Reality Bites MMORPG
March 20, 2005 (4 Responses)
I’m not a fan of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). I am however a fan of online gaming, but there is a clean line here to be observed, that being reality vs online. Unfortunately for role players, this line has been blurred a lot (to say the least), but the most recent development in this area really bites. A recent article in the PCGAMER magazine (April 2005 issue) points to a disturbing trend in MMO games where in-game players are being duped into divulging sensitive information by professional in-game currency traders who factory farm games.
Most online gamers play for different reasons, usually it’s the draw of competing and defeating real thinking individuals rather than just another AI driven game against your computer. For some it’s the team work that draws them in. Let’s face it, when a team works together, it really can turn just another game or map or level, into something special. However there are others who seem to be drawn to the RPG world, and online this means the MMORPG world of elves, dwarves, warriors, maidens in distress, quests etc.
The concept, from a marketing perspective is elementary and runs something like this – get people to purchase a game which can only be played online, where they then (as in-game characters) have to earn skills and experience points in order to advance in the game and get even more skills and experience to enable even more quests etc etc (you can see the pattern); the catch is that having purchased the game in the first place, these poor sods now need to pay a monthly fee to enable them to ‘exist’ within the online reality created by the game. This is how the money is made. It’s a straight forward trade off; More money = more time in game = more opportunities to promote and elevate your in-game character and rub everyone elses faces in it!
The problem is that thus far some kids have been sucked into these MMORPG worlds, where they retreat online away from reality and get lost in an expensive, addictive online habbit. Think heroin without the needles but with some of the side effects (sleep deprevation, uncommunicative, bouts of depression etc.). In extreme cases people play through the night on these games and then miss school, work etc. in the real world due to exhaustion – all for the possibility of in-game rewards, which (because it’s a game) are in fact completely virtual.
A trend then evolved where some enterprising souls would learn where all the goodies existed in the game, or develope characters powers and skills to a certain level only to then (and this is where reality starts to bite!) sell them on ebay.com for real money to other potential gamers who didn’t have the time or skills to develop their own characters in the MMORPG world. This trend continued over a few years until now the next evolution has taken place, now the farmers have moved in to take over these MMORPG worlds and make REAL MONEY out of it in the process.
A recent article in the PCGAMER magazine (April 2005 issue) points to a disturbing trend in MMO games where in-game players are being duped into divulging sensitive information by professional in-game currency traders who factory farm games. These ‘farmers’ create in-game characters not for pleasure, but for profit. Any in-game object they come into contact with can be sold for real world money. This includes in-game gold; players of almost any MMO game can visit currency traders websites and order up 100 in-game gold for $40 hard cash, saving themselves the effort of playing the game to achieve the same result.
Such activities are forbidden by the usual End User Licence Agreements (EULAs) from the various developers, however no developer has yet challenged these ‘farmers’. The situation has grown to epidemic proportions now and the rumours are that the industry will have to deal with it or risk a downward slide in profits from online subscriptions.
So – reality bites MMORPG players as they scurry into their online existances only to have some savvy profiteers force them back out into the real world to purchase imaginary items for hard cash, in order to advance their online existance. It’s a crazy world we live in at the best of times, but I really do not understand the lure of these MMO games. I know some fairly smart and intelligent people who play these games, and spend endless hours working toward some in-game goals, but I really don’t see the attraction.
Give me a good team based shooter any day – at least I can drop in to and out of such games at any stage