Gold farmers roundup

[Gold farming]( in MMORPGs is a trendy topic, so there are countless superficial articles about it. This is a partial attempt to sift out the drivel, and summarise the real information. I doubt I’ll do this regularly, but maybe I’ll try to revisit it now and again.
PhD Student Ge Jin has [filmed]( several Chinese sweatshops. It’s been discussed everywhere, most interestingly at [Terra Nova](
PC Gamer has [refused]( to carry ads from real-world traders like IGE:

“PC Gamer’s official stance on these types of companies is that they are despicable: Not only do they brazenly break many MMOs’ End-User License Agreements (EULA), but they all too often ruin legitimate players’ fun. As a company, we have agreed to turn down what literally amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual ad revenue so that you, as a reader, can game easy knowing that we’ve got your back.”

In Gamestudy there is an [interview]( with a Korean gold farmer, translated from a Korean gaming magazine. Interesting points: the confirmation that “hacking tools tuned for a specific game make it possible to handle incredibly many accounts/characters per worker”, and the discussion of how Korean shops are mostly priced out of the market. I’m not surprised; comments elsewhere have claimed that gold farmers are even being priced out of Beijing, so how they could survive in a city as expensive as Seoul is beyond me. He also says that almost all sweatshop characters are automated. I wonder how true this is beyond Lineage; presumably the mechanics of each game will determine whether it’s worth a real person running a character.
Meanwhile, games have been cracking down on the gold farmers in public: RuneScape have [adjusted their game mechanics]( to reduce one common way for farmers to profit. They also claim that “Over the last few weeks we have banned literally hundreds of accounts a day for macroing at the rune essence mine“. Earlier Blizzard too banned or suspended some 15,000 players for “participating in activities that violate the game’s Terms of Use, including using third-party programs to farm gold and items.

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