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Real world trading: Misc

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Runescape

Up to date as of February 07, 2010

From the RuneScape Wiki, the wiki for all things RuneScape

Real world trading (RWT), also called real world item trading (RWIT), or real money trading, is the act of trading anything outside of RuneScape (usually real world money) for RuneScape items or services, or vice versa. Legally, every item in RuneScape is the property of Jagex, and can therefore not be considered as personal property of the player. For that reason, players who conduct RWT violate rule 12, and may risk being permanently banned without warning.

There are two general kinds of real world traders: personal sellers and companies. Personal sellers are people who exchange virtual items and real money between friends and do it on a more casual basis, while larger groups and companies engaged in this practice via websites and on a more public and formal basis. Both kinds of RWT are considered violations of rule 12 and are treated identically by Jagex if evidence is presented or found to suggest a RWT action has occurred or is being arranged.

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Rule breaking

Real world item traders often get money and items in-game through devious means; they use bots to gather money and items, exploit bugs in the game, and scam players of their items and accounts, therefore making them the cause of the majority of rulebreaking ingame.

Because real world trading is against RuneScape's rules, some players have tried to find legal loopholes, such as claiming that the real money is paid for the time spent, that the transfers or real and virtual items are independent, or even that they were selling a joke and it came with an account/money. However, Jagex still says that these methods are against rules.

Over time, Jagex has banned many players for this behaviour and has implemented some updates in-game to stop this, but it has not been without controversy.

Rationale for being against RWT

See also: Macro

Some MMORPGs have been known to encourage RWT, and have even provided "legal" means to engage in trading items for "real world" money. For some of these games, there are even "stores" that allow you to buy in-game currency, or to be able to "unlock" special features of the game.

In the case of Runescape, the only difference paying some extra cash has is that you can pay for a membership subscription to provide access to member content and benefits. Other than that one exception, all players of Runescape are treated identically in terms of what sorts of content is available to them.

Andrew Gower, one of the co-founders of Jagex and the original developer who created RuneScape, pointed out that introducing the ability to engage in real world item trading significantly modifies player behaviour and puts players with access to significant "real-life" financial resources on an unfair footing with other players... distorting many aspects of game play and changing the relationship between the company and players. As a long time multi-player game player himself, Mr. Gower saw the impact of real-world item trades and how it changed the behaviour of players who obtained these items in other games. This is one rule that was established at the very beginning when RuneScape was still being designed and before any players even started to play this game.

An example of how this distorts the game play is in particular with "gold farmers", or resource gatherers that work for the RWT companies. While "macros" or "bots" are sometimes used for automating boring tasks, there are sometimes employees of the RWT companies who also are "playing" RuneScape with other more normal players. However, their purpose in being in the game is not necessarily to have fun or to try different things out... they are actually getting paid to perform menial tasks like chopping logs, mining ore, or engaging in other resource gathering that is of a considerably different nature than what a normal player would be doing. Some of these accounts are shared between multiple employees, so it isn't unusual for an account to be used 24 hours per day. Usually for some tasks where a player would eventually get bored with doing the same repetitive actions over and over again, the gold farmers "camp" out in resource gathering areas and take items from ordinary players. As these aren't really computers, but actual live people, anti-macro detection software like the Random events doesn't stop these sort of activities from taking place either.

Also, by permitting some sort of exchange to take place between the virtual currencies and real-world currencies, it opens up legal liabilities issues for Jagex and the player community for real-world taxation laws, including income taxes, violations of gambling laws in many countries or political jurisdictions, and regulatory oversight by banking institutions and the financial ministries (or executive departments like the U.S. Treasury Department... aka the IRS) over in-game content. This sort of government regulation is something companies like Jagex would like to try and avoid, and by keeping it as strictly a "game" and demonstrating enforcement of anti-RWT actions, Jagex is able to avoid having to report to these government regulatory agencies or be licensed as a banking organization.

RWT Criminal Behaviour

Upon review of the kinds of individuals involved with RWT, and in particular the corporate entities involved with this trade, discoveries of other sorts of real-life criminal activity has also taken place by these organizations.

Other criminal activities also occur, including money laundering where financial transactions from other criminal activity is included with income from RWT activities to "legitimize" the income, and to help provide capital resources for funding other criminal enterprises.

