The Most Efficient Way To Acquiring Gold In A MMORPG

Here’s a step-by-step guide on the most efficient (money-per-hour) way to acquiring gold in a MMORPG.

  1. Get good grades at school.
  2. Go to a good college or university.
  3. Work hard and get a good degree.
  4. Find a good job that pays well.
  5. Buy gold from the developers or an illegal website.

Now before you go an crucify me for condoning the purchasing of gold from 3rd party websites (which I don’t condone or recommend at all and, although is supported legitimately by some developer, is against the rules of most), I want to point out that this article is entitled “acquiring” gold, not actually making it. Happens to be that the most efficient way is through real-money purchase rather than actually playing the game.

Yesterday Tobold wrote about how he followed some instructions that claim to allow you to make 500 gold per hour in World of Warcraft. Sounds pretty impressive doesn’t it? That is of course until you compare it against the average rate of a 3rd party gold selling site. A quick search on that thing called the Interweb and I discovered that one can buy 1,500 gold for just under $12. That’s $4 per 500g. Now is it still worth grinding in WoW for one hour to earn it?

Assuming that someone earning a half-decent wage gets paid $20 an hour, it’s obviously a lot more efficient to work for a hour in real life and then use that money to buy gold for your game, effectively paying someone in China or Eastern Europe a small cut of your salary. Don’t agree with the morals of that? Well, take a look at the label of almost every piece of clothing you wear and tell me where it comes from. Hint: your Nike sneakers were not made in America. This is how capitalism works.

Of course the big difference is that it’s perfectly legal (although arguably still immoral) for companies to run sweat shops out in China to make your shoes but paying them to farm you some gold in a MMORPG will get you banned. Boils down to the money thing again and who stands to profit (see previous reference to capitalism) but that’s a different blog post.

So what I’m trying to say is that the purpose of making gold in a MMORPG is really rather pointless. It’s funny how we apply the same real-life greed and desires to our virtual characters. Am I the only one who wonders why there are so many gold making guides out there? Do people really want to be the Donald Trump of World of Warcraft?

We should be playing these games because we enjoy them, not because we want to grind endless amounts of money for bragging rights… and if you do see someone bragging about how much gold they’ve earned, just think that they’d probably have made a better money-per-hour return by flipping burgers in McDonalds.

P.S. I’m sure some people actually enjoy the act of earning money in a virtual game and I suppose I can understand that (although it doesn’t appeal to me). Still, it doesn’t explain the abundance of gold making guides out there. What do you think?

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  4. The Greedy Gordon
  5. The Best Of The Rest: If You Buy Gold You Are Evil, Fact Edition


  1. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    Oh no, I haven’t gone to college and I don’t have a degree, can I just skip to number 5?

  2. says:

    TBH I had never thought of it this way… I hate doing dailies and grinding as much as the next guy, but the BIG thing that keeps me from buying Gold is the Gold Spam ;D

    • Gordon says:

      I really hate the gold spam and, as I said, I don’t condone or recommend buying it from 3rd party sites.

      What’s interesting though is when you look at the money-per-hour ratio though of buying gold and grinding it. There’s definitely some sort of geo-political study in there somewhere :)

  3. Marchosias says:

    I’m not really sure why people pharm or buy gold. If players feel that it’s so painful to earn coin that they need to spend countless hours pharming or they’d rather “just buy it,” then something is wrong with the game’s design. A player should be able to acquire sufficient amounts of in-game currency just by playing the game. Any game that doesn’t is flawed as far as I’m concerned.

    I’ve never really felt “coin constrained” in EVE, Warhammer, or DDO, but I did feel the need to pharm in WoW, LOTRO, and DAoC. Although in DAoC it was strictly for crafting purposes – I usually had plenty of coin for gear.

    • Gordon says:

      I feel the same way – I think if people feel the need to buy gold then something is definitely wrong with the game design. In a good game, money should play a part but shouldn’t be the overwhelming desire or requirement.

  4. boatorious says:

    What’s the point of buying gold? It’s like going out jogging and saying to yourself “I’m going to do five miles today” – and then jumping in your car and driving five miles. You’ve achieved your goal but it’s been cheapened so much that you can’t possibly derive any satisfaction your ‘success’.

    For that matter, why have any hobby? Why cook or bake when it’s more efficient to buy food from a store or restaurant? Why fix up a car when it’s more efficient to take it to the shop or buy another car from a dealer? Why build a model airplane or a four-poster bed in your garage when it would be more efficient to have it done for you?

