1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Real Money Trade

"Don't even get me started on you gold farmers,
you gotta make a living, but I need that armor."
— Futuristic Sex Robotz, World of Warcraft

The purchase or sale of online game equipment, currency, or even powerleveling services for real money to a third party without the involvement of, and in the majority of cases against the wishes of, the game's publisher (which is the difference between this and Bribing Your Way to Victory). A common plague of MMORPGs, and the reason why good ways of making money in-game are often nerfed by the publisher after some time. Some game operators may offer a legitimate channel for players to buy and sell virtual items from each other in order to stem some of the more negative elements of restricting such trade to the black market such as spam, fraud and cheating by use of automated bot. A rare but growing few have built their worlds entirely around player-to-player RMT where the company makes money by taking a cut as a transaction fee, or even open content creation to players so aspiring artists and technicians can sell their work on the open market.

Contrast Allegedly Free Game, which is when the game advertises itself as free but requires you to pay money to unlock content, and Microtransactions, the sanctioned equivalent.


References to RMT

  • Referenced in Welcome to the N.H.K., as one of the protagonist's failed money-making schemes.
  • In .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet, Hotaru doesn't have any gold, so she considers paying real money in return for medicine for the Team Pet. Shugo quickly talks her out of it. It turned out that the "gold farmer" she was speaking to was an admin in disguise, who was actually manipulating them into rejecting the offer and instead going to fight the ridiculously high-leveled monster in the field that had the medicine.
  • One episode of .hack//Roots is dedicated to a side character's efforts to shut down a group of Real Money Traders.
  • A side character in the GU games has a hacked weapon that was bought via real money trading.
  • The Cory Doctorow short story "Anda's Game" is entirely dedicated to the titular character's interaction with a bunch of gold farmers in an imaginary MMORPG.
  • Also by Cory Doctorow, an attempt to unionize illegal gold farmers forms much of the plot of For the Win.
  • One character of Walter Jon Williams' This Is Not a Game makes most of his income by gold farming and ganking — while at his official phone support job.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del made a comic (and now a poster) describing "MMO Hell" with major offenders being punished Divine Comedy style. Gold farmers and gold buyers are lumped together in the 4th circle; farmers are punished by being submerged in putrid soil and have to dig for gold coins that always slip just a little bit deeper into the muck, while gold buyers are weighed down by countless thousands of gold coins and have to crawl to buy their salvation from a vendor that is always out of reach.
  • In the Noob multi-media franchise, one character got his former high-level avatar banned as a punishment for buying in-game stuff on a website called farmerchinois.com ("Chinese farmer").
  • Neal Stephenson's Reamde centers around gold farming and RMT. The dominant MMORPG, T'Rain, got that way by legitimizing the practice, and thereby unseating World of Warcraft.
  • Real Life example: Julian Dibbell famously spent a year trying to make a living primarily as a Real Money Trader in World of Warcraft; he wrote a blog, and later a book, about the experience.
  • On Person of Interest recurring character Leon Tao decided to make money by using his experience as a crooked accountant to get into the RMT business. However, the segment of the RMT market he tried to corner was controlled by the Russian mob and they did not take kindly to interlopers. The Russians decide to kill him as a warning to others and only Reese's intervention saves Leon from death.
  • In The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor this is one of the main plot devices. The main character is trying to pay for his grandmother's hospital bills and his younger sister's college education through RMT. He was inspired after finding his account for an old Korean MMO sold for about $3million (as part of a company's marketing campaign). When loan sharks come to take most of this money, he finds himself with enough to pay all of his family's expenses for about two years, just enough to train in martial arts and study the new hit VRMMORPG Royal Road. (Currently in Korea, RMT is very common, to the point that it was just recently made an official taxable source of income.) The main character plans on becoming a professional in RMT.
  • In FoxTrot, Jason decides to spend one summer vacation being a gold farmer on World of Warcraft. It turns out not to be as easy as he thought it would be.

