Blizzard takes on gold farmers

World of Warcraft operator calls in the lawyers as part of its efforts to crack down on organisations that "farm" virtual objects and cash.

After eBay announced it would be delisting all virtual massively multiplayer online game items from its Web site, "gold farmers" suffered another blow over the weekend--Vivendi subsidiary Blizzard is claiming to have sent in its legal eagles. In-game gold spamming--where gold farming organisations offer their goods and services to other players unsolicited--is a big problem in virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft's Azeroth, and the operating companies have been struggling to find a solution.

A Blizzard staffer, who goes by the username Eyonix, commented, "Blizzard has filed a federal lawsuit against the operators of Peons4hire, a popular gold-selling organization which many of you have no doubt seen advertised. As part of the lawsuit, the operators of Peons4hire have been asked to immediately cease all in-game spamming efforts by all entities and websites under their control." The statement added that if the group Peons4Hire continues to spam other users, further legal action will be taken.

Blizzard recently added a content patch to the popular World of Warcraft game that contained "technical counter measures" aimed at putting a stop to in-game spam from gold-farming organisations and individuals.

Gold farming is a practice whereby players of MMORPGs such as WOW exploit the game by undertaking repetitive actions to acquire valuable virtual items or currency, which are then sold to other players via sites like eBay for real-world cash. Sometimes bots or other unauthorised programs are used to automate and speed up the process.

In China and other Asian countries, the virtual farming trade is big business, and a number of companies exist that run gold-farming sweatshops as a professional business.

These companies are a big headache for online game operators, and various online worlds--including WOW, Ultima Online, and Final Fantasy XI--have banned accounts and/or removed farmed money from their virtual economies.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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286 comments
weaselciuy
weaselciuy

yeah, thats it, ban all of them, boters are lame.

weaselciuy
weaselciuy

yeah, thats it, ban all of them, boters are lame.

DendromutantX
DendromutantX

Back in the day when farmers werent checked, all the raw materials could be purchased very cheaply. As soon as Blizzard started banning farmers, prices in AH skyrocketed. Supply/demand, my friends.

wyle_coyote
wyle_coyote

It affects you more than a player that has been playing 3 years. You are gonna pay 2-3x what the other person did for the same items. The spamming is out of control. They are now inviting people to Raids to spam em. Everytime they invite me I accept...then I report the raid leader as a spammer and quit the raid group.

Le-Beave
Le-Beave

Doesn't really effect me...... being kinda new to the game & all...

paladin69_00
paladin69_00

i dont have any problems with ppl wanting to sell gold for real money, just the spamming that they do. i also think maybe blizzard should look into doing themselves for extra money. you know, they could make a few thousand extra per month for doing the same exact thing. it wouldnt surprise me to find out that some of the ppl doing these websites are ppl from blizzard that know just what to exploit anyways. so why not make it legit, Blizzard, and sell your own gold? then all that money spent goes into your own pocket?

mgu
mgu

I am really Glad Blizzard is taking down this Gold Farming Company's. I know some people would lose some jobs and easy money. But they are exploiting another company's hard work. This farmers really mess up the economy in the servers. It makes it so you spend more time killing thousands of creatures in the Online Game just to meet the Rip-off price that they are selling. They make a virtual Monopoly over items and making the prices they want. Anyways... why would you pay real money for virtual items? The money you or your parent's use on purchasing gold or items is the same as the time they spent working for their paychecks as well, so really your not saving much time and your killing the point of the game. You would value more a Dollar earned then a dollar given for free. -I Love to pwn E-Bay Lvl 60-70 Peps. Hahaha

zeustheking1
zeustheking1

If people and blizzard are so worried about it why not either install the add-on from curse-gaming that blocks the messages or just add that type of add-on to the game. Personally they are making me think they just want more money.

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

jknight5422, My guess would be that Blizzard is more interested in keeping the players who are far more than "casually interested" in playing WoW. They want to keep those who have been paying $15/mo. for the last three years.

