A Redditors Plea & The Overwhelming Impact of RMT in Chinese WoW
Chinese redditor u/tanyu1993 posted on a plea on Reddit, titled
Please Help Us & Save WOW in China
, which has garnered quite a bit of attention over the increasingly dominating prevalence of real money transactions and advertisements on Chinese World of Warcraft servers. The incredibly detailed post shows the devolving situation, with players bombarded with whispers, massive gold farming groups monopolizing mob spawns, and billboard like bots advertising throughout the game world.
While in-game advertisements and selling is present in other versions of the game, even to the point of being overt, it goes to 11 on Chinese servers, with the sellers dominating legitimate players so badly that it's become difficult for them to accomplish anything within the game. Other players may need to scroll through a few sellers in the LFG tool, but there are
listings within the Chinese version that no other groups are able to be listed period. Random or matchmade groups that players do manage to get into are similarly controlled by sellers.
They even bullies other players in the game. In a Battle for Darkshore Warfront, the boosting sellers pretend to be normal players to build a team, and kick off other 29 players in front of the last boss. Then they invite another 29 players who paid for this to kill the last boss, which brings extremely terrible experience to all players. While facing our compliant tickets, Netease feels "sorry and sympathetic" about the situation.
The Cost of Doing Business in China
While China is one of the biggest gaming markets in the world, it's very important to remember that international corporations such as Blizzard are
required by law
to use a local business partner, so WoW is not managed by Blizzard Entertainment the way it is in the NA/EU. Their current partner, NetEase, has virtually full control of operations in that part of the world, including public communication over platforms such as Weibo, despite using the "Blizzard" or "World of Warcraft" name. It's also very important to keep in mind this isn't solely a Blizzard or NetEase problem, just like this issue is in no way restricted to World of Warcraft - it's quite common among most major online games in China, but we've even seen muted examples of it happening in the NA/EU as well. The real problem is how brazen it's become, to the point at which the sheer scale is overwhelming legitimate players.
There's plenty of blame to go around, the people controlling these markets, the players who enable them, as well as the developers who created the systems in the first place. But keep in mind, this isn't a hack, bug, or cheat that players are taking advantage of - they're WoW's own systems, the ones the rest of us enjoy every day without incident, being abused in a massively coordinated way which was never foreseen. Clearly steps need to be taken to curtail it, but this has become a lucrative business model and the people doing it aren't going to fold up because of a new spam filter, ban wave, or harsher restrictions on group finder. The unfortunate reality is that while Blizzard/NetEase aren't blameless and could do more, it has been rampant for so long that it's become an intrinsic problem of online gaming... and it's not hard to see how easily it could spill over to the rest of the world.
Chinese Changes in Popular Games
Gaming has always been handled differently in China, whether due to government restrictions, censorship laws, or differing game mechanics.
Path of Exile has a
long list of different features
, including a pseudo-
paying to avoid death penalties
Final Fantasy XIV has
unique cosmetics and holidays
, while subscriptions are hourly rather than monthly (which WoW
only recently changed
Animal Crossing and Pokemon Go
, and many games
don't allow communication outside of China
PUBG is called
Game for Peace
, and killed players
WoW used to have a great number of differences, including higher item level drops, shorter raid lockouts, and significantly delayed expansions. Most of those differences are gone now, but there's still a great deal of
Are RMT Conglomerates the Source of the Problem, or the Result?
In 2018, CNBC hosted a great article on the
cultural differences of paying to win
and the gaming analysis network Newzoo went into even more detail examining the differing
motivations between U.S. and Chinese gamers
. It's very possible these cultural differences will always exist, that they're simply too ingrained for one system to work everywhere, but that doesn't mean the negative results should be ignored either. The problems which legitimate Chinese players are currently facing in WoW have reached that tipping point - something
to be done.
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