Monday, February 15, 2010

Why does Blizz support goldselling?

Gold-spam and power-level spam is rampart in WoW. Several AH markets are dominated by 24/7 campers and you can still see oldschool campbots farming eternals.

Don't say that Blizzard can't do anything about them! Botting activity is obvious:
  • lvl1 with name "xfklitr" spamming /2 with "cheapest W O W gold on www.freegold.com". There are third party addons to filter this, and Blizzard can't catch them?
  • someone canceling-reposting glpyhs 18 hours a day?
  • someone farming the same area half day
  • someone doing nothing else but queuing up for BGs. Between BGs, just standing at a city. No communication to anyone, no quests, no AH, just stands, queues in and plays BG, but without objectives and with terrible kill/death ratio
  • dead lvl1 orcs in orgrimmar, spelling goldspammer name. Like it would be hard to make all corpses decay 10 mins after their death.
  • someone getting 10000G from a complete stranger. They had no earlier communication, never played together, "fdkgjfd" just came out of the blue, went to lego11ass and gave him 10K. Would it be hard to simply transfer the gold back and send an automated mail to lego11ass that "Buying gold is illegal, please don't do it again. If fdkgjfd is your RL friend wanting to help you out, we'd suggest him to help you by playing together"?
Blizzard, with its multi-million budget is unable to do these scans, especially since some of these scans are done by free addons? No. Blizzard tolerates goldselling and powerleveling services, and with the armory-AH feature they openly help them, increasing their effectivity.

Goldselling and powerleveling are practically RMT. You pay RL $ for levels, honor, gear, gold. Two questions emerge:
  • Why do Blizzard supports RMT?
  • Why doesn't Blizzard make RMT official, taking the $ itself? Currently the $ goes to the goldsellers, who are third party. (unless they are owned by Blizzard or people behind Blizzard)
Let's see the reasons for supporting RMT in WoW:
  1. RMT is wanted by some players, otherwise it would not exists. Actively fighting against customers is usually not a good business. If someone wants to pay to "progress" in the game, why making it impossible? Assuming there would be a magical solution against goldselling, the goldbuyers would be disgruntled, they would even leave the game.
  2. Any kind of ingame item or level or honor or anything will be obsolete with the next expansion, strike that, it's made obsolate with the next content patch/arena season. So why bother if someone gets items via RMT?
  3. The game is not competitive (outside highly skill-based arenas), so others getting gear or levels does not make me lose more. Actually it helps me, as the same moron who did 900DPS, now does 1800 after Blizz gave him full T9.
  4. The game has no item/level loss or any other kind of failure penalty, so gaining anything is just matter of time. So it's not like lego11ass bought himself something that he couldn't gain "properly", like if I would buy my way to the Olympics team. Lego11ass will have his full T10 anyway, just like everyone else. So why bother if he buys it for $ instead of running 200 daily HCs?
If there are so many good reasons for introducing RMT, why not do it officially? Because most customers of Blizzard are socials, who play not for content or challenge but to be with "friends" and observed positively by them (being liked and respected). While RMT would not hurt the game logically, it would seriously damage it socially. Let's see the above reasons from a social viewpoint:
  1. Those who act differently than a social are "bad". If killing 10K boars is the "proper" way to get to lvl 80, then any other ways, including paying $ is necessarily "bad" and those doing it are "cheaters". Blizzard can not support cheaters or it is "bad" itself.
  2. My precious items will be obsolete?! My shiny treasure I farmed hard will be mediocre?! It's outrageous! (of course it still happens, but unless you tell them explicitly, they won't notice, as they are obsessed with the new tier of shiny)
  3. Everything in the social world is competitive. Even mowing your lawn is competitive (the lawn of the Jonses is greener). The social wants to keep up with peers and wants to get ahead of them, even in completely silly things. The idea that someone can buy something they can't, would hurt them the same way as an unbalanced ability hurts a PvP player.
  4. How dare you say that my gear is not the result of my awesome play?! How do you dare to say that my precious gear is mediocre and any retard can get it?!
So Blizzard does like every goblin when recognizes that the rationally optimal and the socially expected are mutually exclusive: lie. They do what's optimal (support RMT), and say what's expected ("we don't have RMT, evil goldsellers have and we fight them").


I got some comments that claim that it's hard to fight bots and goldsellers and Blizzard simply unable to do it. Let me counter these with some very simple ideas:
  • False positives (idiots really camping the AH, or farming Sholozar 18 hours/day): if such activity found, simply an interface window opens up with a captcha that have to be solved in 10 seconds. It practically destroys unattended botting. Bots can still exist but the botter must watch over them. Before you'd say "it hurt those who just went out for a pizza when the captcha arrived", the captcha only arrives after you (or the bot) press a key, so if you are idiling, no captcha.
  • hard to identify goldspam like "w w w at freegold dot com". You have infinite manpower to fight them: the players. If someone gathers N reports, some action is done against him. The reporters can get a little reward when the reported player is confirmed to be violator.
  • non-ban actions: if a player is reporter for spamming, he is not banned, just silenced, cannot access global channels, and cannot /say or /yell in capital cities. He can keep playing, so it's just annoying to false positives.
  • stopping goldspam-like activities without hurting players: for example characters below lvl 15 cannot access /trade /general and also cannot /say or /yell in capital cities, or corpses are invisible in capital cities (except for party members to resurrect them),
  • They could add all profession and class trainers to the starting villages to serve low level characters, and after that below lvl 10 characters cannot enter capital cities (like you cannot enter Dalaran's opposing faction inn)
  • Obviously, characters on trial accounts cannot enter to capital cities or use global channels. They are for new players trying out the game. He wants to see how the game's atmosphere and mechanics work for him. No new player wants to run into a capital city to spam trade.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

One reason that i can see for blizzard not selling gold itself is that every daily and quest in the game would become compleatly worthless for making money (not that it isn't already, but atleast it breaks even/beats gathering depending on your server) and, well blizzard will do anything to get people to see it's shinny new content....
so unless they start adding dailys that take raidlevel gear they have a somewhat valid reason not to

P.S. im hoping this is going to be a artical like your fall of the leet king, reasons for and against something in two differant posts

Azzur said...

You are wrong. Blizzard wants to protect the integrity of their game and continues to try and stop goldselling.

The reason they cannot scan and filter is because this would impose a detrimental performance impact on their database. If you already think the game is laggy, imagine what would happen if they do this??

Third party addons filter these spam on the 'client side' (i.e. the players' computers) and have no impact on the server.

Flex said...

Once upon a time there was a company named Snowstorm, and they made games. They were really proud of their games and they even went to the point of not releasing one of their games when it didn't live up to what they felt would be a great gaming experience. When they released their MMO, they actively discouraged cheating, including RMT, because it devalued the game experience.

Then their MMO started making money. Lots and lots of money. Now, there's a company named Snowstorm, and they make money. They're really proud of how much money they can make, stockholders love them. Their flagship product, which makes money through subscriber numbers; to make more money they need more subscribers. For the potential customers who won't play because they can't just start "with everything", they've no problem with a little creative cheating - just don't tell the customers who do. Because then, everyone wins, and they keep making money.

Lots and lots of money.

Marshal said...

I think they made a change with 3.3 that limits the dead body website spam that used to be prevalent. I know I haven't seen it since 3.3 hit. The new thing now is to take all those lvl 1 orcs into Orgrimmar, and have them spell out a word letter by letter while floating in mid-air. They'll hover in the shape of one letter, then shift into the next one, and so on until they've spelled out the website.