Rhothgar
Rhothgar

Meh...... the gold sellers are now making new characters and whipsering for money, like "gimme 10s, k thx." Or they would yell out the ads in a city, instead of whipsering the in mass.

junglejim99
junglejim99

Well eBay may be trying to ban the sale of virtual items, but they still have a bit of work to get it to work correctly. I tried listing Warcraft 3 plus the Frozen Throne expansion and was blocked from doing so because the word 'Warcraft' was in the title of my listing. As a result, I am now having to deal with eBay's customer service so that they can remove the block from an item that shouldn't have been nabbed in their banning net!!!

hwabon
hwabon

Gold farmers/sellers are bad . maybe spending 10 dollars on some gold will help you, but everytime you do so it has a little impact on the economy of the server.. call it somekind of inflation. When ppl start buying the gold they will have extreme ammounts of in-game gold avaliable, meaning every good item will go up in price, as the people buying the gold is somehow willing to pay like 5k gold for somekind of epic. This makes legit gaming almost impossible in the long run as pots and other stuff you need for raiding will also be more expensive. Legit players will struggle to make the money. The only way to stop this is to stop buying the gold. If none buys, none sells. Plz stop inflation in WoW. stop buying gold, if ur a guild-master.. stop your members from buying gold. it's like buying a stolen TV.

H3LLRaiseR
H3LLRaiseR

Not really, Amathye. The ones who need to "get out a little more often" are probably the ones that spend 15+hrs trying to make gold in the game. I don't see how buying gold is any worse than spending money on a Gamespot subcription or any of the millions of other entirely frivilous things people spend their money on.

Amathyne
Amathyne

I'm going to point out the incredibly obvious -- If you are paying REAL money in exchange for VIRTUAL money, you should perhaps try to get out a little more often.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Mmm, I have noticed a massive decrease in spam since the download of the last patch... at first I attributed it to chance, but now it seems like it was the patch's doing. Of course, I'm sure gold farmers will find ways around the countermeasures soon enough, but at least I'll get some peace and quiet for a couple of weeks. ...thanks Blizzard!

stoutlad
stoutlad

glad to hear it. I hate those ads so much. If you have to buy your gold, you are missing the point of the game. Plus the farmers make it a headache for those of us legitimately looking for said items. Down with MMO farming!!

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jknight5422
jknight5422

Heaven forbid poor people found a way to make a living without having to work hard. People who are only casually interested in playing WoW aren't going to even play it if they can't buy a few things they're interested in outside, at least that's my guess.

joeyfine
joeyfine

it seems a little ironic that gamespot post this news story when the their sponsored links tell us to do what people are getting banned for. shame on them!

Expane
Expane

too little too late

JimmyCos
JimmyCos

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jbar27
jbar27

Random thought here. Check the bottom your page on this and look at the 'Sponsored Links'. Good luck, Blizz.

ApisBee
ApisBee

The sad part about this is, I can no longer antagonize the spammer. I had fun sending a group invite to them. I'd had some spammers decline my invitation four times before they cancel their character. There were a couple spammers who had accepted the invite. For some reason they would disband after the group loot was changed.

SSJ4Justin
SSJ4Justin

What blizz did in the previous patch was basically taking away the privlidge of whispering on a trial account. Yesterday I was invited to a raid group. And everyone kept asking what's going on? Only to find out the raid leader was a level one, and then spammed his website for gold farming. They are getting desperate.

doutrnz
doutrnz

A fellow guild member suggested that Blizzard impliment a "rule" that you can set which would allow you to choose to only recieve whispers or tells from players that are lvl 11 or higher. That way, the gold farmers would have to lvl to level 10 and spend 2 to 3 hours before they can start spamming again. It is not a full solution but it would make it harder for gold farmers to spam. 2 to 3 hours wasted could mean a good chunk of change for them.

zazuz
zazuz

At last they do something against it, real tired of being spammed all the time.

