Is Farming in MMORPGs bad?

Given the immense activity in a recently posted article where farmers were “busted,” what do you think? Feel free to post opinions if you like. I’m curious about everyone’s thoughts.

You forgot to add the option “I think it’s fine but only on days when I manage to get enough gold through my farming techniques. When I waste a lot of time and make no money then I start to get jealous of the chinese farmers and I start to blame them for my problems. Sometimes I also think it’s fine when I imagine how little those people have in China. But then sometimes I think it’s not fine because the Chinese are communists and are basically our last cool enemy.”


I wouldn’t mind it if not for the fact that it has a negative impact on the player experience. Professional farmers typically put unintended stress on the supply of a certain item/source.

LoL, I admit I didn’t anticipate this one. But I also don’t have an option for, “I think it’s fine, but only because I like pepperoni on my pizza. If I didn’t it would be a completely different story.”

You didn’t put my reason in your list. I think its wrong because gold farmers compete with non-gold farmers. For example, I have a quest to get 10 woggie whiskers, but I can’t find any woogies to kill because some level 60 mage is standing in the middle of the woggie camp spaming arcane explosion as soon as they spawn.

I think it’s fine. The in-game economy won’t suffer noticably due to Farming, and these people are pioneers exploring a new market. Good for them!

Pioneers? It’s hardly a new concept.

Granted you can argue that a game economy should factor in paying a bunch of people to play the game 16 hours a day to farm flobble to flog on e-bay, but the economy has to be seeded somehow with cash.

If people want to flog +1 elven ears that they won/crafted or whatever on E-bay fine. But farming the ingame economy for cash helps no-one but the farmer or controlling guild etc. Everyone else loses in the long run including the sap daft enough to pay real money for imaginary money (though I suppose in certain countries you could play a sub game and watch which currency is devaluing faster against the dollar).

Professionally farming in-game for real world money =


Can I say I think it’s wrong but for other reasons? I tend to think a MMO should be a closed system. It has constructs for everything in place and needs to be taken on those terms.

I don’t know that farmers are running sweatshops. If that were the case I’d disapprove there.

I don’t know that farmers are ruining the in-game economy. But it seems that they’re certainly not using it as ‘intended’. If this were some kind of tabletop RPG and folks suddenly were bussed in and insisted that the DM let them run the table and constantly hunt the best reward/risk ratio critters and then sell those rewards for real money to the other players - they’d get their asses kicked out the door. Not because it was ruining any economy but because it ruins the spirit of the game.

I suppose it does come down to principle for me. I don’t think players need to be forced to earn, themselves, everything they get. Other players should be able to help them out for various reasons. But taking loot, systematically, and selling it outside the game for real profit seems just wrong. I’m not really sure how it can be justified. Entepreneurs? Sure, and offshore banking and loopholes for wealthy folks with tax consultants are great opportunities run by entepreneurs too. Doesn’t mean the government, or game company in this case, shouldn’t be doing something about it.

Isn’t it a slippery slope that moves from saying gold farmers ruin the playing experience for the casual gamer to saying hardcore players ruin the playing experience for the casual gamer?

It is the same thing. Gold farmers provide something that most casual players will never really be able to experience. The same goes for the hardcore players, they experience things that most casual players will never be able to.

Excellent comments so far everyone. Thanks for your feedback. Here’s my personal opinion, take it or leave it: I think it’s fascinating, I think they (the people “running the farms”) should be rewarded for their resourcefulness. I think moves like this upset people, but mainly based on principle (so far this is reinforced by the poll, but only slightly).

I think we gamers have a set notion of how our gaming experience is supposed to unfold. Previously we’ve been appeased because most games were restricted to single player, or local multi player games. No problem. A subculture broke out where people shared hints, cheats, and tips. Some gamers hate this, some like it. It’s the same deal, except now these in-game objects have real monitary value! Fascinating! But this doesn’t factor into our classical idea of what game objects are. For example, you never gave your tabletop buddy $10 for those bracers of protection. It’s metagaming, and it’s not welcome. Dragons cannot be bribed by giving payola to the DM! (or maybe they can, it depends on your DM)

Which just drives the point home: the majority of people don’t like farming because it doesn’t fit in with their idea of what’s right in online games. They don’t disapprove of it on moral or ethical grounds, but on the ground that it doesn’t fit in with their personal opinion.

If it’s a matter of opinion, shouldn’t we let farmers continue in peace?

As a side note, game companies have a strong case based on their claim that everything in the game belongs to them. Basically, it’s their intellectual property, and no one has the right to make personal profit off their property. Granted, but it’s interesting to note that if these electronic objects actually do have real-world values, why should their existence depend on the success of the company? If the company fails, and the servers come down, the company is essentially destroying all of the real-world cash that their game servers possessed. Should people have the opportunity to protect these virtual assets, just like they have options to protect real-life assets? This question was probably never posed for real estate, because you don’t have to prove the existence of a house, or a plot of land.

These questions are just food for thought.