I've sat and watched them do this for a half hour or more. I opened a ticket, but it was days before it was answered. Blizzard cannot monitor for things like this?

Anonymous said...

The problem with all the actions you describe that Blizzard could take is that they are all active policing policies. It is simply a terrible financial situation to hire people to actively police all of WoW all the time (and by all, I do mean ALL). You can see Blizzard's solution to this on RP realms, where they encourage people on RP realms to report non-RP names or guild names. Therefore, they are attempting to deal with goldfarmers by trying to convince players to not buy them and compromise their own security. They then spending an inordinate money of money actively policing the realms, and at worst, they don't really lose any money from the people who buy gold.

Ingmārs Daniels Meļķis said...

Probably one of the reasons why Blizz doesn't sell gold themselves, is because they get more money from the gold farmers paying the monthly fee, rather than if they would sell the gold themselves. And if they are going to sell gold themselves, and they are going to kill the bots, they would kill entire "industry". You got the point.
I don't think that they support gold selling. They simply doesn't care (or pretend to) about it, as long as they get the money.

Sven said...

Gevlon, I'm curious. Last monday you were claiming that it was impossible to tell if someone was a bot, now you're claiming it's easy. Which represents your true view?

As for your other comments, let's go through them one at a time.

lvl1 with name "xfklitr" spamming /2 with "cheapest W O W gold on www.freegold.com". There are third party addons to filter this, and Blizzard can't catch them?
It's true that there are third party addons that filter gold spam, but they, like regular email filters, aren't perfect. Spammers are clever and adaptive and will find a way around them, e.g. "vv vv vv dot freegold dot com". The cleverness of the spam blocking addons is that they employ real humans (the players) to check the messages. You have to do it this way, because it's not cost effective for Blizzard to employ another staff to monitor all channels live. Even so, there's a huge backlog of reports that need to be checked, which means that the offending account is often gone by the time it gets investigated. Gold sellers know about this and simply accept the loss of those (largely temporary or hacked) accounts as part of the cost of doing business.

someone canceling-reposting glpyhs 18 hours a day?
Not all the people doing this are gold farmers or bots. Could just be someone with a second account they leave on in the background for trading purposes.

someone farming the same area half day
Could easily be either a) an idiot or b) someone looking for an incredibly rare drop or spawn.

someone doing nothing else but queuing up for BGs. Between BGs, just standing at a city. No communication to anyone, no quests, no AH, just stands, queues in and plays BG, but without objectives and with terrible kill/death ratio
Sounds like half the player base to me! You can hardy ban someone for that.

dead lvl1 orcs in orgrimmar, spelling goldspammer name. Like it would be hard to make all corpses decay 10 mins after their death.
These are created using hacks. If you decay the corpses faster, they will just run the bot more often, causing greater annoyance.


someone getting 10000G from a complete stranger. They had no earlier communication, never played together, "fdkgjfd" just came out of the blue, went to lego11ass and gave him 10K. Would it be hard to simply transfer the gold back and send an automated mail to lego11ass that "Buying gold is illegal, please don't do it again. If fdkgjfd is your RL friend wanting to help you out, we'd suggest him to help you by playing together"?
Easily got around by (for example) asking the gold buyer to put some item on AH for a lot of money and the gold seller buying it or sending the buyer the money in many small denominations. How about banning selling overpriced junk on the AH? Not sure that's the goblin way.


It may seem easy to detect these bots, but in reality it takes a lot of man hours to do it. Given the lower labour rates in the countries where the gold-sellers have their operations, that's a battle that Blizzard can never win.

Ultimately, I don't buy your view of what's happening here. It seems to me that the reason these problems aren't gone from WOW is the same reason they aren't gone from other parts of the internet or reality. It's actually quite hard.

duncan said...

Imagine you can make 1000g/hour.
Your jobs earns you more than $10/hour. Gold costs you $10 for 1000g.
You have the choice of working any time you want. Why would you not buy gold?

Daniel said...

That is like saying that Microsoft obviously support piracy, since even windows 7 had activation the day it was launched - they have the best programmers in the world, lots of money and they can't create activation system that is secure?

The problem is diminishing returns - of you have self policing of the servers you deal with 80% of the gold selling and it dont cost you much - if you want 90 - then you cough up money and hire policemen, then you divert your developer from patching the game to creating monitoring systems, and it cost you a lot, the tools blizzard uses to track bots and something use signatures not disassmbler - and so on. Do you will have marginal returns on insane amount of investment.

And you will have false positives because there indeed are idiots that camp the AH 18 hours a day. And farm scholazar 24 hours a day.

They dont go proactive towards gold selling and power leveling, but they dont want to cough up the money to wipe it clean.

Anonymous said...

@Duncan: The way you describe it, it is more interesting to start selling gold instead of having a real job.
---
Blizzard should just put in a separate option "report goldseller" which should be queued to a dedicated employee on a per-account basis. (account X been reported zzz times, with details on what character he did it with and what he said) with an easy perma-ban button.

Olga said...

Actually, they really ban for giving gold away. My friend's account got banned cause i gave him like 4000. He wrote a letter to them and his account was restored. We are in one guild, both characters have raiding achievements, etc.
The most fun part, however, is that they didn't ban me for "selling", just him for "buying".
I assume that goldsellers know for what Blizzard scans the database, so they know how to avoid it.

Sarge said...

You're absolutely right, Gevlon.
Blizzard is not really interested in prohibiting gold-selling or buying.
Like you say, it would be easy to stop a lot of the gold-advertising currently going on, or investigate character activity.
But they don't even investigate account scams, they just restore everything.

From the very beginning of WOTLK I've been discussing with other players, how I think Blizzard should handle this.
Like you said, they should extend their current services to selling gold, items and Level 60 / 70 / 80 chars.
The latter should be only available to people, who already have a Lvl 80 char, so they at least know the basics of the game.

Concerning items:
Blizz shouldn't sell the items directly. They should only offer the emblems currently available in heroics - atm "triumph".
This way, people can easily buy the emblems, to gear up for the current content. No need to chainfarm heroics.
And the pro gamers will still keep their advantage, because they're just after the current raiding emblems "frost".

Of course there will be a huge outrage amongst players in the beginning. But I think that this wouldn't change your own gaming experience in the least.
There will still be players, who have no clue how this game works. But like Gevlon says, they'll at least have T9.
As for raiding guilds: People are being inspected for gear, but they're also inspected how they perform in farm content - so you'll easily spot the "Ebayer".

Anonymous said...

http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/3740/Real-Money-Real-Problems.html

Anonymous said...

lvl1 with name "xfklitr" spamming /2 with "cheapest W O W gold on www.freegold.com". There are third party addons to filter this, and Blizzard can't catch them?

No, it would crash their servers if they would have to filter all the chat that happens in-game.

someone canceling-reposting glpyhs 18 hours a day?

I think some people will get very pissed when their "Make gold in 48 hours" contest will be ended by a ban. You really can't look behind the screen, you cannot know what the hack people are doing for fun. A gold making contest like that is something I could do with my friends.

Someone farming the same area half day?

Again, it would crash all their servers if they would have to follow all players who farm.

Someone doing nothing else but queuing up for BGs. Between BGs, just standing at a city. No communication to anyone, no quests, no AH, just stands, queues in and plays BG, but without objectives and with terrible kill/death ratio?

