Hello, readers, and welcome along to my cozy little corner where we get together to help a reader in need with a guild-related issue. As ever, I’ll weigh in with my two cents, but the best part is that our submissions for Guild Chat draw upon the whole Massively Overpowered community to get a broad range of opinions on the issue at hand. No matter how big or small your guild issue is, you can be sure that between me and the MOP readership you’ll have some excellent, practical advice.
Let’s hop into this edition’s reader submission! This time, our query comes from Rick, a commander in a 500+ person Final Fantasy XIV Free Company. He suspects that some of his guild members have been buying Gil, the in-game currency, to purchase gear to boost their power in the end-game content. The game’s terms of service forbid gold selling and buying, but Rick doesn’t have solid proof that they have bought their way to full gear. Check out his full submission below, and don’t forget to weigh in on the issue in the comments.
I was wondering if you can give me a little advice. Recently, I’ve had a problem in my Guild/Free Company in FFXIV with some suspicious activity among some members in the group. This activity is possible to do with buying or selling Gil/Gold. Basically, we’ve been seeing lower-level characters splashing inordinately high amounts of cash on new gear without much of a care as to the value or any care about how it looks. I know that in a lot of MMOs, making your first million doesn’t tend to happen overnight and certainly not before you reach level 50-60.
One player was level 37 when he/she told us that he/she spent a million gil readying for level 50, a player who it seemed had an obsession with the cosmetic look of the character. When questioned about it, the player said that he/she buys and sells items and uses guildmates to make items, supplying them with the materials. This doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny, and we suspect that our member has been engaging in the act of buying Gil, something that is not allowed under the Terms of Service and something we don’t condone.
My question in a nutshell is this: If you’re in charge of a guild/company/alliance that has a situation like this, how would you approach it and what action if any would you take?
This is a tricky one, Rick. One one hand, I stand firmly with you in that no guild should support activities that aren’t within the acceptable policies of the title you’re collectively enjoying. Purchasing Gil is seen as akin to cheating in most circles, and I totally get that it’s not something you want to see in your guild, especially since you got to the top the hard way yourself.
On the other hand, however, you don’t have any concrete evidence with which you can confront these guild members, and if you simply cut the people you suspect are engaging in this unwanted activity without bringing some sort of evidence forward, your company will ultimately suffer for it. Here are some ways you can either gather that evidence or encourage folks to do things the right way within your company.
A buddy system in which veteran members of your company guide novice players through the leveling and gearing process can most definitely help to reduce the urge newbies sometimes feel to buy gold to replace the time that is meant to grant them the goodies they want. If a more settled player takes an active role in each new player’s development, he or she will feel much less isolated and tempted to rush progress in order to take a more active role in your guild. It’s really hard to sit on the sidelines, so ensure that even your level-capped members open up the floor to those who aren’t by organising events with a lower level cap and taking alts on runs with levelling guildies.
Such a system not only brings newbies into the fold and discourages gold purchasing but allows the company management to spot problems much more easily by keeping responsible eyes on newer members. Problematic behaviours can be observed and reported with ease when guildies play in groups, and that includes sudden increases in Gil and gear. It’s far from foolproof, but if a player suddenly gets fully geared upon hitting the level cap and the guild members were grouped with him or her during their leveling process, it’s easier to say that a random unnamed friend could possibly have given them enough help to purchase all that gear legitimately.
The temptation to buy gear with bought gold will be greatly reduced if your company doesn’t set gear thresholds for joining in-house end content runs. Ensure that there are newbie, freshly level-capped runs led by experienced leaders, and you may find that players are happier earning their gear instead of becoming out of pocket for it. Making progression fun is absolutely critical to keeping your newer guildmates engaged and happy without resorting to spending real-world cash on in-game loot.
Gear runs are also a fantastic way to ease new players into the endgame content your company engages with without throwing them straight into your best teams or leaving them to find more casual groups to do their first runs with. It also gives the company management the opportunity to scout through those newbies to find some hidden talent to fill the gaps in your endgame teams. You won’t know how well those newly level-capped guildies will perform unless you run with them and help them get fully geared. No one is saying to sacrifice your main progress on these runs either: Think about keeping a well-geared alt just for that reason.
Make it known that certain behaviours, including the purchasing of Gil, are totally unwanted and unacceptable in your roster, and also be crystal clear in what the ramifications will be if anyone is caught engaging in those behaviours. Very clear guidelines and open reminders about what is and isn’t acceptable in your company is best. Although I can’t recommend a hardline delete-on-suspicion approach, that’s not to say that you should stay quiet on the matter either. Bringing it to the attention of the rest of the guild management, and perhaps putting out a guild-wide statement on what you’ve been noticing recently, will help warn people away from the behaviour. Heck, perhaps even having a sit-down chat with the suspected person with some of the more senior members of the company could go a long way to shedding light on the situation, if not solve the problem altogether.
Remember, however, that in-game currency purchasing with real-world cash isn’t against the terms and conditions set by every MMO and that the practice is very common across the board. Some games even facilitate the legitimate exchange of cash for in-game funds through their stores, so some of your newer players may well find buying in-game currency normal. Those players may not realise that buying Gil from unknown sources almost always means that someone was hacked and robbed of their in-game assets to create that money, and often people don’t see the cost of those actions until they are made clear. A general but very clear warning could be enough to clear up the issue, and if not, at least you can say that your guild members had fair warning before you wield the banhammer.
Over to you!
I’ve given my list of handy tips to prevent Gil buying, but now it’s your turn, readers. Purchasing the in-game currency is against the game’s terms of service, so I totally understand why Rick doesn’t want to encourage the behaviour in his Free Company. Although he hasn’t actually caught players purchasing Gil, discouraging the activity can happen right away, which will only serve to strengthen the group by forging better links between its rookie and veteran members. What do you think, though? Do you agree with my advice, or do you have more to add? Do you actively discourage gold purchasing in MMOs in which it is a bannable offence? How do you deal with rushers in your guilds? Help Rick out by adding your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to submit your own queries for future editions of Guild Chat by shooting me an email.
Thanks to Rick for this edition’s question!