Examples of Illegal RMT

Some examples in games where Real World Trading is not allowed (through laws, or in game user licenses):
  • In World of Warcraft, RMT has grown in leaps and bounds along with the player base. In the classic game, the majority of illicit gold was supplied by bots that endlessly farmed rare items and sold them on the Auction House, and was advertised via in-game chat. As Blizzard's anti-bot technology grew more sophisticated, buying fully upgraded expansion accounts grew more expensive, and restrictions added to eliminate chat spam, the majority of trade is now in gold stolen from compromised accounts of legitimate players and advertised via the web. Further, it's rumored that major segments of this multi-million dollar business are controlled by organized crime. (Dollars to donuts is that the banner ad on this page, right now, is for a WoW gold-seller. Do not click on it.) Eventually Blizzard decided to combat the endless flow of gold-farming bots by simply letting players buy gold (indirectly; it's through buying a token that can be redeemed for gold at the auction house), causing the number of illegal real-money traders to plummet. They're still around, but they're a dying breed.
  • City of Heroes has been dealing with these, starting with the introduction of craftable Invention Enhancements. They usually advertise by creating throwaway characters with random strings of letters for names to send out tells and the otherwise barely-used in-game e-mail system. The makers of the game have tried to combat them with the /ignore_spammer command to streamline the process of reporting them, and by not allowing characters under level 10 to use the e-mail system.
  • In 2005, a man was stabbed to death in China after he sold a sword someone had lent him in The Legend of Mir 3. Source.
  • Final Fantasy XI has its share of this problem, and Square Enix is very much against it. RMTs tell-spam with impunity using disposable free trial characters, and just about every ad you find on any FFXI-related site is for gilsellers. RMT frequently abuse the fishing system with "fishbots" (turning fishing into a simple minigame didn't deter them for long; in fact, it opened up a new exploit that expedited the system), use cheats to complete quests more quickly than should be possible, exploit high NPC resale prices, and monopolize Notorious Monsters with salable goods. To combat them, SE created the Special Task Force, which has successfully reduced the severity of the problem. However, SE is also so paranoid on the matter that probably the best way an unscrupulous person could eliminate someone they don't like from the game would be to devise a plausible way to accuse them of RMT... especially as one is not allowed to defend one's own casenote . It's also gotten to the point that the RMT are actually hijacking player accounts in order to get the gil to sell, usually destroying years of work. It happened before the anti-RMT levels became so dramatic, but it's incredibly common now.
    • RMT is also a big problem for Square's second Final Fantasy online game, Final Fantasy XIV. RMTs will usually spam shouts with links leading to their sites for people to buy gil. When players started to turn off the shout feature, RMTs then started to spam people through tells (private messages) and the even more aggressive RMT may send friend requests to unsuspecting players so that anyone who blindly accepts the request will have their inbox flooded with spam. Square did try to combat the situation by adding filters to screw up an RMT's ability to advertise, but RMTs fought back by just altering their spam messages that composed of what looks like a computer trying to learn how to be human. While RMT is still a big problem, Square attempted to RMT-proof future content by making it where RMT can't get an advantage, such as Triple Triad cards not being tradeable with players.
  • RuneScape had this problem during 2007 where it has become an obvious issue to the folks at Jagex. They tried to combat it with Trade Limits, death drops and making it so it will be difficult for gold farmers to use types of gold selling which require a heavy deal of trust. However, the crowd was rather angry to learn of this after. This was removed in February 2011.
  • Reselling Steam accounts online will result in legal action if the country has a DMCA type law.
  • Habbo Hotel property is frequently sold online usually as "a joke", but the company itself shuts down online sales pretty quickly.
  • eBay banned virtual property sales under pressure from such companies, and eventually banned all digital deliveries because of the amount of fraud. Consider that the reason why you can't sell virtual property is because there is nothing preventing the person selling it to you from stealing it back from you by claiming they were hacked, or even using the lost-password feature.
  • In Ace Online, the GMs have warned against, and banned, people who sell cash-shop credits and player accounts (or characters).
  • Ragnarok Online, being the aging MMO that it is, obviously has real problems with these people ... albeit less so now due to a somewhat unusual tactic. The game now has three servers besides the test server. The first two, Chaos and Loki, have a 25% increase in experience income and item drop rates, along with a few other advantages. They are also only accessible to subscribing players. By comparison, the Valkyrie server is free, and does not require an active subscription to get in, thus acting as the game's free trial and making its money though premium items. The catch? Valkyrie is effectively a glorified RMT trap, since the premium servers require a working credit card and payment for access.
  • League of Legends champions are bought with IP (earned in-game) or RP (Bribing Your Way to Victory), both of which can be bought illegally on the web. In Dominion you may run into an AFK IP farmer - a summoner even more useless than the beginner bots, controlled by macros or a simple program, whose characteristic behaviour includes standing under towers and dying, standing in front of enemy champions and dying, and punching minions as you are horribly murdered nearby. Because your first victory of the day gets you a +150 IP boost, farmer bots Only Have To Win Once.

Alternative Title(s): Gold Farming