SOE continued its adding RMT components to its games last week with the addition of LiveGamer support to Vanguard.
Notably, unlike Everquest 2 where Station Exchange (now operated by LiveGamer) was limited to a few new servers, Vanguard players were told that it was being added to the entire game. This is similar to the Station Cash item shop which was added to all Everquest and Everquest 2 servers last year; the differences being while StationCash is an “item mall” where SOE sells low-impact items such as decorative clothing and XP boost potions, Live Gamer is a player-to-player items-for-cash arbitrage. It was pitched as ‘voluntary’ since, you know, no one is actually forcing you to buy anything!
The ensuing discussion was somewhat heated. An SOE-penned FAQ which resulted from the thread had probably the clearest defense of corporate-sponsored RMT ever put to virtual print:
As several people have pointed out in the discussion thread, Real Money Transactions between individuals and 3rd party sites have been happening since the early days of MMOs. What you may not know is that there are significant costs to game companies that result from homegrown transactions or unsanctioned 3rd party web site sales in our games. Personal trades go bad (fraud) and 3rd party sites scam people and strip accounts, it’s a fact that SOE Customer Service been dealing with here since day 1 of EverQuest.
What happens when unsanctioned transactions like these go south? Customers petition for help and sometimes it can take hours for a GM to research and get everything back to the way it was. By providing a safe, secure, and sanctioned way for these types of transactions to take place for those that wish to participate, SOE is reducing CS costs while providing a little more to the bottom line.
So there you have it, RMT is here because you people keep doing it, so you might as well get it all sanctioned-like and save us some time.
The irony, of course, is that Vanguard, before its launch, positioned itself as the haven of the EQ hard core, standing bravely athwart the ramparts of history, watching the waves of easier gameplay and gold farmers break across the bow. In fact, IGE (back when they were the Bad Guys And Still Somewhat Relevant To The Discussion) actually funded buyouts of Vanguard player-run sites as a pre-emptive strike against… well, it’s not really clear what, any more.