law folds like a house of cards whenever a powerful industrial interest huff and puffs. Consumers are barely hanging onto the first sale doctrine (the right to resell intellectual property, i.e. games, that you purchase for yourself) with their fingernails. SE has a contract with players. The contract says that they own all the intellectual property, we're just renting it from them. There is no legal basis whatsoever to contradict this. The court would have to go far outside the bounds of existing law -- and any court that did would probably get smacked down by the Supreme Court.


The ownership issue is by no means settled either - just because the contract says they own all the game's virtual property, does not make it so, and just because it says you can't transfer currency in-game in exchange for real currency, doesn't mean you can't. Especially given that this is a contract of adhesion - which warrants special scrutiny.

Lastly, the lack of ownership doesn't imply the lack of real value if the virtual goods (or technically, since the goods aren't owned by the player, the rights to use those goods) are transferable in-game. And South Korea isn't the only place where virtual goods are developing legally-enforceable real-world value - a case in Denmark ruled that virtual goods are real enough that using real force to compel someone to transfer goods in-game constitutes robbery, not assault. (Robbery, of course, having harsher penalties.)



As for first sale, it's still alive and well in the physical world; but by law it does not apply to digital media.

What's in question is whether software purchases constitute sales or licensing. This IS largely settled - as a general rule, buying software is construed as licensing (provided the user is given the opportunity to explicitly accept the license), which allows the copyright owner to restrict resale as they see fit, but if the software isn't installed, the purchaser hasn't agreed to the license agreement and thus isn't bound by it; this has, by and large, been the case for over a decade.

(Internet histrionics aside, Vernor v. Autodesk doesn't directly jeopardize first sale, and anybody who's actually read the case brief, which may or may not include the 9th circuit panel themselves, would know that.) In fact, even going back to US v. Wise (1977), first sale has been held to be inapplicable to licensed goods provided the license requires the goods be returned (or destroyed) following the contract's termination.

On this issue, really the only hazy part is whether merely opening the packaging counts as consenting to the license agreement - but the answer here seems to be, largely, no it doesn't.



Ultimately, this is just the latest battlefield in the long-running fight between content creators and consumers. The war between IP owners and their audiences is nothing new - it's been going on for over 500 years, and is not even close to over.
#33 Sep 18 2010 at 6:43 AM Rating: Decent
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
Redyoshi wrote:
Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
People buy gil/gold/etc for the same reason they buy illegal weapons and drugs...


Not really, no.


Or instead of just saying "no" and rating me down, you could try to provide a counterargument? Just a suggestion.


There are two possible reasons that spring to mind:

1) Ego: in FFXI, you didn't NEED certain items to perform well...things like speed belt, dalmatica, relic weapons - for most people, obtaining them would be impossible without intervention; hence, RMT provides an equaliser for those who cannot obtain these items through their own effort or skill.

2) Time-value: not everyone has enough time to farm/craft/etc to earn enough gil to obtain what they want in-game. For these people, they would rather spend their hard-earned money from real job to get what they want (instant gratification).

Mikhalia pretty much got it spot on by saying it's demand that creates a market. However, it's the sellers who are profiteering through actions which are breaching contract law (i.e. the TOS). In my view, it's appropriate to ban both buyers and sellers.
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#34 Sep 18 2010 at 6:46 AM Rating: Decent
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Why is this even a topic that elicits wall-of-text responses?

RMT will never go away. Some companies put more resources into tracking, banning, and preventing in-game advertising. If you don't like how SE does (or doesn't) react to it, I'd suggest another gaming company.
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#35 Sep 18 2010 at 7:05 AM Rating: Decent
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BastokFL wrote:

The ownership issue is by no means settled either - just because the contract says they own all the game's virtual property, does not make it so, and just because it says you can't transfer currency in-game in exchange for real currency, doesn't mean you can't. Especially given that this is a contract of adhesion - which warrants special scrutiny.


I was wondering how long it would take for a lawyer to pop out of the woodwork :)

All these arguments about contract law are very interesting because each jurisdiction has its own peculiar contract laws (and what constitutes invalid in one country may be perfectly valid in another). For example, in Australia, I have my doubts whether a banning would constitute a reasonably arguable cause of action under restraint of trade principles. Under our system, our [legal] concepts of equity would prevent a claim for relief (lack of 'clean hands' i.e. courts won't protect dodgy people).

Thus far, it looks like the courts have dealt generally with cases involving real criminal law, which means that they haven't had to rule directly on the contract (i.e. the ToS itself). Interestingly though, the MMORPG market is a highly commercialised and developed market in South Korea, where free to play modelling is only commercially viable through operating cash shops. Hence, in Korea, the legal sanction of in-game currency is the policy recognition that developers must be able to exploit their IP for profit.

