Real Money Trading (RMT) in MMOs remains a hot topic of discussion. I understand the arguments on both sides of the fence. However, one of those arguments – it destroys the game economy should probably be put to rest. I recently learned that in addition to the widely known fact that Sony supports RMT on specified EQ2 servers, EVE Online allows a flavor of trading that amounts to RMT and to reduce the risk of being scammed, implemented a secure mechanism to facilitate the transactions. Did I just hear you say, “Wha?”
Let’s face it, gold farming is here to stay. As long as games geared toward adults contain pointless and monotonous time sinks to earn gold or purchasable rewards, there will always be someone willing to do the grind in exchange for cash. Lots of people don’t like it the idea of RMT. Millions may decry it. Yet tens of thousands of players participate in RMT transactions. From what I have gathered by reading the EO forums, CCP simply decided to provide a secure atmosphere to conduct the trading in order to protect players from fraud. ::Shrug:: Strikes me as a smart move.
Regardless, when I heard someone say in chat that buying ISK was allowed I was very confused, given that the CCP in-game “Message of the Day,” warned against buying ISK. I shrugged it off as non-sense talk until someone said, “Yeah, you do it via Timecodes.” I had no idea what that meant so I decided to search the EO website and voila, it appeared.
You Trade Timecodes for ISK
A Timecode (TC) is an EO-specific method of paying for your subscription without associating a static credit card to your account. You can purchase a TC for 30 to 100 days from what I saw. Then you take the TC unique signature value and apply it to your account to pay for and maintain your monthly subscription. Someone who wants to conduct legal RMT purchases a TC and locates a buyer. The buyer in turn provides the agreed upon amount of ISK to the purchaser of the TC in exchange for that TC. An example would be that you spend perhaps $24.95 on a 30-day TC and trade it to a player for upwards of 125M ISK.
This transaction is so fully legitimized in EO that you can freely post on the forums that you’re looking to sell or buy a TC, along with the transaction cost/fee. Cruise the forums and you’ll see hundreds of players participating in this trade activity. And all this RMT activity is in addition to the sanctioned ability to trade/sell characters. Given that I haven’t heard of or read any news about the universe or the economy failing in EO as a result, I guess allowing and supporting this kind of activity ISN’T in fact, the end of the world.
Even though a legalized method of trading money for ISK is available, since it isn’t directly money for ISK (TC is the medium) there is still Black Market RMT conducted by gold farming companies. They want actual money via a credit card, Paypal or whatever else they allow. So they are still out there clogging up the cosmic freeway and spamming players in chat. I suppose their lure for those who go that route is that they charge much less than $24.95 for an equivalent amount of ISK. I wonder how much business they do. With the risk of being scammed or keylogged in the course of the transaction, I wonder at the motivation of people who do that versus utilizing TCs.
Why Does TC RMT Work in EO
When I think of all the QQing from PVE players in World of Warcraft over the supposed welfare PVP epics, I can just imagine the magnitude of protests it would spawn if Blizzard were to legalize RMT is some form. We all pretty much assumed that the record setting raid guilds were all buying gold anyway, so it came as no surprise when guilds like Nihilum, admitted to as much. The rift between the haves and have-nots in WOW is more contentious than in any game I’ve ever played. When you compare the very simplistic risk versus reward model used in WOW, it’s a mystery to me why so many people care about what someone has acquired.
The reason that you can allow people to RMT in EVE versus other games I believe, is because you can have all the ISK you desire but if you don’t have the skills to equip AND utilize the item, then your wealth doesn’t do you any good. You can shortcut your way to wealth based on your real life access to discretionary funds but you still have to take the same time as everyone else it training skills. The time-sink in EO is in your skills training, which happens by the way, in real time.
Besides which, you can RMT your way into an expensive ship after training but if you haven’t been playing the game – against rats or other players, your precious ship will more than likely be turned into a steaming pile of scrap anyway. Any would-be hanger pilots should take that as a word of caution. If you skill up in the safety of you hanger, buy some ISK and float that boat, you can all but guarantee to be a very quick causality.
For this reason, players in EO don’t really care so much about the means by which you acquired your pretty toys. Training time is equal across all players. To survive in EO your training must be backed up by experience, skill and strategy, none of which can be purchased by your credit card.