Wednesday, December 22, 2010

fraud factory - mysterious fortune cards

Whilst I thought I'd let his previous post pass through to the keeper Cold's salacious licking of his fiscal chops has thrown me over the edge into response land:

"I admit that I do feel a little dirty from swindling so much gold away from other players by getting them hooked on in game gambling."
Cold - Cold's Gold Factory

Admitting it is the first step they say…

It's single-arrow sales time all over again people except that this is quite a lot darker. But I’m not interested in Cold himself here – yes, he’s is an early adopter and a highly visible one but his is more a cautionary tale within the in-game gambling into which Blizz is delving.

It's worth considering for a moment why Blizz introduced this product in the first place.

I read a forum comment where a pundit was asking ‘how could this be a gold sink’ when more money was being created. After all the purchaser buys the ticket, the ticket pays money and the initial purchase money goes to the poster – ie, ‘more’ gold is there than before. Sure it is but it’s not the amount of gold in game that’s the issue, it’s where it ends up – or rather who ends up with it. Another 60g in a goblin’s bank is a drop in the ocean, whereas to the purchaser that gold could be the last 60g they had – yes, there is a chance he/she will walk away with 5000g but excuse me if I tell you now, I don’t think it’s a very high one. It’s far more likely that on average these cards will return less then they were bought for. So now our optimistic purchaser has less than they started with and needs to farm/quest for more gold. They will spend more game time and consequently play for longer. Good work by Blizz imo – they haven’t created less gold, but they have created more time spent ingame and as a result, more RL money in their coffers as game time is purchased. Goblins hawking these cards are not the Pimps they imagine themselves to be, they’re occupying a lower rung on the ladder.

Now a couple more points before I get off my soapbox:

Firstly, the World of Warcraft works on an abundance system. When people say that making gold in WoW is hard, that's irony! The system is designed to allow you to profit from your work and hence inspire you to continue, seeking further rewards. The saronite shuffle is a good example, there are so many ways to turn a profit that unless you buy the initial mat at crazy prices you will make gold. The introduction of the Mysterious Fortune Cards is a definitive move away from abundance towards paucity. Now Blizz is trying to motivate you to play/work longer not but giving you nice things, but by arranging to have them taken away from you so that you can work to get them back again (endgame/new expansion model in microcosm ; ) Further, you may also find it harder to gain gold in the future due to your new addiction to games of chance on the AH – it’s a worrying trend for WoW and certainly not a pretty one.

Most disturbing about these cards is what happens outside of WoW. Young folk play this game. Sometimes they are young of heart (ie, old ; ) but often they are young in age. Deliberately introducing to a young person’s game what is in effect online gambling is neither a cool nor a responsible thing to do. You're setting people up to chase similar experiences in RL.

The thing I think we, as Auctioneers, need to ask ourselves is which way we fall on this? As Cold points out this is a totally legitimate part of the game, as supplied by Blizzard. I myself, however, will not be selling these on the AH. I think they mark a departure for Auctioneers from supplying products which are of use and help people pursue their ingame aspirations (at a reasonable profit certainly) to supplying, occasionally gold, but mostly... thin air. Our usefulness to our communities becomes diminished, and so do we.

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