Thought/s of the Day: RMT

Surely the easiest way for a MMO to make money out of a cash shop would be to get a gaming licence and open an in-game casino? Why not take a page out of the book of games that were actually designed around players spending real life money as part of the game?

RMT in WoW

Suzina raised a storm on Kill Ten Rats with her account of gold buying in WoW. She started a new character, got to level 40, wanted dual spec and got sticker shock at the cost. But instead of deciding to defer dual spec until she could afford it, she chose to break the rules.

So when I realized that obtaining 1000 gold by level 40 was unrealistic, I made the decision to purchase gold. I bought about 1000 gold for about ten dollars from the Microsoft of gold-farmers. You know, that company that owns Allakhazam, THOTTBOT, WOWhead and a bunch of other fan sites? They got my ten dollars.

As an aside, I think she’s very unaware of what the gold sinks actually are in LOTRO. As a lifetime player, with plenty of time to amass gold, she might not know how punishing the repair bills can be if you’re raiding or instancing regularly. Or how expensive it is to level a crafting skill. Or how expensive those second age weapons on the auction house look to a new player who could use them while levelling. I could easily imagine a new player in LOTRO facing similar temptations if they were in a hurry to do any of those things.

In any case, I wasn’t intending to discuss her choice (which I disagree with). But rather to note that WoW does offer legitimate RMT. If you buy a pet from the virtual store, you can trade it in game (or at least trade the item code). The barriers to doing this are  to do with trust between players, and the fact that not everyone with lots of gold actually wants another virtual pet.

The second factor could easily be overcome using a scheme like EVEs where CCP sell time cards (for cash) with codes that can also be traded in game. Every player in a subscription game will use a month’s sub so there’s a constant demand. And players who have amassed lots of virtual gold might find it attractive to be able to trade some for game time.

So it would be possible to make legitimate gold buying part of the game. However, it will never be possible to take the illegitimate source completely out of the picture. Never. If a game card sells for £10 and is currently trading for 1000g in game, the black market only has to sell 1000g for £9.50 to make themselves more appealing to any player who doesn’t care where the money goes and just wants their gold.

This is why I’m all for the gambling licence. The genius thing about gambling games is that they make the RMT (or the bidding in other words) an actual part of the game.

7 thoughts on “Thought/s of the Day: RMT

  1. I really like the idea. But there are very strict laws in most countries when it comes to gambling. Online Poker comes to mind.

    I would like to keep real money completely out of the game, but if often comes indirectly through things like minipets. For example, some people bought many copies of a PC magazine offering an “Asura minipet” code for Guild Wars and sold the Asura minipets then ingame. This required multiple accounts to work (1 pet/code per account only), dunno if trial accounts worked, but they somehow got several minipets.

    If you get a very rare minipet, you can also sell it on eBay. It seems to work very well, for some pets I could buy the digital CE bundle of Mass Effect 1&2 for instance.
    As long as people are willing to pay for virtual items in MMOs, the problem will not go away.

    While I do not like it at all, I think companies should really start selling “gold” themselves. This might reduce the criminal scene somewhat. People prefer to stay legal, even if they have to pay a bit more for the same than from a gold seller.

    I still don’t like it. I collect armors, weapons, pets and all that. Again, I would like to see a total separation of ingame and real economy. I can already see envy and people making fun of proud collectors showing them their collection and they say things like “that cost you quite some money, didn’t it?”

    One of my friends got his GW account hacked twice and WoW once. He is so paranoid by now that he hides his equipment in every game that allows for it because he thinks that standing around in expensive prestige armor made hackers target him specifically. Which is probably not true, but accounts get hacked specifically to make real cash out of the chars and their inventory. 😦

  2. Yeah, no. MMOs are still associated with kids and teens, and any game that tried would be under such a huge firestorm of criticsm that it would not only take it down fast, it might lose subs over it.

    Plus, gambling sucks. I live in a casino town. Foxwoods and The Mohegan Sun are close by, and I’ve even worked in one of them. It really does destroy wealth and lives, and it shouldn’t be encouraged any more than it is. I’d cheerfully take a sub hike or a cash shop over a casino.

    • I think the argument isn’t so much to infuse WoW with gambling mechanics so much as said “gambling license” is simply a legal piece of operating an online business that lets real money be a part of the game economy. I might be misreading that, though.

      …and yes, I’d not want gambling in these games, either. I have a long standing beef with gambling. Of course, I’m no fan of the loot lottery either, which is effectively gambling, just by paying time rather than money, and time is money…

  3. As real life proves consistently, humans will find a way to get what they want in the easiest fashion possible. I think the only way we’ll see a reduction in all of the gold-selling/buying issues in WoW is either when a form of gold purchase is legalised or the need for cash in-game is made almost redundant.

    On another note, what I find incredibly strange is why Blizzard implemented the dual spec system at level 40 and yet charged 1,000g for it. It’s almost like they’re taunting people to buy gold in order to obtain it! If they don’t want level 40s to have it, they should have just increased the level restriction.

    • Yes, making that size of a gold sink in the midgame is just asking for gold sellers to step in and serve the demand. Of course, Blizzard could change the price tag to $10 and bypass the gold sellers completely…

      The demand is there. It’s only a question of who has the supply.

  4. The EVE-style “buy timecard, sell in game for in-game currency” idea, imho, can only work when combined with a really aggressive stance against black-market goldselling. It’s absolutely not an idea that you could implement and make your goldselling problems just disappear.

    When I was first playing EVE, I noticed that the price of one PLEX worth of Isk from a black-market Isk-seller was less than the price of a month’s subscription. Basically, I could buy Isk, use it to buy a PLEX, and pay my subscription for (iirc, this was a while ago) about 5-7 dollars a month, instead of 15.

    The reason not to do so, even if you don’t care about the rules, is that CCP have a reputation for aggressively stripping purchased Isk off the accounts of buyers, so you could well end up with no PLEX, no Isk, and no 5-7 dollars. But if they were as laissez-faire about buyers as Blizzard seem to be, introducing sellable timecards could easily cause the goldselling industry to explode in size.

  5. @Carson63000
    I am assuming people buy the timecards from eve and then sell them to other players for in game money.

    If this is the case i fail to see how your scenario is a problem. Whoever originally bought the timecard paid full price for it, you’re just getting it at a discount because of money sellers. CCP still gets the same full purchase price.

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