Guild Chat: What to do when your guildies buy illegal MMO gold

    
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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.

Guild Chat, GUILD BANK1. Start a buddy system to encourage good behaviour

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.

Guild Chat, aucation house2. Start gear runs and recruit from the newly capped

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.

Guild Chat, guild house3. Put out specific warnings and point out unwanted behaviours from the beginning

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!

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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AGx
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AGx

“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”

Why, exactly, doesn’t this hold up well? I suppose it depends on the scrutiny but buying low and selling high is pretty common and widely recommended when newbies ask how to make money. I can personally vouch that it’s effective to a degree. I craft and sell a very select set of items. I monitor the prices daily and only sell when they are above a certain point. When they go lower, I buy up the cheap lot and reset the prices to the higher amount that it’s worth crafting for. I make around 3.5M a week doing this (roughly 500K/day). All it took was to get a single craft to 50 and I was able to do that with Guildleves and the funds I amassed by the end of the story. If you have a particularly friendly FC, someone who might have given a newbie 100K or so, I can easily see how a member could achieve the exact same thing I did in very little time.

I’m not trying to say those people are innocent but this story alone (as it’s presented) doesn’t prove anything. Additionally, I don’t know about the particular server they are on but on mine almost everything that used to be expensive got DIRT CHEAP after Heavansward dropped. So gearing up a Lv50 is nothing.

Bananni_Kerblammy
Guest
Bananni_Kerblammy

Gil is not hard to make in this game. I had 2M Gil by the time I hit 50. I found a niche in the market for certain crafting gear and made easy Gil. I also spent close to 1M Gil on mats to help powerlevel my ALC to 50 right after I hit 50 with my DoM class so I could meld my relic weapon for glamour.
While it’s true that perhaps his guildies are buying Gil, maybe they’re just good at playing the market. Gil is so easy in this game.

j0xer
Guest
j0xer

500 players is not a guild.  If you are in a position to kick them, do it they won’t be missed since in a “guild” of that size no one person can possibly matter.  If you are not in a position to kick them, leave and find a an actual guild rather than the zerg recruited mass of players you are currently in.

Honestly I’d just leave anyway, being a faceless name in a “guild” that size is not interesting in the least.

DrowNoble
Guest
DrowNoble

Simply put, if they admitted doing it and promised to not do it again, I’d give them a one-time free pass.  They’d have to tell the whole guild what they did.  They do it again, kick em and report em. 
If they did not admit to it, but got caught.  Kick em and report em.
Until an MMO specifically says “sure buy gold for $ all you want we don’t care” then it’s against the TOS.  Period.  No sugar-coating this.  If you “well I don’t have time to grind” then go play Hello Kitty Adventure.  Now some games have a token that you can buy with real money and sell in game for gold (or whatever) for subscriber benefits.  So there you go, a perfectly legal way to “buy” gold, while helping someone else in the game out who may have a lot of in game money, but not a lot of real world money.
The best way to stop the farmers, is to cut off their customers.

Jaed
Guest
Jaed

BoomBiddyBye  None, we were well known as respecters of the ToS and had a long enough application process that it weeded out the folks who wouldn’t conform. Back in the day, we were one of only four guilds in Blizzard’s guild exemplar program, and conforming strictly to the ToS ensured we had first access to beta keys.

AdeptusEnginus
Guest
AdeptusEnginus

My mentality is thus:
If the game does it themselves, I don’t care about it. I don’t care if someone buys Gold in Guild Wars 2, because the game and economy therein are kind of designed around it. If they bought it from third party sellers, whatever. On the one hand, I know that most third-party sellers get a lot of the gold they then pump out for a profit from stolen accounts and the such, but realistically it becomes in the game’s own best interests to be beefing up the security protocols for their playerbase and such.
If the game DOES NOT do it themselves, and especially if the economical side of the game is significantly relevant, then I do indeed have a serious problem with it. XIV’s economy is tied heavily into the housing and crafting segments of the game, so purchasing gold from a third party can give you a legitimate edge up over your competition. Same goes with a game like EVE, where the economy is some 3/4ths of the whole game.

That said, I’m not one to prying into someone else’s business. If you legitimately suspect someone of “illegal” RMT, than just send in a ticket and move on with your life. If it was true, they’ll get punished. If it isn’t true, nothing will come of it. No need to call them out or any sort of nonsense like that.

AdeptusEnginus
Guest
AdeptusEnginus

A Dad Supreme That is because Square Enix has literally taken the attitude that they do not care about parsers, provided that they are not damaging to the user experience of those who do not use them. Parsers do not “give you an edge” beyond allowing you to see your output and plan accordingly to get it higher. Using a Parser doesn’t give you an unfair advantage, and having one doesn’t somehow magically make you do more damage. The only reason it is against the ToS is because it is a UI Mod, and anything that modifies the client is against the ToS. There are other UI Mods besides Parsers that people use, but you never see anyone complain about those because they will pretty much never effect anyone else.
A Companymate of mine told me the other day about how he was once in a party with a very lazy BLM, who was dragging the party down and causing the dungeon to take significantly longer; information he was able to recognize because of the fact he was running a parser. After they wiped twice on the last boss and the BLM started trying to talk shit about how the party wasn’t trying hard enough, he called them out on it and, assumingly following the dungeon due to bitterness at being called on their behavior, the BLM reported him for using a parser.

A few hours later in the middle of an RP session, he suddenly got wisked away to “The GM room” where they asked him if it was true he had been using a parser, which he admitted to. The two GMs flat out told him that Squeenix doesn’t give a rat’s ass about players using parsers, so long as they don’t use them as an excuse to be an asshole. He explained the situation in the dungeon and why he had called the BLM out to them, and they sent him back to the FC house with little more than a good finger wagging.

Parsers are not somehow a special case of being against the ToS, they’re just UI mods which are as a whole against the ToS. Squeenix doesn’t mind them because they recognize the need for a way to gouge output in progression content, and provided they are not lessening the overall community experience (which they are not), they won’t go out of their way to hunt for them. In contrast, buying Gil has a directly negative impact on the in-game economy,  which is the lifeblood of the entire crafter side of endgame progression.

There’s a damn good reason Squeenix would care about one and not the other.

McSleaz
Guest
McSleaz

I have no problem with people buying gold in mmo’s. let them do what they want with their money. In some countries gold selling is a legit and taxable income.

confectionally
Guest
confectionally

When my friend and I started playing XIV, she’d already accumulated about 400k gil by the time she finished her 7-day trial.
Some people are just that good at farming.

Vunak
Guest
Vunak

As to the OP being concerned about a guildie. It really isn’t hard to make money in that game. I had 250k by the time I was level 30 by farming logs as a harvester and selling stacks for 30k a piece. And I was only selling what I was making while leveling up and still have about 10 stacks to sell. If I were actively doing it to make money instead of just to level up for later on, I could of made a million in a week or so easy, probably less. 
Its not like FFXI where you had to be a master crafter to make any substantial amount of gil, or farm for days. I think he is worried for no reason. Unless this guild member has never farmed (Harvesting/Mining etc.), or done crafting leves (as they can make a pretty penny as well). 
If it were my guildie and I knew for a fact that they bought gold or were selling gold, they wouldn’t be my guildie anymore. Cut ties very quickly. But only if I knew for a fact after extensive questioning and if I weren’t satisfied GM investigation.