Greedy Goblin

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Does RMT means inflation out of hand?

There is a common belief that legal RMT (real money transfer) would create a huge inflation, making items unavailable to anyone not involved in RMT. Legal RMT would mean that Blizzard sells gold for $. It is completely different to goldselling. Goldsellers don't create gold, as they mostly farm it.

By the way, the lack of inflation is a proof that goldsellers don't take their gold from hacking accounts in significant numbers (1-10K in a 10M game is insignificant). Hacked accounts are restored by Blizzard, and this restore step contains creating items and gold from nothing, Blizzard practically double the hacked character. Yet such inflation cannot be seen, proving that "hacking" is rare, and not an industry. I'm not saying there is none, but it's done by individuals who just want to steal for themselves or hack for fun or to grief their target.

However if Blizzard would start selling gold, the amount of gold in the economy would increase. While this effect would be damped by the increased availability of goldsinks to the M&S (meaning every retard would walk around on Mammoth or bike), it's without doubt that the average prices of items would increase greatly on the AH.

The question is, would it harm the average player? My answer is: absolutely not.
  • The repair, travel, training and reagent costs would still be the same, so the players could get them the same way.
  • The gear is bought with badges or taken as loot. While there are some BoE items, one can completely live without them. So no financial inflation affects these.
  • The consumables, enchants, gems, tradeskill materials and glyphs are farmable (or their materials are).
The last point is crucial. All the trade-items are farmed by someone. We pay the purchase fee to the farmer or the crafter who created/farmed the item, and the goblin who did the trading. While we would pay much more for trade-items, we would get equally more for the trade-items we sell. So the actual changes would be:
  • Repair, travel, training and reagents would be easily attainable to everyone.
  • Gold sinks would be achievable with little grind
  • Daily quests, quest gold rewards and farming gold and vendortrash drops would be very bad options
  • Farming herbs, ores, skins, elementals would be the best G/hour for non-goblins
  • The tradeskills and AH-trading would increase in G/hour but not as much as the inflation. The reason for that is more people would be involved in farming, so they would also craft items (from mats they "farmed for free"), competing with professional crafters and traders.
So no, official RMT would not hurt the common player. It is only not introduced, because of social reasons, upkeeping the belief that it's a fair competition. It is not. It's not unfair, there is simply no competition. Everyone will get everything anyway, RMT would just affect the speed of attaining items. However as /played is hidden, and gold cannot buy you raiding or PvP achievements, no one could see that you are playing less due to RMT.

29 comments:

Anti said...

there must be discussion in Blizz HQ about the best time per day for a player to play.

not what is healthy for the person. but what is best for Blizzrd.

if every subscriber plays 24/7 Blizzards server costs go up. if every player plays 30 minutes a day (or worse 30 minutes a week) then subscription numbers goes down as people find other more entertaining things to do.

i'm guessing Blizzard has a metric (measure of corperate performance) which shows average time played per day per account, time played for lowest quartile, time played for highest quartile.

RMT drops average time.
Resistance fights increase highest quartile.
Heirloom gear increases lowest quartile.
Dailies increase lowest quartile.
Dungeon finder increases lowest quartile.
Hard Modes increases highest quartile. Nerfing them reduces it.

and so on.

Azzur said...

I've read through these last series of posts and I have little idea on what you are trying to convey.

The best conclusion that I can come is that you're arguing that measurable success (e.g. gearscore, mammoths, world firsts) are social.

On the other hand, scores such as /played are anti-social because they are hidden.

If that's the point of your posts, fair enough, I agree with that.

What you've failed to include is "relevance" or "acceptability".

1) Gearscore - Social, but not relevant. I'm sure even scrubs will recognise the stupidity of the statement, "I have the best GS in the world, therefore I'm the best player".

2) World firsts - Social, but highly relevant and accepted by the community.

3) /played - How can you measure this anyways? It'll lead to silly practices such logging out to wait for all cooldowns, using alts, etc. (By the way, notice how the limited attempts have done pretty much the same thing).

