Real World Trading and MMOs: Positive Impact

runescape 3

“$$$$Fast Delivery, gold for all servers, rare items and all upgrades!!$$$$PM me!!!!”

We have all come across these interesting little messages throughout our days of playing MMOs and MMORPGs. Fast, easy, cheap. This is what real world trading, or “RWT” essentially sells. Some players love it, other players hate it, and for sure the game administrators despise it. We have all seen players and companies complain about the ‘devastating effects’ and the legal implications of RWT. However, can RWT be beneficial to the health of a MMO? Let’s put on our analyst caps and find out!

The most fundamental benefit that a MMO can derive from RWT is very simple – it defines the value of its currency and provides it with a basic value of reference. How much is our gold actually worth? RWT has the most basic function of telling players exactly how much their pixels are worth, in real terms. It provides them with a reference, and helps greatly in their numeric evaluation. This recognition is particularly important to developing indie MMOs. RWT, along with other types of rule breaking, flourished in the late Endless Online, an indie MMORPG which was virtually unregulated by admins. However, interestingly, it was the introduction of RWT which brought about the game’s recognition amongst new and existing players.  Moreover, it was also observed that due to this reference, the game’s fragile economy was able to withhold many waves of inflations and hyperinflations, caused by hacks and dupes. Whilst the price of items skyrocketed as the value of gold plummeted, chaos was short, and prices stabilized overnight.

Endless Online
Endless Online

Furthermore, RWT can have a positive impact upon the appeal of an MMO. From a purely economic point of view, a free economy, entirely and solely dictated by the forces of control and demand, is the most efficient and optimal. It is only when completely unregulated that an economy can reach its maximum potential. I play the game; I assign my values however I want. Admin intervention hinders the development of an MMO economy, as it restrains the making of exchange. There is no better example than Runescape – many, many players quit when the Wilderness and Free Trade was removed, followed by Bounty Hunter, which made RWT virtually impossible. When they were eventually resurrected in 2011, tens of thousands of players returned.

RuneScape
RuneScape

Last, although much unnoticed, RWT conserves the in game wealth and assets, and also provides a convenient door of exit and entry.  When players decide to finally make the move to quit an MMO, the more generous of them throws their assets and savings right back into the economy, through giveaways. Yet, for the majority, these are left within their inventories and banks to dust. These resources become frozen and no longer play a part in the game’s economy. They are completely wasted. When I quit the game, I can convert my pixels into something material. Kingdom of Loathing unofficially allows for the exchange of currencies and items across their game and that of other MMOs. This provision creates a method of which players exiting can pass their wealth to new players. These resources ease the transitional phrase for the new player, and shorten their learning curve, ultimately making the game more attractive to potential players.

Kingdom of Loathing
Kingdom of Loathing

Having said these, and contrary to conventional belief, RWT may be beneficial for a MMO. It legitimizes and defines the worth of the game’s currency, elevates the game’s economy to a free market, and provides an easy door of exit and entry. Yet, admittedly, these benefits must be weighed against the damages created by RWT. We will explore these further in a future article.

by Wilson Zhang

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  • Ginters

    if theres gona be an mmo who has an 3rd Person look to it ,mby something like ,tera/neverwinter/acheage/darksouls gameplay something like it ,and it has everything player based,and based on your own skill, with no cash shopping head-start, basicallly p2w ,then im down to it.

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  • Atonal

    Those were some nice positive pointers. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good by a significant amount. A prime example is an old game called RF Online. While it was in its prime as a p2p, RWT/RMT ruined the economy so much that the publishers had to essentially restart the entire server. Everyone started from scratch. Another example is the complete genocide of foreign players years back on Lineage 2 in the Korean server. Korean players pvp killed anyone that couldn’t speak Korean to combat RWT/RMT.

    The thing is, people like RWT/RMT because those that can afford to spend the money like to spend it to get an edge/advantage/easier time. What eventually happens is the economy of the game eventually gets messed up. Yes, the economy will eventually fix itself, but we’re talking months, weeks at least. You average gamer nowadays doesn’t have the patience to stick around that long. With these new generation gamers, once you lose their attention completely, the chance of getting them back is next to nil

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    • freemmostation

      Good points indeed. It takes a very specific kind of economy in an MMO to actually benefit from RWT, but in the end the risk is a really big one and could destroy a game in no time.

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    • Wilson

      Excellent examples mate, I agree with you.

      For sure, it will be difficult for a MMO to accurately pinpoint this balance. Yet it is not to say that this cannot be done. This will be left to the most devoted and intelligent MMO developers out there. An approach to accept and embrace RWT may be a possible strategy, if properly regulated, albeit a challenging one.

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  • Atavar

    RWT, as opposed to sanctioned micro-transactions, is theft.
    Do the rest of the freemmostation team also advocate RWT as having a positive impact on MMOs or is this just a personal opinion?

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    • freemmostation

      You’re distorting things a bit. We don’t advocate RWT, we’re just considering the weight that it has – and it does – in most MMOs. This article was about the Positive Impact, but we’re also going to focus on the Negative Impact, and it can be destructive to a game. Theft? I don’t think it’s the right word. It’s more players (and organizations) exploiting something that publishers can’t really take control of.

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    • Wilson

      Neither us personally nor the entire FreeMMOStation endorse or wish to promote RWT. We are unquestionably against it. What we wish to do is to present the other side of the coin to the MMO admins and players out there.

      Whether or not that will be beneficial to the individual MMO will be at the discretion of said MMO team itself. We are not making a judgment for them, but rather, we are presenting them with all possibilities and both sides of the argument.

      We wish to debase the ignorant and popularised argument that RWT is certainly bad for an online game. The question of whether RWT is good or bad ultimately lies in the hands of the individual MMO creators alone. What we want to do is, to provide them with bettered research and arguments from both sides of the debate.

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  • Wilson

    As the original author of this editorial, can I take a moment to clarify one key point -myself nor anyone from FreeMMOStation endorses RWT. Can I reemphasize that I keep reiterating that RWT MAY be beneficial to a specific MMO. This depends on the decision and capability of the game’s developers.

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  • Wilson

    We are NOT endorsing RWT in any way. Rather, we are presenting a different perspective, and exploring an area which has received no light in the past.

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