Have you ever gotten frustrated by gold farmers hawking their wares and spamming game chat? Had to listen to a guildmate’s story of woe about a hacked account and stolen identity? Or submitted a petition and been told that you’ll have to wait because the customer service team is busy cleaning up the mess left behind by keyloggers and spyware left on people’s computers after they tried a game “add-on” that contained a trojan?
These problems plague online games because there are people willing to destroy the play environment in order to make money selling gold. They’re called real-money traders, and they’re willing to commit online crimes like identity theft, account theft, and credit card fraud because collectively they earn billions of dollars each year. That's right, billions.
There’s no way for En Masse alone to win the war against the gold farmers and real-money traders. They have strong financial motivations to commit crimes, and most live in places where they can’t be prosecuted for those crimes. So we’re going to change the rules. We're going to take steps to limit that kind of problem in TERA by enlisting you, the community. We’d like your help to make life difficult for real-money traders.
It all starts with a new type of item we're adding to the game: chronoscrolls. Players use these items to extend their game time. Each chronoscroll is the equivalent of a one-month game subscription payment. Chronoscrolls are purchased directly from our website and delivered to your character’s inventory. You can use them to extend your play experience for another month or trade them in the game with other players for gold.
In essence, chronoscrolls allow players to get more gold when they need it by helping other players play for free! This system undercuts the value of gold farming and real-money trading, making TERA a less profitable place for criminals to do business. The bad guys don’t want more game time—they’re already using stolen credit cards and stolen accounts to get free game time. By exchanging a chronoscroll for gold instead of purchasing it from the bad guys, you’ll be eliminating the market that makes it so attractive for these criminals to cause problems.
If you've never purchased gold, and you're wondering why this new chronoscrolls system is a good addition to the game, consider this: whether chronoscrolls exist or not, other players are buying gold from real-money traders. By creating the opportunity for players who already buy gold to purchase it legitimately, we help eliminate the incentive for real-money traders to target TERA.
Players can only sell chronoscrolls for gold if others are willing to buy them, and supply and demand will determine their market value. The more chronoscrolls offered for sale, the lower the price will be. If a player tries to sell one at too high a price, nobody will buy. If many players want chronoscrolls, the price in gold will increase.
Players purchase gold for many different reasons: powering alternate characters through lower levels quickly, trying to catch up with friends who have leveled past them, a desire to focus their play time on a part of the game they enjoy, and more. Gold purchases fill a useful function for these players. So why not just allow them to buy gold from real-money traders? There are reasons why we want to keep those dealers out of TERA.
When accounts are used to “farm” gold, those accounts are doing harm to the game. This type of activity adds more gold to the game than normal play would produce, which leads to unwanted inflation. Gold farmers can also make it hard for regular players to find the creatures they need to complete quests or build reputation—an organized gold farming operation can clear areas as fast as the monsters respawn. And gold farmers aren’t really playing the game. They’re not interacting with other players and building a community. They’re not forming parties and guilds. They’re adding nothing at all to the shared experience of the game.
Gold farmers are very sophisticated. They know how to make their operations appear similar to the actions of a good group of organized players. They change accounts frequently, and they use many layers of intermediate accounts to disburse the gold they generate. They use sophisticated techniques to make their internet address hard to track from session to session, and impossible to locate geographically. It’s a cat-and-mouse game they’ve played for more than a decade, and they’re very, very good at it. Even though customer service and game master teams keep banning them, gold farmers persist in every MMO as unwanted parasites.
Gold farmers are only part of the problem. Real-money traders cause further issues. By and large, they’re criminals. Many engage in serial fraud; stealing money from players, and using keyloggers and other malware to hijack their customer’s computers. They engage in identity theft, using their customer’s bank accounts and personal information.
The customer service and game master teams spend an inordinate amount of time helping to clean up the mess the real-money traders leave behind. Dealing with this problem soaks up hours of time we’d rather spend helping customers with service issues related to gameplay, not to the criminal activity they’ve exposed themselves to. Players abiding by the terms of service deserve our full attention. Every time we process a petition for help due to the aftermath of real-money trading, that’s one fewer legitimate petition our team can process. By cutting down the amount of these real-money trading service issues, we improve the experience for every one of our customers.
The real-money traders know that their profit exists only as long as TERA has no formal authorized mechanism to allow players to acquire gold. As the chronoscroll market develops, players who used to buy gold from real-money traders will instead use chronoscrolls to trade with other players, entirely bypassing the real-money trading sites. In response, real-money traders will have to lower their prices. Eventually, providing gold to TERA players will become unprofitable and many will give up or move on to another game. Without the real-money traders to sell to, the number of gold farmers will then decline.
Instead of engaging in real-money trading that violates TERA’s terms of service, risking account banning or, worse, fraud and identity theft perpetrated by the vendors of real-money trading, chronoscrolls provide a safe and authorized way for players to exchange gold for game time purchased directly from En Masse. It’s the best of both worlds: a method to enable a “free to play” experience for one group of players, and a system that allows other players to legally acquire the gold they need to play the game the way they want to play.
Still have questions or concerns? Looking for more details on how we plan to implement this system? Post your questions in this forum thread or check out our detailed chronoscrolls FAQ on TERA-Online.com.