China bans... Gold farming?!

No, it's not April 1st, and you're not dreaming. You might be high, I don't know what you do in your spare time, but yes you read the post title correctly.

The chinese government has put a nation-wide ban on the act of buying any virtual items or currencies with real money. Thus, nobody in China is allowed to buy gold in World of warcraft. Virtual money may only be used to buy other virtual items.


In Quote:

China has unveiled the first official rule on the use of virtual currency in the trade of real goods and services to limit its possible impact on the real financial system.

The government also spelled out the definition of "virtual currency" for the first time, which includes prepaid cards of cyber-games, according to a joint circular from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce Friday.

"The virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services." it said.

Under the new rules, using virtual money for gambling will be punished by public security authorities, and minors may not buy virtual money.

The Ministry of Culture also vowed to step up supervision on money laundering via virtual credits and other illegal online activities.

The statement said Tencent had strongly opposed the underground trading of virtual money, which could enable online theft and fraud. The company would work with the authorities to combat online crimes, according to the statement.



World first?

To my knowledge, China has put down a world first with this act. Not only properly defining the difference of virtual goods and services, but also banning the transactions between real and virtual goods.

Their actual reasons? Control most likely. Though it seems a very strange move from my point of view. The country is receiving REAL money (albeit trough virtual banks transactions and credit cards) for virtual goods and services such as World of Warcraft gold and powerleveling. It is GREAT news for all us players without a doubt, but it boggles the mind why (which is presumed to be) the most dictatorial and keen to censor and block, government in the world would put such an act forward. Surely they know that "they" are the prime benefactor here? Well, if you read the declaration you'll see it's about a lot more than just WoW gold, but still.



We all know the whole "chinese gold farmer" term, how that works in practice is slightly different from the most common conception however.

See:
* Close touch with a gold farmer. Describes how one would work for 14 hours a day and earn 100-200 Yuan a month. FYI 1 yuan = 0.104 Euros (or 0.146 $). So he was making around 10-20 euros a month, for 14 hours of work a day.
* Ludens - Gold Farmers. Which further describes the human side of the "job".

Commonly these chinese youths would be forking for far less than minimal wage. (As the above comic video tells you jokingly, for less than 10 cents per hour) They'd transfer their farmed gold to a company commonly based in the USA or simply residing in china itself, who would then store and sell the gold to American, European, Australian and commonly Chinese customers for huge profit.

Such sweatshops, and endless goldspam, account hacking so they can be stripped of their value should hopefully notice a drastic reduction due to this new Chinese Law. But I don't expect them to disappear completely. As long as there are idiots willing to pay real cash for virtual gold there will always be someone willing to farm it for you. Maybe no longer from china, but there's always Nigeria.


Poll end

One poll down: "Do you agree with the JC Nerf?".
Seems the crowd is rather divided about Blizzard's choice to change the dragon's eyes from being prismatic, to only a single color.

* Yes - 40 (48%)
* No - 32 (38%)
* I'd have done it different - 11 (13%)

Somewhat lacking in votes people!
And a new one up: "Have you ever bought gold?"
Go on, be honest.

6 comments

  1. The interpretation that the new regulation is about gold farming has spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, it is not correct – the regulation is about the Chinese government staying in control of currency movements within the country. It’s not targetted at gold farming, and unlikely to have much of an impact on gold farming.

    More details at the ICTs for Development blog: http://ict4dblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/china-bans-gold-farming-er-but-in-fact-it-hasnt/

  2. Yep, this has been clarried by the Chinese. It's NOT a bad on gold farm or gold selling and it won't effect games like WoW.

  3. Well, in theory, if you're not allowed to use virtual currency to buy real "things". Then you shouldn't be allowed to sell virtual money for "real" money.

    Go figure though.
    There's always hope.

  4. I haven't bought gold yet, but I might be getting busier, so i might in the future

  5. You can't take it with you....

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