Contrast this with China, where the government is considering restricting the capacity of anybody to issue virtue currency. You guys may not know it, but in China, there is this huge software house which released the Chinese equivalent of MSN/Skype/Yahoo etc - called QQ. Like Playfish/Zynga, they sell virtual currency to buy items in their games. It has gotten to the point that the authorities view this virtual currency as a threat to the state's sovereignty that they are reviewing whether to strictly police it.

To answer the OP, you can be sure they have sophisticated computer audit techniques to identify and track RMT activity. For example, with FFXI's special task force, I can't imagine a small team could ban 6,000+ accounts in a month without having a system to go through so much information and single out the offensive stuff.

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#36 Sep 18 2010 at 9:27 AM Rating: Decent
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I'd have to say the elimination of free-roaming NMs, the new HELM mechanics, and no AH was specific design for RMT.
Their biggest griefing were in these areas. Manipulation of the AH prices, and using sheer numbers to monopolize the money making NMs.

While I don't cherish the idea of these game mechanics going bye-bye, obviously SE had RMT griefing issues in mind during developement this time around. In XI RMT got a 2 year uninhibited foothold before even being noticed by SE, and pretty much went unscathed for another year after that.
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#37 Sep 18 2010 at 10:17 AM Rating: Default
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Every time I saw RMT they never had a linkshell. Similar names? Yes. That was about it.
#38 Sep 18 2010 at 10:18 AM Rating: Good
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Restyoneck wrote:
I'd have to say the elimination of free-roaming NMs, the new HELM mechanics, and no AH was specific design for RMT.
Their biggest griefing were in these areas. Manipulation of the AH prices, and using sheer numbers to monopolize the money making NMs.

While I don't cherish the idea of these game mechanics going bye-bye, obviously SE had RMT griefing issues in mind during developement this time around. In XI RMT got a 2 year uninhibited foothold before even being noticed by SE, and pretty much went unscathed for another year after that.


I disagree about the no AH system. I think having no AH could help the RMTs.

After the first few weeks of gameplay and searching market wards, there will probably be a few vendors who always seems to have the items I need, so I will keep going back to them first. Who has the time to consistently keep a vendor stocked 24/7 with useful items for my goldsmithing? That would be RMTs.

I have a feeling that the average player base will buy a lot more off of RMT vendors than they do off of other regular players without even knowing it.
#39 Sep 18 2010 at 10:46 AM Rating: Good
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Slapaho wrote:
Every time I saw RMT they never had a linkshell. Similar names? Yes. That was about it.


The farmers work in linkshells/guilds with the rest of the farmers in their group, the mules and spammers dont.
#40 Sep 18 2010 at 11:15 AM Rating: Good
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My 2 gil...

Frankly, as long as a high percentage of desirable, high-end gear comes in the form of something that can be purchased from another player, we will always have RMT. RMT exist in all games, yes, but the desire to go down the path of purchasing in-game money depends entirely upon the market the game created.

If player-traded items consist mainly of low-level items, potions, materials, you probably won't see a heavy reliance on RMT sites. At least not if there's an okay way to make money, and there's a steady stream of items entering the economy.

If player-traded items consist of end-game desirable gear, then I think we are far more likely to see a heavy reliance on RMT. Adding money into the economy is okay, but that generally just increases the prices.

I don't see RMT going away. I just hope the economy doesn't end up in a way where it's as prevalent as it was in FF11. With crafting jobs being considered main classes instead of secondary "hobbies" however, I'm pretty confident that most end-game stuff will probably be created by crafters, using rare ingredients farmed by end-game HNMS, which means prices that vastly exceed reasonable money making methods, which means RMT.

All I can say is I hope I find a decent way of making gil early on, because I bet this game turns into a class system of haves and have-nots again, and I really hope S-E is on the ball with stopping RMT.

Edited, Sep 18th 2010 10:18am by Ridere
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#41 Sep 18 2010 at 11:34 AM Rating: Good
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Economy

Imo in the beta, Making gil is very easy. But this also brings inflation to mind. Due to gil being easy to come buy, does that mean the prices are going to be that much higher? In the beta I saw greed to no end. I placed things up for a few thousand gil profit. Unlike seeing most bazaars holding items that were 4x the amount to craft. Or easy guildleve obtainable items selling for 50k-100k gil. Ridiculous, If the release is going to be anything like the beta then prices are going to spiral out of control real fast. It even got to the point of seeing only 1 retainer in he first market ward having shards for sale and they were incredibly ridiculous prices. I'm guessing they bought all the shards from all the retainers in the room and placed them on sale for increased prices.

