The Secondary Market and the Farmers
who Own it.
By: Paul SLiDE Shortt
Massively Multiplayer Online
Role playing games have always had a secondary market to contend with,
from Ultima Online to the current games like World of Warcraft and
EverQuest II. The secondary market is considered a hindrance to
most. Players get annoyed and developers are constantly trying to
shut them down. So what is it? The secondary market can be described as
in game items and currency crossing over into the real life
market. This is where individuals make real dollars from selling
items and game currency to players.
Many of you may have heard the
term Chinese Botters or Plat Farmers. You probably even see
players like this on a daily basis without even noticing and in some
cases may have even grouped with them! *gasp*. The general
stereotype for the leaders in this evil secondary conglomerate is that
they are Chinese players running illegal gaming macros to control
multiple characters at once. In many cases you might find every
toon nuking at the exact same time and following each other in a
clumped fashion running around a specific area to pick up loot drops
that sell for money and items that can be sold for large sums of cash.
Platinum selling can bring in
a ton of money especially if a person or group gets the jump on farming
early in a new MMORPG. In some cases there are some companies
that make up to 800,000 American dollars in a year. This usually
doesnt last forever for a number of reasons. Secondary market
competition can bring down prices faster than a Hulk Hogan drop kick
from the top rope. Platinum that sold for 100 dollars one week
could come crashing down to half that in no time with the emergence of
new farming teams soaking up platinum coins like water to a
There are many bugs in early
versions of these games. One of the most important to plat
sellers is what is called a dupe. This bug usually constitutes
the creation of in-game items for free. As the game matures,
these bugs are fixed, some new ones might appear and when they do, many
players will exploit it to make tons of coin for sale on EBay.
This isnt always the case
mind you. They arent all English language hacking, Chinese
players farming for gold. No, they can be from all over the
world. Romania, Indonesia and even America are a few places where
you can find these plat sellers. Not all farmers are using
illegal macros to bot either. There are groups of plat sellers
out there that acquire in-game currency in a legit manner by playing
the game by the rules. Some might actually find nobility in that
Do sweatshops exist where
people are hired to farm for up to 16+ hours a day? Yep. There
have been a number of documented instances showing an inside look at
the farmers that we all indirectly know and love. Picture
this. There is room set up10-20 computers are crowded together in
rows with people sitting in front of the screens for hours killing
creatures over and over again for sellable loot. Bed rolls are
laid out on the floors in this cigarette smoke filled room for the
employees to crash. Is it all that bad though? Not really.
The pay might suck, but the room and board are free and they get to
play an MMORPG with their peers for long hours. I wouldnt feel
too bad for them although the job security isnt super high.
Selling gold or platinum for
real life cash is a tricky business. It isnt something that is
welcomed to an MMOG with open arms, in fact its against the EverQuest
II EULA (End User License Agreement). You can find the EULA href="http://eq2players.station.sony.com/en/support_article.vm?label="
Section 9 contains the info
about selling intellectual property:
9. You may not use any
software to modify the Software to change Game play. You may not
create, facilitate, host, link to or provide any other means through
which the Game may be played by others, such as through server
emulators. You may not decrypt or modify any data transmitted between
client and server and you may not use, post, host or distribute macros,
bots or other programs which would allow unattended game play or
which otherwise impact game play. You may not take any action which
imposes an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our
infrastructure. Except in connection with Station Exchange and subject
to all of the provisions of the Station Exchange Service Agreement, you
may not buy, sell or auction (or host or facilitate the ability to
allow others to buy, sell or auction) any Game account, characters,
items, coin or copyrighted material or any other intellectual property
owned or controlled by us or our licensors without first obtaining our
express written permission.
Whats the punishment for
being caught? If said farmer is caught breaking the rules, their
account will most likely be banned. Unfortunately, a new account
will most likely pop right back up in the old ones place. Many
smart plat sellers will also hold three or more different accounts just
to launder the money making it difficult to track.
So why is this secondary
market bad for us as players? The biggest reason that this hurts
gamers is because its an EQ2 economy aggravator. It floods the
market with tons of coin. Items begin to sell for higher prices
making it more difficult for regular guy players to purchase
items. Is everyone up in arms about it? Nope. Many players
dont even care and play the game as they normally would. Should
you report these players? Well, thats all up to you and how
strongly you feel about the subject matter.
If the economys inconsistent
fluxuation isnt what tweaks your nipple, then maybe the added
difficulty to killing needed mobs will. Farmers of any kind will
find the spot that drops the best coin per hour that they can
find. If you invade their hunting ground to get a piece of their
action, be prepared to get harassed.
Farmer: CHINESE GROUP
DROP? MINE TURTLE GO YOU NOW!
You: Wha? Do0d I
just need some turtles to finish my quest :: sigh ::
The good news is, that as a
game like EverQuest 2 continues to age and grow, there are more ways to
stop the farming and new ways to normalize the economy. As more
competition appears and plat prices drop, farmers tend to push
themselves out when there is less of a profit to be made. One way
that Sony has been able to suck some money out of the economy was to
install a lotto system. Players can opt to sink money into a
virtual goblins pocket in hopes to win hundreds of platinum.
This is an interesting approach since the money will eventually be
dumped back into the game, but instead of spreading out will fatten one
players bank roll. This is a whole different subject though.
You can still find platinum
for sale on Ebay albeit not as much as it used to be. Ten
platinum can be purchased from 30-50 dollars which is pretty
cheap. I remember when one platinum or less could sell for that.
The only way to stop a farmer
is to stop buying their in-game cash which is unlikely to happen.
It makes sense though, stop the cash flow and theyll move somewhere
else where their activities are profitable.
Whether you care or not,
farming and duping DOES actually hurt the economy. I recommend saving
your hard earned cash for something more substantial like a new pair of
shoes or something.
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