I am Guilty! A Former Gold Farmer Speaks
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
I’ve always wondered what goes on behind the scenes with the gold farmers you often see in a lot of MMORPGs. They call it a business but I can’t grasp the magnitude of how big a business gold farming really is. I was only able to understand the scope and the amount of capital someone would need to draw out when a friend of mine told me he used to work for a gold farming company.
Under the guise of an MMORPG services company, the company my friend worked for had an office located in a business center here in this country. This meant that the people behind the “MMORPG services company” were really paying cold hard cash for people to farm gold for them even though the game publisher’s considers this type of business ‘illegal’.
Writer’s Note: Interviewee requested to use an alias ‘drevin’ for the interview
Vincent: So could you tell use your age and current job?
Drevin: I’m 24 years old and currently working as a web designer in one of the companies here in the country.
Vincent: How did you stumble into the MMORPG gold farming business?
Drevin: I just graduated from college then and was looking for a job. I wasn’t really hoping to get a job that’s in line with my course so I grabbed the job offer for a technical support representative on one of the local job sites here. I wasn’t really expecting to work for a company like this so I was surprised when I got to the office and saw what I had to do.
Vincent: What was your job in the company? What was the game you were assigned to when you came in?
Drevin: I started out as one of the farmers for our World of Warcraft team. During that time the company only offered services for WoW so that’s where I was assigned.
Vincent: What was the company setup?
Drevin: The company had 3 shifts with 2 Team Leaders present in each shift. The teams are separated into two, one team handles the farming which is composed of about 6-8 members while the other team handles gold deliveries which is composed of ten people.
Vincent: How many accounts did you handle while you were working as a farmer? And how did you handle those accounts?
Drevin: Each farmer has about 16 to 20 characters that they would need to handle at the same time. The company provided a special software developed by the company’s programmers to make things automated.
Vincent: The program you mentioned is a bot program right? Why do they need to be supervised by 6-8 people?
Drevin: Yes, it’s a bot program for WoW that the programmers made. However the program isn’t really perfect so we still need to check up on them once in a while specially when they die, get stuck on one area or equip the character. The program only helps in management of the characters but that doesn’t eliminate the need for people on handling them.
Vincent: How big was your office then? It must house a lot of pcs especially for the amount of people you have?
Drevin: The office was actually big, we never got to actually see the other departments because they were located at the second floor of our office. Our room was basically for the farmers and deliverers.
Vincent: How do you exactly farm in WoW? And why is there a need for deliverers?
Drevin: The farming team is separated into two groups. The first half concentrates on PVE and questing to earn gold while the other half handles auctions. The delivery team handles the low level characters and that’s the team that meets up the clients in-game to give the gold they ordered. The delivery team is separated because there were a lot of customers so they can’t play.
Vincent: Is gold farming the only service you guys provide?
Drevin: Actually, the company also provides power leveling services aside from selling gold. The customers pay the company to pilot their toons.
Vincent: Did the company only handle WoW?
Drevin: While I was with the company, our services branched off to other games such as FFXII, LoTR Online, Everquest, Everquest 2, Lineage 2. I’m not sure if they included more games when I left last 2008.
Vincent: Did you enjoy working for the company?
Drevin: Of course, it was my first job after graduation and the experience I learned from that really helped me see how the corporate world is.
Vincent: Did you regret working for the company?
Drevin: No not really. I liked how it felt to be a Team Leader in the company and it was nice that I had people under me, hahaha!
Vincent: How was the work environment?
Drevin: It was strict then because our American bosses were at the office that time. They were also playing with us so they’d know indirectly if we’re doing our jobs or not.
Vincent: So if you enjoyed working for the company why did you leave?
Drevin: I was laid-off because the company wasn’t really doing well. There were way too many games coming out and unlike before where there’s a stable amount of customers there were just too many MMOs coming out that our company couldn’t keep up.
Vincent: Did it ever cross your mind that game farming is can destroy the game’s economy?
Drevin: Yes it did cross my mind, but then I needed the job so earning my paycheck’s more important than the game’s economy.
With the amount of money invested for the game farming business it’s no wonder we get pestered by gold farmers in the famous MMORPGs we play. However, the fact remains that a business like this is still considered illegal under the terms of the game distributors so it’s much like the black market of MMOs.
Seeing how these companies work and how they are set up hopefully provides you guys with a good perspective on how serious this business is. The question of supporting this kind of business is still up to you. After reading this article however removes the excuse of being innocent of how things work in this part of the MMO industry. So what will you decide on?