Hey there guys. Today I came across some numbers on gold farming and they baffled me really and that’s when I started thinking that the practice of gold farming could really help poor(er) countries in their development.
While game operators expressly ban the practice of selling in-game currency for real-world cash, gold farming is lucrative because it takes advantage of economic inequality and the fact that much time is needed to earn in-game currency. Rich, developed country players, wishing to save many hours of playing time, may be willing to pay what amounts to substantial sums to the developing country gold farmers.
That pretty much sums it up really. Gold farming is the nail in the coffin for a lot of developers and players. For instance, take World of Warcraft. Blizzard is spending huge sums of money and time on keeping gold farmers and sellers out of their game. People playing World of Warcraft also get extremely annoyed when a gold farmer is camping all the good spawnpoints (and they often have hacks as well). And it doesn’t just stop with acquiring the gold, they need to sell it as well hence all the really annoying gold ads in Trade Chat (private messages, spamming, forming url’s with corpses). And have you ever wondered what happens to all your gear and gold when you get hacked? Yeah that’s right … it gets sold back to people for large sums of money.
But today, we’ll be looking at gold farming from a different point of view namely the developing countries. There are approximately 100 000 people in China and Vietnam that play online video games like World of Warcraft just to collect gold and rare items. They then sell these virtual items to western players, who don’t have the time or motivation to make the effort themselves, for (a lot of) real life money. A study of the World Bank estimates that these virtual goods are worth at least 3 billion dollars. According to the report, practices like these ensure that developing countries can grow faster because of these so-called gold farmers.
In China, companies have been founded where employees don’t do anything else but play games to collect virtual currency. Next to that, they also try to develop software that automatically collects gold and items. Even though game developers do everything in their power to stop them, the 8 largest chinese gold farming companies have an annual revenue of 10 million dollars.
As you can see, gold farming does have benefits for at least one group shareholders. Though I doubt that selling virtual currency as a third party company will ever become legal, it’s definately a booming business as more and more people engage in online gaming. Gold farming will remain a source of great frustration to players and developers alike, and I have no doubt that many many jokes will be made about it (like the clip below). Certainly something to keep an eye on!
Please also check the clips below, one is a comical song and the other is a documentary about gold farmers. Worth a look!