Monday, June 9, 2008

Is Gold Farming a Bad Thing?

MMORPG gold farming gets a lot of negative publicity, and I agree with 99 percent of it. The idea of getting a bunch of kids to repeatedly farm in-game gold for very little real money is disgraceful, not to mention the damage it does to the in-game economy (WoW and EVE are prime examples). I despise the gamers that purchase gold online, as it only makes the problem worse. So why bring up the issue at all if I hate it so much? Solo farming in my opinion is one of the most challenging experiences that you can find in an MMORPG. It can be great fun (until you get that the repetitive feeling) and highly rewarding. Efficient farming techniques can lead to big bucks for your RPG character giving you the edge over your fellow gamers. Other gamers may argue that you are exploiting the game and destroying the in-game economy, but that's a problem for the game designer's, not you.

I've read hundreds of forums about farming in Guild Wars and it amazes me at the creativity and thoughtfulness that goes into creating successful farming builds. Its like a whole other dimension of the game that the game designers didn't foresee. It made the game just that little bit more challenging and rewarding.

It was a sad day when they introduced the anti-farming code to Guild Wars, but it drastically improved the in-game economy making it a much better game for the casual gamer. Did the anti-farming code stop people from farming? Hell no! It just made farming all the more challenging and possibly more popular.

When I played EVE Online mining ore was the most effective way to get money. Was it fun? Absolutely not! It was extremely boring, because there simply was no challenge. Obviously the better the ore, the more the challenge to mine it, but it still wasn't fun because you couldn't be creative in your farming builds, and it was almost impossible to solo (the hard stuff). I only did it because I needed the ISK - boring!

The sad reality is that gold farming will always be rampant throughout MMORPGs present and future, so maybe game designers should work it into their design plans so that everyone benefits. There is fun to be had in gold farming, but it needs to be incorporated with minimum damage to the in-game economy. Game designers need to treat gold farming with caution and respect, because it will make their MMORPG just that little bit better.


Bonedead said...

Yes, I believe it is. I've played DAoC on and off since release, I really love the game. But what I have been seeing really startles me. The farmers are literally taking over the economy. They spam chat channels selling powerleveling for plat. Now, normally I would say that's fine, y'know, a couple plat for a PL to 24 or 39. However, I am pretty sure that it is something ridiculous like 1-4 plat an hour, maybe even 7. If I had 7 plat I could create a template and get it made for my level 50 character. I see their PL group all the time with a couple of players who are paying for their services. So we have this huge plat sinkhole that is constantly growing. People like me, poor as shit, now cannot afford to deck ourselves out so that we can compete. It almost makes me want to go buy plat, but I can't bring myself to do that because I know I would be buying from the ones who caused all the trouble in the first place.

It is pretty fucked up imo.

Crimson Starfire said...

I agree. The argument I was trying to make was that there are challenging and fun aspects to farming. The problem is that it always gets abused and the game suffers as a result. Its difficult to completely remove gold farming from a game, but it should be made as difficult as possible.

Buying in-game currency with real money is always appealing. If you do the math, you can save hundreds of hours of game play for a few bucks in real life. You should never give into this temptation though, as it only ever makes the problem worse and degrades the game love.

Tesh said...

You're talking about two things here, gold farming and RMT. Finding ways to maximize your own efforts in-game is just what players do, min-maxers especially. If the designers recognize that and make it possible without distorting the economy, there's nothing wrong with it.

RMT is something else, a beastie born of the supply/demand balance which is itself born of the absurd grind that many DIKU lineage games have built in. (Subscription games are especially guilty of this.) Thing is, the demand only exists because of the game design. Devs have only themselves to blame for the RMT trade.

There are only two cures to third party profit from RMT. One, design your game with a solid economy that doesn't have a need for powerleveling or grind. Two, monetize the demand in house so that third parties will always be behind the curve, and those who demand the product buy it from the company directly.

Puzzle Pirates does a bit of both with their doubloon servers. Their dual currency system is set up to allow players to buy one currency (doubloons) directly from the company, and there's a blind auction that allows players to exchange the doubloons for the in-game "pieces of eight" currency. If your time means more than your money, you can buy doubloons and sell them on the exchange for pieces of eight. If you have plenty of time but little money, you can earn pieces of eight via in-game activity, and buy doubloons from other players with those eights. It's absolutely brilliant. It kills RMT and monetizes the demand. It also allows the game to be completely free to play, as long as there are players putting doubloons up on the exchange for sale. (You can actually do a lot of things in the game without doubloons at all.)

Many people demonize RMT patrons and providers, but bottom line, the designers are just as much at fault, if not more so. They created the demand, and then they somehow shift the blame to those who try to supply the product. The company is in the best position to provide the product, and neglecting to do so, or neglecting to design around the obvious supply/demand balance, is a failure on the part of the company first and foremost.