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Old 03-21-2006, 08:26 AM   #1
Nearlyhugh
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Unhappy

I know it's possible to earn money from MUDs by acquiring (or misappropriating) in game currency and items, and selling them to other players for real money.

The question is, is this kind of activity worthwhile for 'casual' (1-2 hrs play per night) players?

I imagine that the earnings per hour of gameplay would be quite low (otherwise people everywhere would be quitting their jobs in droves and playing games all day! ).

Nearly'
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Old 03-21-2006, 11:18 AM   #2
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You can definitely make some money. There's a market for WoW gold or whatever, and I'm sure you could scrounge up some cash with an hour or two per night.

The problem you'll encounter is that in most games, there's a positive feedback loop where you get more powerful, and you can earn more per hour, which lets you get more powerful. In other words, while you're tinkering around gathering 20 gold nuggets per RL hour, the "expert" and his level 45723 character are raiding the Dungeon of Horrible Death for 10,000 gold nuggets per RL Hour. (People go to the DoHD because the rewards are high. If they weren't, they'd just farm the same place you're at and skip the danger.)

The wall you're going to hit is that the "expert" might value his time at $100/hour (a comfy salary for any job), which means he can sell nuggets for $0.01 each. This devalues your nuggets enough to make your profit $0.20/hour, which will just about pay for the electricity and bandwidth needed to farm gold nuggets for a living.

I think you could make a living as a casual farmer if you were once an expert, and had a "super" character sitting around who could most efficiently farm a game. Along the way, you'd probably acquire enough expertise to know where the best stuff is, etc. But otherwise, you're probably talking about such meager amounts of money that you should just kick back and enjoy the time.
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Old 03-21-2006, 12:36 PM   #3
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Well, look at the anecdotal evidence: I'm not aware of any significant gold farming operations where the means of production reside in the West. Almost all the big ones are located in China or Malaysia where prevailing wages make it profitable to arbitrage the difference between what is a decent wage in those countries and the disposable cash that rich Westerners and Koreans have to spend on these items.

You could make money, but it'll be a trivial amount unless you find a bug to exploit.
--matt
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:41 PM   #4
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I bumped into a player I hadn't seen for well over a year on msn. I asked what he'd been up to recently and he told me how he was busy making money from playing some other mud and that's why he hadn't been around. I was interested to hear how he was making money and how much he was actualy able to gain from it. After hearing more and actually working out the hourly rate he was managing to make I decided that really it seemed far more efficient in terms of time/financial gain to become a fries cook at McDonalds.

But I guess he enjoys it and some people just can't get past the OMG I'm getting paid to play games all day long thing. I think some peopel just try to justify their gaming addictions. It's sad that games can become commercialised in this way, it really does create a whole new kind of atmosphere within a mud.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:20 PM   #5
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I think the_logos is correct: If you could outpace a McDonald's fry cook without doing anything difficult, why would any teenagers (who can afford 'Net access) still be signing up to cook fries? You'd need either of:

1) Ridiculously specialized knowledge. If you have to play a game for two years in order to get skilled enough to get your hourly rate to an acceptable level, you have to include two years of zero-to-low-income time. This is also true if you're only making money because most people don't realize how profitable X is. Sooner or later, they'll figure it out, and you'll need a Plan B handy.

2) A bug exploit. Risky, hard to come by, subject to sudden termination, and on most games a good way to get your account closed.

One possibility would be to pick on games that are simple enough to be botted. This is especially true if you can run multiple bots without breaking your game's rules. Even if you can't, a bot that could earn $10/day through repetitive tedium is probably worth the effort to set one up.

The caveat is that if you can write a bot, lots of other people probably can as well, and prices will be driven down as the bot armies flood the supply. So it comes back to the specialized knowledge argument left above, since you need to write bots that other people can't write or wouldn't think of writing. Many games forbid botting as well, and any method that breaks your game's rules isn't a good choice for continued income.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ Mar. 21 2006,17:20)
and any method that breaks your game's rules isn't a good choice for continued income.
If only that were true. IGE makes the vast majority of its money by breaking the rules of the games whose currency it trades in, or at least that is the allegation. They claim that nobody directly working for them breaks a TOS he/she agreed to by engaging in currency trading, but I have a somewhat difficult time believing that, as do, I think, most outside observers.

--matt
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Old 03-21-2006, 06:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Mar. 21 2006,17:34)
If only that were true. IGE makes the vast majority of its money by breaking the rules of the games whose currency it trades in, or at least that is the allegation. They claim that nobody directly working for them breaks a TOS he/she agreed to by engaging in currency trading, but I have a somewhat difficult time believing that, as do, I think, most outside observers.
They also claim that they don't employ farmers, if I recall. Don't they hold themselves out as basically a broker for buyers and sellers? They "make the market" for gold and items?

By that I mean, at any time, they are buying gold on a certain game/server for some amount like $10 per 100 gold, and selling it for $20 per 100 gold, and making their profit on the difference?

If that is the case, they can easily say they don't employ farmers and they can easily say their employees don't break the TOS. They would only be employing people to manage their own web site and take/make transfers of gold in game.
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:01 PM   #8
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Threshold, I do believe that's the official party line.

