Buying MMO gold is like funding prostitution

Says Runescape - but bigwig has solution.

RuneScape content boss Imre Jele says that those of you buying MMO currency are effectively funding digital organised crime, not to mention cheating and ruining the experience for everyone else.

Speaking exclusively to Eurogamer about the growing problem of illegal real-world trading, Jele said, "The biggest concern about illegal real-world trading is - sorry for this example as I know it's not politically correct - it's a bit like prostitution.

"It's not necessarily the prostitution which is a problem, although you might have moral problems with it. The real problem is the organised crime that's built around prostitution; the human trafficking, the drugs, etc.

"And that's the same with illegal real-world trading. The problem comes in when they start doing other illegal activities. One of the biggest is the use of stolen credit cards," he added.

Apparently players can make more in-game gold if they shell out for a GBP 3.20 monthly subscription. This puts a huge financial burden on developer Jagex and carries significant legal ramifications as well.

RuneScape is a web-based massively-multiplayer online role-playing game that boasts around 6 million active players around the world. It recently took measures to stamp out real-world trading by banning unbalanced trades where one person typically gives another a pile of gold or a valuable item for nothing in return - because they have paid for it in real-life.

The results have been very positive, according to Imre Jele, but he is at a loss as to why more do not follow his example but continue to provide a breeding ground for the multi-million-pound illegal real-world trading business.

"I have friends all over the industry and I know they don't try do anything about this, which to me is shocking," continued Jele. "It seems to me that the bigger half of the MMO industry puts their heads under the sand and pretends like it is not happening."

He feels real-world trading is out of control, and that even the likes of Blizzard with World of Warcraft will get to a point where it cannot control the amounts of money changing hands illegally.

To beat it, the nature of MMOs will have to change. Imre Jele believes new persistent worlds will be designed with real-world trading in mind. And one option available is to simply make your experience so much fun that no one feels the need to "cheat" the grind in the first place.

"To be honest, I think instead of real-world trading, games have to be designed in a way that they provide enough fun while you are getting somewhere; if I am incapable of providing you with enough fun while you collect that 1000 gold for a steed, then the game is not good enough," concluded Jele.

Look out for our full interview with Imre Jele soon.

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