Perhaps the most significant issue that Jagex had to directly face was the use of stolen credit cards being used to pay for membership fees by RWT organizations. The credit card information was obtained from other criminal activities and then used to help pay for the gold farmer accounts on member worlds... where after a certain period of time it would be reported that the card was stolen. When this happens, the "vendor" (in this case Jagex) is required by the credit card agreements to "pay back" the charges that were not authorized by the legitimate account holder. This issue very directly impacted Jagex from a fiscal standpoint, and represented a significant loss of income for Jagex as a company. It is usually up to the "vendor" to try and recover the money if they can, but considering most of these RWT companies are well outside of the jurisdiction of a UK court there is little chance of actually recovering this money or even finding out who is responsible for the charges.

What ultimately proved to be the final breaking point for Jagex was when several of the banks that provided the credit card processing services for Jagex started to charge a much higher processing fee due to the excessive number of charge-backs that were happening compared to other internet-based companies. It should be noted that Jagex wasn't necessarily singled out individually, as nearly all on-line gaming companies have had to address this issue to one extent or another. In addition, these banks threatened to completely cut off these financial services, report Jagex to various credit bureaus as a fraudulent enterprise, and issued an ultimatum that Jagex had to get the RWT issue under control. Quite literally, the very existence of Jagex as a company was threatened and had anti-RWT policies and game changes not been enacted, RuneScape as a game would no longer exist either.

The removal of real-world-traders

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Jagex's initial response

On the 'RuneScape' December 'Behind the Scenes', Jagex informed everyone that they would be taking EXTREME measures in order to finally rid of RWT. A quote from the article:

"On a more serious note, many of you will be aware of our efforts to stop real-world trading and how some of our recent updates have been part of that. You may have questions about it: What does it mean? How does it affect the game? How big a problem is it? What are the ways of dealing with it? To answer these questions and more, we'll be releasing a very important Development Diary on the subject."

Jagex's actions

On 10 December 2007, Jagex created a Development Diary to explain what they've done with Real-World Trading. They found nearly every way possible to keep it from happening, including removing unbalanced trading, making a limit on how much people can stake in the Duel Arena, changing the way dropped items act, modifying the Party room and getting rid of player killing in the Wilderness, which was a favourite activity of some players. Jagex also stated that the Wilderness change was not only due to real world trading, but also because of their own decision to change the PvP aspect of the entire game. [1]

To replace PKing, Jagex added a new a mini-game called Bounty Hunter. In this, you are assigned a single player in the arena to kill, although you are still free to attack (or be attacked by) anyone, albeit with some penalties. They also released Clan Wars, a game where you and your clan go up against another clan in a war of up to two-hundred fighters. To compensate for the loss of player-killers, Jagex also added very dangerous and powerful monsters called revenants in the wilderness, in order to make the wilderness dangerous, even without actual players to attack you. Much later, Jagex also made player V.S. player worlds where players can attack each other anywhere in the world except in some banks and guilds.

Players' reactions

Due to these updates, riots broke out all across RuneScape, most notably in Falador on World 66. In tons of chaos, a normally empty world was as hard to get into as World 2 on a weekend. There were also many smaller riots going on around, and thousands of players reportedly quit the game. There was a common misconception that players that quit the game would cost Jagex money, however, the loss of tens of thousands of member RWT's far outweighed the loss of a few thousand quitting players.

Jagex revealed that Real World Trading had been much more devastating to RuneScape than anyone had thought. Not only had there been illegal trades of money for items and gold, but it caused many larger problems. Jagex stated that many RWT's committed credit card fraud, using stolen credit card numbers to pay for their P2P gold-farming accounts, costing Jagex a large amount of money.

Real-world traders' reactions

Since the updates, most of the various real-world trading companies have begun requesting the customer's account, password, and bank PIN, and then farm the gold on the customer's account, similar to power-levelling, as this is one of the only few options left for real world trading. Another method was transferring the items between accounts via Bounty Hunter (which is no longer possible). If one wishes to keep their account as safe as possible it is strongly advised that you do not visit ANY sites offering services that break any one of the RuneScape rules, as most of them will request, or through use of malicious software steal your account information. After the update the cost of gold rapidly increased. Some RWTs have been using the Grand Exchange to merchant items with the Buyer and Seller, by buyer buying a certain item at its lowest, and then selling it back for its highest. This is very common with low trade amounts. Higher amounts usually do not use this method, but them simply macroing the Buyer's Account.

External links


This article uses material from the "Real world trading" article on the Runescape wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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