It’s interesting nowadays how people can make so much money from games when they aren’t even part of the company who published the game. Whether you are selling the DayZ (Arma II: OA) keys for the hackers/cheaters that were globally banned from battle eye or selling RS2/Battle.net/Steam accounts, the market has grown since the early 2000s. These are my experiences, thoughts, reviews and opinions of how I look at the gaming black market and just general things I wanted to blabber about.
I remember back in the day when I began playing Runescape 2 when I was 9 years old. I didn’t know much of the game or MMOs at all; it was my first major MMO. I was hooked. I loved playing legitimately. I would always see tons of level-3 players crowding around a Yew tree, which was odd because you needed at least a cutting level of 60 or 70. Back then, it took weeks or even months to progress to such a level. Little did I know, these so called “players” were not players. It was one man controlling all these characters, running a script called Aryan. Aryan was the first Runescape botting program that used colors to maneuver through the game and play it for you while you could walk away from the computer to do other things. This was definitely against the rules and Jagex’s team did not develop a very good bot detecting system back in 2003. Little did I know that these people did it not only for personal gain in-game, they did this to make money in real life.
The bots crowding around that yew tree, making money.
It was simple. Cut a bunch of yew logs, sell them to players for tons of GP (gold pieces) and then sell the GP to people around the world for real money. (1million GP was about 5-8 USD in 2003). Due to inflation of in-game currency, it has changed drastically within the last decade. This was one of the earliest methods I’ve seen on how to gain real life money from games other than stealing people’s Runescape accounts.
World of Warcraft 2006-2013
My experiences throughout World of Warcraft were awesome. This was a fantastic game during its start, all the way until about the end of Wrath. Then it got boring after Blizzard’s expansions: Cataclysm and Mists of Panderia. The real-life black market for in-game items/gold/accounts for World of Warcraft grew faster than you could say “Chinese.” This game became a target by Chinese gold farmers. Which actually hurt Blizzard (I’ll explain later).
There are a lot of ways you can make real-life money through World of Warcraft by selling selected services, items or characters.
- Selling in-game currency (of course! simplest of all ways to make quick cash!)
- Selling Epic items for real money (generally some of the best/really decent or rare equipment in the game that was tradeable between players)
- Botting (letting a computer play for you while you can go do your own thing)
- Honor Farming Botting Service for Battlegrounds (PVP Zones), these bots simply joined a PVP scenario and sat in the game and gained a currency called honor from players killing other players to increase their rank in PVP (gave a nice shinny title) and allowed you to purchase some awesome looking armor so you could sit in a city and look like the most bad ass player around.
- Power-leveling Service, gold sellers offered services by running bots to level you from 1 to the max level in the game in a very fast amount of time for quite the price though. (100-200 bucks at times). Some gold sellers did this legitimately, but most botted.
World of Warcraft Account Trading/Scamming/Buying/Selling
- There were a lot of scam websites that claimed if you gave your WoW user and pass you would get tons of gold! Some people fell for it which lead to their accounts and items getting emptied out into the big gold sellers pocket for 100% profit for when they sold it to other players later on.
- Selling/Buying accounts grew when players legitimately played/botted characters to a certain level and auctioned it online in various black market forums/websites.
WTF? Dead bodies? Wait, what does it say? www.freewowgold.com?
The funniest thing ever is when the gold selling companies that formed started to advertise. I will never forget some of the things they did. Some of them advertised in the general chatrooms that were made in each zone of World of Warcraft. In the major cities, most of the time you would see “Goldforwow.com blah blah blah 5$/1000g.” Once Blizzard started cracking down on the general chat rooms and monitoring the chat in general, the gold companies began creating a bunch of characters, kill them in the shape of letters and have the dead bodies spell out their website name. The picture above is an example of what they did in major cities of this game. The dead body remained there until the account became frozen (cancelled subscription) or when you ran back to your body and resurrected. Blizzard fixed this by making your body disappear within a short amount of time of dying in a city.
Interesting Documentary/Video: Chinese Gold Farmers
I once thought I had quit World of Warcraft back in 2008 and sold my level 70 Warrior (at the time that was max level) for 83 bucks, had some starting gear for end-game content, wasn’t too special. I thought I could scam the gold company back my character which I did for a while, went and recovered my account until they filed a complaint on my parents’ PayPal account asking for the money back or they would take it to collections. My dad and I laughed it off and paid the company back the 83 bucks while at the same time we were amazed on how serious the business was.
BBC Covers a Story dealing with WoW gold selling
Today, the black market for WoW is expanding, but this meant more money out of Blizzard’s pocket. Whenever someone’s account was hacked and/or stolen, they would obviously call Blizzard Tech Support and sit on the god awful phone line for 30 minutes on hold just to recover their accounts. More and more accounts were being hacked, lost, stolen etc. so Blizzard had to hire more customer service representatives. I don’t think it took a very big toll on Blizzard, but it’s still a pain in the ass and it hurts the companies market (even though they net billions of dollars a month). This happened to Jagex as well, the creators of Runescape/Runescape 2. Sadly, it’s a trend that will never end due to the buying/selling of accounts of any game.
DayZ – 2012-Present
Nowadays, after my departure from that insane addiction to World of Warcraft, it seems like any game I register and download, there is a black market for it. A very new market that is uprising is the selling of Arma II: Operation Arrowhead game keys. This was due to a famous mod created called “DayZ.” It’s a zombie game where you have to survive as long as you can. It’s a very cool mod and a standalone version is coming out sooner or later this year. The creators of Arma II had a anti-cheat engine called BattlEye watching over their servers; it’s much like punk buster or any anti-cheat engine. People loved to hack and spawn items for themselves in Dayz. BattlEye prevailed by immediately global banning you if you were caught “scripting” or spawning items into the game. Global Ban means you are banned from ANY multi-player game within Arma II, even if its a different mod, no questions asked, no appeals. (Believe me I tried appealing my ban after trying to hack once). Pretty much screwed after that, but, there is a work around; for a price.
There’s a black market for almost any game. DayZ does not have currency, wasn’t worth it to buy a weapon from someone with real life money because one, it wasn’t the same load out on every server (meaning gear on one server didn’t carry over to another) and if you died, you lost everything. The CD key, though, is worth something.
The keys sell from $2-3 depending on the seller and all the keys are stolen from people who fall for the Youtube videos that are created that have a little special link in the description of an “awesome hack” that you can download, which is actually there to snatch your CD key and send it back to some guy sitting at his computer selling Arma II keys to hackers. BattlEye prevailed by banning all stolen keys by waves every couple of days so the phishers fish more keys, they sell them to the hackers/script kiddies who get banned every couple of days over and over and eventually just make some good money. Some of these guys do it for a living and are always on Skype trying to get me to buy another key. I just went and bought another copy of the game from GameStop because I was sick of all my keys getting banned.
I’m hoping this scamming/trading trend doesn’t carry over to the standalone game of DayZ, it would be a sad sight.
These salesmen in the gaming black market simply amaze me. Whether if you are scamming/cheating to get your money in these games or legitimately playing and selling your characters/accounts, big bucks are always at hand.
Although, I think gaming companies are going to take a hit on these salesmen, foreign or not, with lawsuits and new laws. Hopefully, they’ll slam these salesmen and maybe even their customers with some heavy fines and quite possibly jail time if they keep it up. I have a feeling that this will happen when it begins to effect the gaming companies stock market price per share.