Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer Argues

October 3, 2008 -

I've been playing Warhammer Online since it launched about two weeks ago and I'm thoroughly enjoying life as a squig herder. Might jump over to The Order on another server though. That Dwarf engineer looks like fun, too.

Right now my greenskin is a bit short on in-game cash to buy gear, but it looks like I'll have to make do. That's because WO developer Mythic is aggressively targeting gold sellers. In fact, Mythic co-founder Mark Jacobs recently wrote, “I HATE GOLD SELLERS WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.”

Decaf, Mark...

Over at Gigaom, Wagner James Au argues that Mythic's approach doesn't make much sense:

When launching a big-budget online game, it doesn’t strike me as a very good idea to risk alienating nearly a quarter of your user base right out the gate. That, however, is likely to be the consequence of an extreme anti-gold selling policy at Mythic Entertainment...

 

In a study by Nick Yee, a PARC research scientist... 22 percent of players surveyed reported purchasing game gold, with those ages 35 and over most likely to do so... let’s face it: If you have kids and a mortgage, you only have so many hours a week left over to play games.

 

So if Mythic succeeds in driving away gold sellers, it seems inevitable that it will succeed in hurting Warhammer Online’s retention, too. For surely players who like to buy their way out of difficult quests but no longer can are likely to get frustrated and leave for another game.

GP: I've fessed up in the past to buying WoW gold, which led to the most hate mail I've ever gotten. In my case, though, it's pretty much what Nick Yee found in his research. Kids + mortgage + job = less time to play.

Comments

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

As an MMO player, it is rather frustrating to work to get the cash to pay for better gear o nthe auction house, only to see some douchebag payed ten dollars to come overseas company to get the gear i nless than a day.

Right now in WoW my Warlock is nearing level 70, and I have been saving my gold to afford my flying mount. Soem jerkass shouldn't be able to buy it in under a day thanks to some company.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

I still say this is indicitive of a fundamental problem in how the game (and pretty well all MMOs) are executed.

If people are willing to pay REAL money to skip the effort required to get your FAKE money, that implies that whatever method they need to do to get said fake money is not rewarding -- the players are bored at the prospect of having to collect gold, and so they find a way to avoid doing so.

I haven't tried Warhammer Online yet (frankly, I've always found the mythos painted by Games Workshop to be rather boring and generic, with some wacky exceptions) but I imagine that the gold situation is the same as it's always been. (And please, correct me if I'm wrong) You gain gold for Killing Monsters, Finishing Quests, and Selling Items. Right? Then the question has to be, how can we make any/all of these tasks more rewarding as an experience, and not just an end product?

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

Gold buying occurs in most MMO's.  What's not "rewarding" is the fact that almost all MMO's take TIME to play.  The core of the MMO is questing, grinding, and PvP, all of which take up a decent chunk of time as is, and the more difficult the task, most often the better the reward.  Rewards come in gold/in game money, items/gear, and experience.  Most general questing in MMO's, the kind you can do yourself, comes with gear good enough to level your character, and enough gold to sustain you.  PvP can be used to get better gear and items than normal questing, and grinding can net a very good sum of gold.

But most players don't want decent leveling gear and items, they want the high end stuff, the kind of stuff that's usually only rewarded for players who take the time to complete even more difficult quests and grinds, and nobody wants to dedicate the time to those just for the reward, they want to blow by everything and get to the high end gear and end game content, so they buy gold and pay to speed level so they can keep up with their friends.  So, what you have is a group of people who want to buy their way to the end of the game.  They don't really want to "play" the game, they more or less want to be "in" the game.

If you really want to play the game, and really need the in game money, you'll find ways to make it with the limited time you have.  I've found pleanty of ways in WoW to make pleanty enough gold to do what I need, and I'm nowhere near "hardcore", nor do I have as much time as most players.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

But you're not adressing the problem. These are players who are circumventing a portion of the game they find uninteresting. (and really, who can blame them?)

People pay to get in game gold because the effort of procuring it themselves is laborous and dull. Why do it if you don't have to? That's why I'm suggesting there's a problem in the way the game is designed. What ends up happening in these games is a straight exchange of YOUR time for in game currency, in a way that isn't particularly interesting. Why not make that time spent more engaging?

If there were enjoyable ways to earn cash in game, then people wouldn't be as inclined to circumvent the methods in which to obtain gold normally.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

That is the real back-end issue, and it is one that MMORPG developers are going to have to address over time.  Originally these games were really designed for hard core players that wanted a time/effort->reward system similiar to D&D.. i.e. people who play more, are more uber, and thus should have more.. ahm... member-extending equipement.

This model starts breaking down when you get casual players who are there to have fun rather then pissing contests... yet developers still think in terms of themselves and the hardcore playerbase so they keep building games around that assumption.

Gold sellers exist because of this design decision, and will continue to exist until they do something about it.  Ultimatly, pulling from games such a GURPS rather then D&D,.. or better yet, pull from 4X games rather then FPS as a basic model would go a long way to evening out grind.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

"Then the question has to be, how can we make any/all of these tasks more rewarding as an experience, and not just an end product?"

