The Grind: Is it your game?

Dec 10, 2012

Grind! A word pretty much all people recognize as being arduous but necessary. Today I bring up the term as it pertains to gaming and perhaps in a new light. Previous experiences of mine surrounding this idea just point to the amount of time I spent doing a particular activity, like farming materials, experience or continuous play with friends or others I meet online. In some way of thinking, the term “grinding” is kind of related to the advent of the online gaming model.

You could argue that even social gaming has its form of the grind, giving players “reason” to log in, click, collect and share to their hearts content for some vanity on Facebook for example. Personally I hate the stuff but I love to farm, until recently..

Yesterday I was stumbling through articles and came upon a video or actually an interview between the host and an alleged “gold farmer”. I know this is a touchy, fan-boy topic but bear with me for just a few sentences please. Since the start of the MMO gaming model, gold acquisition from a 3rd party has been common place but alarmingly occurring in larger more frequent transactions just as you would expect in any economy given enough time.

What surprised me was just to what extent this is happening, in other words what is really involved in farming gold, selling it for profit and for the party buying the service? According to this unnamed source during the interview, he plays over 100 accounts at once, using 3rd party software to “bot” his playable characters allowing him some form of control over all 100 accounts simultaneously. He went on to describe that depending on the game and the server access, it’s even possible to log those characters into more than one server at the same time. So theoretically, he could have as many as 200 instances of gold farming going on at one time and that is just 1 farmer!!

Next he described the economy, by saying most of what he does is use the money he gets to buy items, then sell the items to get more money and quickly sells the money again, continuously turning profit and keeping the currency “in the system”.

Recently we gave Diablo 3, runner-up awards for Game of the Year and rightfully so it was a good game but does Blizzard deserve to tell us the economy is working when it is entirely possible they are fueling the fire for gold farming? I’d like to say no, no self-respecting entity that puts their name on a huge title like Diablo could do that to it’s fans but listen to this.

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The same guy above, mentioned in the interview spoke on his Diablo 3 auction house experience as being one of note as it was his first experience with a legitimized system to sell from. He went on to say that the more gold farming was happening, the more gold was being purchased and thus driving the “value” of gold into the toilet. I’m sure Blizzard knew this. You may remember early patches done to the game to increase the cost of dying in game. This is a form of a “gold sink” or a way to keep the value of currency stable within a game so gold isn’t stockpiled and underutilized or valued by those it benefits. Since then the costs have been dramatically reduced and crafting costs also have been reduced. Blizzard has also increased around the board the means to aquire gold and magic items with Nephalem Valor stacks giving players temporary boons to both stats as well as Paragon levels which give permanent bonuses to gold and magic find. What does this mean?

This means that the “sink” effect isn’t working because currently there is so much inflation of gold into the economy and gold is so easy to get, mundane items don’t sell, good items are way too much and the only people who can play the game at it’s full potential need to be hardcore players, gold farmers OR PEOPLE THAT BUY GOLD!

I am a dedicated casual Diablo 3 player. I like to sit down for a few hours at a time but I don’t know or care how to make 40 million gold in a sitting, it’s just not fun. Then I look at some of the upgrades I need and just look at the screen in bewilderment as I stare down at something like 27,000,000 gold for 1 thing. Players online talk about these items being “cheap” and that hundreds of millions is perfectly normal and I’m here to tell you that other than having the ideal circumstances, getting incredibly lucky with expensive drops, playing with top end players or buying gold… MOST of the Diablo 3 fan base will not reach these heights.. ever!

Which brings me to my statement above, is Blizzard curbing this problem or have they found a way to sugar coat what is happening for their own personal gain. Either way you look at it, supporting gold farming or not here are a couple things to keep in mind with the real money auction house:

Blizzard makes money off every transaction

Blizzard controls the drop rates and stats for items as well as full control of maintaining a healthy gold sink (currently not working)

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You buying gold is making the problem what it is, so stop buying gold!

The only people that benefit from this system are the gold farmers and Blizzard! (the people that farm gold in this manner do it for their career, it’s how they actually live their life and pay for the food they eat) Let me give you a real world example based on the information above. If you conservatively made 20 million gold a day/character over 200 characters. You would have 400 million gold/day or 12 billion/month. Right now 10mil is going for $3.00 on average. Conservatively lets say it’s only $2.00(you found a deal). Blizzard takes $1.00 from that transaction then %15 because they moved the funds to PayPal. The Gold farmer collected $.85. Worked out, if the gold farmer sold all his funds, he would make $1020.00 USD/month. That may not sound like alot, but that is also a conservative figure as alleged professional farmers like the one above, claimed to be able to make anywhere from 60-200 million gold/hour. Once you add in items they sell, service like power leveling etc… it isn’t too far fetched to see that these people could easily make $4-7k USD/month. If these farmers are indeed from China or another part of the world where the dollar is worth alot or hell even on our own soil, that is alot of money!

If you had people working for you for free, that made you money every minute of everyday, without sleep and you took a small % of that just because you could.. would you stop? Duh.. no!

So what does this mean? It means that to a degree Blizzard is ok with this “fallout” and as long as it makes money they will do whatever they can to keep the beast moving and sugar coat the experience with vanity, more content and ways to keep players from thinking about it. The longer it goes on, the more things will cost and the easier it will be to get gold… but at some point it will become unplayable and it’s a shame to think about a game that is this popular dies a little everyday.. a means to an end, one as of today I no longer support. Say your piece by not using the real money auction house, save the story of Diablo by not allowing Blizzard to use this “blood” money to fuel another game featuring New New Tristram as your Act 1 destination.

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2 Comments

  1. Matt, I’ve never really thought of myself as enabling Blizzard. In fact, I thought my falling out with them would have maybe meant something. But, to your point, I think it’s fair to say Blizzard does not need me, or my $60 every 10 years. They need thousands of guys like me paying them a quarter a day – 365 days a year. 

  2. Yeah… Has this even been addressed by Blizzard? This happened a lot in Runescape but even that MUCH smaller developer nuked the bots, and almost completely did away with the gold selling. But I suppose in this case, Blizzard is making money… Ugh. It’s disgusting.

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