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Why don't Blizzard (and other devs) sell gold?

KVWKVW Registered User regular
edited March 2008 in MMO Extravaganza
I've never actually bought gold online, but after playing MMOs for 5 or 6 years, I've known several friends that have bought gold online, specifically for WoW and with the popularity of WoW, when I played, I was spammed to visit sites at least once a day for 2 years.

Clearly, Blizzard doesn't want gold farmers or sellers and tries to ban them whenever it can, but it's not something they can police or eliminate with any level of satisfaction.

So, why don't they, and all games, sell gold in microtransactions? People obviously want it since they do buy it. Farmers are making money off it and Blizzard can't stop them. Why fight it when you can profit off it? It would end the constant mail and bot spamming and reduce the amount of people required by Blizzard to try and police something they can't stop and give them a new source of revenue.

I know a lot of people hate the idea of buying gold, but if Blizzard came out and offered it in the same manner they make you pay for server transfers, I wouldn't really complain that much. Put level restrictions on amount of gold you can buy so you can't just start the game with 10k gold or something ridiculous, but can go out and buy a 100g for a mount at 40 if you want or 5k at 70 for epic flying, etc.

I'd love to see them do this just to stop the damn spam every day. Gold farmers / sellers are out there, everyone knows it, may as well make it official and put a stop the things non-gold buyers find detrimental (spam, etc).

Is there a reason no company has tried selling gold to customers or is it some taboo they don't want to even attempt for some reason?

KVW on
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    devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Doesn't SOE handle this with an official website and mechanic?

    devoir on
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    DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    in almost every aspect of life, the rich are able to buy their way to the top

    i wouldn't want it to happen in WoW.

    Dhalphir on
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    Undead ScottsmanUndead Scottsman Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Blizzard officially equating in-game gold with real-world currency is just begging to be whallop'd by the IRS.

    Undead Scottsman on
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    rucdocrucdoc Crazy guy in the corner ClassifiedRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    there is a mechanic in EVE online to allow something like buying ingame money, they allow people to sell game time cards for in game monies, and the price floats and is based on what people are willing to pay for them. as such some make isk selling them and others of us don't have to pay for their accounts

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    ZythonZython Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Blizzard officially equating in-game gold with real-world currency is just begging to be whallop'd by the IRS.

    They can just claim that the gold has no cash value, like a Chuck-E-Cheeze token.

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I would hope that the answer is that just flat-out selling gold damages the integrity of the game.

    INeedNoSalt on
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    OptyOpty Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    By introducing a path for people to buy their way to the top, you end up with a non-controllable entryway for gold into the economy. Thus prices have to rise lest gold become worthless and thus buying gold becomes worthless. But if you do that the people who don't pay will eventually get cut off because the amount of gold generated by the game is much less than gold purchasing and so they quit when they get tired of feeling like they need to buy gold to play the game.

    Opty on
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    lifeincognitolifeincognito Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Blizzard doesn't sell gold in WoW because gold no longer has a value.

    By putting in numerous amounts of ways to easily make gold they are trying to devalue gold to discourage gold farmers. The best way to make gold is no longer to farm/bot for it because doing dailies trumps any farming (unless you are a protection paladin pulling half a zone).

    In fact gear and items now cost badges/honor/arena points. It appears professions are the only aspect of the game that still require a large financial investment if you aren't willing to farm the ore/cloth/items/leather for your trade.

    lifeincognito on
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    -SPI--SPI- Osaka, JapanRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Because destroying their own ingame economy wouldn't be a very sound business move. If they started selling gold it would be less than a month than it would no longer be an option, you would be forced to buy gold just to be able to deal with the rampant inflation the influx of money would cause.

    Plus it eats away at their reputation and quite frankly it isn't that hard to get gold through legitimate means anyway.

    -SPI- on
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    rehtonAesoohCrehtonAesoohC Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    -SPI- wrote: »
    it isn't that hard to get gold through legitimate means anyway.

    rehtonAesoohC on
    Was wowed by Rift so I'm trying that now.
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    ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    -SPI- wrote: »
    it isn't that hard to get gold through legitimate means anyway.

