China Tries To Ban Virtual Gold Farmers

from the good-luck-there dept

The “dark underworld” of online economies is the supposed “gold farmers” often found in countries like China, where people are working in sweatshop like conditions, “playing” video games to generate as much currency or valuable virtual goods as possible, that the gold farm operators can sell for real cash. However, the Chinese government claims it’s cracking down on the practice, though it’s not entirely clear how they’ll stop it from going on. In fact, it’s not even clear why the government is trying to stamp out the practice. At best, the claim is that it wants to avoid “possible impact on the real financial system.” While any time you have “alternative” currencies, that’s certainly a possibility, it’s hard to believe that World of Warcraft gold would have any serious impact on China’s economy any time soon.

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Comments on “China Tries To Ban Virtual Gold Farmers”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t think it would be particularly difficult to start blocking out WoW access in China. You wouldn’t get the whole thing, but you could get enough of it down to make the practice pretty much meaningless.

There is a little bonus background on this: Many of these sweatshops are powered by stolen credit cards and other sneaky means to pay for access. They are not particular about how the job gets done. It isn’t a victimless crime.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Based on the quote I included, the AC apparently wants to solve the problem regarding some WoW players in China — “gold farmers” — by blocking all WoW players in China. This would mean that the AC either thinks that every single person playing WoW in China is a gold farmer or that the article itself was about blocking all WoW access in China. (Neither of which are true.)

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Let’s compare quotes…

Post from Jun 30th, 2009 @ 5:20pm
I don’t think it would be particularly difficult to start blocking out WoW access in China.

Post from Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:40am
[T]he Chinese government is likely to block WoW, as that is easier than trying to track down individual farmers.

You can claim otherwise but those two statements are not saying the same thing. In your first post, you did not say the Chinese government is likely to block WoW. You said that it would be easy for the government to do so. If you don’t see the difference, I’m not sure what to say. Maybe if you read your posts before you clicked Submit, you’d realize what you’ve actually written doesn’t match what you were thinking.

Personally, I wouldn’t put it past the Chinese government to just block out all WoW access to ostensibly combat gold farming, but that’s not what they said.

brent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

they aren’t goin to block access to WoW from China. Although copies of WoW purchased in China only work on the servers that are set up in China people who bought their copy in the US play on US servers. Case in point: my dad works over in China but I play WoW with him all the time. He has found that he needs to connect to various proxies to actually get a good connection to the servers.

Once he was using a proxy in Taiwan and I do believe they were logging keys because his account became hacked and he thinks it was the guys running that proxy server. Now he just uses his companies VPN to play the game with a solid connection but too bad that VPN DCs you when he logs onto ventrilo

Kazi says:


I highly doubt those sweat shops are powered by stolen credit cards and other sneaky means to pay for access. If that was the case then Blizzard would be in a lot of financial trouble and farming gold wouldn’t be worth it. You can’t be replacing accounts non stop. You basically have to have a legal account with a legal card number because once it gets banned you’ve screwed yourself. Furthermore, selling accounts for $1,000-$6,000 per account, depending on the stage of game your character is in.

Therefore, most of these “sweat shops” are actually functioning businesses but they don’t pay taxes or anything because they are not regulated. Furthermore, it’s a black market type of deal since Terms of Service for most MMO’s are written to ban such ordeals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ...

No, many do try to steal your credit information. It was a big problem in the two online games I played. The farmers would pretend to be GMs that “needed to verify your credit information” or some other BS. And guess what? Gamers fall for them like old people fall to 419 scams.

People were too embarassed to report, or knew they would get banned if they reported it because the TOS said to never give out that information in the first place, so if they complained they would get their character locked as well as money stolen.

Actually, it was more common to just rip somebody off than steal their credit. People would create accounts that had similar names to big-ticket players, then try to social engineer something expensive off other players like “can I borrow your mount/sword/epic jewel that there is only one of”. Then they’d steal the item and sell it for gold, then sell the gold for IRL monies.