"IGE takes the role of advocate, steward and community member seriously. Building on relationships with publishers and players alike, IGE advocates healthy, secure and responsible secondary market practices. IGE does not farm or use bots or macros of any kind to create or collect virtual assets, and the company leverages its market presence and distribution power to avoid practices that have a negative impact on game play."
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:06 PM   #9
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That is indeed the company line, but I'm not sure I buy it, and I know a whole bunch of other observers flat out don't buy it. On the other hand, I've dealt with their upper management and found them to be pretty reasonable people, so perhaps I'm just being overly suspicious.

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Old 03-22-2006, 02:06 PM   #10
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Yeah, I honestly don't know what to believe regarding their claims. On the one hand, I don't see why they WOULDN'T just go ahead and employ farmers. On the other hand, maybe it is easier and more efficient to just make their profit on the difference between buying and selling. I can imagine that would avoid a lot of headaches.

Of course, it still doesn't change the fact that all of their "We don't support any violation of game TOSes" is still a pile. They know darn well what they are doing is an integral and crucial part of mass TOS violation. To say they are innocent of this since they do not directly employ farmers is a specious argument.

But then, every time I start to turn my nose down at them, I cannot help but shift some of the blame back onto the graphical MMOs who keep churning out nothing but "Gah... Another Grind Game?" (or my acronym: GAGG).
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Old 03-23-2006, 01:03 PM   #11
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I've never heard of people paying $ for MUD currency or items. It seems pretty popular for all the graphical games, but I've never seen a website claiming to sell MUD assets.

On which MUDs do people actually do this? It seems like an odd concept to me.
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Old 03-23-2006, 01:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (zombiedepot @ Mar. 23 2006,13:03)
I've never heard of people paying $ for MUD currency or items. It seems pretty popular for all the graphical games, but I've never seen a website claiming to sell MUD assets.

On which MUDs do people actually do this? It seems like an odd concept to me.
It is probably not wide-spread and given the limited amount of users per MUD in most MUDs I doubt it is worth it trying to endlessly farm to sell things on eBay. But I have this personal experience.

In a MUD I used to play like 8 yrs ago, multiplaying was allowed, there was an option to "remort" your warrior into a "paladin" but you would require 10 times more experience to level your new paladin. In this MUD, paladin's made great tanks and were a must-have. Now, I had a great set of characters and with the 3 characters I was allowed to have online I could "finish" a character rather quickly. So, I told a friend that I would trade him a finished Paladin for 2 6-packs of beer, he agreed, and well, there you go, MUD trade.
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Old 03-23-2006, 03:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Spoke @ Mar. 23 2006,14:30)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (zombiedepot @ Mar. 23 2006,13[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]3)]I've never heard of people paying $ for MUD currency or items. It seems pretty popular for all the graphical games, but I've never seen a website claiming to sell MUD assets.

On which MUDs do people actually do this? It seems like an odd concept to me.
It is probably not wide-spread and given the limited amount of users per MUD in most MUDs I doubt it is worth it trying to endlessly farm to sell things on eBay. But I have this personal experience.

In a MUD I used to play like 8 yrs ago, multiplaying was allowed, there was an option to "remort" your warrior into a "paladin" but you would require 10 times more experience to level your new paladin. In this MUD, paladin's made great tanks and were a must-have. Now, I had a great set of characters and with the 3 characters I was allowed to have online I could "finish" a character rather quickly. So, I told a friend that I would trade him a finished Paladin for 2 6-packs of beer, he agreed, and well, there you go, MUD trade.


I see. Sounds like a good trade to me.

At first, I had thought maybe there was a site or something I was missing out on. Also, I think paladins are generally tanks in any game. You rarely hear the words "paladin" and "well balanced" together.
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Old 03-23-2006, 04:13 PM   #14
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Forget $. If I could sell my MUD characters on E-Bay for a sixer of Molson Canadian or Saranac Black Forest I'd do it in a heart beat.
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Old 03-24-2006, 01:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (zombiedepot @ Mar. 23 2006,14:03)
I've never heard of people paying $ for MUD currency or items. It seems pretty popular for all the graphical games, but I've never seen a website claiming to sell MUD assets.

On which MUDs do people actually do this? It seems like an odd concept to me.
The first formal secondary market site for MUDs (text or graphical) was, I believe, for Gemstone, and began somewhere in the mid 90s. It's still going at: http://www.gsauctions.com/

This is in no way an official Simutronics site, and just like with any other MUD, Simutronics has no way to know whether money is affecting their game or not. They weren't even aware of the site's existing initially.

Think about it this way: It's only an odd concept if you believe that items in a MUD are worthless to people. If that were a case, why would people spend time bashing, roleplaying, PKing, etc to get them? If someone is worth lifting a finger for, it has value.

--matt
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Old 03-24-2006, 05:16 AM   #16
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Well I guess I won't be quitting my day job...  

