Study Estimates Gold Farming 500K Business
Manchester University has released the results of a study on the Gold Farming industry that guesstimates its profits at $500,000 a year. According to the study, titled “Current Analysis and Future Research Agenda on ‘Gold Farming’: Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games,” the industry employs 400,000 people world wide who take home an average of $125 a month.
Manchester University’s Richard Heeks told BBC News that although the study is sound, the Gold Farming industry is “a digital underworld populated by scammers and hackers and pornographers” so it’s hard to nail down exact figures.
“It seems unlikely to be less than $200 million per year, and it could well be more than $1 billion per year,” he said.
At those figures, you’ve got to wonder why every time you log into Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft or any number of other MMOs you’re assaulted with offers as soon as you step inside civilization. Of course 80% of Gold Farmers are Chinese and their cost of living and standards of comfort can be quite different than those in the US.
Although the “services” Gold Farmers offer are annoying to most, they couldn’t exist without a demand. Steven Davis, chief of game security firm Secure Play agrees that it’s not likely this plague on MMOs will die out anytime soon.
“When you get people with more money than time and time than money the two will find a way to meet,” he said.
“You could get rid of it,” he said, “but you would get rid of one of the most fundamental parts of player-to-player interaction.”