Also, /played is not recognised by the community. No one is going to take this metric seriously.

As stated earlier, all this means is to encourage people to log out. Which is really what playing a game is not about.

Thus, you've successfully defined social and anti-social success measures but I fail to see any relevance to this.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Gevlon, runaway inflation would hurt the average player exactly the same way it hurts a real life person living in a country with runaway inflation. What you earn one day is greatly devalued the next day, so saving money is a waste. You constantly have to make sure your savings is zero, but instead you are full of items that will keep their value.

This is obviously a hassle, and it defeats the purpose of gold as a currency.

I agree that if everything just quadrupled in price one time, it would not hurt the player, and even gradual inflation does not hurt much. But rampant inflation is just brutal.

Gevlon said...

@Eaten by a grue: Most players don't have to make effort to have virtually zero money. Also, they spend their money only a few kind of items (like blue spell pen gems for death knights, red spellpower gems for hunters), so they can stockpile.

The inflation does not affect the most important services as they are NPC

Kaaterina said...

Also, I think that you're a bit too gung-ho against socials that you're going deliberate lengths to contrieve metrics that fit the standard of 'skill' while being 'anti-social'.

Don't fit square pegs in round holes.

World firsts draw a great deal of social interest (be it respect or disdainful sneers 'no-life elitists'), but does that mean that if they're socially recognized then their performance is low? No it doesn't. There's a lot of performance (skill, talent) going in a non-trivial world first kill, INDIFFERENT of whether that is socially visible or not.

I'd rather you treat performance on its own merits, rather than try to separate it from its perceived dependence on 'socialness' (whatever that is)., by trying to invent metrics that make no sense.

Zeran said...

This is the first post in awhile that I've fully agreed with.

Back in FFXI, before the mass RMT banning, and subsequent economic collapse, the situation is exactly what you described Gev.

I could make enough Gil (the currency of FFXI) from farming low level mats for professions (silk thread etc.) that I could pay for all that I needed and still play the game as a game. I never spent more than about 30 minutes at a time farming mats to auction so that I could afford to pay for my goldsmithing skills.

However, when Square-Enix went on the Warpath against RMT and banned every account tied to it (and removed all the Gil involved) the markets crashed and never properly recovered.

Bernard said...

Selling gold directly would increase Blizzard's short term revenue from the game, but would kill it in the longer term.

Gold is currently a major timesink, like emblems or honor. If everything requiring gold can be bought on patch day, what are you left to play for?

A more viable option is to sell the items that gold would buy - pets and mounts with RMT and keep the players farming those dailies...

Skynet99 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Otter said...

I agree that for the most part RMT wouldn't impact on the ability for average players to play the game. But it would put the following items out of reach for many.

- Battered Hilt (or whatever the Cata equivalent will be). This gives access to the best weapon non-raiders would hope to get.

- Orbs/Primordial Saronites. The prices for these would increase beyond the means of many socials and raiders. Some of whom are buying them for legitimate upgrades, some to show off in Dal or achieve their gear score target.

- Rare Pets. I sell these so know the kind of gold these can go for. i'd expect the price on these to rise dramatically and be well out of reach of the average social who farms instead of purchasing gold

Those three areas alone would cause plenty of discontent amongst the player base, especially socials. (Raiders would get better weapons than the battered hilt and better access to orbs/primordials)

Anonymous said...

Everyone will get everything anyway, RMT would just affect the speed of attaining items.

Don't agree with you on this one. For most average players it is already hard to get 5k gold together for epic flying. To get an mammoth would literally take months of farming dailies or mats for them.

So most of them will probably get bored of it before they have it where as RTM would allow him to get it.

Armagon said...

Gold isn't always "magically created", look at this post: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=22748816093&sid=1&pageNo=1

TLDNR summary: Guy bought gold, goldseller was banned, Guy had no gold, so they took his chopper.

This was probably due to a hack, so the money was taken from the gold buyer and given/restored to the original account.

