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“I want my. I want my. I want my RMT.”

From Dan Rubenfield’s modest proposal:

If you run the game, your cost of goods for item sales will ALWAYS be lower than the gold farmers.

So you want to beat them and make cash on the side? Change the playing field. You sell the items. You sell the gold. They drop their prices? You drop yours. Make it easier and cheaper for these players who want to spend the money to buy from you instead of the third party.

I can already hear the cries \’e2\’80\’9cOHNOES. Sanctity of the Game!@!@ Purity of Economy!@!@ Money!=Accomplishment\’e2\’80\’9d.

You know what? Shut up.

Sure, all we have to do to put IGE out of business is to turn up the money spigot. All it takes is about 2 days work on a web application and sticking an API on the game server. Wallah, any time you want, generate in-game cash with the touch of a button!

What Rubenfield espouses isn’t RMT: as most understand it, RMT is player trading with player (or farmer, or arbitrage trader, or what have you.) It’s still understood that the money came from somewhere. It isn’t counterfeit currency (unless your game has a dupe, which it probably does); it was earned, by fair means or foul, by someone. Rubenfield instead espouses… well, let’s call it Darwinism. In the time honored tradition of failed governments anywhere, when faced with an economic challenge, let’s just print more money! It’s not like we can’t just create the stuff. It’s not like it has any inherent value — after all, those people who ARE buying gold/items through RMT are just wacky suckers, and we might as well soak them while the market holds, right?
It’ll destroy the game’s economy, of course. And it’ll – correctly – teach your players that for your game’s administration, everything is negotiable given enough currency. But hey, IGE won’t be selling much gold on your server, because they actually have to run through the motions of running bots with the latest sploits, while you have access to the best sploit of all: a SQL query tool.

The problem with unfettered Darwinism is that it violates the same trust that we then turn around and accuse IGE and their ilk of violating. Namely, taking decisions, in enlightened self-interest, in the interest of your game’s community. Simply becoming a better IGE doesn’t solve anything, except maybe your short term money flow. And it doesn’t really show an understanding for the alternate business models coming out of Asia and casual social spaces like Habbo Hotel; even in the rabid capitalism seen in that market, company-manufactured sales are used for intangibles and subscription replacements, not a farming-shortcut.

So, what Rubenfield proposes is sort of like achieving peace in the Middle East through nuclear strikes on Sweden. It’s certainly an interesting idea, definitely original, ultimately unhelpful and probably not what anyone had in mind.

(To play devil’s advocate, I’ll leave you with one way that Rubenfield’s point would work – making your game’s currency freely convertible, but pegged to a real-world equivalent, not a floating currency. 10 Quatloos = 10 cents, always, backed by the game company at any time. To my knowledge the only game that does this? Project: Entropia. See you on the sweat farm!)