You described exactly my first time in the battleground. There are 8 year old kids out there without a clue. If they like to play solo, don't know english, or something else is causing this, some people might get pissed if they get banned for being a noob. Plus again it would crash their servers to follow all players who que up for bg's.

Dead lvl1 orcs in orgrimmar, spelling goldspammer name. Like it would be hard to make all corpses decay 10 mins after their death.

This is one of the things that should be possible. Although it would decrease server performance a little, it should technically be possible to do this.

someone getting 10000G from a complete stranger. They had no earlier communication, never played together, "fdkgjfd" just came out of the blue, went to lego11ass and gave him 10K. Would it be hard to simply transfer the gold back and send an automated mail to lego11ass that "Buying gold is illegal, please don't do it again. If fdkgjfd is your RL friend wanting to help you out, we'd suggest him to help you by playing together"?

How the hack do you think they would be able to filter this out of the trades and buys and sells that happen everyday? A friend of mine happend to get 50 gold from a complete stranger. He didn't say a thing, the guy traded, mounted up and moved. It happens. Would you ban this, my friend would have been banned.

Well isn't that fun? Especially for goblins. You just give 15k to a random stranger, and Blizzard bans that person. Of course your account can get banned too, but you can make a trial account for it. That's a nice way to get rid of some noobs, isn't it? People would be able to get each other banned. Do you have any idea of the consequenses? Any idea what a mess WoW would become?

I think you're underestimating how hard it really is to catch gold sellers and buyers. The most important part is, the things you described are obvious for humans.

But Blizzard can't put humans on catching this, they'll go broke. So a computer has to do that. And it's very, very hard, if not impossible to teach a computer to see these things, and ban the right players.

Zeran said...

@duncan
Because playing is more fun than working. Your example would only be applicable if you made more than $10/hour.

On to the topic at hand, I thought I would mention a few points that you failed to Gevlon. While RMT makes the game socially unacceptable it is a necessary evil within the system once it has been unleashed. Square-Enix did a massive investigation and removed each and every Gil that had been involved in RMT (for a grand total of 2.6Billion Gil taken out of circulation). What happened next was economic free fall the likes of which have not been seen in the real world, ever. The closest real world analogy is the Great Depression.

Since RMT is a necessary evil, Blizzard should support it to make sure that it is legit, and that the Accounts involved are safe (etc.). But you missed the most important reason not to officially support RMT. Regional restrictions and taxation (it always comes back to money) are the real reasons that Blizzard will never support any system that identifies their in-game currancy with a real world currancy.

In many locations WoW would be barred from access as it contains untaxable trading. On top of that, in many locations the local authorities would attempt collect the taxes on the in-game currancy, and when Blizzard failed to pay the taxes that were due the locals would file suit. Thus blizzard would loose massively.

There are only 2 logical answers. 1st) slowly try to combat RMT by educating the consumers and banning/patch/etc on a small scale.
2nd) is to contain the necessary evil while retaining plausible deniablity

pagb666 said...

Blizzard supports gold selling, it's as easy as they do ban sellers, but not buyers. Some guildies have been buying gold for years, and they haven't been banned.

The reason is simple, buyers are satisfied customers and they don't have to grind or care for their gold and mats.

Anonymous said...

Also if Blizzard was to start checking for trades/transfers like you recommended who's to say that they couldnt bann someone for doing something ligitimate (like when you paid to visit ulduar for example)

Also i respect your site and alot of the ideas present on it, but this has the undeniable feeling of feeding a troll

Zazkadin said...

I have to agree with Daniel.

I do not believe that Blizzard secretly approves of gold selling, as there are too many negative side-effects on the player experience, e.g. accounts being hacked, spam in channels/cities and prices of rare items (Battered Hilt) being driven up. But on the other hand they do not seem to actively do much to battle gold selling, while I agree with you (Gevlon) that there is many things they could do if they were dedicated to it.

So it must be a cost-benefit thing where some management guy at Blizzard has decided that they just won't sell enough extra copies of WoW to warrant the investments. That's a goblinish approach and especially you should be able to appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

Goldselling could be ended imediataly if blizzard wanted it that way, first they would have to ban the accounts of anyone spamming adds in trade. They get this information from players everytime they use the report spam button, just check what message got reported and ban the account if it's a goldseller. it's easy.
Then search the database and find all other acounts registered to the same adress, ban them, and ban the IP adress of the spammer.
By banning acounts for a first time offence the cost of aquireing new acounts would soon exceed the profits from goldselling.
Blizzard spends a lot more manhours taking coumplaints from people who got hacked by goldsellers than what it would require to end goldselling.

B said...

For some reason US realms seem to be more effective in hunting gold farmers and its evident by comparing the gold prices between EU & US realms where US is considerably more expensive than EU.

But lets look at this from Blizzard's side. The company can't simply put an employee on each realm to monitor the gold farmers' activities. And each realm has the Horde and Ally side. They will need a lot of manpower to do this so the expense is not worth it.

They simply develop tools to monitor the activity without severely affecting the stability of the servers such as the report spam that flags a person if reported by more than one player and report afk in BGs and tickets made by players who suspect someone of being a bot, also large amount of gold trade between characters without an item traded will trigger a flag for investigation.

Blizzard DO work on fighting the gold farmers and its in their interest to have them banned to maintain a good gaming environment and because those farmers never give up and will PAY for another subscription to maintain their work. Blizzard made sure they pay by greatly limiting the options that free trials have.

Azzur said...

If you think it's that easy to solve the gold-selling problem, you should apply for a job at Blizzard. You'll make heaps of money if you can implement your ideas. I'll save you time by identifying the flaws:

# False positives (idiots really camping the AH, or farming Sholozar 18 hours/day): if such activity found, simply an interface window opens up with a captcha that have to be solved in 10 seconds. It practically destroys unattended botting. Bots can still exist but the botter must watch over them. Before you'd say "it hurt those who just went out for a pizza when the captcha arrived", the captcha only arrives after you (or the bot) press a key, so if you are idiling, no captcha.
How do you identify 'AH campers' or 'those farming Sholozar 18 hours/day'? The only way to do this is to perform a real-time database scan of ALL operations. This is an unacceptable performance constraint.

# hard to identify goldspam like "w w w at freegold dot com". You have infinite manpower to fight them: the players. If someone gathers N reports, some action is done against him. The reporters can get a little reward when the reported player is confirmed to be violator.
I'm sure something like this happens already. The goldspammers simply make another trial spam account. You must've forgotten back in early TBC when players didn't have the opportunity to 'report spam'. Gold-spamming was 10x worse back then.

# non-ban actions: if a player is reporter for spamming, he is not banned, just silenced, cannot access global channels, and cannot /say or /yell in capital cities. He can keep playing, so it's just annoying to false positives.
If you get reported for spam, I believe you can get temp banned. This idea sounds nice but for one flaw - you're basically implementing a 'guilty until proven otherwise' policy. What happens if players decide to abuse this power?

# stopping goldspam-like activities without hurting players: for example characters below lvl 15 cannot access /trade /general and also cannot /say or /yell in capital cities, or corpses are invisible in capital cities (except for party members to resurrect them),
Lets hurt newbie low-level players in the process. Who cares about collateral damage?

# They could add all profession and class trainers to the starting villages to serve low level characters, and after that below lvl 10 characters cannot enter capital cities (like you cannot enter Dalaran's opposing faction inn)
Lets ban lvl1 bank alts and genuine players as well. Also, lets rewoke some of the quests as well. Who cares about collateral damage?

duncan said...