Logar said...

Your assumption that it would not hurt the common player is completely based around the fact that people can still make enough money by trading or gathering materials.

How does completely removing the viability of doing daily quests/vendortrash qualify as 'doesn't hurt' ? People may enjoy these options alot more then gathering or AH trading.

Casual players now have several options for making money. If they're not hardcore raiding, daily quests and vendortrash are more then enough to pay for a few measly consumables. By inserting massive inflation into the system, you are basically forcing them into becoming either a farmer or a goblin. The only other solution would be to increase the gold/hour of dailies and vendortrash, which would inflate the system even MORE !


Official RMT is not an option because it would harm the casual player. It would harm the 'newbie'. It would harm anyone who is not in any way interested/knowledgeable in farming or goblin.

Sten Düring said...

@Gevlon

You're already wrong about one thing, which the last posts have shown.

WoW-economy is flawed because it ALREADY creates money from nothing.

Resources aren't cycled. They're created out of thin air.
Drop off a quest. Gold magically appears. Kill a mob, drops materialise out of thin air (which you can later convert to gold by vendors who pay money for something that's available in unlimite quantity).

This is the base reason Blizzard has implemented the equally magic resource destruction. Money-sink-mounts or soulbound equipment, I don't care.

You craft ToC items at the cost of, let's say, 2000 gold. The material leftover value for a recently repaired (100% durability) item should NOT be 20 gold at a vendor.

100% of the WoW-conomy is based around gold created out of thin air and inserted into the game. Every single gold you made from selling glyphs originated as a quest-reward or vendor sale. (No, I'm not taking into account Blizzard inserting a tiny amount of equally magically created gold whenever they restore a hacked account).

Prickface said...

The lack of inflation is not good evidence to support your claim that goldsellers don't take a significant amount of gold from hacking.
Inflation is influenced by both money entering the game and money leaving the game. If an account is hacked and the 20k taken from it sold to Joe Cashflow, the account restoration indeed introduces another 20k into the economy. But if Joe spends it on a mammoth, the 20 leaves the economy, causing little change in inflation.

We've got little actual data on how much money is introduced by hacking, and due to the complexity of inflation, it's hard to prove anything with it.

Also, your claim that most hacking is done by people who steal for themselves or try to grieve their target is not supported by evidence. Since most keyloggers aren't targeted specifically towards someone, it's likely that the hackers don't try to steal for themselves, as they'd have to be able to do something with it on every server, which isn't likely to be done by non-professionals.

As for the rest of your post, you're right that official RMT wouldn't harm the average player who just farms heroics all day and doesn't bother gemming en enchanting his gear. However, the price of enchants and gems would increase and people to grind more (be it dailies or mats) in order to maximize their gear. Grinding will eventually bore them and make them less inclined to keep playing.
On the other side of the fence, the people who'd buy gold from Blizzard, would just buy their top gear and novelty items, which would make them win the Joneses race in their mind, so they would eventually get bored and stop playing since they "won" already.

Gevlon said...

@Prickface: the "keylogger" is a myth. The "hacking" is usually done by a "friend" he shared his account.

Gold couldn't make anyone feel "win" since you can't buy gear (to most slots) by gold.

@Logar: farming is the lowest way of getting gold. I can't believe that someone can be so stupid that he can't even farm.

Anonymous said...

About inflation:
You claim that goldsellers farm their gold rather than hack acounts for it and the proof of that is low inflation, this statement is false.
The wow economy is based on money in and money out, when someone gets gold from an NPC it enter the economy, and when it's payed to an NPC it leaves the economy. As most of the people who buy gold buys it for a specific purpose, usualy things like epic flying and tundra mommoth or hog, the money leaves the economy and does not cause inflation, instead one more guy has a mammoth. Of course there are players who buy gold to avoid farming and use goldsellers as a regular sourse of income, but they are a minority. The wow economy also has inflation, and blizzard doubling up stolen money may be a part of the reason for that.