    The food we cook, the cars we fix, the projects we build, and even the crap we earn in WoW have value that can’t be expressed as a dollar amount. Getting a nice reward for doing some work you choose and you enjoy (or at least mostly enjoy) is a great thing, in games or in real life.

  5. wolf says:

    The other reason we could say we need gold/plat is to buy good items. Part of the game is to grind and grinding all day makes you more powerful. Fine but some people don’t want to grind all day just to get items and gold in order to enjoy the game. And THATS why they buy gold. It’s simply to skip to the good stuff without having to spend time at the game. I think that’s fine to be honest. Game developers want you to play more but we just want to play the good stuff… if we can do that why not?

    • Gordon says:

      Thing is, acquiring items shouldn’t be a grind, it should just be a natural part of the game. The problems occur when people want to be the ‘best’ but don’t want to run an instance 20 times in a row and thus just buy the gold and get it from the AH/broker etc instead.

  6. Water says:

    Buying gold encourages spam and violates many terms of agreement the fact that this article was published encourages the buying of gold. Although you didn’t directly say you were in favor all signs point to yes. This is the same as botting you just want to play end game and not level. People make guides just like people farm gold they are trying to make money. Also who would you want to put money in someones pocket other than yours for FAKE gold? Making the money in game is another aspect and skill of the game if you can’t do it or need a guide for it you are should be considered a weak unskilled player. So you pay more time for the game to the developers, so what? Now they have money to make another game or make the current game better which should equate to you having more fun. This article should be taken down because it indirectly favors the buying of gold. If any of you were there for the AION release you know why buying gold should be discouraged.

    • Gordon says:

      Loaded comment. I’ll try to answer it as best as I can :)

      Firstly, I don’t think this article is in favour of buying gold or encourages people to do it. I’m pretty sure if anyone was going to buy it, they wouldn’t need to read this to make them do it :) What I was trying to do was point out the flaws in the grind often associated with acquiring gold and the problems with things like gold guides etc.

      Regardless, I think this all highlights some fundamental issues with game design in many MMORPGs. Grind becomes a way to create a sense of achievement and a way of creating time sinks for players. I agree that some forms of acquiring gold require skill but most do not. As Tobold pointed out, in WoW you just just sit and mindlessly harvest items for 500g per hour. I believe that everything you do in a game should be fun… hence why we call it a game and not work.

      And I was there for the release of Aion :) The constant chat about why “WoW sucks” drowned out any gold selling spam I saw :)

  7. William says:

    RMT is very simular to prostitution.

    Going out to the bar and earning your way into a woman’s pants is very rewarding but there are people out there that just can’t walk up to a female, so they will go out and pay for sex.

    Just as prostitution is illegal, so is RMT in most mmorpgs. There will always be a market for RMTs because of this. I think we will see more games in the future grasp this concept and try to make more money off of it. I know there is a way this can be done with out jeopardizing anyones fun factor, but I won’t say how as I am trying to introduce this ideal to many mmo devolopers.

    Personally I’ve purchased virtual currency in mmos before, but thats only because I didn’t have enough time to earn it in the game since I was out at the bar picking up chicks.

    • Gordon says:

      I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want sex, then plenty of people wouldn’t care who it’s with… but if you want a meaningful relationship then that’s something totally different.

      Plus, remember that in some countries voluntary prostitution is perfectly legal, thus raising the question about why somethings are legal in some places and why some aren’t. A lot of it is about perception and philosophy.

  8. Bhagpuss says:

    I have yet to play an MMO where I needed more in-game currency than I could readily earn in-game through normal play. That includes working the Broker/AH as “normal play”, but only as a side activity, not in the obsessive Gevlon-Glyph-Monopoly mode.

    It mystifies me why anyone would pay real money for in-game gold. You certainly don’t need to do steps 1 – 3 of Gordon’s guide. Minimum wage would more than suffice. Even so, I’d rather spend that $4 on a bottle of wine or a fruit salad than imaginary gold. Maybe if I was SO rich that $4 was like 4c… but no. If I was that rich I’d care even less for imaginary money.

    My objection to RMT is entirely that it creates irritating spam, obstructive botting and diverts resources that could be going towards content. I wish companies would just sell the damn stuff direct and put the farmerrs out of business. Or even better, design their games with no tradeable currency.

    It’s an imaginary world. There must be dozens of ways to create an economy without allowing player-to-player trading, and once you remove that you remove RMT.

    • William says:


      I have to agree with you that RMT does create alot of bad activities. I would much rather play a game that has zero outside RMT or any RMT including that from the developers.

      What happens when RMT is introduced into a game be it 3rd party or from developers, it really screws up the economy.