So you could compare these Chinese sweat shops with 419 scammers. They both use dirty tactics to make a quick buck and are a pest to everybody except themselves.

David T. says: “My suspicion is the Gov’t thinks online video games in general are a vice and want to discourage people from playing. Farming is just a starting point.” WELL – Everytime somebody gets ripped off, the gov’t gets involved and they have to spend resources fixing the issue or at least looking into it. Plus scammers make the country look bad.

Avid wow Addict says:

Re: ...

You sir… just won the Ignorant DUMBFUCK award of the year…

Case and point

Point # 1 – Only a dumbass would use a stolen credit card to fund a world of warcraft acct. You would of course use gametime cards PURCHASED w/ stolen credit cards. Since game time cards are not individually tracked or tracked in batches for that matter. I can go to a local frys with a stolen card, purchase 100 of these cards and walk out and be able to fund 100 accts for 2 months each… enough time to level to 80, farm for a month and 20 days and then recyle accts.
Ever see a toon named something like aabbxa usually a lock, a hunter or a mage

WTS 20x Stack of Titanium. 800g low price AH, akt naow

… smells chineese and fishy all at the same time… maybe is just my sushi

And acct that was to for more then 500 dollars would have to be a fully ulduar epic geared TOP dps with rare mounts, rare titles, and a legendary or more – don’t believe me… check out craigs list and look at the 10000’s of posts of accts out there. All this takes hours and hours of playtime and not making gold i.e. farming

Closing argument….
You sir… are ignorant… crimnals are criminals, they could care less if on of their 100’s of accts get banned… they are leveling new ones just to have in case they get banned… gold farming, as the article stated, is against rules which could mean ban also. Let me not even get into the quickest way to farm gold… by stealing accts… but that is another story for another noob to argue me on
Quit being a noob and ignorant about life… why

Grae (profile) says:

Re: Re: ...

The great thing about ignorance is that it can be cured quite easily with a little study in the area one is ignorant. Stupidity such as yours, on the other hand, has no cure.

I really love the way the World of Warcraft fans have come out to pontificate so passionately in the comments, putting down others who may have been a little off the mark. “ignorant about life”? Really? Given the most recent subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft are approximately 12 million, that puts the world wide relevance of World of Warcraft at approximately 0.2%. World of Warcraft doesn’t mean anything to the 99.8% of the rest of the world. Get over your own self importance.

CleverName says:

Simple Solution

Why doesn’t China just make up some bullshit about net congestion like here in the good old US of A. They could then impose caps, limits, etc and wipe out the playing of online games. Then they could market their own games which do not count towards the cap/limit. And within this “authorized” game they could espouse the typical political diatribe.

Brilliant !!!

Avidly addicted Player says:

Re: Simple Solution

You do realize, that wow traffic is less then your average youtube/hulu stream as far as data tranfer is concerned right…

i’m not sure what type of cap you would be talking about but unless it was 50MB / month, you would never reach it and probably get to the cap trying to check your guild forums before logging on

Kazi says:

Personally, anyone who is scammed online or through any other means, especially if it was “to good to be true” deserves to be scammed.

Don’t be an idiot. Protect your personal information.

On a side note: AC – Can I have your CC info and any relevant information to use that CC? I’ll send you a $1,000,000 check for it – but send 10% my way as a cut.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No on ‘deserves’ to be scammed. Yes, a good many scams are glaringly obvious to people, but scammers use a great many methods to coax people into parting with their information/money. Otherwise intelligent people can make a bad decision because of an emotional plea, or just because they don’t know how something should really work. Doesn’t make them idiots, and doesn’t mean they /deserve/ it.

Kazi says:

Then show your point without masking it behind some potential emotional attachment (i.e. one might feel entitled to the inheritance and being angry on it being “wasted” on a scam). I still fail to see your point.

