In the third of Nick Ryan's four-part Eurogamer feature series on the trade in MMO currencies and services, a player explains why he buys World of Warcraft gold by estimating that earning it legitimately in-game is only worth one pound an hour.
"Gold is relatively expensive," said the WOW player 'Martin', quoted in Gold Trading Exposed: The Players.
"Gold costs around GBP 10 per thousand... By comparison, making 1000 gold in-game would take around 6 to 10 hours of game time and would be most efficiently done over a few days. I earn quite a bit more than one pound an hour and I have little spare time outside of raids and girlfriend and work, so it makes more sense for me to buy gold than it does to grind it out. So I do, and often."
Although many players and most game operators disapprove of gold selling, Martin is adamant that it's entirely in keeping with the spirit of the game.
"There's a philosophy at Blizzard that it doesn't matter who you are in 'Real Life' - all are equal in WOW. Except they're not, as I have a job and a girlfriend and some money and no time, whereas some people have no job, no girlfriend, no money but a lot of time. I see the gold-selling market as fulfilling Blizzard's philosophy in a way that the game itself can never do," he said.
'Extreme Gamer' of the site WoW Gold Facts, despite having been a victim of scamming, argues that real-money trading is good for MMO games.
"It's great to be able to get real-world value out of all of the effort and time I put into online games," he said. "It's great knowing that my virtual stuff has actual, real value. It increases my emotional commitment to my character and that is good for the publisher because it makes me more likely to keep paying them every month to maintain my account."
A more common view is expressed by Tod, another WOW player. "I'm very much against gold-selling and power-levelling services in WOW," he said. "Quite apart from any potential unbalancing effects on the in-game economy, to me it's cheating for any player to buy gold or get someone else to level up their character."
Be sure to read the full article for more players' perspectives on the gold trade, as well as the previous weeks' introduction and section on the sellers. Next week, Nick Ryan will wrap up with the views of the game operators themselves.