RMT Demise - a Look into the coming future of online games, one without as many bots and gold farmers. What is RMT? It stands for Real Money Transaction - or rather a trading of virtual currency for real money.
As hard as Blizzard has tried over the years, and other game companies as well, the one constant, has been Currency Selling Sites. They popup, Blizzard or another company attacks them, and then they fall, replaced with yet another Currency Selling Site. But it appears, in the not too distant future, that the downfall of these sites is coming. Surprisingly, it's not from Blizzard.
Why am I surprised? Well Blizzard Entertainment, has done what other games never even tried. They tried to claim that the virtual currency (Gold) belonged to them, and couldn't be resold. They claimed it as copyright infringement. They have attacked botters repeatedly and secretively. They have filed lawsuits... but nothing stemmed the flow for long.
A well known case was with WoWGlider (later changed to MMOGlider), which was a popular botting program. Blizzard attempted to confront the owner of the company, which in turn took Blizzard to court - the owner of MMOGlider lost the lawsuit. The key point was that to bypass the security, Glider would copy the game into memory, and hack it from there. Since it was an illegal copy, even though it was on the person who paid for the game who did the actual game breaking, Glider lost on a technicality. This wasn't the RMT Demise.
eBay had to remove all virtual gold and accounts from their site. I am not sure if the reason was that Blizzard went after them, or if they did it on their own due to virtual sales being hard to track (I suspect the former reason). However as of a couple years ago, ebay.de (Germany) still allowed these types of sales.
A few gold sites advertised so well in game, that Blizzard immediately put in the game some anti-spam code, which blocked .com addresses and allowed people to send in spam warnings. This wasn't effective enough, so Blizzard slapped them with an injunction, and finally seized the domain, of several sites. Still though, this wasn't the RMT Demise.
While I thought it was neat, technology wise, I was annoyed with this approach - bots would invite people into a group, and then advertise in group chat. Unsuspecting people, myself included, would join a new group thinking someone wanted to hunt with you, only to be slapped with advertisements. I was glad for the ability to report spammers. RMT Demise? Nope.
There were for a while, some really cool teleport hacks, which were being used to advertise in the game. Basically a bot would tell various characters where to go, and then pink headed dwarfs would fall out of the sky in the capitol cities, and land dead creating text (can also be completed using non-teleport methods). Another notable version is the one where living "characters" will form shapes with small teleports. Since they aren't advertising in chat, they were harder to ban, since you couldn't add them to an ignore list. So Blizzard fairly well stopped most teleport hacks - there are still some though. This wasn't the RMT Demise either.
Another type of advertising, was to get mail using the in-game mail system. I had actually had someone write a bot for me, to do this as well. Unfortunately the code was based on visual clicks, so if one person ran in front of the mailbox, then it would screw the whole process up. But still there were bots to do this - but they added the ability to report spam in mail. This wasn't the RMT Demise.
Now I mentioned that a few years ago, Blizzard tried to claim a copyright on the gold, and that anyone selling the gold was infringing on their rights. They then told PayPal that they couldn't accept the money for transactions because of the infringement. This went to court in the USA, and you can actually thank Mogs.com for keeping it up. Otherwise eventually, you wouldn't be able to buy gold with any online seller - unless you wanted to take a chance with a Western Union type sale... I am still not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, the way it turned out. This wasn't the RMT Demise, either.
Basically, Blizzard is well known for trying to block any and all sales transactions of virtual currencies. Heck, they even tried to get my host (in 2005), to shut down my website, since we were hosting a game hack, which would allow you to teleport.
RMT Demise will happen soon...
So what's going to cause the RMT Demise of Currency Selling Sites? For one thing, free2play games, has hit gold selling sites hard. Once a site goes free2play, sales drop off fast. This might be partly due to the mentality of no rush, or that fewer adults play free games. I am not sure why it happens, but leveling orders also stop.
Another factor, in the RMT Demise is EX currency. EX means EXchange. In Rift, it's REX (Rift EX). In EVE, it's PLEX. As soon as games add this to each of the games, then the downfall will happen. Currently, there are 3 websites out of several hundred which need to buy Rift gold. Three. Not 30, not 130, just 3. EX Currency, is sold for store currency, and can be traded for in game currency by players. The players set the price, and the item is traded. In Rift, REX sells for 950-1150 platinum on average. This gives you 1250 in store credits and a bit of Loyalty, which gets you better rewards in the game. The Store Credits, can then be traded for game time, to make your account a premium account. So... guy wants Platinum in game, buys 1 REX for money (goes to game owner), player sells REX in-game, gets Platinum. No more insecure amounts, no more middle man, no more Chinese farmer or bots.
When can we expect something similar from World of Warcraft and other games? I can't tell when it will happen, but I am sure that it will.
Lesser Known Fact: When Blizzard was trying to decide the model for World of Warcraft, people said they would be willing to pay $15 a month for the game. It was originally going to be a free-to-play game... but with overwhelming support, they went with the monthly subscription plan. While sales and players have whittled the game player base, the game itself still has millions of players (and probably several more millions playing on emulators).
I did mention in the article above about my gold site. I no longer run a World of Warcraft Gold site. I do however still offer powerleveling services with both botting and hand-leveling, for those interested...
Interestingly, China and other countries such as Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, and the Philippines all have a handsome economy which is based on the sale of RMT. If we see the approaching RMT Demise, what's going to happen to the Global Economy? Just in China, this attributes to tens of thousands of jobs and even more money is pushed into their economy. Will the RMT Demise cause another Global Recession? If/When Blizzard offers an EX Currency or they go free2play, we might see another dip in the economy, worldwide.