@zeran

suppose you could put a price on how much more fun it was to play than work. if you passed that, why would you not buy gold?

Chopsui said...

To all the people saying it would crash their servers, in the online poker world, there were many client side applications of anti-botting measures. Sure, these could be considered / construed as spyware solutions, considering they scanned for programs running, location of mouseclicks etc etc etc, but the essence is, you move some of that to the client, perform a little hash check to see if the stuff that's checking those changes is in fact not tampered with, and you could go a loooooong way to filtering out bots, without putting it all server side. Online poker has / had to battle poker bots for quite a while. That market is ~6 billion $ a year in revenue, and wow is ~1 billion $ a year. It's not impossible to do or check, it's not impossible to do it without impairing the gaming experience, it's not prohibitive in price, and yes, it won't be completely foolproof, but you can make it much harder for goldsellers to do such things. Some are really easy to implement server side, others are a bit harder to implement client side, but to say this is impossiible to do without impairing the gaming experience is what I like to think of as deluding yourself, because you *want* to believe Blizzard's lie.

I've bought gold ingame twice in classic, figuring the money spent vs time saved was a good deal. Even if I bought gold now, I doubt blizz would act on it, considering they'd ban an account that's been going for over 5 years. That seems like bad business sense, especially considering it doesn't *hurt* anyone else ingame. Except perhaps the tards that got their account hacked because they entered username and password into www.thislookslikeablizzardurltodummies.com

Gevlon said...

@Azzur: are you trolling, or really believe it would be hard to stop botting? I'm not adding more to the article, since it's already obvious. Just for you:

Farming: killing non-quest monsters. For every non-quest monster you kill, a counter increases +1. For every quest-monster you kill the counter decreases by 3. If you leave the area and turn to an NPC, the counter resets. If the counter reaches 20, every time you kill a monster a /roll 50 is done. If 50/50 is rolled, you get a captcha. So players legitimately farming get a captcha every 50 kills. Bit annoying, but not game-breaking.

Non-ban actions: they are not punitive, just annoying. Just like if you leave an LFD because you got 4 retards, you get 15 mins "ban". No one left the game for that. Players can abuse it to silence someone who is spamming nonsense (but not goldspam), but not being able to litter /2 is not game-breaking.

Collateral damage for banning low lvls from capitals or channels? How? Legitimate low levels supposed to kill boars in Elwyn. Why would a legitimate low level go to a capital (of course low level quests should be reviewed and all low-level quest NPC moved to the start village).

Server load: come on! The server can handle 2*120 players spamming spells in WG, but can't handle text chat? Are you computer illiterates or trolls?

@To everyone: further ridiculous claims that "it's hard" are considered trolling and censored.

MetaManu said...

Blizzard is not supporting RMT, but not fighting it actively either, because it'd involve additional costs at no obvious benefits, and not because it'd hard to do.

Please note however that any decent bot software can handle and respond to capchas, be it automatically or via a mobile phone.

Rem said...

It's not so much "hard", as it is pointless. So, the /yell spammer is reported and banned. Are trial accounts in some sort of shortage? Nope. He's back in the game in a matter of minutes. It's precisely what happens and how it's handled right now.

Also, as a computer literate I'd like to point out that the server doesn't "handle 2*120 players spamming spells in WG". The server handles 2*120 streamlined data objects calling performance optimized functions and methods. Pretty sweet thing to do for a server. String comparison and pattern matching, on the other hand, are a bitch. I know it's hard to believe for a non-programmer ("lol, it's just text"), but working with strings is a performance nightmare for the computer.

Tori said...

Usually I like what you have to say Gevlon, but you get defensive when someone points out that you might just be wrong.

It's not trolling if someone is posting a legitimate opinion with a clear argument as to WHY it's not as easy as /you/ think it is. It's trolling if someone went 'ur retarded is hard lulz.' What you have is people disagreeing, heaven forbid that happens.

I'll tell you why a legitimate low level player would go into a city. Bankalts. I see loads, and loads of bank alts. Plus by the time I am level 15 I have been to the AH numerous times. Little inventory so if I'm leveling skinning/tailoring/mining I need to drop it off either in the AH or the bank.

I agree with SOME of your other points, but as someone who already has a latency that spikes up to 3000ms I personally can't handle more performance issues, and I know a lot of other players who struggle with latency as it is.

Gold selling is a problem, but it's a buyers problem. Not a sellers one. Those selling gold would go out of business if no one bought gold, but of course that's expecting to much of it.

Gevlon said...

@Rem: I missed trial accounts, added to text. To the second paragraph, you surely meant "as a computer ILLITERATE I'd like to point out...", Google is matching complicated strings on a database practically containing the whole internet in milliseconds for free.

Yeah, finding "wow gold",
"freegold.com" and variants on 10-100 lines/minute is huge server load on a paid service.

@Rem: While I don't question that some people claim this nonsense honestly, I'm not forced to argue with them. There are people who claim there is no evolution or no Holocaust, but I can safely ignore them. It's not being defensive, it's simply keeping the comment section free of trash. I don't really care if you talk nonsense because you are trolling, or because you don't know better. I don't want idiots more here than trolls.

The debate is about WHY Blizzard tolerates goldselling and you are welcome to come up with answers conflicting mine.

Denying the obvious fact that they do it is either trolling or being retarded.

Anonymous said...

I think this is too much black&white thinking. You can't say that because they're obviously not doing everything to combat it, they're tolerating it completly.

That's not a logical conclusion. Also, they do combat it to an extent (there are bot bans, there is the Report Spam function, there is Warden, there is the Authenticator). Why should they do that? Just because they want to pretend for socials?

Buying/selling gold (if it is done by third-parties) hurts Blizzard (and other companies) a lot more than it benefits them. This has its cause in how that sold gold is generated. While there are farm bots and AH bots, if you want to really get a lot of gold, you have to look for exploits (like the teleporting mining bots) and means to "hack" user accounts. Now these two things, and especially the latter, cost the companies a lot of real money. Cause, you don't want to tell your customer after being "hacked" regardless of how stupid he was, that he's out of luck. That customer will most probably just quit the game. That means you have to hire a lot of customer service people to look into these cases.

Do you think it gains them more money to allow RMT companies to sell gold in WoW than what they have to invest to combat the side-effects?

I do not.

Supporting third-party RMT is not the business optimal for a game company.

Anonymous said...

Server load: come on! The server can handle 2*120 players spamming spells in WG, but can't handle text chat? Are you computer illiterates or trolls?

As a computer programmer, I can tell you that the server wouldn't hold it. It's not build for a wg AND text filtering. If they would build a stronger server maybe it would make it. But not now. Also text filtering might be a lot heavier for a server then you think. A computer has to compare every word and letter that a player says too a lot of other words and phrases. While computer can do that very fast, doing it for 240 players makes it a lot slower.

Assuming it takes only 0.5 seconds with a good filtering list that's still a minute before the computer checked all phrases the players say! How would you like to type a phrase and have to wait 60 seconds before it shows?

And I'm not even starting about the additional traffic that will be generated. Per player it's not much, but now do it * so much billion and you'll understand that Blizzard will have to buy new internet connections for that.

So, simple. They're not fighting goldsellers. It's not worth their time and money. If they happen to beat their head against one, they'll ban him, so he has to make a new account. That's all they do.

