Should I Buy World of Warcraft Gold?
World of Warcraft Gold - Is it Worth Buying?
Deciding whether to supplement your World of Warcraft experience by buying gold is a difficult decision. The primary two concerns that a would-be buyer must consider are the ethics of buying gold and the risks of buying gold. Before we discuss those topics, it is important to note that buying gold in World of Warcraft is forbidden according to the Terms Of Service agreement that all players must accept before playing. This does not, however, indicate that buying or selling gold in World of Warcraft is illegal. It is merely against the rules in WoW. That said, in the same sense that we have no legal right to sell the rental car we are renting to an unwitting neighbor, we probably do not have the right to sell something that another company claims to own -- even if they contend that this thing has no tangible value. And of course the distinction between selling the rental car and selling gold in world of warcraft is that the actual owner of that gold -- the one who has the claim to that property -- has not changed hands. Blizzard still owns it, whatever "it" happens to be -- the intellectual property, the pixels, the coding, or some set of property rights that hasn't even been fully described yet given that virtual property is such a new concept to the legal system.
If you are confused, this would be the point: gaming companies know
that they wouldn't be able to operate if virtual items suddenly became
the property of gamers. When a server crash could become conceptually
similar to a car crash, the original property holder, in this case the
gaming company, stands to lose everything unless they run a flawless
enterprise, which would be cost prohibitive even for a gaming giant like
Blizzard. Sellers of gold get around this gray area by claiming that
they aren't actually selling the gold itself, just the service of
acquiring it. Which makes some sense until you compare it with
something like growing corn. The two bucks you pay for a dozen ears at
the local farmer's market could, theoretically, be said to be paying for
the "service of providing the corn", which is just a convoluted way of
saying "12 ears of corn for sale".
The legal implications of the secondary market in MMORPGs is beyond the scope of this article. For now we'll stick with the notion that there is a nebulous commodity that exists in virtual worlds that individuals are willing to pay real money to get and that individuals are willing to invest real time to supply.
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Is Buying Gold in World of Warcraft Unethical?
When we talk ethics, we are talking right and wrong. There is a very loud contingent of players who insist that buying gold is wrong. They say it ruins the in-game economy, creates ill will and negativity among the player base, crowds popular areas, and generally lowers the overall fun quotient for the entire population of players. Then, there is the silent majority who enjoy playing the game and don't care what other people are doing. And finally there are those who choose to engage in the secondary market by buying or selling gold in world of warcraft.
Because World of Warcraft is merely a game, I tend to side with those who say that there is nothing wrong with buying or selling gold. Nobody's life or fortune is at stake. Nothing will be lost if WoW closed its servers tomorrow. The only ideal we are looking at is "fun", and to contend that the secondary market has anything more than minor bearing on the potential fun that any given player has is bordering on absurd. Ideally, everyone *would* play for the love of the game and immerse themselves in the world and never dream of leaving it. But that's not reality. Reality is that people work long hours in the real world, and when they get home, they want to play how they want to play. And because of the game mechanics in World of Warcraft, sometimes it becomes very hard to do the things we want to do because of the need to acquire gold. While it isn't a perfect analogy, it is kind of like telling a person that they can't play tennis right-handed until they have mastered tennis left-handed. In the grand scheme, does it *really* matter if your guild-mate paid real money for the five thousand gold it took to purchase his flying mount? In the grand scheme, if we aren't going to be playing on the pro tennis tour, does it *really* matter how we choose to play the game?
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Is Buying Gold in World of Warcraft Worth the Risk?
Probably not. First, let's talk about sellers. If you sell gold and Blizzard catches you, you will be banned. End of story. There is no fair warning, no second chance. The only way you'll be playing again is if you buy a new account. If Blizzard catches you buying gold, the answer is closer to "it depends" regarding whether you will be banned. But there definitely is the risk that you will lose your account. If you decide to buy gold, most buyers would say this: deal with someone you trust to be discreet, and always remember that Blizzard is watching. Personally, as someone who has never purchased or sold gold in World of Warcraft, but who does have experience with secondary markets for virtual goods, I would say it would be a better investment to learn how to make gold efficiently. But I certainly don't hold it against people who are trying to wring a few extra hours of fun out of the week who decide to take the risk in attempting to buy gold in World of Warcraft.