Shards are easy to come buy via farming/leveling. But this is the beginning of the game, shards shouldn't sky rocket to ffxi type prices for crafting or people wont be getting new items to obtain via crafters. And if they do sky rocket then crafting prices will go up as well.

Sorry this just became a rant of how I dont want the economy to be.
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#42 Sep 18 2010 at 11:38 AM Rating: Good
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I share your concerns about the ease of gil in the open beta. I am desperately hoping that it was just for testing purposes, as I see no reason why a rank 11 weapon should cost 100k. I remember back when FF11 was opened to NA players, we didn't even have two gil to rub together. Back then gil had a Bee on them. "Give me five bees for a nickel." you'd say. We wore Wild Onions on our belts, because that was the fashion back then. You'd spend hours farming whatever, usually crystals, to try and scrounge up enough gil to buy that 10k sword, so you weren't gimped for the dune's party. hehe ;)

We all know prices are going to inflate as gil enters the economy. I don't think we need to start off already having them inflated so high. I liked the close beta prices on items a lot more than the open beta. I know that it's all relative, as prices are high, because it's so easy to make money, but let us deal with small numbers for awhile. :)

200k Used to be such an achievement to save up for in FF11 as a new player. Now it's like an afternoon's worth of crystal shards.

Edit: Read my post, and it smelled of Grandpa Simpson, so I elaborated :D

Edited, Sep 18th 2010 10:40am by Ridere
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#43 Sep 18 2010 at 11:52 AM Rating: Good
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I'll show up to a party in mismatched gear I won from guildleves and a "weathered" weapon, I don't care = P

Yea, some people are getting rather greedy...I've seen quite a few items in bazaars going for 20k+ more than what I would pay from certain NPCs. People creating weapons are selling them like they're rare drops from an NM. Then there's the people hoping to sell mats for crazy prices...the mats to make dyes come to mind. It's nice to make good money on some items a lot of people want, but it creates a chain reaction. You overprice those mats, the alchemist needs to make profit on the dye, the person making the gear needs to profit also...don't be shocked when that red cowl is going for 200k when you charged 10k a pop for some mats.

Bringing that back to the RMT...if everyone on the server gets greedy you're creating business for them...

Edited, Sep 18th 2010 1:56pm by TwistedOwl
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#44 Sep 18 2010 at 2:49 PM Rating: Default
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Quote:
People creating weapons are selling them like they're rare drops from an NM. Then there's the people hoping to sell mats for crazy prices...the mats to make dyes come to mind. It's nice to make good money on some items a lot of people want, but it creates a chain reaction. You overprice those mats, the alchemist needs to make profit on the dye, the person making the gear needs to profit also...don't be shocked when that red cowl is going for 200k when you charged 10k a pop for some mats.


Exactly! People dont understand in an ecomony like this with everything being new. Your only hurting yourself by trying to gouge prices. It comes full circle.

EDIT post Defaulted:
Can someone explain to me why this post is defaulted? Seriously?

Edited, Sep 18th 2010 5:34pm by Tarutinkler
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#45 Sep 18 2010 at 3:27 PM Rating: Default
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Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
In theory, let's pretend you own a game like FFXI or WoW and genuinely want to get rid of RMT.

Part 1: Getting rid of the advertisements.

When players report a character for advertising gil/gold/plat/etc selling or paid powerleveling, etc... check that character that was reported and check the chat logs to verify they're spamming currency services. Check the IP they're logging in from. Ban that character outright, and ban new accounts or characters from being created on this IP. If any other characters were used on this IP, send them all an ingame message (ingame, not email) that their account has been flagged for RMT and inform them that they have 24 hours to petition a GM ingame (not reply to an email, not go to a website) to verify that they are in fact not RMT. If any of these characters have also logged in to other IPs, send the same message to them that they have 48 hours to petition a GM ingame (same as above). If any of these IPs are shared with other characters, send the same message, with a 72 hour warning. Three steps is probably enough. Any characters who fail to petition a GM are automatically suspended. Any characters who do petition a GM, just have the GM talk to them for 3-5 minutes and get their side of the story. If they're a legit player, put a flag on their account indicating they have been suspected of and cleared of RMT activity and try not to bother them in this way more than twice unless you need to.

Repeat this process for every ad until the ads go away. They'll keep using proxy servers, but they have to run out eventually. It's just a war of attrition.

Part 2: Cleaning house.

Buy some currency from one of these sites. Wait for delivery. Ban the player that gives it to you outright. Trace back via IP -and- via credit card -and- via address as noted above (24 hour warning for linked accounts, 48 hour warning for second level links, 72 for third level links) where they have X hours to petition a GM ingame and explain that they are not, in fact, RMT. As above, if they are legit players, green flag them and try not to bother them again in the future.