And banning low level characters out of cities? Sorry, but when I make an alt, one of the first thing I do is buy some bags(Yes, I buy them on my main, but I always end up in the major cities before level 5 somehow.)

Plus my bankalt is in the city exactly for the AH and the possibility of talking in /2. And a lot more bankalts do.

The reason that Blizzard isn't selling gold? It would become worthless. There is such a thing as the goldcap.And some players will love that they can buy their way to that. Witch will increase prices, till items cannot become more expensive. Bye bye economy.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree with your reasoning. Blizzard should (at least covertly) support goldselling because it doesn't enable the player to get anything he couldn't have gotten anyway, so it doesn't give him an unfair advantage etc? That doesn't matter to Blizzard. They want their playerbase to play as long as possible. Everything else is secondary to them. If Joe Sixpack pays Arnold Goldseller 10$ to spend a month less farming heroics, that means Joe Sixpack has less incentive to play that month, which is a loss for Blizzard. Why would they support goldselling if it enables players to pay a third party so that they can use Blizzard's service less and therefore pay them less?

Anonymous said...

One might argue that there is an (business optimal) equilibrium between "doing nothing (besides pretending) and tolerating RMT" which Gevlon argues and "doing everything possible to combat it".

Blizzard definitely doesn't do the former but also doesn't seem to do the latter. The question is why but I don't think this blog post comes off right about it.

The problem with this post aren't so much the answers but the question which, in its short-coming as too simplified and yes or no, allowing nothing in between, preventing an actual sophisticated discussion about this topic.

Gevlon said...

@Last anonymous: "the doing nothing" is already a middle case. The two extremes are "fighting as hard as they can" and "doing it themselves".

I did say that they do the middle equilibrium: stop the annoying rampart RMT (Alterac botting) and allowing goldselling.

@Anonymous above the last: because paying $10 is also an incentive to play more. If you pay for something, you become more devoted in that action.

Nielas said...

Gevlon said:
'"the doing nothing" is already a middle case. The two extremes are "fighting as hard as they can" and "doing it themselves".

I did say that they do the middle equilibrium: stop the annoying rampart RMT (Alterac botting) and allowing goldselling.'

However, they don't just 'do nothing' about the gold selling. They do quite a lot about it but just not 'all that could be done'. So one has to figure out what their reason for their actions (and inactions) are (ie the actual 'middle equilibrium').

In the end I believe it is down to a gain-loss calculation but more complex than what Gevlon is portraying. The gold sellers cost Blizzard money since Blizzard does spend money to combat them and thus they do not create a net profit base (ie if blizzard did not combat goldsellers at all they would be worse off then they are now).

Blizzard reaches the 'middle equilibrium' when the additional costs for fighting the goldsellers are greater than the projected profit losses from it. So if spending X amount of money is only going to stop X-1 loss in profits then it is no longer a sound business decision. Of course this decision process is extremely fuzzy so Blizzard is not likely to be spot on.

Blizzard is in a tricky legal position when it comes to running this game. They assume a lot of powers that they probably should not have but there are no legal precedents to set the standards. The way they ban players is already legally questionable so they need to follow procedures that will make them look reasonable if they ever get sued. So automated banning with its many false positives is bad from a PR and legal standpoint. A human being should review the ban just to be on firm ground. Doing this for gold spammers is easy but harder for botting and 'exploiting the economy' offences. Stuff like that costs manhours to do properly.

So Blizzard is doing a cost-risk balancing game. They want to keep gold selling to an acceptable minimum but not have to put many people on the problem since that costs them money. At the same time automating the banning process is tricky and legally risky so they do not want to overdue it when the benefits are not as straightforward.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon has several times written about the option of hardcore servers where monsters do more damage and have more hp, and players do less damage and get less healing.
How about using the same logic here, cheat free servers where goldseller are permanently banned the first time they get reported, and cheat servers where everyone can buy gold and epics from blizzard.
This would propaly not work as those who chaet want to gain an advantage over the non cheaters, and if everyone cheat it's all about who has the best RL economy.
If you divided atleats into two groups, drugs allowed and drug free, competitors some would propably use steroids in the drug free group, or atleast try.

The worst part of this descussion are the ones who say "whats wrong with paying for gold? i simply prefer to pay with money than with time."
If you have a job where you make more than 3£/hour and grind less than 1k gold/hour in game it's optimal to spend your time working in RL and using what you earn to buy gold rather than farming it yourself.(price of 1k gold beeing 3£) However that does not change tha fact that it is cheating. The rules of the game are stated in the text you click the I accept button on before you can play, and breaking them is cheating, and no lame excuse will change that.

Having special realms where players are allowed to spend RL monay on in game advantages would work if those who bougth gold honestly meant that crap about paying with money rather than than time. But as what they realy want is to cheat and get an advantage they would not want to play there.

More than 90% of all acouts hacked are hacked buy goldsellers, the chineese goldfarmer working a (dis)honest job farming gold, is as much an illution as the guy who does 900dps because he's undergeared. Blizzard should end goldselling for this reason.

Drew said...

The simple reason blizzard Puts up with gold farming is cost. Yes they could put in a string comparison tool that compares thousands of strings for spam that rivals google. Google has spent BILLIONS of dollars and years of time into do so because it is their buisness. Blizzards buisness is videos games. I think everyone can agree we would rather have a xpac or Starcraft 2 or diablo 3 long before we had a NEW tool to fight spam.

Why did diablo 3 come out in 2014? Cause blizzard spent the last year and a half getting rid of trade chat spam.


"hey you should come back to playing WoW?"

"why did they add more levels, talents, quests, raids, or BGs?"

"no but they got rid of all the gold farmers"

"no thanks I'll keep playing mass effect 2"

Gevlon said...

@Drew: that's why LICENSING exists. They don't have to develop tools. They can license tools, for example from google. Or from the guys who made the "free speach filter" for the Chinese.

Prickface said...

"Google is matching complicated strings on a database practically containing the whole internet in milliseconds for free."
Google uses a vastly different system than WoW. Google has optimized it's database for searching, it's most likely not processing complex strings at runtime, it's been done while inserting it into the database.

"The debate is about WHY Blizzard tolerates goldselling and you are welcome to come up with answers conflicting mine.

Denying the obvious fact that they do it is either trolling or being retarded."

You're making a rather large assumption here, namely that Blizzard actually tolerates the goldsellers.
However, to tolerate something can mean two things here. Either "putting up" with something, or allowing it to be done without prohibition or hindrance.
While you can certainly make a case that Blizzard doesn't actively fight them, it's hard to prove it considering Blizzard has created features to hinder RMT, such as the "report spam" option, and Warden attempts to block the bots.

Is Blizzard actively supporting goldselling? Hard to prove, but unlikely.
Could Blizzard do much more to combat them? Yes, there are a variety of ways to improve their system.

Filtering the chat server-side:
This could be done, but it would require a sizeable amount of processing, due to the nature of strings.

Client-side chat filtering:
This could be done much easier, considering how the client only needs to process messages it receives itself, the client usually has more than enough processing power to spare and it could be implemented similarly to the profanity filter, with the possibility to turn it off.

Captcha:
Captchas aren't that hard to crack, many bots are more than capable of answering it. While it would certainly cut down on some of the botting, it would only be a matter of time before the bots start to work around them.
But more importantly, while a Captcha every ~50 kills would be acceptable from a primarily rational view, it would become a huge annoyance to many "social" people.
It also wouldn't do much against the "hacking" or rather keylogging of accounts, while usually the fault of the player himself, is still bad business for Blizzard, since keylogging does directly affect players.

