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MMO Sweatshops

Wage Slaves on 1UP (thanks Mike Martinez) tells a remarkable tale of how folks are making huge money in farming gold in MMOGs, some of them by operating what are described as virtual sweatshops, where the gold farm laborers get pennies on the dollar earned by their employers:

How does it work? The macros for World of WarCraft, for example, control a high-level hunter and cleric. The hunter kills while the cleric automatically heals. Once they are fully loaded with gold and items, the "farmer" who's monitoring their progress manually controls them out of the dungeon to go sell their goods. These automated agents are then returned to the dungeons to do their thing again. Sack's typical 12-hour sessions can earn his employers as much as $60,000 per month while he walks away with a measly $150.

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41. wow Jul 8, 2005, 08:13 HeRog
 
I interviewed for this article for 2 hours and the only quote he could get out of the entire time is i{"HeRog quit his six figure job to earn six bigger figures"}i lol.

Bottom line this is a business like any other business and as long as there are people willin to buy then people will sell. The industry is 800 million strong so there are a lot of gamers buying...

Just for reference, the $60k figure profit off of sacks(yes he is my employee) work is not right... I am not saying I dont make $60k profit a month but not off of one employee.

Ask any questions you want and I will answer them. I am a fairly large player in this market with an office in china and in the US.

HeRog

This comment was edited on Jul 8, 08:19.
 
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40. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 18:29 Awesome Spume
 
In Soviet Russia MMORPGs farm you!

See, Frost, what you've done is attempt to transplant a /. meme to blues. That makes you a moron. Huh? You don't.. what? Huh? Look, I'm going to hold the shiny side of this AOL CD up to your face. OK? See that? Yeah? Okay, that is a moron.

Goddammit man, why won't you get it? Heh, look now, see Tumbler? Yes? Yes? Okay. See you? Yes, that's right. You are him.

Okay now.


EDIT: It was too cool so I made it LESS COOL.

This comment was edited on Jul 7, 18:33.
 
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39. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 12:12 Beamer
 
12 hours isn't technically a sweat shop, either.



Talk to a lawyer, see how many hours he works a week. Most lawyers in large firms work 11-12 hours a day yet only get paid for 8. Most firms want 80 hours out of their associates. That's over 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Obviously it isn't nearly the same, but 12 hours isn't awful. 12 hours 6 or 7 days a week is awful. 14 hours is awful. 12 hours is a lot more common in the US than you'd expect.

 
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38. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 11:09 Com
 
There is no slavery in China. Nobody kidnapped these people and made them farm. They chose this job because it is better than their other alternatives. If you actually read the article, you'd find out that they are getting above average salary for fairly non-intensive work. If anything, you should praise the "lazy/stupid" people in the US/Europe who create a market for this.

If I played this atrocity of a game, I'd definitely buy some gold with real money. Why spend many hours on a built-in timesink when you can give some pocket change to a guy who does it for a living. You get the fun, he gets a living.

 
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37. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 10:58 Tumbler
 
If it was possible to make $60k per month why wouldn't everyone be doing it? $6k maybe. Gold sells for like 50gp for $10 or something on ebay. Do the maths.

I liquidated my SWG account prior to selling them and made almost 700$ in a month doing this. (9 months worth of work though) But I played mabye 2-4 hours a day. If someone was doing that 12 hours a day for a month (PLUS USING CREDIT DUPING EXPLOITS) I don't think those numbers are too far off. Building a business around selling these online wares could give you those numbers for sure. If you have 12 guys working on computers, and 6 guys working on selling, plus a few misc guys working on payment collections you could knock out some major sales.



Unpaid Employee and Fanboy of DICE and anything BF2.
 
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36. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 10:54 Fingers M
 
In Soviet Russia MMORPGs farm you!  
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35. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 10:54 Alex Sledge
 
Ok, anyone who is up in arms about this needs to wake up.

Except for a few select lucky SOB CEO's everyone makes "a few pennies on the dollar" of what their employer makes. I work for a multi-million dollar a year company... no one here makes over $75k. Pennies on the dollar all around.