Some scams are not worth pursuing. This (the scam, not Chinese gold farmers who can/can’t be classified as a scammers) is one such scam and towing companies are up there with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Chinese Motives

Actually no. Chinese authorities are very concerned about encouraging theft and dishonest behavior. gold farming operations are nests of criminal activity not because of the game play and levelling, but because of how that stuff is paid for. The entire process is to turn stolen credit cards into access cards into user accounts into leveled user accounts into a sellable product that squeezes out actual cash at the other end. The underlying crime is fraud (on credit cards and such). the game is just a method to fence the stolen goods and turn them into usable cash.

you guys should get out into the real world more often.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: lame assed douchebags

It does seem lame, but I think it’s all for fun. If there’s parts of the games you don’t like, you have an option.

In fact, I don’t even hate the farmers. There’s a market for what they do.

And that’s the problem, I think. You have lamers (see what I did there, gamers, heh) who would rather pay than play. The gamers reject this. The farmers (for gold and levels) meet a market need. The fact that it’s an actual industry worth the notice of anyone other than blizzard is amazing.

But as long as there’s a profitable market for it, what does it hurt? Slight inflation of AH prices? Guys camping certain mobs you need for quests?

I actually enjoy the leveling more than endgame or pvp, but some people just want a high level character to pvp with. Why not let them have it?

Ryan (profile) says:


The best way these farmers work is to put out WoW addons that are really keyloggers to steal your account.

Once they steal your account, they take all your gold, sell all your items (and, eventually even get somebody with guild bank access and take all the guild stuff)

They then transfer all that gold a few times to different characters, and then sell it.

By the time you complain and get it all back, it’s already been given to other people as well, so you both end up with it.

The accounts they use are 30 day free trial accounts. It doesn’t cost them anything and there’s no need to use stolen credit cards. You don’t have to be top level to farm effectively, so they can do it with 30 day free trials.

Heck, my character doesn’t even farm – he just plays the auction house by buying things low and selling them higher. Artificially controlling the price of goods on a server is way more profitable than farming.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not impacting China's economy?

I don’t have hard facts to back this up, but several of the analyses of this move by China’s government reported that the virtual currency industry in China is in the range of billions of dollars.

Removing or criminalizing these activities is bound to affect economies all over the world in some way – I’m thinking primarily China, the US, and the EU.

G-Man says:

There is gold in other hills besides WoW

There are several other games or virtual worlds that can exploited buy gold farmers. many of the virtual worlds have real world impact on economies.
Entropia Universe was touted as the first virtual world to have a real wold economy of its own. Farmers can trade, create or work (hunt/mine/farm) for real monetary gain as there is a direct exchange rate with external economies.
Second Life is much the same. There is a exchange rate between the currency in SL (Lindens)and real word markets. Second life may be harder to exploit as there is no game given items, almost all items in-world are created by its inhabitants. the sytle of play also makes it hard for farmers as there are no goals set in-world, so valuable accounts and rare items do not exist.

JPeacock (user link) says:

I think the problem is that China considers the use of the virtual coin to be a form of counterfeiting when it is used in the real world, the Chinese economy, to purchase real world goods instead of using China’s official currency which is issued by the Chinese government.

In the USA, the counterfeiting laws would cover the use of virtual coin to purchase real world goods just as it would paper printed by an individual or Monopoly paper money. It would not need to have a major impact on the USA economy for the US Secret Service to go looking for the people to stop the use of what the USA would consider counterfeit money. The USA counterfeit laws would not cover the sale of virtual coin for USD with subsequent use of the virtual coin in the game. It is legal to play Monopoly and use the Monopoly paper money in the game and you purchased the Monopoly game,which included the virtual paper money, with USD. However, try to use the Monopoly paper money to open a bank account or pay your bills and you would be in violation of the counterfeiting laws, if anyone accepted the Monopoly paper money in place of USD. The counterfeit laws would only cover use of the virtual coin to purchase real items and this is because this action would have an impact on the economy. As long as the virtual coin is used in the game, it is equivalent to using Monopoly paper money while playing the game.

In my opinion this is something that we will be hearing about from all the countries as they pickup on the idea that the use of the virtual coin in their economy, instead of just the game economy, is equivalent to counterfeiting of the coin of that country.

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