In short, assuming that Blizzard actively supports goldselling is an undeniable fact is a major fallacy, even if Blizzard could do more against it.

Igwun said...

So many good comments already, but i'll add my 2 cents.

The reason blizz doesn't have an automated systems for bots is simple.
Moneys, lots of moneys.

Because bots can't use trade on trial accounts they need full accounts. And i know what you're gonna say now. "But those are hacked accounts omg"
Think about it for a second. Sure many people get hacked but enough to have an army of bots on EVERY realm? Seems far fetched.
With this weeks discount on WoW classic (5 euro's) i assume goldsellers just buy those in bulk.
From blizzards side the only thing they need to do is manage the transaction and mail a key out.

As for why doesn't blizzard sell gold themselves?
Simple again, it will cause a chain reaction and inflation will be a HUGE problem. I dare to say so huge that it's impossible to play the game without buying gold or farming everything yourself.

Flask x goes for y gold now.
You get x gold for y dollars.
First it'll be "cheap" to buy flasks. Then prices will increase.
People will have to spend more dollars for less flasks.
And you get into a vicious cycle where in the end only the smart or wealthy people can really play the game.
And on top of that goldsinks would be useless cause a lot of gold doesn't really go out of the world.

Billy wants a chopper. This would usually remove 12.5k gold out of the world(cause it goes to the vendor).
Because Billy is an idiot and begs his daddy for a chopper, daddy buys it. Gold appears and disappears again. But there's no goldsink. No gold gets removed from the game anymore.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Gevlon,

I work in technology and deal with spam/malware problems often, and I think what you are not seeing with your proposed solutions is the response from the goldfarmers. Everything you say that blizzard can do can be countered.

Level 80 getting 10k from a level 1? Well, many people have Level 1 alts for trading, so that in itself is not that unusual. If it turns out that Blizzard checks and sees for some kind of conversations, then the gold farmers will do the fake conversation thing. If the scanner looks for an item in trade, then the goldfarmers will suggest the player trades an item for the gold. And the buying cheap item for lots of gold from the AH will work too. How many people buy milk for 20g? Should Blizzard ban this?

Farming an area 18 hours a day? Non bots (real people) do some crazy farming in this game, so this will annoy them no doubt, and if you pop up a captcha for too many non-quest mob kills, well the bots will just do a few daily quests, or there will be a guy watching for the captcha. It's not that hard to monitor 5 screens to look for a captcha.

And finally, I think that you have a theory, that is all. You do not have enough evidence to substantiate it. There is however much evidence that Blizzard has taken steps against gold farmers. Many accounts have been hacked in the past. Blizzard successfully sued the makers of WoW Glider and put that product out of business. There is warning text about this kind of thing at the login screen. So I do not think your theory is supportable at this time.

Anonymous said...

perfect reasons to play eve. :)

1. you have RMT completely owned @ CCP

2. you have huge bans against botters / goldsellers etc.

3. As a result, the illegal market was significantly hit by ccp.


RMT doesn´t devalue the game experience. you just can do things that are more fun for you. there´s absolutely no reason to ban RMT out of an MMO.

i doesn´t say: don´t ban goldsellers.

i said: don´t ban RMT!

p.s: i´m doing in Eve (rly difficult) what i did in Wow (rly simple) - making money. Therefore i can play Eve almost without no fee (have to pay every other month or so), making the market high competitive and cheaper for the normal users who doesn´t care about the market.

So what´s the deal with RMT? it grants high percentage of brokers / traders who make the market (almost) completely competitive. It´s important for CCP / Blizz to get competitiv markets -> the trader wins (real money) the normal player wins (cheap epix in AH)

Jason said...

"dead lvl1 orcs in orgrimmar, spelling goldspammer name. Like it would be hard to make all corpses decay 10 mins after their death."

This problem was resolved months ago. You can no longer see corpses of trial accounts unless grouped with the player, something like that.

Besides, you actually think taking action against 'skfhf' the level 1 orc is going to have any impact?

Most of the higher-level toons used for these practices are stolen from players anyway.

Sean Sullivan said...

It's not just socials that don't want RMT for gold -- it's the HC too. They worked damn hard to get their full T9. They remember when getting all your tier gear meant you really were in one of the best guilds tackling the toughest content. And now some slacker can just by the same things I worked by @$$ off for?

It's against the spirit of the game, or perhaps the illusion of the spirit of the game, to give players rewards inside the game for doing something outside the game. Blizzard gets more gold/hour helping current players, answering GM tickets and such than trying to find an eliminate all gold spammers. And there will always be ways to sell gold/accounts for RMT if you try hard enough. So your post just seems way out in left field today.

Gevlon said...

@Eaten by a grue: of course everything can be countered. But it cost money, driving their prices up, decreasing their customer base. No doubt that if an IT student wants to bot to show off his IT skills, he can. But it won't be economically viable.

@Prickface: WoW being WoW allows some really innovative capchas. For example an animated picture of a monster before a moving background comes up and you have to select its name out of 5 possibilities. Good luck writing a bot against that.

Drew said...

@gevlon true they could license an existing product, but even so it can take many man months of work to implement that into the game. no developer software works out of the box. It could take months of training and testing to even get something in beta. And Blizzard seems to be more of the grassroots type of company they just create it themselves anyway.

The point is as a video game player every second they spend working on stopping goldfarmers is a second less they spend creating more fun stuff for us to do.

They have put somethings into the game to help curb goldfarmers. (limit what trial accts can do, report spam) but I'm sure it's an afterthought and should be.

Now account security is another matter and they are doing everything they can to help prevent that. ( authenicators, educating users). That is something that can affect subscribers. I've known people who canceled their account after getting hacked becuase it just wasn't worth it anymore. Not to mention the users that a scared to even sign up for an account because of it. That's the type of thing that can break into mainstream news and cause a PR nightmare.


The point is it's easy to brainstorm ideas, bit to think about the cost and investmet is a whole different story

Rem said...

Obviously, characters on trial accounts cannot enter to capital cities or use global channels. They are for new players trying out the game. He wants to see how the game's atmosphere and mechanics work for him. No new player wants to run into a capital city to spam trade.

Looks like Blizzard took you up on this idea. Years ago, in fact. All those restrictions (except level cap) are in place as a measure against goldselling. Or can you think of another reason?

The only thing you suggest beyond what's already in place is to ban trial accounts from capital cities. But visiting those is pretty crucial for a judgement on the "game's atmosphere". And this is really the problem: how much inconvenience can you put in place to stop the gold spammer, but keep the genuine trial? As it stands, the hurdles for the actual new players are already higher than for the much more adaptable spammers.

Besides, I challenge one of your base assumptions: the inherent demand for RMT. It would seem much more likely, that this is really a case of "demand created by supply". See, otherwise all this advertising would hardly be necessary at all. If people really had the desire to buy gold - there's Google. People don't. They just want to play a game. You have to constantly harass them with the "oh, see, you could have it much easier!" notion to create the desire in the first place.

Prickface said...

"WoW being WoW allows some really innovative capchas. For example an animated picture of a monster before a moving background comes up and you have to select its name out of 5 possibilities. Good luck writing a bot against that."

