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Gold sellers steal accounts - Blizzard

WOW operator explains hard-line stance.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Speaking to Nick Ryan for Eurogamer's Gold Trading Exposed feature series, a Blizzard spokesperson has explained the company's firm opposition to real money trading (RMT).

"Many people don't realise that the companies selling services for World of Warcraft often target the players they've sold their services to," said the spokesperson.

"Once these companies have access to an account, they will often turn around and sell the equipment and gold on the account or the actual account itself – if not immediately, then at some point down the line. In effect, players actually end up purchasing gold, items, or entire accounts stolen from other players."

Blizzard also argued that the negative effect of the gold trade could be seen in the drain on its own customer service and development resources which could otherwise be concentrated directly on the game.

"Beyond the direct impact that these companies can have on individual players, their actions end up affecting everyone who plays World of Warcraft in that the time and effort we have to put into assistance, education and our various countermeasures ends up taking time away from our normal development and customer service efforts," the spokesperson said.

Elsewhere in this week's final instalment of Gold Trading Exposed, it's revealed that RuneScape developer Jagex lost a considerable proportion of its membership when it chose to ban all accounts involved in gold selling.

"They lost 10 per cent of their membership, and still haven't recovered in terms of numbers since they did it two years ago," an anonymous ex-Jagex source told Ryan.

"Even though they have almost stopped gold selling in RuneScape, it has cost them two million active accounts; i.e. there were four million players, there are now two million players, of which less than one million actually subscribe," he said.

Ryan finds that companies like Jagex, CCP and Sony Online Entertainment are now seeking alternative ways to thwart gold selling - rather than the straightforward banning approach of Blizzard and Warhammer Online's Mythic.

Jagex has rebalanced RuneScape's economy and trading system, CCP has introduced an exchange of game time for currency in EVE Online, and SOE has tried authorised real money auction houses on some EverQuest II servers.

Previous chapters of Gold Trading Exposed have dealt with the players and the sellers themselves, as well as offering an overview of the trade.

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