I just finished reading Play Money by Jullian Dibbell. Half the book talks about the economics of Real Money Trading (RMT) in the early 2000’s and the other half is the author talking about his own foray into RMT with Ultima Online. Apparently there was a lot of money to be made from selling items, gold, houses, and accounts in 2004. That tag line is a little misleading, I don’t think anyone in this book made millions from RMT.
It got me thinking about where RMT is today. I know it still exists because every time I’m in a large city in Final Fantasy XIV I see a whole lot of shouts from gold sellers plugging their websites. Our group tried out Path of Exile and sure enough the chat log was full of currency sellers. I’m wondering how profitable it is these days? Are that many people buying gold?
I always thought it was weird that games were selling things like level boosts, trade-able subscription tokens, or in Guild Wars 2 case, converting cash shop currency into in game gold. But if a player really wants gold, or certain item,or to skip leveling and there isn’t a way to do that within the game then they’re going to go outside the game. So why not get in on the action by offering these services to their players directly.
Personally, I’ve never thought about buying gold but I’ve bought a few trade-able cash shop items if I needed some funds for an armor set or weapons. It’s basically the same thing but without the risk of trusting a third party on the internet to deliver the goods after sending them money.
Of course there’s still tons of way to buy large quantities of gold, individual item, accounts, and even raid clears. The strangest thing by far is division boosting in competitive games. I can understand buying items and what not for an MMO where at least your going to keep the item. But what is the point of paying for someone else to play a game for you to get you to a higher division if you’re not good enough to get there on your own? Your just going to lose it anyways and this stuffs not cheap.
Actually I’m surprised about how expensive this stuff is in general. The gold by far is the cheapest, items can range from few dollars to hundreds, and accounts are sold for hundreds of dollars each depending on the game. And the scope of games is huge. It seems like as long as there’s an online component to a game there’s some one selling something for it.
This is a side of games I’ve never though about before and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s just a game and if someone wants to drop $600 dollars on an account more power to them. If or when that accounts get banned well that’s what you get for not playing buy the rules. This of course is assuming the seller is the original owner. It’s also annoying to be spammed by gold sellers or see bots all over the place.