Why Square Enix Should Officially Sell Gil in FF14
Real Money Traders (RMTs) are a royal pain in the backside. You'll find them in most MMORPGs, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (FF14) is no different. RMTs, or in FF14's case, "gil sellers," take players' hard-earned real life cash in exchange for currency inside the game. You may think, "What's wrong with that? That's a player's choice and prerogative."
But unfortunately, gil selling is not so benign a practise. It causes all sorts of problems such as hacking other players' accounts to steal money and items, or use hacks and programmes to gain advantages over other players to acquire the gil to sell on, which can actually break the game. So what's a developer to do?
The homepage of one of the many FF14 gil selling sites.
The War So Far
Square Enix (SE) have made a concerted effort to combat RMTs. Many players might feel that they're too slow to act, but better late than never, no?
The biggest help thus far as been actually making the items that RMTs were monopolising significantly more easy to come by. It's been by far the most effective measure yet tackling the problem at its root by out-supplying the demand, making gil selling much more difficult a process.
Yet they've not completely disappeared by any means. These activities are still happening, although to a lesser extent. Less of it is definitely good, but eradicating all gil selling is the ultimate goal. But how can that be achieved?
A YouTuber gives advice on where to buy FF14 gil.
WARNING: We do not endorse or recommend you use any of the websites suggested in this video.
A Case for Official Gil Selling
The reason the problem hasn't gone away is because the demand for it hasn't gone away. To be blunt, it never will. It does seem bonkers that people seem bent on purchasing a game only to not play it properly by buying their way to the top, but it happens. As long as people will use real life money to progress quickly in-game, RMTs will always be around to take capitalise on this. So why not just pander to these particular type of gamers and sell currency officially? By doing so, SE could potentially wipe out RMT activity.
Wouldn't it Make the Game "Pay-to-Win"?
No, because the way FF14 is set up means that is not possible. A lot of the end-game content and gear is literally priceless: it simply can't be bought, it must be won. What officially selling gil will do is make it "pay-to-progress". The thought of SE officially facilitating this does seem unsavoury, but the truth is it's already happening through current RMT activity, so it will just make it more visible rather than worsen the problem.
So How Will it Eliminate RMT Activity?
"Gil sellers are all about getting that real life moolah...If Square Enix starts selling gil at a rate that isn't profitable for them to compete with, then they simply won't do it."
It boils down to SE having the greater resources, meaning they can sell gil at a rate that severely undercuts RMTs. Gil sellers are all about getting that real life moolah through what they do. If SE starts selling gil at a rate that isn't profitable for them to compete with, then they simply won't do it because it isn't worth their time.
It will mean that a lot of in-game economy and resource rebalancing to make sure that it doesn't make buying gil a better option for everyone or complete unbalance the in-game economy.
Official gil selling will also make gamers' accounts more secure. SE can then better protect the accounts of those who want to buy gil by making them go through their own security measures.
It could also generate a nice bit of extra income for SE, meaning they can (hopefully) re-invest more money into FF14's longevity in terms of future new content.
Player Belial Nomoar of Moogle server shows off their end game gear.
Will It Solve All RMT Activity?
Unfortunately, no. RMTs will find other methods of plying their trade. "Power Levelling", where gamers leave their character with someone to quickly make them reach the top level, or offering to aid players through more difficult sections of the game, like "The Navel (Hard Mode)", are already happening. But at least these "services" pose less of a threat to the integrity of the game and do not inconvenience other players as much.
Acquiring and selling is the most basic and damaging of RMT practices. By playing them at their own game could be an incredibly efficient way to deal with them.
Will It Work?
In many cases it already does. Free-to-Play MMORPGs are doing just that. Good and successful "Free-to-Play" games have gotten the balance right between letting players progress sufficiently without forking out money against enabling others to get as far as far ahead as their wallets will allow them.
World of Tanks is a great example of just that. You can play the game fairly comprehensively without ever spending a dime, but if your really want to get that extra edge then the option is there for you to get an in-game gold boost should you want to, but it won't necessarily make you a better player for it.
Are We Tackling The Wrong Problem?
"Square Enix's efforts are effective, but only to a point. They'll never win the war against RMTs, so if you can't beat them, why not join and better them?
The more you look at it, maybe it isn't a question of "how do we fight RMTs?" Maybe the question is more about the sustainability and suitability of subscription-based MMORPGs. "Free-to-Play" seems to solve the problem by allowing players to interact with the game how they want to from the outset, thus obliterating a significant part of the RMT market.
SE's efforts are effective, but only to a point. They'll never win the war against RMTs, so if you can't beat them, why not join and better them?
For more information about Final Fantasy XIV:A Realm Reborn, visit http://www.finalfantasyxiv.com.
End game gear screenshot courtesy of http://www.belial.pt.