      I played Runes of Magic from beginning of beta upto about 3 months ago. They introduced their cash shop currency (diamonds) into the game. Soon after that, they allowed those diamonds to be sold on the auction house for ingame gold. Right after that, the value of gold dropped dramatically.

      I’ve seen this happen far to many times in almost every mmo I’ve ever played.

      Dungeon Runners had a system that did not allow gold to be traded. (Atleast it did at release, not sure if they ever changed that) But in my opinion, I hated it. Not because it took the RMT element out of the game, but because for me, it lowered player interaction. Any large scale mmo will offer tradeable ingame currency/items because it creates more player interaction and afterall, isn’t that what a mmorpg is supose to do for gaming.

    • Gordon says:

      I agree with the spam problem but I’m not sure how that’s going to be stopped. Buying gold is illegal and yet the spam is rife. Will Blizzard ever win the war? Unlikely.

      Honestly, it all reminds me a bit of cannabis. The police waste so much time enforcing it that if they just legalised it, they would save a lot of trouble. You can bet that on the EQ2 Exchange servers there’s no gold spam :)

  9. Carl G says:

    Well, I’m sure most of us realised long ago that this was true. And of course we also realised long ago that, as someone pointed out earlier, it’s all in the game design. Wow forces you to repeat quests for gold for example, and this is pretty much horrible game design since playing the game should be more about having fun than doing something repetitive to “get ahead”.

    When it becomes necessary to do something that feels as boring as work to enjoy your game then you will end up with goldsellers out the wazoo. This because your average player won’t like to do boring work for 3rd world wages.

    The gold sellers are not the problem, they are just the symptom of something being fundamentally wrong with the genre. In a political game where the players control all wealth you don’t have goldselling except as a fringe activity, that is part of the explanation to why some people(like me) are so fond of these types of games. EvE could have been an example of this, but because of the possibillity of making large amounts of safe isk in “empire space” I would point to a game such as the now defunct Shadowbane instead.

  10. Genda says:

    I’ve found my auction house business very enjoyable. I spend about 2 hours a day on it and I make a pretty significant amount of gold. It funds mounts and alts and stuff for Tarkheena and I, and I love seeing a mailbox full of gold from the AH.

    For me I like to feel comfortable in the game (as I like to in life) so having a lucrative in-game “business” is very satisfying for me.

    • Gordon says:

      No doubt that some people really enjoy that aspect of the game although I’d wager that they are in the minority. I think most people preferring adventuring, grouping and doing quests as that’s what these games (maybe with the exception of EVE) are advertised as.

  11. David says:

    I really don’t have a problem with people who buy gold. That being said, RMTs destroyed FFXI end game.

    There will never be a MMO with spawns like FFXI again thanks to RMTs. They didn’t simply farm gold and sell it to you, they actively and aggressively prevented you from farming gold.

    To give you an idea of how, imagine that only certain enemies drop the best loot in WoW and this loot for whatever reason is all Bind on Equip. Now imagine that you can’t enter the instance no matter how many times you run at the entrance because there are over 2000 RMTs inside 24/7. They would do this NOT for the gold, but to prevent you from getting the items so they can sell them for outrageous prices on the auction house.

    • Gordon says:

      Wow that’s pretty crazy and a terrible exploit. I think it reveals and underlying weaknes in the game though more than anything else. Ultimately, I believe that RMT and gold selling and spam etc can be combatted through game design and that trying to ban botters and farmers just won’t work.

  12. luvy duvy says:

    ahhh just pick up mining and skinning and make a bunch of alts with the same thing and just play the character while mining and skinning do some dailies when your lvl 80 in northrend and you will have plenty of gold to get you buy.

    not gonna lie it is tempting to buy a large amount of gold to get something like the chopper (motorcycle) or the 3 seated mammoth but i wouldnt be surprised if the price on those things go down or in lets face it Blizz is allready selling pets online for sale for real money most likely in the future it would be mounts and weopons and armor and thats when wow is going to hit its alltime low

  13. luvy duvy says:

    what blizz needs to do to illiminate this problem is very simple

    most of the stuff such as weopons mounts and armor even certain inchants you can get ONLY by earning badges through raids, pvp, quest, and dungeons.

    badges are bind on pickup weopons, mounts , and armor and enchants and even gems.. bind on pickup.

    if you cant buy stuff in gold there will be no gold farmers no gold farmer everyone actually start to play the game so everyone makes it at there own steam instead of relying on mr ching dang yung to supply the gold.

    things only to be sold for gold= drinks, food and those mats you need to make your proffesions grow thats it!

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