Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Head Hurts

Station Exchange

I hate it when I see a situation that I can't immediately form an opinion on. Usually I jump quickly to one side or the other and then change my opinion all willy-nilly as needed, but in this case, I just can't. Basically, SOE is acknowledging the fact that people are buying and selling EQII currency and items for real-world cash, and they're making moves to give a controlled, SOE-sanctioned environment for this to take place. I just... Damnit, I can't decide how I feel about this.

One on hand, I hate the fact that there are people out there who pony up hundreds of real-world dollars to shortcut the game experience. People will pay hundreds of dollars for in-game items and high-level characters so they don't have to go through the grind to get to the top levels (where they tend to realize there's nothing to do). It's the most messed up thing. I can't imagine anyone paying that kind of money for a savegame at the end of KotOR 2. Not to mention that people are making tons of money selling things they didn't manufacture and never owned in the first place. Argh. That really bothers me.

On the other hand, it's good that SOE is trying to make a secure environment for this sort of thing. People get ripped off at a fair clip in these situations, and SOE is setting up an Exchange in which a third party (SOE) supervises the transactions via PayPal and credit cards (and they take a small percentage of the sale for themselves). The problem here is that an infrastructure already exists for people to buy and sell things outside of SOE's supervision, and it's pretty clear that neither Blizzard nor SOE either cares enough to or are capable of putting a stop to the practice, despite what their EULAs say. I mean, really. If I can go out there and find a farming company to buy WoW gold from, then Blizzard can damn well find this stuff out themselves. They just aren't trying to stop it.

Really, I'd just like to see the money going to the ones who deserve it: The developers of the game. It's retarded that people can make livings selling virtual property they never created, never built, and never owned. Yeah, the seller may have camped Grognar the Ballshitter for a week for the item, but so what? It's part of the game. I started to get disgruntled with the grind on my druid in WoW, but did I feel I should be compensated for it? No. I never put in a single day of work to make sure the druid class was balanced, that its powers worked, and that it looked cool, whereas the Blizzard developers worked some horrid crunch to get the game out there so greedy morons could make hundreds of dollars selling Blizzard's property.

I think MMOs should just bite the bullet. When you buy an MMO, you should have the option of buying the regular version for $50 or the Super Mega Awesome version for $1000, which includes a level-capped character with perfect gear and 1000 gold. Better yet, you can pay $2000 and get a game that, when you log on, shows you the ending of the game and says, "You win!"

Far be it from me to deny someone his living, but really, it's retarded. The worst part is that it wouldn't exist if bigger morons weren't willing to pay these people for the stuff. That's the worst part for me. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to skip to the end of a game they like enough to invest hundreds of dollars in. And rather than stand up and protect their intellectual property, SOE is bending over and endorsing the sale for real-world cash of items SOE designed and implemented. It's like if I came over and blatantly sold one of your DVDs to someone in front of your face, and you just nodded, shook hands with everyone, and took a few pennies for letting me come over and sell your shit for my own profit. It's just stupid. I mean, while it doens't affect my WoW experience in any way to know that people are out there farming and selling in-game items (especially since my own WoW time has been relegated to periodic time-wasting at this point), it offends my sense of how shit works and of how those who created and manufactured a product should be the ones benefiting from the sales of that product.

Hrmm. I seem to have formed an opinion.

SOE, shame on you. And, good job.