Get Down with RMT (yeah you know me!)

Obscure musical reference. Probably sad that I think that is obscure. Free comment post to whoever figures that one out first.

Real Money Transfers. The Yankees, Bill Gates, and Jack Thompson loathe of most MMO gamers. You will probably add my name to the loathing list when I tell you that with a few changes, the underground RMT model would actually be good for gaming. Whoa! was that a tomato you just threw at me? That’s okay, I’ll make a RMT sandwich with that, a slice of bacon, and two pieces of whole wheat bread.

With all the hubbub with the underground RMT world the sad truth is it is a market easily crushed – and while doing so, properly, could be a celebrated event for gamers. MMO’s are one colossal universal competition. My MMO is better than your MMO. My Guild is better than your guild. My toon is better than your toon. My Sword of Ultimate Truth is better than your Hammer of Justice. And so on. The problem with MMO’s is that to be the best (or simply just enjoy yourself) it isn’t solely about skill – it is about time. I guarantee you, if I could play 40-50 hours a week compared to your 10-15 hours a week I will be “better” at it than you. (Divorced, probably overweight, and dealing with a bout of carpal tunnel to boot – but still, “better”). Couple the time issue with those same competition obsessed players willing to spend money on in game things to get even further ahead and the disparity widens. Enter RMT to save the day.

I bought gold in WoW once. Probably from a company that hijacked you and your guild-mate’s account to provide me with that gold. I apologize for that. Honestly, I didn’t think I was hurting anyone and was actually supplying 10 year old kids with a much needed 30 cent an hour job to care for their 8 brothers and sisters. I felt dirty, like sneakily downloading porn while my wife knitted a sweater for her ailing grandmother but I did it, and it felt good.

To be fair, I did it before I really knew the ramifications, or even that it was “illegal”. I was falling behind in my gaming time, and instead of spending hours a week farming junk to make gold by making and selling different junk, I really just wanted to enjoy the game by actually playing the game, not doing my second job in it. Back then, it was dirt cheap. $99.00 for 3000 gold. Considering what I typically charge my clients per hour, I was actually making money by spending that little amount for something that would take me 30 hours in game – and spending those 30 hours making real money. It went to good use, and many a guild/server mate enjoyed the benefit of my newfound cash flow. The 3 months I was able to stretch out that purchase was the best three months I spent in game, because I could do things I actually wanted to do, instead of being forced to to do menial tasks. By the time it was gone I started looking at making another purchase – that is when I did a lot of soul and google searching and realized what exactly I was buying. Hacked accounts were increasing, and I realized it was teh bad. I  took my little skeleton, put it deep in the closet, and never spoke of it again. Until now.

Since “time” is the ultimate qualifier for both your ability to enjoy, and in some parts excel, in any given MMO the playing field needs to be levelled. The best way to do that, while crushing the whole account hack/sweat shop issue, is for MMO companies to sell their own gold. To set the price simply scour the internet for what illegal companies are selling it for (it’s not like they are hiding) and cut that price in half. If they drop, so do you. Make it so it is entirely impossible for them to profit from it. Why would anyone buy gold from an “illegal” source and not be guaranteed of it’s delivery when they can get it from a reputable dealer? It would destroy the gold selling aspect of the underground RMT economy, and make your average gamer quite happy. If I was an MMO company I would do just that – however, I would balance it off with a lower monthly subscription fee. $10 a month (plus my set aside $5 a month for my gold) and hey, I am way ahead of where I am now.

On this argument some take the high road, saying they wouldn’t purchase or play a game that does this.  I find it ironic that people would rather pretend the “company” is doing “everything they can” to stop the real issue and turn a blind eye to the problem citing moral reasons instead of fighting this head on in the only true easy and simple mechasim to finally put it to rest. You are still playing that game, right now, knowing this junk is going on behind the scenes – let’s bring it out into the open.

The other way to fix this problem is to remove the parts of MMO’s that aren’t fun (such as grinding for gold) so you don’t have to worry about the gold in the first place. Somehow I don’t think that would fly with the MMO’er, as I think we all secretly hate ourselves. MMO’s have become more life like indeed – in real life, we work our 50 hours a week to be able to have fun. In MMO’s, we actually have to work in game before we can have fun in that game. Our fantasy worlds have less rewarding work than our real ones!

I’m off to self-loathe about that one for a bit. Anyone care to join me?

9 Comments

  1. Pope

    I kept waiting for that to turn into a legalization of marijuana argument.

    Reply
  2. Velocityboy

    Those little kiddies would be better spent making cute bags and shoes for us than farming gold. As long as the third world keeps producing chlidren and I get my handpainted Goyard wallet, complete w/ monogram, on time then I won’t complain about gold farming.

    You down wit O.P.P, yeah you know me. I only know this because Jake Gyllenhal bares his ass in Jarhead to this song. XOXO

    Reply
  3. Chris F (Post author)

    Funny you mention that Pope, as I was writing it it popped into my head that that the methodology would also usurp Colmbian drug lords – but hey, they aren’t hurting us MMO players so we should just let them be.

    VB – I am going to need you to make a blog post here about fashion in MMO, handsome NPC’s, and how to throw the perfect Raid Party – you know, girl stuff! =)

    Reply
  4. Velocityboy

    That would be difficult since the devs are usually dorky straight guys who put no thought into making cute or handsome male characters. What they do put thought into is how big of a sword they carry. And I’m the size queen??

    D from the W down

    Reply
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  6. Tesh

    Huh. Somehow I missed reading this before. Now I’ve got the chorus to an obscure song that I never liked when I first heard it (in junior high) stuck in my head. Time for some Uematsu and Mitsuda therapy.

    Great article, Chris. Considering what else of yours I’ve read, I figured this was your stance, so it’s no surprise… but it’s still a good article. I’m of a like mind, as you’ve noted, and as I’ve explored more than once in my blog.

    I’m no CPA, but I know math and I understand markets and game design. The MMO designers have only themselves to blame, and as long as they try to blame gold sellers, they will just be fighting uphill in a futile waste of time. (Not unlike anti-pirating DRM measures, come to think of it.)

    Reply
  7. Chris F (Post author)

    I did that on purpose Tesh – now everytime you hear that song you will think of me and this blog. I am programming the masses with Hip Hip (isn’t that a claim already in society?). Gah – I am a stereotype!

    Agreed on P2 and P3 of course, and again, no surprises. Sensible logical solutions to major issues – I don’t understand why companies don’t understand that. Thing is, Blizzard could do it WITHOUT changing their own model and just rake in a ton of extra dough. (Of course I would prefer changing the price model, but Blizzard is going to start charging for race and sex changes soon (in game, to be clear) and with stocks and shareholders I bet they start selling gold in the future as well)

    Reply
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