With the spammy-gold-spamertons all over WAR there is a lot of coverage in Blognation about RMT and what to do with it. I covered my thoughts on RMT here before, and to summarize – if games mechanics are made so poorly that I can only enjoy the game by buying gold then something needs to change. There are all sorts of arguments about it, from the MMO ‘morality’ (if you buy gold, you probably don’t walk little old ladies accross the street), to the upper class of gaming (people who can afford to buy gold have an unfair advantage – because you make more money in real life shouldn’t give you an advantage in a online world where all are created equal!) to [insert typical argument here]. What we need is some sort of solution. An obvious one, but one I haven’t seen or heard much about (I don’t read every blog and website out there, so sorry if it has) is the simplest one of all. Make gold bind on pickup. Eliminate it from the equation altogether. How can we eliminate gold changing hands, without eliminating item trading? Enter the lovely world of leasing.

UPDATE: Check out the BanHammer counter on the WAR herald – cute 🙂

We are all familiar with leasing. A lot of us probably have cars and computers that are leased. How can we apply this model to the MMO world? Now that you have to earn your own gold, how does that impact the auction house, face to face trades, and the like? Let’s play pretend! I put up an item on the auction house. I set a gold price (straight up), and a “lease” price. The lease price is the percentage of all gold pickups the purchaser gets going forward from the purchaser. It could be 10 gold, or 15% of all coin drops until you hit 15 gold. Or a combination of both. The beauty of it all is that you have a set time frame – say 30 days – and if the terms of the lease haven’t been realized, then the item is returned (the gold is not). No penalty for early buyout! Heck, if you aren’t sure if you can make the coin drop with your playtime, get a co-signer – have another player sign on who agrees to “guarantee” the lease, and a percentage of his drops go towards it to. Why not get REALLY fun with it, and instead of gold, put up a portion of your XP instead? There are all sorts of mechanics with ‘leasing’ you can use to change the auction meta-game within the game. There will be in game “Bruno’s” to break your legs if you miss a payment (that was a joke. I think.). Items outside of the auction house can still be traded for no currency (given), or traded for other items.

This may sound very silly, and I can see some drawbacks. Why would we want to live our online lives with the same credit crunch problems that we live in our own? That depends. Would you rather give a portion of your in game earnings towards the items you want, or deal with gold spammers every 5 minutes in game? If you remove the capability to have gold switch hands in games, then you remove the possibility for gold farmers to make money from selling gold.

A side thought to this is to change the MMO subscription model a bit while introducing leasing. Drop the “magical” $14.99 per month sub tag to a lower number, and start selling gold to your own players. That way everyone wins. People who want instant items without the lease (and the gold on hand) can buy it from the MMO company. The people who do, subsidise everyone’s subscription fee so the ones who don’t pay a smaller monthly fee. Company wins from increased revenues. Playerbase wins from decreased costs.

Even with this instituted I am sure gold farming companies would just switch to powerlevelling or other things. At least it would put gold farming to rest, finally, and we can focus on how to stop the other “under the table” RMT transactions.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. What’s to stop gold sellers from having people who purchase gold put up an item on the auction house for the same amount as what they bought?

    Granted, with the way WoW’s auction house works, a portion of the gold from the item being sold goes to the auction house itself, so the gold sellers would just need to put in their fineprint something that a certain amount of gold will actually be this due to the % taken from the auction house.

    Really there is a lot of way around any idea to stop gold farmers, other than ‘possibly’ having the company sell gold as well, like you said.

  2. @Phil – if the company DID sell the gold, then it would never be an issue as they would be able to produce it for much cheaper prices and put the sellers out of business to begin with.

    If they didn’t sell gold, one surefire way to stop item-for-gold would be to close the market – and have set minimums and maximums for items based on item level, rarity, etc. Basically it would be so difficult to organize it it wouldn’t be worth it.

    I know people like playing the AH, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing to shut it down as an open market and let people play the MMO instead. Heck, make a Wallstreet MMO if market hedging is your thing =)

  3. Also, having the company as the source of the RMT gold completely cuts out the middleman, scams and gives tighter control over the economy to the devs. Puzzle Pirates works this way, and it works brilliantly.

    I suspect that large parts of the resistance to companies selling their own gold (despite being the simplest and most comprehensive solution) are an unwillingness to entertain new ideas, a slavish addiction to the subscription model, and an aversion to making code changes.

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