You also claim that RMT would not hurt players, for many players this is true but not for all.
To understand this the wow economy must be considered two sided, the NPC part is different from the player part.
A player who gets his gold from gathering, will have roughly the same purcase power in the player based economy, as the price of what he gathers increases by the same factor as what he buys from other players, in the NPC economy where prices are constant, his purchase power will be increased.
A player who gets his money from daily quests will be the big loser here, as his constant amount of money will be less worth in the players based economy and constant in the NPC based part.

I also believe that just like most countries have inflation goals, to give money pridictable value, Blizzard is using inflation as a tool to cheapen some things for the poor players.
They create inflation by giving daily quests other rewards than just gold, so that more players will do them, and more gold will enter the economy, and what better things to give players than emblems for pets and mounts for that purpuse. Instances now also give more gold then they used to, and random dungeon finder gives you gold for every instance, not just the first like the daily HC q.

In wrath blizzard decidet to give everything to everyone, we all have titles now, we all have drake mounts, and most people even have a proto, we all have a full t9 or bether gear, and everyone now has access to super cheap enchanting mats, epic gems may cost a little, but are available from so many sourses that everyone can farm them.
Inflation is the tool to make vendor items cheaper, so everyone can have those to.

Nielas said...

All the evidence I have seen about the keyloggers and the associated hacking of accounts seems to point to an organized effort to stripmine as many accounts as possible. So Gevlon's assertion that keyloggers are a myth is silly. That said a large portion of the hacking is probably done through phishing sites rather than keyloggers as witnessed by the fact that I get about 5 emails from 'Blizzard' per day asking me to give them my login information.

Personally I would have no problem with Blizzard selling gold to its players as logn as any worthwile items were made BoP. So no trading of Battered Hilts or craftable epics using rare mats. Otherwise there is nothing stoping Blizzard of inflating the costs of items and their rarities so the 'sensible' way to get them is to buy gold from Blizzard.

The big problem with official RMT is that the developers have a very large incentive to make parts of their game 'unfun' just so people would buy items from the item shop. (ie silly stuff like requiring you to farm days for a key to a new raid which you can also 'conveniently' buy for $9.99)

sam said...

Gevlon is right and it extends to identity theft crimes in real life.

Most identity theft comes from a friend or family member that had access to your data. But most people would rather belive its scary people on the internet.

Same with Assault and rape. Usually the victim knows the assailant.

For a crime to occur accessibilty has to be their.

If you think I'm wrong go to your local police station and talk to the officer that gets to deal with those kinds of crimes.

duncan said...

@ gevlon: just so you know blue spell pen gems for Dks are actually useful in pvp. Chains resist is a bitch

Anonymous said...

If Blizzard were to legitimize RMT, would that not open up serious legal issues? They're no longer providing a service. They're selling you a product. Something which would be finite in your hands although unlimited on their end. We would eventually be able to legally state that it is "our" gold because we paid for it. I'm sure they've considered goldselling inhouse, but their legal department has probably advised them not to.

What are your thoughts on this? I realize most of us aren't lawyers, but this could raise interesting implications.

Anonymous said...

well, RMT in WoW could mean inflation, but in general there are rly good economic game designs where it works rly well with RMT and without any inflation. You don´t hurt anybode you just maxing company´s profits.

blizz just doesn´t install RMT as there economy isn´t capable of solving the inflation problem. The economy is a joke compared to other MMOs.

It´s rather an "open vs. closed" market issue. WoW is a closed market, not able to handle the open market style with RMT.

An important thing with RMT is the option to get the money out of the system with good money sinks. The best one: Playtime.

If you can exchange gold for playtime and vice versa, nobody gets hurt by RMT. goblins won´t pay for wow anymore, serving the community with good prices in the AH (aka more competition = low prices), reinvesting their tons of gold in playtime. The casual player with big pocket pays ~ 1,5 to twice, getting his gold and being happy to afford everything he wants.

kaaterina said...

Not true.

