James Wallis levels with you

Praise the Lord and pass the MMO

Raph Koster has been talking recently about RMT (real-money trading, or buying in-game items and currency for actual cash, often from gold-farmers) in MMORPGs. And beyond the basic principle of ‘It’s not FAIR!’ I really don’t see what the problem is.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. But the real impact of RMT to 99.9% of MMO players isn’t the fact that player X is more powerful than he ought to be, it’s gold-farmers and spammers in the game-world. And during a particularly over-spammed session in Azeroth this afternoon, I began to wonder if there isn’t a solution.

Imagine the ‘open a ticket’ or ‘summon a GM’ box had a special button: ‘report spammer/gold farmer’. You target the offender and click the button. It links directly to a human moderator who can inspect the target’s behaviour or recent dialogue, and flag them as ‘spammer’ or ‘farmer’.

That gets the offender account banned, of course, but it does one other thing: the in-world character instantly becomes a target, worth the same amount of experience points as a decent-ish quest to the PC that kills them. So what was previously a nuisance to PCs suddenly becomes an opportunity. And I reckon at the cost of a couple of mods’ salaries, you could clear your MMO of offenders in a month.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Categorised as: game design | mmorpg | world of warcraft


  1. NickD says:

    But don’t gold farmers and spammers pay their subscription fees, just like everyone else? So what incentive does the game’s manufacturer have to expel them? As long as the problem doesn’t cause players to leave the game, more paying players is a good thing as far as the game’s owners are concerned.


  2. Abysmal Horror says:

    As of a recent (the most recent?) patch, you can, in fact, flag a World of Warcraft character as a spammer. The option appears in the menu spawned by right-clicking the character’s name in your chat log.

    ~ Aby

  3. james says:

    NickD: I’m told the problem of gold-farmers and spammers is much more accentuated on US servers than it is here–and even here the volume of spam can swamp players’ conversations. And yes the farmers and spammers pay their subscriptions, but in doing so they accept WoW’s ToS, which says explicitly that what they’re doing is not allowed. (Actually I suspect most of the spammers are on trial accounts: a lvl1 character can make just as much in-game noise as a lvl70.)

    Aby: That’s worth knowing. Thank you. I do read through all the changes in each patch (I am dull and tedious like that) but must have missed that one.

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