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

ALL FARMERS ARE SCUMB !!! Exploiting Newbies & charging them real £££'s. I think it really spoils the game, example :- Doing an instance raid in a lvl 70 Zone (Max Level) and there re players on the game who are level 70 have lot's of Gold BUT they cant play the game to save thier lives because they have missed out on the learing curve of the game. I am probabbly not the only gamer who gets peed off at this because they now seem to be everywhere since The Burning Crusade expansion where you have to be lvl 60+ to get to the new zones. At the end of the day what is the point of having a Max Level player with the best armour & weapons if they cant even play the game??? The worst are the Priest (healer), you will have alllmost 0 chance of survival. I could go on & on & on, but i wont :) . To all you Pler's reading this. "LEARN THE GAME FFS !!!"

Digz005
Digz005

Blizzard isn't stoopid but they are barking up the wrong tree, coming from FFXI a gold/gil selling saturated MMO, there is no way to stop this problem in fact I'll be surprised if the "legal action" lasts more than a day and if they do succeed they would have postponed "one" group from profiting while another just like them will appear, its not illegal they can and have monopolized on this for some time. What they need to move towards removing gold as a form of currency like so many of us have already seen in game with tokens for equipment through NPC's, as long as the gold currency is active people will find a way to exploit it. it's been done here, there and everywhere and as much as it sucks its almost a part of every populated MMO.

babingka
babingka

Digitalheadbutt said: "After you get level 70, farming is what you do. It's what Blizzard and pretty much every MMO developer makes you do to get better. We farm for gold, for mounts and items, we farm because maybe there isn't a group availble. The only difference between us and some guy in a sweat shop is he is getting paid while we are paying." The difference is that someone is paying those sweatshop workers next to nothing while making money off of Blizzards intelectual property. It seems to me that just making money off of a companies owned property is illegal just by itself. Doesn't everyone who buys an account agree to not make money using the software when they accept the term and conditions of the EULA?

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

Squirrel, First off I beleive that Blizzard DOES ban accounts as they find them, but all the farmers have to do is sign up for a new one. I believe that they did need to fix the game, and they appear to have done so. I haven't seen a spam from Peons4hire or anyone else since the patch. They also need to fix email to curb spamming, but it hardly means that the spammers are not at fault and shouldn't have legal action taken on them. From what I can tell, Blizzard is taking a two-pronged approach. They fixed the game to make it easier to block and filter spammers, and they are taking action against the spammers themselves. Makes sense to me. As far as real versus fake, the money I pay Blizzard every month to play their game is real enough, and I don't appreciate spammers and farmers ruining the experience that I am paying for. Thanks to Blizzard for finally addressing the issue properly.

bundok
bundok

The reason they would never do that is because the goal of any MMO publisher is to make a fair market economy. Not to mention fair gameplay. They start selling gold and items to the highest bidder and/or legalizing it, and the game then caters to those who can afford to pay for such amenities. Then you have guilds completely full of uber t5 players. Arena teams completely decked out in the latest and greatest. PvP wars then become extremely lopsided and those of us who couldn't afford to "pimp" our toons are left in the dust as relics of a once fun game. The economy would go in the crapper and those of us trying to sell rare world drops, trade goods or other services would have to settle for a much lower price because the online economy is now rampant with farmed goods being sold for real money. There would be no more demand for our items any more, and because we can't afford (as I said) to buy gold or items; once again we're left in the dust. Why would Blizzard alienate what is potentially 60% or more of their game playing community? That would result in billions in lost profit and revenue. Blizzard's not stupid. Kudos to them for kicking this in the butt.

Srinivassa
Srinivassa

I swear. Why don't these MMO operators just give up and start selling gold themselves? That's the only thing that would shut the "illegal" gold trade out of business. People who try to combat natural market forces are doomed to fail. I know the same argument could be used to support illegal drug sales by the federal government, but c'mon, were not talking about something that hurts people here. It's just extra gold. Why do MMO makers even care? There is a demand for gold always, so there will always be a supply. In this case, I don't think Blizzard would be hurting themselves by just selling gold to its customers, maybe even items too. If they don't sell it, somebody else will. Players with real-world money will always have this advantage in any MMO. I don't see any disadvantage to retailers by adding this on. Many companies already do things like this (like special armor and mounts in Oblivion). I don't see why MMO retailers should behave any differently. In game items as pre-order bonuses are common and are essentially given in exchange for extra cash. It just seems like the next logical step to take power out of the hands of profiteers and sweat shops.