Back when I was a newbie, I LOATHED farming. What money I got was from small-scale AH trading (mainly arbitrage), old world raiding and quests. Come to think of it, I was never an efficient farmer.

I currently have 20k gold earned from quests, and 30k earned from gold drops. (Old raids drop a lot) I'm not sure how much earned from AH I have since that cycled over (and statistics doesn't track investment.)

Anyway, that's 50k gold in non-farmed gold from the start of WOTLK. This is direct gold, that did not come from other players.

Inflation would hurt this income.

So take Joe Average. He's not dumb so he doesn't farm, but he's not too smart so he's not goblin.

It makes no sense for a measure to hurt the vast bulk of average players between the 'I farmed it for free' morons and 'I have others to farm it for me for free' goblins.

Sure, farming is the lowest possible denominator. But forcing people into either sink or fly is not right, when they're content with staying afloat.

Dratotem said...

I am not so sure about how much this would not effect the average player, most people only do dailies and other things that have nothing to do with the AH in order to make enough money to raid(flasks, repairs, potions, gems, enchants). Most of the raiders in my guild often depend on my help in order to procure flasks as well as depends on the bank to repair sometimes as well as for enchants and gems.

I think the inflation would hurt these average players as the dailies did not offer anymore gold. Most of the people I know do not even know how to begin working the AH to sell some sort of product.

In order for a lot of players to keep up in the market with RMT, they would have to themselves purchase gold from Blizzard.

-Dratotem

Taemojitsu said...

In an RMT economy, whether by the game provider or by third-party suppliers of the controversial game currency transaction, everyone works for the people who are willing to spend excess real-life money for in-game benefits. People are already buying Ulduar rewards such as Mimiron's Head from Yogg-0 and Glory of the Ulduar Raider. An RMT economy may have been fine in China where the loot system known on US servers as 'Gold DKP' originated, but that's probably because the Chinese culture has greater emphasis on social harmony and respect. In the US the motives tend towards story/lore and personal achievements, and RMT completely devalues both of those.

Bottom line, it will only happen if Activision decides it will increase profits.

Anonymous said...

The main flaw with your arguement is that you are assuming you know what players want to do. It is not a small assumption... It actually is so large that your entire idea just get thrown out the window. G/hr for gathering professions, as well as considerable inflation does exactly what you said. The problem is that blizzard is offering a service for a premium. The premium we pay in order to access that service in a way in which we see fit. It is not up to blizzard to dictate to me what I should do while I am accessing that service. Now... I know you feel like you are somehow superior to other casual socials. I myself am not casual... However, in the real world... We are all equal bc we all represent roughly the same monthly income to blizzard. If a casual player wants to raid icc two times a week with his buddies, do the weekly and a few dailies to cover repairs and buy a few flasks for the raid. Now all of a sudden he finds that the cost of flasks has quadrupled yet his dailies still net the same amount if gold. He has no gathering skills bc for end game dps, crafting skills offer better options than gathering ones ( shadow priest here...engineering/jewelcrafting) . Here the flaw in your idea reveals itself. I am now forced to not buy a flask= less dps, change my jc to herbalism = less dps, or make a farmer alt = not casual, or become a goblin = not fun. Cash shops do nothing good for games. This is the overall concensus in the mmo community. Cash shop / micro is a viable business model, but it doesn't retain massive subs. As a very long time player of mmo's, I've seen many games go the way of the cash shop and it's been a sad tail most of the time. Anything that limits or dictates how we should spend our time in the game is bad. Wow retains subs exactly bc it allows people to progress , if not somewhat slowly, with minimal time invested. This keeps people paying that 15 bucks a month so that goblins and EJs can have subscriptions to their blogs. Afterall, if you were writing a blog on rising force online or hello kitty island adventures or summer of the solstice.... Who would bother reading it.

Anonymous said...

Keyloggers exist...having been hacked twice by them...tracing the program...and removing it.

RMT could easily be implemented without causing inflation. Simply keep the exchange rate less than ~25 g/dollar and up the number of goldsinks to compensate.