Quote:
Originally Posted by
I've never heard of people paying $ for MUD currency or items. It seems pretty popular for all the graphical games, but I've never seen a website claiming to sell MUD assets.
I've noticed items for sale from graphical games, and thought that the prevalence of such items was just a function of the popularity of the game in question, assuming that an equally popular text MUD would have a similar number of items for sale. The above raises an interesting point - are players more likely to believe that in game items have intrinsic value, or a greater intrinsic value, if there is a graphical representation of them?


Nearly'
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Old 03-24-2006, 03:56 PM   #17
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Graphics definitely make a difference in value simply because of the sheer number in the population. They are called "massively multiplayer" for a reason after all.

I think it was an odd concept simply because the majority of MUDs are free, or have priviledges if you donate. It's no suprise there's an auction site for Gemstone, even though I had not known about it. Gemstone costs about $15 a month, and I'd believe any item there automatically could have value.

Where as the free MUD, I can see items/gold potentially having value, but it won't be much. It would also raise concerns over the virtual economy. This idea seems much less likely, and odd to me.

There is no way in telling whether or not this harms an economy for sure, but in games like Secondlife and Project Entropia where real money is incorporated right into the game... much like real life, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Looking at other games like World of Warcraft where such a thing is forbidden by terms of service, it's hard to tell what is happening with their economy.
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:26 AM   #18
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Nearly,

I go net-dead for 3 weeks, and this is what I come back to find you up to??

1) Why am I not surprised, and
2) expect spankings, or at least a good tongue-lashing next time we meet.

You bad boy.

And no, I'm not going to buy a *dang* thing off you. One of our players has repeatedly attempted/offered to sell his entire character, several times. There've been no takers. And it's a *darn* well built-character.

Why not, you may ask? Why would nobody buy it?

The culture of the mud is a LOT of, "I know you did/didn't 'earn' what you have." Now, whether that is money, knowledge, or a whole character... doesn't matter. The currency is *time*. When you pay for others' work... the other players in-game *KNOW* it. You are then 'tainted'. You didn't *EARN* it. You just *bought* it. It's never the same.

To me, this is a pride issue, not a financial one. Status comes with time. Status comes from earning it. Status *doesn't* come from buying someone else's time.
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Old 03-26-2006, 01:45 PM   #19
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OK, what if..IF we did pay you to play? It obviously wouldn't be enough to live on, since the pbase, and business model just can't support paying out thousands of dollars to thousands of people. But what if, you earned real money by playing a MUD? Would you? Would you sacrifice gameplay, or demad more gameplay? Would you be bothered by auto advertisements, or website ads for products or services in the MUD world that reflect real world? Where would the majority of playeres draw the line?

Some MUDs are focused on getting money FROM the player, what if a MUD was focused on GIVING money to the player? I have often thought about this. The problem is, you either have to first get the players to agree to a certain level of advertising then try to find companies willing to advertise in that way, or find companies willing to advertise, and then try to get your pbase to accept it. The advertising numbers for a mud aren't that hot. It's hard to convince anyone to shell out money to advertise to a few hundred people.

If I had the time to go after advertisement dollars I would. I would love to pay people $1 per level to play. or $10 for completing a hard quest etc etc. My MUD is already completely free to play, anything else would just be cake! At least I think so, I don't know tho, I imagine other people would be thuroughly disgusted with playing a Virtual fantasy world, where the town's blacksmith's shop name is the name of a real Smithy with his URL or phone number in the room's description.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I could do it. I know enough people in the medieval/fantasy business that would shell out just because they know me, and I could raise a few thousand in no time, but realistically how long would that last? And I of course have no projection for the return I could quote the businesses.

Tank
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Old 03-26-2006, 08:20 PM   #20
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In-game advertising in a text MUD would be pointless. The friction costs involved in ad sales, ad delivery, and ad tracking make it unfeasible.

Further, the amount of money that can be attributed to a single player also makes it extremely unlikely you could afford to pay individual players much at all. For instance, I was in the room last week whenWild Tangent announced its new WildCoins system, which makes it easier for casual games developers to get money from advertisers, both for ads around the game and for ads in the game. It allows advertisers to basically pay for a players' play time by giving away these WildCoins, which can be used to play the games accessed via Wild Tangent's game server software (bundled on Dell, HP, and Toshiba OEM computers).

Judging by the numbers that Alex St. John, their CEO, threw around, paying a player $10 is very, very, very unlikely, even with CPM rates for graphical in-game ads being multiples of what people will pay for text ads. What Wild Tangent's system does is allow people to watch a 30 second commercial (which is magnitudes more valuable than a single text ad to an advertiser) and then basically pull a slot machine lever to maybe get some WildCoins or, more likely, not. Most of the time, not. Someone in the audience asked if it would then be possible to not just play a single casual game for free, but if it'd be possible for someone to watch enough ads to get to download and fully unlock the casual game (vs a one-time play arcade-style). He replied that it's theoretically possibly but that the economics of advertising mean that the player would have to watch a simply enormous amount of these 30 second commercials to even come close.

Assuming that advertisers would buy into ads in text games (unlikely given the small populations of most text games), a player would have to view literally thousands and thousands of ads to generate $10 in revenue.

--matt
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