    With daily quests in the game (particularly the new ones in 2.4), gold is so easy to come by that adding it for sale would just be superfluous at best, and harm server economies at worst.

    Forar on
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    FryholeFryhole Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    But it already happens, which is his point. Blizzard or not, people are buying gold.

    Also, dailies are easy to do but it's not a guaranteed if you're on a pvp server.
    Plus, it costs time and people are lazy.

    Given everything else they sell, server transfers, name changes, etc, obviously they have some qualm about selling gold. They're doing everything they can to make money off WoW - if they could milk gold sales, I believe they would do it. Can you see their share holders, gathered around a gold-laden round table saying hey guys it wouldn't be morally right for us to sell gold.

    Fryhole on
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    Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver You don't have to attend every argument you are invited to. Philosophy: Stoicism. Politics: Democratic SocialistRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    Fryhole wrote: »
    But it already happens, which is his point. Blizzard or not, people are buying gold.

    Also, dailies are easy to do but it's not a guaranteed if you're on a pvp server.
    Plus, it costs time and people are lazy.

    Given everything else they sell, server transfers, name changes, etc, obviously they have some qualm about selling gold. They're doing everything they can do make money off WoW - if they could milk gold sales, I believe they would do it.

    Blizzard is prosecuting those who are selling gold and they are banning those who buy gold.

    They clearly want to maintain a certain type of economy on their servers, and to do so means that gold is only obtainable through specific outlets.

    Munkus Beaver on
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    formatformat Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    By increasing the amount of gold going into the economy without increasing the money going out inflation will occur.

    If I can buy gold easily, instead of farming the mats for my shadow resist/enchants/gems I will buy it instead, which lowers the supply of primals/enchanting mats/gems and increases the price. The people who put up those primals to make their money will stop farming the primals which decreases the supply even more. Now the price of primals/enchanting mats has hit the roof so people have to buy even more gold.

    format on
    You don't know if I am joking or not.
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    RivulentRivulent Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Dhalphir wrote: »
    in almost every aspect of life, the rich are able to buy their way to the top

    i wouldn't want it to happen in WoW.

    But in a likewise fashion, aren't those who have the most time to devote considered the "rich" in WoW? An wealth can be obtained in real life in similiar fashion: Devoting a lot of your time to this goal, one way or another. I guess what your saying is you don't a person's standing in life to affect their prestige in WoW, but in reality parody is inevitable, because those who have the most time to devote (students, trust fund babies, housewives, etc.) to the game are the ones who excel.

    Then again, if I were a trust fund baby, I'd probably be hosting sexy parties constantly rather than grinding quillboars in WoW.

    Rivulent on
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    formatformat Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Fryhole wrote: »
    Can you see their share holders, gathered around a gold-laden round table saying hey guys it wouldn't be morally right for us to sell gold.

    While blizzard is a company in the business to make money, I believe they also want to keep some type of legitimacy. Blizzard really focuses on trying to keep the game interesting, challenging, and fun. They obviously care a little bit about the playerbase and the integrity of the game.

    Case in point: If they didn't care about the integrity of the game everyone could teleport anywhere in the world, which would be a great addition in all accounts. But since blizzard wants distance to mean something, if you want to get to Tanaris from ironforge you have to fly, take that damn boat, and fly again.
    edit: They have gone back on this a bit. With epic flying mounts, you CAN get from one side of outland to the other in less than five minutes, but it costs a large amount of gold to do so.

    format on
    You don't know if I am joking or not.
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    rehtonAesoohCrehtonAesoohC Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    The problem is that gold farmers don't spend any of the money they make... I'm sure a lot of the gold that is now farmed comes from doing daily quests on hundreds of different characters, and all they have to do is send all the gold gained to one source. If those characters were being played by regular people, the money they made from the game environment would normally be spent on other money sinks in the game environment (epic flying mounts, riding training, profession training, repair bills, raid materials from vendors - holy candles and the like, etc) but instead, none of that ends up into the traditional money sinks.