That sort of captcha would certainly be effective against bots. However, WoW's playerbase being what it is, it would also harm players who honestly have no clue what the answer should be.

Also, goldselling companies have very cheap human resources, if they need to, they'd just hire someone to handle the captchas for them, their costs might increase a little, but it wouldn't stop them in the slightest.

Anonymous said...

"@Prickface: WoW being WoW allows some really innovative capchas. For example an animated picture of a monster before a moving background comes up and you have to select its name out of 5 possibilities. Good luck writing a bot against that."

This kind of captcha would be totally useless against inmemory bots... (in fact it would be easier and faster to break)

Shannara said...

You hit the nail on the head, as a fellow programmer, I know for a fact that the gold farmers / sellers can be stopped without impacting the regular players.

We can only guess at the real reasons Blizzard support these kinds of activities. When you get down to it, it is technically easily to fix, so there must be some other motive.

Sven said...

Gevlon, your "spot the mob" captcha won't work very well. Most bots are run in large farms with a human supervisor. All he has to do is look at the screens once in a while and when the captcha comes up, click the correct button. He's still effectively running 50+ clients simultaneously at low-skill third world wages.

If there's seemingly simple solution to a problem , the first question you should ask is "how could this possibly go wrong?"

Sven said...

@Shannara
"I know for a fact that the gold farmers / sellers can be stopped without impacting the regular players."
Since you know this for a fact, please present the evidence that led you to this conclusion. What techniques can be used that won't either
a) cost more money than they save in lost revenue or
b) be easily defeated?

Armagon said...

I don't think your last points are valid.
When I tried LotRO, I really liked the game a lot. But as crafting is a big part of the game for me (I know, maybe I'm just stupid for wanting to be self-sufficient by having all professions in the game maxed, spread over my alts - but it's fun for me)

But one of the key points that drove me away from LotRO was that I couldn't use the Auction House or trade materials with other people, so I could try out crafting.

Same applies to the level 10 restriction. If I couldn't even go the city and use the AH and stuff, I'd be out

Kleedrac said...

I think you need to re-examine the measures you wish to take Gevlon as this is starting to look like a DRM argument. In DRM (Digital Rights Management) the game studio or movie studio wishes to take harsher and harsher technological measures to ensure their movie or game cannot be pirated. In the end it's always the valid customers who suffer. The pirates will defeat the DRM and be unbothered by it in much the same way the people who really want RMT will still go to ige or similar and be unbothered by the restrictions being placed on the rest of us. I would warn you to be especially wary of such ideas as the restrictions you would place on the trial as that is the easiest way for Blizzard to continue to replace leaving players and bring new people into the game. If one cannot get a realistic feeling for all aspects of the game during the 10 day trial how would one make the decision of whether to buy the game and pay for a few months?! In the end how would you handle a random catcha slowing down your own gold gathering empire sir? How would you handle bringing in a friend for a trial only to have them turned off by not being able to see the wonders of Orgrimmar? If the worst we can say about modern day gold sellers are they spam in trade a bit then let them have their own channel! Then they truly will not bother the rest of us and will not hamper our fun :)

Kleedrac

Drew said...

@Shannara
You hit the nail on the head, as a fellow programmer, I know for a fact that the gold farmers / sellers can be stopped without impacting the regular players.

As a programmer you should you should never speak in absolutes. More often then not there are unforeseen bugs and errors.

The fact is security is hard. The whole article is missing this point. It's like saying Microsoft wants your computer to be hack ed because they could without a doubt stop it. Programmers build software to work. Hackers look at software to break it.

Blaming Blizz for the problem really short sighted. "Why don't they just stop all the email spam and phishing sites?" "Why do websites have exploits?" The fact is major security companies have spent billions of dollars and countless years trying to solve a problem that is impossible to solve. It's ever evolving once you fix one problem there are 10 more just behind it. You are never "done" plugging holes. The bad guys will always find a work around.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they allow gold selling because they are not M&S?

I mean if they are making more money off it than if they actively going round cancelling accounts left right and centre then good for them. It doesn't really bother people with an authenticator and spam filter, unless they're going round and stealing your nodes or whatever (I thought farming was against the goblin-ish religion?), and surely making more money is the goblin thing to do?

Shannara said...

@Drew

Then you have never programmed on a mainframe.

Main frame applications are rock solid if the development life cycle was done properly.

Developing on any closed system is rock solid if done correctly in the first place. Server side development is a closed system as you control both the development and production environments.

We're not talking about protocol hacking, nothing of the like. We are talking about how the server handles clients in general.

The server is already filtering through packets, that is network 101. For instance, commands, type /camp (a good old one), or any / commands. The server have to keep an eye out on those.

When scanning potentially large chat messages, it is not hard, nor cpu intensive to do if the shard's network code is multithreaded. Weed out the crap before it even hits the server core.

North America servers should only allow North America IP ranges to log in. Granted, a lot of criminals uses NA proxies to login. This part is simple, use the socket's thread to use on of the MANY proxy reverse services to see if it's a proxy IP, if so, ban it (if not already banned).

^^ The above is simple, light on resources, cheap, etc, etc. Very simple to implement, with a very huge effect on criminals.

You want me to write out everything? No thanks, why spend time writing on this blog when nothing happens ...

Jujee said...

I think Blizzard is trying hard to fight the bots and gold sellers. I have not seen the corpse campers in a while.

Report it to Blizzard.

Sometimes I ignore the bot in BG but what I should do is report it, each and every time I see a gold seller or bot.

The other thing is for players to protect their account from being compromised for these purposes.

Anonymous said...

A lot of you are realy missing the point here, it's not nesessary to make it imposible for goldsellers, it's enough to increase the cost of their operations to the point where it exceeds the income from it, when goldselling is no longer profitable it goes away on it's own.
This could easily be achieved with the following methods.

1:When players report spam, it's read by a blizzard employee, it takes him/her less than 10 secunds to click a button and ban the acount. When they only get to spam their add once for each acount (provided it gets reported), costs will increase.

2:To make step 1 more effective, Make specific servers for those who don't have wrath. That way goldsellers have to buy both expansions to spam more than 5% of the players.
Buying theese acounts will soon be expensive.

3:Treat all who spam with links to phisihing sites as goldsellers trying to hack acounts, use same strategy as above. When someone spams; see the warcraft movie for free at www.wowmovie.tk or some message about blizzards pet/mount test. ban their acount imediately, and also ban anyone who impersonates a GM, as hackers often do that to.

This would would hit the goldsellers where it hurts, their wallets. As thei are dependant of in game advertising to make profit, remove that, and the problem goes away.
Stopping goldfarmers from botting is hard, but with my strategy it's not needed, as it's irrelevant how much gold they farm when they can't sell any.

PS: If players who report 100 goldseller get a guard dog pet, a police chopper mount for reporting 500 or something 60% atlest will report every goldseller they see.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to see that most of the discussion here is about the technical aspects of filtering/scanning/etc. when there was a very insightful comment earlier about the tax issues involved. It really helped me to understand why Blizzard might be reluctant to offer RMT.

Taemojitsu said...

Why is WoW a game where players feel they need to acquire large amounts of gold to have fun at all? Due to the cost of enforcement, it is inevitable that focusing on destination, rather than journey, will lead to botting, powerleveling and RMT. This was the meaning of my previous comment which was not approved for publication. Since it makes no sense to create 79 levels of content while simultaneously conceding that those 79 levels are not fun, the only reason for this disparity is the inability of the devs to reconcile leveling with endgame and their resulting decision to let people avoid the former as much as possible. If the resulting gold spam and 'easymode' feel of the game upsets you, then according to Blizzard's own words you are not 'the type of gamer they intend to attract' as you are expecting a different game than what exists.