Second... sweatshop... please, in college I would have KILLED to be able to play games as much as I wanted and GET PAID. Now some will whine "but macros are running everything, all you do is montor a few dozen accounts and run them to town to sell every now and then". Maybe it's not WoW (or your MMO of choice), but it still certainly is a game, albeit a more economics oriented one.

So save all the ignorant anti-capitalist commentary for the liberal hippy moron forums.

 
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34. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 10:52 Tumbler
 
That being said, there is a difference between wage differentials between Nike USA and Nike China, and sweatshops like this. Paying someone $150 when they are making $60k a month for their employer (both figures there sound suspect) is unfair, and you are absolutely right - at that level it is definitely exploitation.

What? How is this unfair? Just because you work at a company doesn't make you entitled to their profits. You go work for an oil company and at the end of the month take a look at their profits. You think you should get more money because they make so much profit?

These employees didn't pay for the computers, the online accounts, their money wasn't at risk setting up the business to begin with. They don't pay taxes on the business. You get the picture. If people will work for 150 a month, then great pay them 150 a month. If not step it up until ppl will work for the wages you are paying.

You must think people are lieing on the streets starving and instead of helping them we're offering them 1 peice of food to eat if they go do this or that. Then they come back starving again and we offer them another bite of food to do something else.

Ppl over there have choices but sitting at a computer making a decent living is probably on the great jobs side.

Unpaid Employee and Fanboy of DICE and anything BF2.
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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33. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 10:09 Sty
 
Because the other alternatives have proven to be wonderful.
Hey, maybe we can all live in communes with no technology!

Because we all know how much technology enriches our lives. Without it mankind wouldn't be advancing as a species. Our lives are meaningless without technology!

LOL

_______________________________________________________________
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You know selling dlc before you patch the client doesn't impress upon me the need to support your shit. -massdev
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32. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 09:19 Bill Nakano
 
If it was possible to make $60k per month why wouldn't everyone be doing it? $6k maybe. Gold sells for like 50gp for $10 or something on ebay. Do the maths.

 
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31. Okay Jul 7, 2005, 09:18 Creston
 
60K dollars a month is absurd. I doubt THAT many idiots are buying gold off Ebay, and if those imbeciles would simply stop doing that, this entire market would simply vanish.

GW is currently being ruined by bots. There are no gold sinks in the game (something which Anet was warned about during early parts of the beta) except now for idiot dwarven ale, and so the total amount of gold in the game keeps going up and up and up. Most max damage weapons now cost around 300K gold and keep going up.
Imagine this, any character can only HOLD 100K gold, so in order for this trade to even occur, people have to trade 100K gold, plus 100 black dye, plus 5 guild hall sigils (which still go for around 80K or so), just to get a max damage weapon with some mods.

At the same time Anet continuously slaughters any and all forms of making money INGAME, so new and or middle level players are left with very little money that buys them nothing. It's the perfect example of a developer that's totally clueless how to battle this.

And hey, we might feel bad for the kid making 150$ a month, but in the end, he makes it for playing a fucking GAME. If he doesn't like it, get a real job.

Creston

 
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30. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 09:16 Gandhi
 
I'm being ethnocentric because I don't think it's fair to work someone (a human fucking being) 12 hours a day in some basement in Hong Kong? Shut up...

Not only that, but this shit isn't taking place in the fuckin boonies, more than likely they're in a large city (where internet access, electricity, and rent are cheap). Yes, you're right.. were the poor guy/gal working somewhere else his pay would be no better, but he wouldn't be in the "rice patties" as you so ignorantly suggested.

Furthermore, how much do you want to bet his boss is some Aussie/American exploiting the cheap labor in China while ferretting his earnings back to the states. This shit certainly isn't doing anything to even out our economic peaks and valleys, if anything it contributes to the problem...

Go back and read the article again. These MMORPG farmers are literally real-life farmers. They mentioned folks in Indonesia and outskirts of cities in China coming to apply for jobs. The fact that there are a lot of people applying for these kinds of jobs suggests that they would rather work in online MMORPGs then do actual farming, whether it is because of better pay or better working coditions (relatively speaking). I am not being ingonrant, you are being blind.