    The reason Blizzard has a firm stance against farmers is because they upset the balance that Blizzard tries to maintain by creating money sinks. And, as everyone has already stated, inflation happens. The currency starts to get devalued, and then they end up with a situation where legitimate players don't need to farm anything or play the game to achieve top status in some ways. In WoW, at least money is still worth something. Having a lot of gold is a good thing and not useless.

    rehtonAesoohC on
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    ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Also, there is a finite use to gold.

    Unless you're going to go crazy and try to buy every recipe you can for insane prices, once you have your 5,000 gold mount, maxed out whatever crafting professions you might want, and have enough cash and consumables on hand for raiding, pvp or whatever you do, further gold is essentially superfluous (or dedicated to alts, alt professions, whatever), so having 2,000,000,000 gold doesn't really do that much for an individual.

    It would, however, drive prices up for everyone else, as you now have covered your expenses, and have all the cash to waste that you could want. Buy up the entire auction house? Sure thing! Dominate one segment of it? Have at 'er! Gold currently comes in at a reasonably predictable rate; most people (not all, but most) will only do so many dailies, or so much farming, or get so lucky with drops, allowing them (Blizzard) to set benchmarks. 5,000 gold in the current system, even with all the new dailies and the increased daily limit, is a lot. It's a significant sum that represents time and effort (and luck) on your behalf, or the behalf of those who have donated to your cause. If you could just buy gold, Blizzard would either have to make these challenges lengthier (lest they become utterly trivial), or just accept that those with excess finances to waste will simply have anything they offer as an incentive or reward immediately and without effort.

    Forar on
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    LaonarLaonar Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    ^^has no life.... thats way to many 70s and this comment is way off topic.... and im jealous... lol

    Laonar on
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    ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Laonar wrote: »
    ^^has no life.... thats way to many 70s and this comment is way off topic.... and im jealous... lol

    L2abuserestedn00b. :P

    Forar on
    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
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    LaonarLaonar Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Forar wrote: »
    Laonar wrote: »
    ^^has no life.... thats way to many 70s and this comment is way off topic.... and im jealous... lol

    L2abuserestedn00b. :P

    LOL.. i have a 70 hunter and warrior... lol no hard feelings was just amazed

    Laonar on
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    Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Laonar wrote: »
    Forar wrote: »
    Laonar wrote: »
    ^^has no life.... thats way to many 70s and this comment is way off topic.... and im jealous... lol

    L2abuserestedn00b. :P

    LOL.. i have a 70 hunter and warrior... lol no hard feelings was just amazed

    You'll get used to Forar. He's certifiable.

    Blizzard becoming a gold seller would definitely crash the economy. At least with farmers, they have to stock the AH (Discounting dailies) to earn gold. This keeps the economy moving and also puts downward pressure on prices. The AH works very well off of simple supply and demand economics. Farmers are helping provide supply which then minimizes the inflationary pressures of demand.

    Since vendors don't really sell anything worthwhile at the end-game, if Blizzard started selling gold inflation would literally run out of control. It would very quickly push out any players unwilling to buy gold. Essentially, Blizzard would doom their game by doing this without completely overhauling the way the ingame economy is set up.

    Nova_C on
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    LaonarLaonar Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    If you play Starwars Galaxies or did, everything on there is now extremely expensive due to credit farmers. Things that used to cost a million creds, are now so expensive its not even worth playing.

    If they sold credits it would destroy the economy.

    Laonar on
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    Zephyranthes91Zephyranthes91 Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    the one reason blizzard doesnt sell gold is because it is illegal to sell virtual items for real world currency, it is banned on ebay because of this law, people used to sell gold on ebay. the reason gold farmers can get away with it is because they say your donating a certain amount of money for nothing, and you may be rewarded for this donation, thats how gold farmers get away with it.

    Zephyranthes91 on
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    LaonarLaonar Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Its not illegal for WoW to sell it. Each company can sell their own products (Hint first page of PA they talk about selling guns for Battlefield) Gold is no different. It is however for you are me to sell gold as it breaks the agreement you click when you first install and everytime you dl a new patch. This is why Ebay got in trouble, people were selling property taht doesnt belong to them. You anything on a MMO it is all property of the company who made the game, you just play to play the game.