Blizzard's optimal action would be to attract as many paying customers as possible. Is their devaluation of older content and focus on endgame progress for all players, both hardcore and casual, achieving this goal?

Anonymous said...

@drew and every one else...
yea but i think they could still do more to stop it

As for Client side filtering vrs server side, it wouldnt be hard to incorperate at least some functionality into it.
What happens when i Right click a name and report for spaming?

GM Accesibility? Most recent issues ive reported i got a repsonse 4-6 hours latter or in the mail the next day.

if blizz supported RMT themselfs (buy 1000 gold and get a free Rangnoros pet) would that stop the illicit sellers or just force them to drop their price?

The real true answer is as long as the comminity supports the practce in even small amounts the gold sellers make money and keep doing it

But I would like to see a bit more of a crack down on it. And yes when they know about it they will ban buyers as well as sellers. Guess we just need an AOC2 so they can do another mass ban

Lujanera said...

Yo Gevlon,

Your proposed methods of regulating goldselling will not work. As you have previously stated*, non-market solutions will be abused. Your proposed solutions are effectively government intervention, not a market-based approach. People are very crafty and will quickly find ways around trade barriers (eg, illegal drugs).

Here is a question for Gevlon: how could you rearrange the in-game incentives such that demand diminishes enough to greatly reduce or eliminate goldsellers?

*see http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/01/tank-trick-again.html

Brian Inman said...

I think you are right. I wouldn't doubt it for a second if some of these gold selling sites are run by blizzard, or they allow it for a certain cut from the profits.

It is an easy way for them to run a RMT, but keep it on the down low.

Sven said...

@Shannara

"North America servers should only allow North America IP ranges to log in. Granted, a lot of criminals uses NA proxies to login. This part is simple, use the socket's thread to use on of the MANY proxy reverse services to see if it's a proxy IP, if so, ban it (if not already banned)."
Using your proposed system, you would ban any NA players from accessing the game when they are (for example):
- on holiday
- on a work trip overseas
- accessing the network via any kind of secure proxy of the kind commonly used by large organisations

Incidentally, could you please clarify what you meant by a "proxy reverse service"? I've come across reverse proxies, but not "proxy reverse", which from your description seems to be a different thing. Perhaps give an example of the "many" such services that exist?

Zanathos said...

It does seem like blizzard might turn a blind eye to gold selling, but two things make me think they probably don't support it. One is authenticators. They subsidize the cost of them lose money distributing them. The primary function of the authenticator is to frustrate account compromising, which is almost always related to gold selling.

The other is the massive resource hog that restoring compromised accounts costs. Customer support can't keep up with the demand, subscribers are annoyed and inconvenienced whether they need a restoration, or because they have a multiple day wait for other issues.

Surely if blizzard were going to sell gold on the sly, they could provide all the product the companies would need. If controlling them would be as easy as you think, blizzard could simply lock out the gold sellers that won't play ball, and provide gold to the ones giving blizzard a cut. No need to get player accounts and clean out their gold.

And if for some reason blizzard felt it necessary for gold companies to take the gold for player accounts, they wouldn't be pushing authenticators so hard.

Charlesincharge said...

I believe that trial accounts can enter capitals. Also I believe that you are dead on, in that it would be simple for Blizzard to prevent gold selling, but I don't think that necessarily amounts to supporting it.
I believe that rather they are ambivalent for (ironically enough) the same reasons that you stated they are support it.
Then again maybe I just perceive too much difference between Blizzard supporting RMT and just not caring (likely because I am a social)

Doug said...

Blizzard alsso supports AFK botting in battlegrounds. It's someone paying $15 a month and gives the regular players someone to shoot when participation is low.

I've seen no less than 6 afk bots all paladins leveling in AV 71-79. I opened multiple tickets on their servers. Sent emal to hacks@blizzard.com.

Nothing was ever done.

I'll quit wow after we kill the lich king tonight.

Zan said...

Imo. Bliz should just sell gold and for pay level granting for people for their alts.

They could put the spammers and the hackers out of business and profit more themselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the idea to block level 1's to cities.

You exclude all the level 1 bankers?

A better solution would be a time limit. Time is something hackers / spammers normaly don't have.
They could implement this:
When a L1 char is created, it has several restrictions (for example, can only talk to questgivers and vendors).
Those restrictions are gradualy lifted by either doing quests or time spent on-line while not standing stil or /AFK. The same you can do for the amount of gold. A fresh level 1 can't own more than 1 gold (for example) and with time going by (days, not hours) it gradualy levels up.

In this system you can have level 1 bankers, and still block spammers. These restrictions must be applied on *all* accounts, including the 5 year olds ;), so that account hacking isnt fun anymore for spammers. (remember the msg's in blizz forums about 50ish level 1's made on a account, all in Ogrimmar on the same spot with names like 'qwertytrewq')

Not that this is an ideal situation, but much better than your suggestion by blocking it all.

2nd Nin said...

Google isn't one server, it is something like a cluster of 30,000+ servers all running a stripped down OS and doing nothing but the search algorithm on an optimised database. Database optimisation happens elsewhere.

WoW is maybe 1-100 servers per realm handling the movement and authorisation of upto 10,000 entities (say 1/3rd of the active 80 population on a big server). Sure it is possible to track each one and work out if it is cheating, but the goblin way comes into this as a cost / benefit analysis. If the raw materials sell for more than the crafted item you don't sell the crafted item, similarly if the effort / payoff for not handling RMT beyond extreme cases (and handling account fraud) is less than that of handling it, coding, checking and employing people to fix mistakes then you don't do it.

My level 1 characters enter towns all the time, they go and meet my mains, they access the AH for stuff they will need etc. The game is already too restrictive on trial accounts, low levels don't deserve to be punished.

As an aside, it also spoils the emersion factor: "You have killed 38 boars and we believe you are a bot please enter conneyi in the box below"... wtf, Nagrand had quests to kill 30 mobs, then 30 more, then 30 more... x 3. It is not that unusual for people to actually farm areas, my 70 shaman made 60% of a level while I was half afk (tab lightning bolt spam ftw) at the entrance to the starting area of howling fjord. I was at the keyboard farming mobs. My Paladin recently killed 300+ mobs in AQ40 looking for a red mount. Stuff like this isn
t uncommon.

Paul said...

There might be other legal aspects to monitoring that should be considered. If they aggressively monitor player chat / playing habits for gold selling they could be accountable for monitoring other player behaviors. (threats, harassment, etc)

Evlyxx said...

"It may seem easy to detect these bots, but in reality it takes a lot of man hours to do it. Given the lower labour rates in the countries where the gold-sellers have their operations, that's a battle that Blizzard can never win."

There is a phrase "employ a thief to catch a thief". Maybe Blizzard could employ some of this cheap foreign labour to police the system......

Hoody said...

It isn't just Blizz that fails to stop botting, having played Eve-online since 05 i have seen them ban accounts after three years of botting, then just a few weeks later without admitting it to the playerbase they have returned the accounts to the botters. Like most MMO companies it seems they are interested more in the $$$ that the subs bring into them than the happiness of the playerbase.

Subscribe to the goblinish wisdom