Part 3: Cleaning up the mess.

Sometimes, a player will get banned and they don't deserve it. Have your customer service TIED INTO THE GAME. That is to say, log into the game, and you can contact a GM through the player select screen. NOT livechat on a webpage or a long distance phone number.

Let people plead their case if they got banned, and be willing to overturn the ban unless there's a good reason not to. Always err on the side of the player unless there's a definite reason you shouldn't. I wanted to say "give them some free money or a free month as an apology but then people would intentionally let themselves get banned for the free reward, so forget it.


Repeat parts 1 & 2 with a dash of part 3 as needed. Couple these aggressive RMT countermeasures with top level customer service that has short wait times and genuinely sincere reps and GMs and you will have a happier playerbase in the end, and no RMT.



The reason this will never happen: Money. RMT make accounts and play the game, so they're paying money. And more importantly, RMT only exist because people are buying from them, and currency BUYERS will quit if there is no currency for them to buy. You and I can say "good riddance", but to a company, money is money. There's also the time and money involved in actively (instead of passively) banning accounts and actually standing by for your players who get hit with the banstick instead of having a blanket policy of "permaban everyone with no appeal".

Eliminating RMT is not impossible, but most games still have it because the devs simply don't WANT to totally ban it.


None of this would work because RMT are constantly creating new accounts to spam and trade gil.
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#46 Sep 18 2010 at 3:38 PM Rating: Decent
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Tarutinkler wrote:
Quote:
People creating weapons are selling them like they're rare drops from an NM. Then there's the people hoping to sell mats for crazy prices...the mats to make dyes come to mind. It's nice to make good money on some items a lot of people want, but it creates a chain reaction. You overprice those mats, the alchemist needs to make profit on the dye, the person making the gear needs to profit also...don't be shocked when that red cowl is going for 200k when you charged 10k a pop for some mats.


Exactly! People dont understand in an ecomony like this with everything being new. Your only hurting yourself by trying to gouge prices. It comes full circle.

EDIT post Defaulted:
Can someone explain to me why this post is defaulted? Seriously?

Edited, Sep 18th 2010 5:34pm by Tarutinkler
You don't hurt yourself by gouging, the market will eventually self-regulate, but initially, the first capitalistic opportunists to get their hands on a new item will earn a premium for selling it. The people who gouge benefit. The people who buy overpriced items just because they're new, well, a fool and his money...

Oh and complaining about karma doesn't help.



Edited, Sep 18th 2010 4:39pm by bsphil
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#47 Sep 18 2010 at 3:56 PM Rating: Default
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Quote:
You don't hurt yourself by gouging, the market will eventually self-regulate, but initially, the first capitalistic opportunists to get their hands on a new item will earn a premium for selling it. The people who gouge benefit. The people who buy overpriced items just because they're new, well, a fool and his money...


Let me rephrase then. Concerning crafting materials, prices on my beta server for crystals went from 1-20gil to 50gil up to 250gil each. With most crafting recipes needing a minimum of 6 crystals it gets quite expensive to begin crafting if you are not farming your own crystals. Along with the actual materials for crafting being raised every few days as well. This alone will raise the price in which crafters sell their completed items. Using the scenario of someone getting a new item and selling it for a premium, it most definitely will hurt them in the long run. Because everyone does the same. Lets say so and so wants to purchase that item. Well they need to make money as well, they'll try to raise their prices to get the money to buy the new item, thus increasing prices again for everyone. And your right. The market will self-regulate, although it will regulate to higher base prices so long as everyone keeps gouging prices. I'm not saying its not going to happen, I'm just saying people don't look at the big picture of the economy. And why should everyone. Its a game. A lot of people don't see it as a growing economy.


Edited, Sep 18th 2010 5:56pm by Tarutinkler
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#48 Sep 18 2010 at 4:02 PM Rating: Default
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Just boot everyone that doesn't speak English or Japanese. Problem solved :D
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#49 Sep 18 2010 at 5:00 PM Rating: Good
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LyleVertigo wrote:
Just boot everyone that doesn't speak English or Japanese. Problem solved :D


You realize that there are more Spanish speaking people then English ? Besides your comment is not constructive and kind of offensive to people who do not speak English and Japanese and have nothing to do with RMT at all.
#50 Sep 18 2010 at 5:01 PM Rating: Default
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#51 Sep 18 2010 at 5:17 PM Rating: Default
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Spanish? Not worried about them playing. They're too busy fixing this overpass by my house.
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