The solution I come up with after thirty seconds of thought, is to make all items in the game craftable. So, if you want to a magic sword, learn magic and swordmaking and make it. Some might argue that it's just replacing gold with level grinding, but there'd be greater than one-time utility to knowing the skills.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

I'd agree, almost.

Crafting is great, and I highly support that ability in any game where it's suitable, but it's normally not made in to an actual task. I always found that Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates! had the single best crafting system I've seen to date -- Each of the items you can craft is acommpanied by a themed mini-game. (Which of course, is the model of the game; every task is about a mini game of some sort)

It does, however, change a mundane task in to another game. Surely other MMOs can find something similarly engaging?

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

 You get the most gold in this game by doing pvp. It's easily the easiest game to get gold on, they really worked hard to make sure that worrying about gold isn't an issue.

 

The fact that there's gold farmers is only because there's gold farmers in every game; and while I'm not at end-game yet, I can't see many people actually buying gold for this game. I don't think farmers will be successful in this game at all.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

I said much the same in WoW when it first came out - while the game didn't throw gold itself at you, it threw a lot of valuable items at you which made accumulating gold quite easy, especially on a server already populated by higher level characters than yourself.

When the game throws lots of gold at the players, though, the economy inflates, and prices go up to fit. WoW's is remarkably stable, despite gold sellers, because of the huge numbers of easily farmed and easily sold items - lowbies who play the auction house can easily benefit from inflaed prices.

Haven't played Warhammer myself, but just throwing gold at players isn't necessarily enough, if the item side of the economy doesn't match.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

While gold buying has its appeal, let's face it.

1. It IS an underground thing. It's going to be against the rules in pretty much every MMO you find. That Warhammer is taking its aggressive stance a little farther is interesting, but not really all that surprising. You can't really talk about "alienating" a group of people who know perfectly well that what they're doing is against the rules in the first place.

2. There's no way to keep the gold sellers down for good. Right now they have a "task force" of GMs whose job it is to roam the servers looking for gold spammers to ban. That's all well and good but I'd be willing to bet that even then enough gets through, and as the game grows they're either going to have to increase the size of that team (which will eventually become very cost-ineffective) or keep the team the same size to keep from having to spend too much on it, which will allow even more gold spam to get through.
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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

I'd say the worst part of this whole situation is that when people begin putting a monetary value to something in game, it changes the game dramatically.  Imagine, if you will, that you could write a simple code to access another persons computer to log their keystrokes in order to get their account and password information.  With this information, you could steal their items and gold then turn around and sell that for real money.

This happens all the time and is created almost entirely(not completely, there are some jerks out there) out of greed.  Buying/selling gold in an MMO is effectively supporting hacking other players and screwing them over.  Why?  Because you can't be 100% sure that your money didn't come from some ignorant player who got a keylogger.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

Gold selling also opens up all kinds of holes - once you tie virtual money to real money, you can make the argument that it should be governed by laws.  Remember Second Life's virtual gambling?  And how long before the gold you make in-game is taxable?  It IS worth something, at that point, and they already tax you for gains in stock that you have not even sold yet.

 

The biggest problem with the gold sellers is the constant spam.  Every few seconds, another /tell from an automated bot trying to sell you something, and no way to block it without turning off the entire channel.  You won't lose people by eliminating gold selllers, but you WILL lose them if the spam doesn't stop!

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

What about banning the transaction of gold or any items on one of the servers?  Would that not be fair?

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Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

"When launching a big-budget online game, it doesn’t strike me as a very good idea to risk alienating nearly a quarter of your user base right out the gate. That, however, is likely to be the consequence of an extreme anti-gold selling policy at Mythic Entertainment..."

But that quarter of the user base is a bunch of people who are ruining the game for others and annoying everyone with their "X Website sells 1000 gold for $25.00 US. Power level services, end game in 3 days" adds. I have not expressed interest in playing WO, but I must applaud their anti-goldselling practices.

"So if Mythic succeeds in driving away gold sellers, it seems inevitable that it will succeed in hurting Warhammer Online’s retention, too. For surely players who like to buy their way out of difficult quests but no longer can are likely to get frustrated and leave for another game."

Buying their way out of quests? Hell if you need to spend real money to get out of a quest in a game then maybe you shouldn't play it. I am not apart of the Hardcore crowd, I haven't been since I have stepped into the real world. I work a full time job, have a girlfriend, spend as much time with my friends as possible and yet I still have time to log on and complete a couple quests a night on whatever MMORPG I might be playing at the time. If they get up and leave the game is better of without their cheating asses. Most MMORPGs now are leaning more towards the casual crowd than the hardcore, saying the game is too hard is not a reason to cheat or break the ToS of the game. If you need to pay real money to some over seas company to play a game, chances are you shouldn't be playing it in the first place.

Re: Warhammer Online's Gold-Seller Hate Makes No Sense, Writer

I've yet to even have the NEED to buy gold in Warhammer Online, the game just throws it at you and it doesn't seem to let up (26 Marauder :D). The gold spammers however have readhed a new annoying high though i've NEVER been spammed so frequently in ANY game. In short, I applaud their efforts to remove gold sellers from the game ,they're nothing but a nusance to people who actually want to play the game.

 
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