Every so often the gold farming/selling/buying debate rears it’s ugly head and sparks off a series of blog articles throughout the Interweb. Recently Tobold and Gevlon got stuck into the topic again and even managed to necromance one of a series of articles I wrote last year about the subject (a self-confessed gold seller posted some interesting comments this morning about the actual legality of it all). So, when responding to Tobold’s buzz, I was visited by the Ghost of Inspiration and a cartoon light bulb went off over my head. Hear me now, for I’ve got the answer to completely eradicating gold farming from MMORPGs:
Remove all forms of tradable currency.
Done. Over. Finito. No more gold farmers. Simple eh?
Yes, I know, I can hear your outcry now about how currency in MMOs is an important factor to gameplay and crafting etc etc. But is it really? Maybe in sandbox games like EVE Online but what about in your classic, video game themepark fun such as World of Warcraft? I don’t believe it’s as necessary as some people think and, in fact, it’s probably just a hang up from the original MMORPG models back in the late 1990s.
Let’s look at WoW in more depth. Money is practically irrelevant and unnecessary in the game now and it’s only really used to purchase crafted items from other players and a few minor self-sustaining items. Mounts are exceedingly cheap, mechanics like the dungeon finder make it exceedingly easy to gear up characters, heirloom items mean twinking is a breeze and a huge percentage of the best items are bind-on-equip anyway and cannot be obtained through purchase. It’s so easy to get what we want, I can’t actually remember the last time I needed gold. How much of a stretch would it be to remove tradable currency from the game?
Obviously the biggest impact this would have would be on crafting. Even without tradable currency, I’m sure cunning gold sellers would just switch to selling crafted items for real cash instead of currency. I suppose mechanics could be put in place to try and reduce this but ultimately the only way to kill illegal RMT completely would be by making crafted items non-tradable. Yes, this would alienate a lot of diehard crafters and isn’t hugely desirable but would it have a huge impact on a game like WoW? Would a significant portion of its playerbase leave if tradeable crafting wasn’t an option? And even if they did, would it be a price worth paying if it meant completely eradicating gold farmers and gold sellers?
So, removing tradable currency… hair-brained idea or pure genius?