    Laonar on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Yeah, buying virtual items with money is certainly not illegal.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    Yeah, buying virtual items with money is certainly not illegal.

    I was just going to say this.

    Blizzard asked Ebay nicely to take down those auctions. No "law" prevents Ebay from allowing people to sell virtual items, it's just that companies with valuable virtual items ask them not to permit it, and they follow suit.

    Forar on
    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    It may not be illegal but large scale sanction currency selling on a game the size of WOW could well attract serious interest from the US or any number of goverments where WOW is played. Perhaps Blizzard is happier not having such interest just yet. Hasn't Second Life already experienced this? (I vaguely remember hearing they had cracked down on gambling and banking due to fears of intervention)

    Besides, they I would assume are making a good enough profit without needing to do things like selling gold. Once the game really loses large numbers of subscribers (if it does) and this profit is diminished perhaps they might change their mind.

    Kalkino on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    They are not selling gold precisely because selling gold would decrease their profits.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    OptyOpty Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Technically selling gold on Ebay is selling someone else's (Blizzard's) property. A loose comparison would be stealing someone's car and then selling it: it wasn't yours to begin with but you sold it anyway. Of course when dealing with virtual goods such a metaphor doesn't work too well but hopefully it gets the point across.

    And yeah, banks and casinos are illegal in Second Life last I heard. WoW had the casino problem way back when at launch but that was cracked down on hard and disappeared completely. Second Life's different though because Second Life's currency is real currency so any in-game losses Linden Labs may be liable for in some way or another by not preventing it. Even if Bliz started selling gold they wouldn't have to worry about anything like that until they made a way to turn gold into cash.

    Opty on
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    KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    the one reason blizzard doesnt sell gold is because it is illegal to sell virtual items for real world currency, it is banned on ebay because of this law, people used to sell gold on ebay. the reason gold farmers can get away with it is because they say your donating a certain amount of money for nothing, and you may be rewarded for this donation, thats how gold farmers get away with it.


    Wow. Who fed you this nonsense?

    Karrmer on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    No, it's not technically selling blizzard's property. Blizzard's physical "property," such as it is, exists in the form of a bunch of electrons on their servers, which don't leave their servers. Their intellectual property exists in the same place, and on your hard drive, and is protected by copyright, which gold-selling companies are not violating.

    Second Life's gambling got stamped out because the real exchange rate of LindenDollars meant that it violated a bunch of laws regulating gambling across state lines, and probably treaties/non-U.S. laws as well. Same reason there aren't as many online poker sites still operating.

    In WoW's case, it's just Blizzard stopping something they don't want happening in their game, which they have the authority to do under the EULA. There's no civil penalty that I'm aware of for vicarious violation of EULA (in the same way that there is for vicarious copyright infringement), which is why Blizzard's current anti-goldfarmer lawsuit is being pursued on (imo) faulty copyright grounds. I'm quite sure Blizzard is looking to intimidate these people, much more than they are concerned with getting any sort of actual legal relief from a court.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    HarshLanguageHarshLanguage Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Opty wrote: »
    Technically selling gold on Ebay is selling someone else's (Blizzard's) property. A loose comparison would be stealing someone's car and then selling it: it wasn't yours to begin with but you sold it anyway. Of course when dealing with virtual goods such a metaphor doesn't work too well but hopefully it gets the point across.

    Always remember that EULAs basically say that you have no rights, you own nothing, they have no obligations to you, and the company can do as it wishes (just like all software/shrink-wrap EULAs). EULAs are one-sided, non-negotiable contracts. You agree to them because it's a take-it-or-leave-it choice.

    So virtual gold/items is only "their property" because they say it is in the EULA. There's a real, thus-far unchallenged issue regarding ownership of virtual property under these EULAs. What they state in the EULA may or may not be legal in terms of US law; no one knows for sure. And game companies want to keep it that way. As more people create more virtual wealth, and the connections to real-world wealth become more obvious, there's a greater likelihood of this being challenged. Until that aspect of an MMO EULA is successfully challenged, the licenses stand as written, and nothing in-game is your property. You don't even own your copy of game software itself.

