Workin' on a Gold Farm...

By Chris Remo, Jan 23, 2006 10:40am PST Terra Nova has a forum excerpt quoted all about how one gold farmer ran his business in EverQuest. The author made over a hundred grand in his first year of operation, and eventually turned the enterprise into a company doing $800,000 in a year, which supported 16 employees--with health care coverage. (It's probably worth noting that none of his employees were Chinese). Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that most of his employees were husband and wife duos who actually supported families on their gold farming salaries.
My tax return for that year which has salary from 2 months of my job which I quit to make this my full time business, showed $150,623.78 after expenses. By this time I had made another character on another server and bought myself another computer and was playing on two. I killed guards in everfrost and sold the weapons to vendors and then bought items from players, or sold the platinum. That's the entirety of what I did to make that income.

Eventually the "article" shifts from a description of the running of the author's business into a discussion of how the in-game economy has become inflated and inbred beyond repair. I have played EverQuest for maybe a total of two hours in my life, so while I'm not familiar with some of the terms he uses, the principles are easy to understand. The closest analogue I have in my gaming career to the insane upward drive of the economy due to widespread farming and sale of currency is the Diablo II Battle.net servers--and yes, I'm aware that Diablo II is not an MMO, but its player economy operates very much like one--when it got to the point where there was simply no hope of a new player participating in trade with established players without having to spend money on gold himself. It seems like a similar fate might be in store in the long term for World of Warcraft, which is apparently more conducive to gold farming than EverQuest. One thing I see working on WoW's favor, however, is that by virtue of its absolutely enormous playerbase, the number of casual players who have no interest in buying gold might keep the problem from becoming too large proportionally. Then again, that is only idle speculation; I am by no means any kind of MMO expert.

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  • One of the more interesting things I've seen is what Eve Online is doing. You can currently buy game time cards from other people in game for ingame money. So for example player A goes out and buys a 1 year game card. He then offers this card up for 1 billion isk (number made up), player B gives player A the in game money. Player B now has a year of game time.

    CCP the company that runs Eve doesn't lose anything since the game time card was originally paid for, but now you have people who can take their extra cash and get "free" game time from it. They also police these trades so if you do get screwed which they can easily verify, you get your money refunded and the other player either gets temp or perma banned.

    The same thing happens with characters as well. People sell characters for in game money but it costs I think $20 for the actual transfer. Its a great way for people to use their in game money to get other things without paying anything or a small fee to get something else all sanctioned.