Still, I'd guess that RMT would eventually lead to increased player turnover because of reduced grinding.

Tao said...

Gev, there are 2 things I noticed that you seem to be misinformed about.

1: Blizzard takes extreme measures to reduce the amount of "magically created" gold and items when restoring a hacked account. I once had a titanium razorplate on the AH get destroyed by Blizzard. I was refunded all my materials except for 6 crusader orbs that I had purchased from some one whose account was reportedly hacked. I was also refunded the gold that I paid for those 6 orbs.

Policies like this are probably the reason you don't see excessive inflation from Blizzard restoring hacked accounts. The true victim in these cases are players who buy the stolen gold -- they have no way of knowing if the gold they receive was farmed or stolen. All ingame transactions are tracked in Blizzard's database and will be reversed. The only transaction that won't be reversed is the real money payment for the stolen gold.

2: Official RMT would most likely lower the availability of farmed tradeskill materials. Farming tradeskill materials is one of the primary sources of gold for gold sellers. If Blizzard decides to sell gold they can do it at a price that gold sellers cannot afford to compete with. With gold resellers out of business, there is nobody left to pay gold farmers to supply goblins with wholesale amounts of herbs, orbs, etc. I would not expect the increase in players farming tradeskill materials would not be enough to offset the loss of professionally developed bots farming them.

Taemojitsu said...

Tao,

Farmed materials just represents a certain amount of time and effort. This will still be in demand, and more so because those with favorable RL income ratios, who chose to continue playing WoW and to buy gold from Blizzard, would depend on the bots and other in-game players for the activities which those bots and players have a relative advantage at (or just didn't want to buy gold, despite continuing to playing in a game where it was allowed). If the legitimate market were to stabilize at a level where the Blizzard-determined conversion rate came to equal the average in-game rate of earning money, then gold farming would still exist at prices below the official rate simply because China (and other countries but China has the most computers for it) has much lower nominal and absolute per capita income and the cost per effort of bots is so low.

The current prices for gold are presumably influenced by the risk even tho much of this is avoided by passing it to the buyer, but with prices compared to in-game effort rising proportionally with the Blizzard-sponsored conversion rate profits would be similar to current. As Blizzard would probably reduce effort on enforcement due to the lack of moral comparison (other than looted accounts), profits for RMT gold farmers might even rise.

But yes, compared to now gathered materials would have slightly lowered supply but that would only be due to higher demand with the same number of people attempting to use those resources, but a lower number of people supplying them as those who previously gathered for money just bought gold instead.

As an interesting example: apparently, one of the richest people in China, with about 4 billion USD equivalent, plays a Chinese MMO and is personally responsible for a significant fraction of that company's income.

Doomthorn said...

What do you think about the wow.com post--short exerpt following?

If Blizzard:
Sells gold at a higher price than existing gold-sellers: Then people who already buy gold against the terms of use will continue to do so from gold-sellers, because the only selling point to "Blizzard gold" would be that it's legal -- and that's not a sufficient incentive for people already comfortable with ignoring the rules. Moreover, for newer players it would have the unfortunate effect of making it seem like Blizzard condones buying gold if they sell it themselves.
Sells gold at a lower price than existing gold-sellers: It runs the risk of encouraging hyper-inflation on servers. Gold is already pretty cheap, consequence (I suspect) of hackers' increasingly sophisticated means of parting players from their accounts. Blizzard running the prices down to drive gold-sellers out of business would be the definition of a Pyrrhic victory. The more inexpensive that gold gets, the more that buying it becomes a rational choice over spending the time to farm it in-game or taking the risk of playing the auction house -- and the closer we edge to the situation on the beta servers.
The bottom line is that selling gold would not be a panacea to present monetary ills, even aside from the advantages it would afford players with greater disposable IRL income. Blizzard cares about what happens if WoW's in-game economy goes to hell. Gold-sellers do not, and -- perversely -- their "product" becomes more attractive as server inflation rises.