    Given how corporate-friendly contract law is in the US, I wouldn't hold your breath for a player-friendly interpretation anytime soon. However, as MMO economies become bigger and have more impact on the real world, questions about virtual wealth will be harder to avoid. Like the tax questions some people have mentioned.

    HarshLanguage on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    There won't be any tax questions than there already are. Most MMOs are going to go the Blizzard route (you pay to play in our playground, peon!) As cool (and maybe even as ultimately profitable) as giving players more "property" rights would be, it would never be worth the hell that it would cause Blizzard. Rebalancing the game in any way would become all but impossible without opening themselves to widespread claims that they were effectively taking property.

    That being the case, there's essentially no argument to be had by an end consumer about Blizzard's enforcement of the EULA. And anyone making any real money on an MMO (whether illicitly a la goldfarmers or more openly a la Second Life) will just declare it, or not, on their personal tax returns.

    There's no distinction between wealth and virtual wealth, there's just wealth. Legally speaking you aren't accumulating any wealth in a game like WoW.

    (edited to add a little explanation)

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    HarshLanguageHarshLanguage Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    There won't be any tax questions than there already are. Most MMOs are going to go the Blizzard route (you pay to play in our playground, peon!) That being the case, there's essentially no argument to be had by an end consumer that Blizzard's enforcement of the EULA is taking property. And anyone making any real money on an MMO (whether illicitly a la goldfarmers or more openly a la Second Life) will just declare it, or not, on their personal tax returns.

    There's no distinction between wealth and virtual wealth, there's just wealth. Legally speaking you aren't accumulating any wealth in a game like WoW.

    Except that what characters possess in a game, and indeed the characters themselves, CAN be correlated to a real-world dollar value, because there are real-world secondary markets for those items. Even if they violate the EULA. So virtual items have a dollar value. There is trade going on both in-game and out-of-game for these items, and the MMO company isn't the one doing the trades, so do they really still own the items? What the EULA says could be irrelevant. I'm not saying that it will or should turn out that way. But it might. It's a massively complex issue, though.

    HarshLanguage on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Yes, the providing company still really owns the "items."

    Like I posted above, the way the government is going to address the people who are translating virtual possessions into real-world income is by taxing that income. If you say that WoW gold is just another form of currency with intrinsic real-world value just because it exists, can the government levy taxes on it? And if so, are they to be paid in... virtual gold? Are you going to give the fed review of Blizzard's practices so that they can control gold's inflation?

    No, you'd never do that, because that would be retarded. The government only even really interacts with non-currency transactions (especially low level ones) in a few really specific places because of all the hassle it causes. It's much easier to just wait until that wealth gets transferred into regular currency (which it does, sooner or later) and extract their pound of flesh there.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    it was the smallest on the list but
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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited March 2008
    Always remember that EULAs basically say that you have no rights, you own nothing, they have no obligations to you, and the company can do as it wishes (just like all software/shrink-wrap EULAs). EULAs are one-sided, non-negotiable contracts. You agree to them because it's a take-it-or-leave-it choice.

    And as a side-note I don't think any EULA has yet to be tried in a court. So they may also just be pure bullshit.

    Echo on
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    815165815165 Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Echo wrote: »
    Always remember that EULAs basically say that you have no rights, you own nothing, they have no obligations to you, and the company can do as it wishes (just like all software/shrink-wrap EULAs). EULAs are one-sided, non-negotiable contracts. You agree to them because it's a take-it-or-leave-it choice.

    And as a side-note I don't think any EULA has yet to be tried in a court. So they may also just be pure bullshit.
    Would that still matter after you've said "I accept these rules and the consequences for me breaking them" multiple times?

    815165 on
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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited March 2008
    I'm just saying that some of the rules in the EULA may actually be stuff they cannot legally demand you to do.

    Echo on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Can't believe some of the misinformation in this thread :P

    I personally believe that Blizzard does not sell gold or items because they still have integrity and care about balance and game design. They know that their customers do as well; at least, enough of them that would be driven away by such practices.

    OremLK on
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