Posted Wed, Oct 09, 2013 by Xerin
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been plagued with problems since its launch, much to do with its popularity. The latest attack is spammers who login and make world chat unreadable on certain maps. I’m going to be blunt, this sucks and totally ruins the game - there I said it. Now, before we all grab out pitch forks, it’s important to note that Square-Enix has announced that they’re taking action and that it should be resolved shortly. They’ve kept their word on a lot of things so far, so I have faith in them.
Before we talk about ways to combat gold spam (hint: it’s called no one should purchase gold), let’s talk a little about how the RMT industry words. The RMT industry (real money trade) works by obtaining gold through a variety of means (hacks, exploits, grinding, stolen accounts, fraud, etc.) and then sells it through an outlet (usually a website of some form). It comes in a variety of different methods.
The first is the commission based market. These are the people who grind the gold themselves and sell it for a price, depending on where they’re located. Gold (in any form) is valued in the safety of it. For games like WoW, a player who uses a legitimate account to farm legitimate gold and then sells it to the RMT company is worth a lot more than other gold just simply in the security that the stockpile will stay there (Blizzard is not very likely to act on gold obtained this way). Likewise, people given kits (with exploits, hacked account passwords, companies that obtain gold en masse to sell to resellers, etc.) are paid on the market price of their gold.
The second is the warehouse method. This is where a company, stereotypically in China but can be based anywhere in the world, sets up a sweatshop where workers make pennies a day farming gold through whatever nefarious method. They’re given accounts, hacks, tools, etc. to farm the gold. Usually food and housing is provided to the workers. These workers have quotas and if they fail to meet the quotas (generally in teams) they will be fired.
Imagine this dude as the spammer.
This is where RMT sympathy comes from. A lot of people will get upset when a gold farmer is harassed, based on the idea that someone’s livelihood somewhere is based on their gold farming ability. While gold farmers in the olden days were just people grinding mobs, most these days exploit games (teleporting, speed hacking, etc.)
The third is hacked accounts, where the majority of gold comes from these days. The reason being is that there is way less overhead in managing hacked accounts then there is creating teams of workers farming gold. Hacked accounts are stripped of everything valuable and the gold is sold as quickly as possible before it’s traced back to them (or at least laundered to the point that a game company can’t take it back). Unless a game doesn’t have anti-RMT security code, in which case they just hack the account and put the money on their mule.
The gold is then sold through a portal, usually a website, where money is exchanged and the virtual currency is delivered through the safest means (face to face, mail, whatever). At which point the RMT industry is justified in doing what they’re doing (making money) and someone somewhere is now a bit poorer IRL and a bit richer online.
We all have to understand though that the RMT industry is an industry that makes money. It makes money because players give them cash for virtual currency, virtual currency which is very inexpensive for them to obtain. Virtual currency that they don’t own and is one of the biggest issues with MMOs since RMT can skew economies, even when game developers themselves offer to buy and sell virtual currency.
The spam of course comes from the marketing division. These sites need users and what better way to get their name out then to spam in the game? Why, it can even be free if they use hacked accounts to do it.
With that in mind and the lesson in RMT over, there isn’t much companies like Square-Enix can do. Blizzard, with its massive ban waves, spam filters, auction filtering, mail filtering, immediate hacked account response, begging users to use authenticators, etc. is still fighting tooth and nail against the RMT industry. Most F2P games are usually nothing more than outlets for RMT spammers to scream to the top of their lungs. A lot of people have put forth some great suggestions such as limiting chat for lower level players, disabling shouts, etc. However, in the end to combat such a problem, we need to increase awareness of why RMT is bad and help to convince people not to purchase gold, gil, whatever from the gold sellers.
That’s truly the only way to get it to stop.