I can imagine that a good majority has played an MMO game at some point in their lives, whether it was World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Star Wars: Galaxies/The Old Republic, or any title that dealt with virtual economies. And, if you've participated in those games, you've surely seen the gold bots or hacked accounts telling you, the player, to go to their site somewhere in the shadier parts of the internet, and purchase gold to make your character stronger. It definitely felt like a good discussion point today as I had a really lengthy conversation with a few buddies who wanted to try their hand at this illicit trade, but did not really understand its consequences. So what exactly is the real money trade? The real money trade is a way to illicitly obtain goods, whether they be virtual currency or in the form of equipment, to expedite the game process. It is often mentioned as a forbidden activity in most game Terms of Service. People would essentially pay real money to fund a virtual currency, which is not unlike those in-app purchases that are on some mobile games. The only difference is that these illicit markets are often unregulated and even warrant safety concerns. I got into a discussion with a few friends the other day, and one of them mentioned wanting to get a head start and purchase the game currency online. I was highly against the idea as it took away from the fairness of the game by giving him an advantage that most players typically did not have. I mentioned the security concerns he could be faced with, the fact that his characters might be removed from the game if he went through with the purchase, and how it could be perceived as an unfair advantage. And then he argued with me (in broad generalizations) about how he was working full time, did not get to enjoy a lot of the game's content fast enough, and that it was no different than making an in-app purchase, and that by purchasing gold he was helping the virtual economy. Which leads me into the next discussion point about how this illicit trade has ruined many game economies. The illicit trading of currencies and equipment has ruined many an MMO. There is no doubt that these markets will continue to exist and flourish so long as MMOs exist, but the impact that these black markets have had on the virtual economy is significant. These problems include currency inflation, equipment becoming much more expensive, and things being harder to come by. There are players out there who play the market economy in the games, people like me, and I have often felt occasions in which things became harder to operate with when these bots ran the market. In a sense, that is what happened with the original launch of Diablo III, which introduced the Auction House system, a feature that has since been removed due to player criticism. At some point later in the launch of the game, Blizzard for whatever reason introduced the Real-money Auction House (RMAH) that (speaking broadly) legalized purchasing gold. Currency became inflated. Money had no real worth anymore as a player could spend about six dollars and get dozens of millions of the currency. It became pointless to play the actual game as a player could sit on the Auction House and just purchase items to make their character better. Characterize that with weak itemization, a poor story, and lack of true customization, and you have a horde of angry Blizzard fans. The economy was ruined as some loot became tied to a physical worth, which could be hundreds of millions of gold or billions of gold. By saturating the economy with these real money markets, the ordinary players who played casually were the ones who were hurt the most. So, bringing this back to the community. GBAtemp is a community that likes to discuss issues that are, to say the least, on the gray side of things. Has anyone here participated in these illicit trades, and if you have, what did you learn from it? Do you find that it helped your gameplay? Do you find that participating in these markets had ruined the game economy? For those of you who chose not to, were there temptations to participate in the market? If you were tempted, what was the most tempting thing that almost got you into the trade? Humor me with your comments, and keep it civil, please!