Gold Farming Banned in China…or Not
Yesterday the internet was filled with the news China had banned gold farming. Just in case you live under a rock and don’t know what gold farming is, it’s the gathering of virtual currency in a game (usually an MMO), which is them sold to other players in exchange for real currency.
According to an article at InformationWeek, “the Chinese government has declared that virtual currency cannot be traded for real goods or services.”
Obviously, this was enormous news. Since it’s been estimated that 80-85% of the world’s gold farmers are located in China, this would have likely meant a huge drop in the amount of available virtual currency.
Unfortunately, there’s news today that the law being referenced actually does not reference gold farmers at all.
This morning I read that this ruling doesn’t apply to gold farmers at all. Over at ICTs for Development, Richard Heeks had the following to say,
This is a government restriction on the use of the quasi-Paypal-like currencies (mainly QQ coins) that are used extensively in China to pay for virtual game stuff. As announced they can now only be used to pay for virtual stuff, and you can’t buy real things with them as game companies were allowing to happen, nor can you gamble. This therefore is not about what gold farming clients do: use real money to buy these virtual currencies; it’s the mirror image. And it’s not about the major trade in gold farming such as World of Warcraft, which relates to other types of virtual currency. And it’s not about buying/selling in-game items. And it’s not about the power-levelling of avatars. Bottom line: it’s not about gold farming.
Thus it appears that all the furor and uproar over the last 24 hours was in vain. Apparently the Chinese government had no intention of stopping gold farming, which should come as no surprise. After all, it’s an industry that employs a lot of people and brings a lot of money into the country.
All this did get me thinking…who actually buys gold anymore? I mean with the current gold distribution in World of Warcraft rivaling our national debt, is there really a need for it anymore? Obviously some people think so, since the gold farmers are still in business. Personally, I’ve never understood the reasoning behind paying real money for pretend money.
Sure, you can argue that it’s just an extension of the concept of paying a monthly fee to play a game, but that a fallacious argument. After all, when you buy gold, you’re paying so you don’t have to play, and that whole concept just seems ridiculous to me.
Have you ever bought gold? Do you think it’s a defensible thing to do, or do you despise those who do it?