Friday, February 16, 2007

The Ethics of Buying World of WarCraft Gold

Here is a great article discussing the pros and cons of being able to buy World of Warcraft Gold so readily through third party currency providers.
PAY real cash for virtual goods. That is to what many players like Wang Kang Yi have resorted to quicken their progress in online games. The 25-year-old administrative executive shelled out $200 in March this year for 500 gold credits in World of Warcraft, a popular massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). And he thinks the money was well-spent. 'I couldn't afford to be glued in front of the computer for at least two hours at a stretch since I was already working full time. 'By doing my sums, I realized that it would take me about 100 playing hours to earn that amount of gold. Buying became a better alternative,' said the game fanatic.
Replete with night elves, Orcs and dwarves, World of Warcraft is set in a fantasy world not unlike Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. Thousands of players interact with one another in real time through the virtual environment, and earn gold credits through their team conquests. For Mr. Wang, adding the virtual currency he bought to his own hard-earned cache of gold meant that he could finally purchase his object of desire - a horse worth a princely sum of 900 gold credits. He is not alone. Many computer gamers around the world are paying hard cash to gain an edge over others in the online fantasy world. Other games which attract such trading include Maple Story, Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Star Wars Galaxies and many more.
Players have been known to buy virtual money, rare items in the game or even entire characters with their associated powers and accompanying weapons. As it takes a lot of hard work, not to mention time and luck, to attain these virtual goods, the high prices they command seem reasonable. However, World of Warcraft player Eric Chua thinks otherwise. ;It does take a lot of time and effort to build a character to a level where you actually start to enjoy the gameplay, said the 29-year-old advertising brand manager. ;But the current market rate is just not something I would be willing to pay for.; A scan of auction site eBay produced over 700 results for various items of the game on sale. The highest-priced item is a World of Warcraft account sold by a New Yorker for US$5,000.
Meanwhile, to raise the game level of a character in the shortest time, known in gaming parlance as powerleveling, online hawkers are charging up to US$360. These vendors will log into your account and play the game for you. Indeed, the industry is so lucrative that China-based sweatshops and established companies, such as Miami-based Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE), have been set up just to 'farm'. The word is used to describe the activity of playing the game to acquire as much gold or items as possible for resale. Selling skills and weapons online, however, is frowned upon and banned by Blizzard Entertainment, the games developer of World of Warcraft. It has threatened to take legal action against individuals 'who engage in this inappropriate activity'.
World of Warcraft was launched late November 2004. Since March of 2005, the company has removed more than 800 players suspected of farming from its servers. Nonetheless, World Cyber Games organizers Herman Ng can understand where the allure of buying gold lies. MMORPGs have very immersive environments. So whatever you possess in that world, your friends can see it. To obtain a rare item or to be an advanced player gives you bragging rights in a way, said the 27-year-old. Others, however, feel adding real money into the equation taints the value of the play and destroys the enjoyment of the game. Audio engineer Willy Goh, 28, said: I would never buy World of Warcraft Gold because the fun is in the journey. The sense of achievement is in finally killing that ultra-big monster, not in amassing items or cheap gold. IT writer Chan Chi-Loong, 29, agrees. Some people might feel that their time is precious, so to get the maximum enjoyment from the game, they pay for a short cut to the process, he said. But if you get to the advanced level too easily, it loses its value. In that sense, I prefer to just enjoy the game for what it is.
I think this article raises some interesting points, mainly that purist think buying cheap world of warcraft gold wrecks the game, while others believe it levels the playing fields and helps people who cannot devote long hours playing World of Warcraft every week. Which ever side of the debate you are on, World of WarCraft Gold selling is a multi-million dollar business that is not going to go away any time soon.

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