lawless168
lawless168

Thx Blizz for going after these turds! /cheer

bundok
bundok

I'm surprised to hear the amount of people who aren't bothered by the fact that people sell gold in vast quantities. Do you not realize how this disrupts the online economy? Are you not aware that bots are illegal and in every way a form of hacking? You complain that Blizzard should then create more and more patches and fixes to hunt down bots and eliminate them. I say why spend precious time and money on a perpetual problem, nicking at it with a hammer, when you can take a legal wrecking ball to the source of the problem and stop it for good?

LisaGansky
LisaGansky

I'm glad they're finally addressing the problem. I also applaud the makers of SpamSentry for getting this matter looked at.

pos3
pos3

Idunno, I'd be pretty pissed of too if a bunch of kids are profiting off of my property without my consent. Also, I hate to see the game get turned into another add ridden game...

Merl57
Merl57

Ok look at it this way. I spent 3,010 hours or so playing guild wars. I love that game but I could be 20,000 real dollars or more richer if I got payed a crappy wage at a real job for all those hours. Gold farming might be borning yes, but getting payed for something like that and they are not even being forced to do it, its like an alternative to stealing or prostitiution they still are making money. Blizzard is getting like 15 bucks times what 8 million people I don't think they need any more money. People should allow the market to do what it wants stick it to the man.

djc509
djc509

you must be a real nerd if your going to pay real cash for a virtual character or item,i was on ebay the other day and this final fantasy thing was going for £200 and had a bid nerds!!!

Decibyte
Decibyte

I agree that game money should not be sold for real money. That is pathetic when it is. But I agree with digitalheadbutt. In MMORPG's, once you get to a certain level and complete certain missions, there is nothing left to do but farm. And also gold farming isn't selling in game money in real life, I can't believe that the guy in the article said that as it shows they don't even play mmo's. Gold farming is just when you play some areas over and over to acquire new money and items like he said, but never means that you sell it again. Many times farming is what you do to afford the best of the best in game items as you are bored and have nothing better to do. I believe he was trying to think of a very common and well known term in the english language. It's called Reselling. Farming isn't bad or dumb. It's all the ***resellers*** out there who are making real game money for it. One more thing, Gamespot generalizing and stating that it's a big buisness in china/asia. Get a life. It's a big buisness everywhere. I know people in my small town in Canada and when I lived in Florida I knew many people there too, who would farm gold and then Resell it, non of asian descent. By pointing directly at the asian culture, you have just made a racist remark. You guys are going downhill. And someone else posting an article refering to a generalization which will become racial, doesn't mean it's ok for you to do it to. At least have someone familiar with the genre writing the articles from now on.

evildeve
evildeve

Personally, I'm glad. The spamming, although not game breaking, was annoying as hell.

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

"Gold farming is a practice whereby players of MMORPGs such as WOW exploit the game by undertaking repetitive actions to acquire valuable virtual items or currency, "

After you get level 70, farming is what you do. It's what Blizzard and pretty much every MMO developer makes you do to get better. We farm for gold, for mounts and items, we farm because maybe there isn't a group availble. The only difference between us and some guy in a sweat shop is he is getting paid while we are paying.

mkurts
mkurts

Are these online freaks so desperate that they need people to farm the gold for them ? Too much money and too little brains !

rustoo
rustoo

I think it is all out of control. I don't know about the present, but for the future games, Blizzard should make sure they have prevention measures to stop such kinds of malpractices. They will be coming out with many games in the next few years and by that time more and more users will be using them! :o :D :)

NeoNavarro
NeoNavarro

I'm so glad Blizzard is putting there foot down on this matter! The spamming got so bad that not only would I get in game advertisments I would get Mail in my in game mailbox advertising these gold and leveling services. Hopefully this will stop.

zero_snake99
zero_snake99

Dude, Blizzard's spam patch worked so well. I used to get gold spam about every 5 mins (no joke), now I get nothing!!! WOOOT!