They disaprove of it because it royally fucks things up. Load up Diablo 2 and tell me what your options are for obtaining good items on

Hardcore gamers spend time; farmers spend money. Money ruins the risk/reward effect.

I don’t own D2, but I take it you chose option one? As a side note I’ll point out that this is still a matter of opinion at this point. Won’t the WoW economy eventually become unstable without farmers? I don’t know the answer to this, we need an economics buff to answer it (if he or she can). But essentially you’re arguing that the WoW system is perfect in the absense of farmers, and that the farmers are the only thing threatening to throw it off tilt.

I’m pretty much against the idea of IGE for a few reasons:

1- I got burned a few times helping people in EQ1 get their epics, or lose a roll on a phat piece of gear only to find that char/gear on E-bay a few days later.

2- The problem with the farmers is it isn’t a few accounts, it’s thousands, and the thousand just banned are probably the tip of the iceberg. In game economies are based of a spigot–developers adjust the spigot as needed. The farmers are in effect jamming open the spigot. Then as more cash enteres the game and gets sold, the higher prices rise, truly screwing the avergage-every day player. If the developers slow down the spigot to kill of the famers, they damage again the average consumer.

The ultimate problem, though, is that this is both a human nature problem and a design problem. Humans, by their nature (and, yes, I’m being general here) take the short way through things. As much as I despise IGE, when I started over on a DAoC server for kicks, being broke sucked and I almost bought plat from IGE (sorry, Walter).

It’s a design problem because of the reliance on coin as the easy way to base currency on, and thus is the most exploitable. The hard-ass solution is to not have any coin in games, have a robust quest system that gives players viable gear options through quests, have almost all items be not tradeable, but by doing this you’re likely to destroy the comminity feel as well, since players can’t go “I’ll trade you this robe for that breastplate.”

The company that designs a system that is mostly IGE free and is a success will have perfomed a miracle. In the end, companies will have to do what Blizzard is doing and agressively go after them in-game. That will end up being passed on to us again in terms of increased subscription fees to offset the staffing needed for them to police the game, or hellacious customer service as they split their priorities.

Can you explain this a bit more? Don’t farmers spend time AND money doing what they do? Or are you talking about the “farm master,” who never invests his own personal time in-game, only in-office running the farm?

I would say its bad if its affecting the game economy. I can see why game companies don’t like it other than the whole its their property thing. If someone pays one of these people to powerlevel their character or get high level items, then they are not spending as much time playing the game. The purchaser has just skipped months of playing that he would of had to pay a few monthly fees.

You could also argue that someone who purchases a high level character has a much less chance of staying with the game as someone who built their character up.

To those who argue its wrong because they are sweatshops, I think its a stupid argument. Its not like the people working there are forced to work there. Its not some dangerous factory either.

Interesting article on the guardian about this, they even talked to some of the workers in Romania.,6903,1436411,00.html

When The Observer arrived in Caracal, a bleak-looking town of 33,000 inhabitants three hours from the capital, Bucharest, the local internet connection had failed and the staff were sitting around with nothing to do. For Ghirda, who joined the company a year ago, the job compares favourably with his previous one in a local club.

‘I’d never played any kind of computer game before I started here,’ he said. 'I was working as a barman when I saw a commercial on television asking for people who spoke a little English and liked to play games to apply for a job.

‘The money I make here [equal to just 28 pence per hour] is around the same that I made in the bar but this is much better.’

Because my opinion drives which games I’m going to buy. Ultimately if farmers are really causing problems then folks with the opinion that “this game sucks now” are going to stop subscribing. Luckily my game, SWG, doesn’t seem to be a high value target. The only item of real value, Jedi, are just too time consuming to create to be really profitable for a mass scale operation like this and also have too many built-in drawbacks (hunted by Bounty Hunters). I know it happens but not as much as with other games.

Ultimately, it’s a question about atmosphere when you’re talking about ‘intent’ and the quality of the experience. If I’m having a nice dinner and suddenly a party of folks with compulsive farting habits sit down next to me, I’ll probably ask for the check really fast. My bonds to an MMO seem to be based on community. That means characters played by people I know. If these established characters can’t compete with newbies, from nowhere, who’ve bought massive items and characters off Ebay they’re going to get discouraged and leave. If they get driven off sites they need to access by farmers, they’ll get discouraged and leave. When they leave, I leave.

Ambience and community matter if you’re someone who’s looking for the quality of an experience not just the quantity of it. Seeing massive guilds of farmers out there or people out of the blue showing up with incredible rewards and skills in hand…disheartening to say the least. It’s hard enough maintaining immersion in most MMOs. This isn’t helping, I suspect.

An easy solution would be to patch the WoW client to download Falun Gong propaganda and stash it all over the client PCs hard drive…

Gold Farmers are the MOST ANNOYING characters on our server. Total assholes most of them. They bleed multiple areas dry, hurt the market, inflate prices, over-saturate some areas, and they try and kill anyone who comes into their “fields”.

So, if the courts in fact rule as you suggest, you can expect every single MMO to close immediately. There is no chance any company would assume such a liability.