If You Buy WoW Gold You Are Supporting Slavery

Chinese Prisoners Forced To Farm WoW Gold

I wonder how much longer that game developers like Blizzard, and gold buyers, are going to keep supporting slavery.

To be fair, Blizzard are one of the companies that do a lot to ban gold farmers and sellers, but sometimes I wonder exactly how much they really care about gold sellers. After all, each time a gold seller is banned, they simply open a new account. Often using a stolen credit card. It works in their favor.

It’s kind of like the relationship that governments have with tobacco companies. The gov pass laws to ban smoking in public places, they ban ciggy advertising, and make it hard for the tobacco companies to operate. But they never come right out and ban cigarettes because they make a huge amount of tax revenue on the sale of cigarettes. The revenue gained outweighs the cost to the health system.

I figure it’s the same with Blizzard. There are costs to allowing the gold sellers to operate; annoyed subscribers, customer service calls, and hacked and plundered accounts. But the benefit is a continual positive cash flow from banned farmers and sellers. The revenue gained outweighs the cost to the playerbase.

If Blizzard were serious about dealing with gold farmers they could do a number of easy things, including.

  • Remove the ability to send gold by mail. Instead provide an option to transfer between characters on a single account. Or perhaps just let each character gain its own gold. After all WoW is technically a Role Playing Game.
  • Ban players who buy gold. Full Stop. Most players would never contemplate risking their account if they knew Blizzard would ban them. There would be some difficulties with this simply because of false positives, but the first step would be to ban the most obvious gold buyers.
  • Disallow the transfer of gold between players; perhaps make gold BoP, and only allow transfer via the auction house and cap buy it now amounts to some multiple of the average price for the item being traded.

So do you support slavery?

If you buy gold, you are.


  1. Genda

    I usually agree with you Stropp, but you are dead wrong on this one. Blizzard and MMO companies do NOT profit in any way from gold sellers. In fact, gold sellers obtain new accounts most frequently in two ways; using a stolen credit card (as you mentioned) and from accounts being stolen, or “hacked.”

    In the case of the former, this results in a charge-back once the theft of the credit card is discovered, so the company not only does not realize revenue but has the expenses associated with that. In the case of the latter, it’s pretty easy to see how that doesn’t benefit the company.

    There are more things that can be done for sure, but I’m betting that any of those things have the be balanced against the play experience. Make gold BOP? So you would shut down the Auction Houses? A vital economy is important to most MMO’s. Every action has a consequence on game play and companies like Blizzard have to balance that with the possible exploitation that occurs in the system.

    Also, blaming Blizzard for slavery in a Chinese prison is like blaming 3M for making the plastic pipes that they used to beat the non-compliant prisoners. The criminals in this case were the guards who through their corrupt actions profited from the slavery of their countrymen. Who, btw, may have been there for thought or speech crimes. So the Chinese government takes a share of the blame as well.

    Hyperbole of this type doesn’t suit you my friend. Believe me when I tell you that MMO companies lose a great deal of money and good will to the illegitimate gold trade, and suggesting that they don’t care belies an understanding of the good old Profit Motive.

  2. Genda

    One last comment. If you buy gold you are surely supporting slavery and other things you would probably rather not support, including the theft of goods in your MMO. If you have a friend who was hacked and you bought gold, you basically hacked his account by proxy.

    Where DID you think all that gold came from?

  3. Stropp (Post author)

    @Genda — Yeah. I was too harsh there. My apologies for the hyperbole.

    Still, it seems that we have reached a stalemate with the gold sellers. Despite the negative implications that you mention, there does not appear to be any new action against the RMT market aside from the continued bannings of farmers and sellers. They are banned and then reappear soon after.

    I’m glad you made the last comment. It is pretty apparent that gold farmers cannot in any way support the market for gold. That gold can only come from bad sources: account hacking, organised crime, and as the article purports, slavery.

    Perhaps it is time that MMO publishers started looking at methods somewhat out of the box to fight this plague. Even if there are some unintended consequences for the economy.

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