Scandal: Diablo Dev was a Gold Farmer!

“It started small” he says, hesitantly. We’ve been passing mail back and forward for months on the topic, but this is the first time he has been willing to sit down and discuss it with me. “We would joke in the office about the gold sellers and spammers, and how much money they were making. Surely it was just a hundred or so here, nothing huge.. how wrong we all were” The office he’s talking about in such a tone of reminiscence is Blizzard North, which shut down in 2005. It’s clear from the way his voice changes that it was an important part of his life, and a part of his life that is full of regret.

The man I’m talking to is one of several developers who sculpted the behemoth that was Diablo 2. His hair is relatively unkempt, his eyes sunken… likely a shadow of the man he used to be. As time passed and we paid more and more attention to them (gold farmers), we grew a general hatred of them. They would increase our bandwith costs, mess with our users, and were profiting from our game. The worst was it didn’t seem to matter what we did, remove an account, another would come straight back. There was a constant storm of them, at all hours of the day.” His speech is still full of emotion, full of passion when reminiscing about the past… he has my attention for every word he says.

“The thought came to me one night, that it cost money to get back on after you were removed, and these guys were quite happy to spend all that money to do so, so they must be making profit before we remove them, otherwise they wouldn’t bother. That very night I got onto the game, and started investigating the bots, checking out the websites they were selling wares at, learning about the community of trading. I remember thinking there was no way people would pay those kinds of prices for those items… but they would, over and over again. It was about two weeks later that I decided to give it a test. My partner was also a colleague, we’d worked together for a long time by this point, and I knew he knew what he was doing. We tested if it was viable… it was… the $200 we made in the first hour told us so”

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