It is generally frowned upon in the WoW community to purchase in-game gold for real-world money. Take an informal poll amongst your friends and guild mates and you may be hard pressed to find anyone who will admit to ever buying gold. But someone is doing the buying. The sites that sell gold for real world cash proliferate and there never seems to be a shortage of advertisements directed towards potential customers. If demand dried up so would supply but this simply isn’t happening. The size of the gold selling industry is tough to nail down due to the black-market-like nature of the business but the most credible figure we were able to track down estimates that the size of the overall MMO cash-for-gold industry is roughly $500,000,000. There are other figures out there but we won’t quote or link to them because they often either have advertisements for buying gold themselves or are otherwise nefarious in nature. The working conditions for your average gold farmer certainly don’t sound like our definition of a dream job but obviously someone is making a good amount of real-world money from this practice.
Blizzard, for their part, regularly takes action against the gold selling industry both through in-game improvements (such as streamlining the spam reporting feature) and through legal proceedings. There are also a ton of articles and forum posts on-line lambasting both gold sellers and buyers, which tells us again that the practice of purchasing gold is at least socially frowned upon.
But we are not here today to tell you about moral decisions and right and wrong. No, we’d like to share with you 3 quick reasons why buying gold is simply what they call on Wall Street “a bad trade” and not something you should do with your account.
1) It will cause you to have even more spam. Gold sellers don’t only make their money from selling gold. Similar to catalogs and magazine subscriptions, these businesses also make a significant amount of their revenue from selling your information to other gold sellers. This means that each time you make a gold purchase you are added to a list of known buyers which is then sold to other companies who will have their marketers harass you with their fresh level one toons with more and more gold offers.
2) It could cause a targeted attack against your account. In the early days of WoW the gold selling agencies mostly made the gold that they sold by identifying and utilizing exploits within the game. As the game matured these exploits were fixed or removed and the business model turned to farming. Most recently, as Blizzard has taken stronger and stronger action against botting, the industry has moved to a new model of gold generation: account hacks. Many gold farmers no longer farm at all. They simply employ programs that allow back doors into your computer that do things like track your keystrokes to steal your password and subsequently hack into your account and take and sell your (and sometimes your guild’s) items. The profits are mailed to an intermediary and then delivered to the gold buyer by yet another toon. Granted, the company that initially sold you gold is not likely to hack your account. But they will sell your information as mentioned above to other people who also hack accounts and have no loyalty to you since you’re not their customer. Is this a risk you’re willing to take?
As we said, never mind the moral implications or social implications of buying gold. It is simply a bad idea to risk something in which you have invested so much time and effort for so little gain. And to think you have to shell out real-world cash and endure this risk simply makes for an undesirable transaction from our point of view. Feel free to share your own experiences with buying gold or gold sellers in our comments section.