As someone else suggested, the blame here lies with gamers stupid/lazy enough to spend real money to buy in-game stuff to get ahead. The fact that there is some upper level boss (whether American/Aussie or a local) harding most of the profits is irrelevant. They ALL do that over there - regardless of what kind of enterprise it is. Besides, it is no different here in the US - the CEO makes the millions while the employees get layed off or are told that they should be thankful just to have a job.

Like I said, quit being so ethnocentric and ignorant. If you want to blame someone, blame the gamers for creating such a market.

You cannot make anything fool-proof. The fools are too inventive
 
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You cannot make anything fool-proof. The fools are too inventive

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29. No subject Jul 7, 2005, 05:16 space captain
 
wasnt there a penny arcade comic about this a few months ago??

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28. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 04:53 sponge
 
Well, watching 'gandhi' debate 'propagandhi' is amusing

Seconded, there.

 
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27. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 04:18 Tango
 
So it's ok because their economy sucks balls? $1800 a year anywhere isn't going to get you very far in life, even in communist China.
International wage differentials are highly complex things that are not bad in themselves. It is precisely because of international wage differences that work in which US (and EU) workers are relatively inefficient in is outsourced, while we go from strength to strength in industries we have the advantage in. This specialisation opens up trade (or should do) and everyone is better off than they were before. Of course, this is ludicrously simplified, but no economist would ever suggest common wages imposed around the world are a good thing (Edit: though they may arise through trade). If you could earn your wage living in China, everyone doing your job move to China, language barrier notwithstanding because prices are lower and your $Xk would go far further. It is also for this reason that the world economy has expanded more-or-less smoothly since the end of WW2.

That being said, there is a difference between wage differentials between Nike USA and Nike China, and sweatshops like this. Paying someone $150 when they are making $60k a month for their employer (both figures there sound suspect) is unfair, and you are absolutely right - at that level it is definitely exploitation. But bear in mind any sort of contractor in the West (other than self-employed) gets the same treatment. The fees at which many professionals are charged out to their clients by their firms are ludicrously high compared to their salary. I have trainee accountant friends on fairly low wages getting charged out by KPMG and the like at ten times what they are being paid.


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This comment was edited on Jul 7, 04:19.
 
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26. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 03:56  Rob 
 
Which is more pathetic, spending a week or more farming an item or finding a more expedient means to an end?
I think caring enough to do either one of these things is pretty pathetic. I mean, if you're actually spending weeks just to get enough resources for an item, and the experience is otherwise pointless, then that's just sad.

 
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25. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 02:52 human
 
Well, watching 'gandhi' debate 'propagandhi' is amusing, but I think I'm going to have to say, man this story is weird.

 
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24. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 01:16 Propagandhi
 
I'm being ethnocentric because I don't think it's fair to work someone (a human fucking being) 12 hours a day in some basement in Hong Kong? Shut up...

Not only that, but this shit isn't taking place in the fuckin boonies, more than likely they're in a large city (where internet access, electricity, and rent are cheap). Yes, you're right.. were the poor guy/gal working somewhere else his pay would be no better, but he wouldn't be in the "rice patties" as you so ignorantly suggested.

Furthermore, how much do you want to bet his boss is some Aussie/American exploiting the cheap labor in China while ferretting his earnings back to the states. This shit certainly isn't doing anything to even out our economic peaks and valleys, if anything it contributes to the problem...
 
I eat pasta!
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23. Re: No subject Jul 7, 2005, 01:16 Beamer
 
Capitalism sucks.

Because the other alternatives have proven to be wonderful.
Hey, maybe we can all live in communes with no technology!

$150/month may be a decent wage in China, but it sure doesn't compare to $60k/month in the US (I think, I don't live in either country, and haven't visited the USA).


No. But it's enough to get by in China, which is more than it would go here. Prices are simply much, much lower. They don't get by well, but it is possible to live.

Sweatshops suck. But every developed country has gone through a period of them, without exception. While they are bad for the Chinese individuals now, 30 years from now China will be the economic powerhouse in the world. Sadly, that wouldn't be true without sweatshops.

Not justifying them, just pointing out that they're a fact of economic transition.

 
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22. No subject Jul 7, 2005, 00:49 Zoomboy27
 
$60,000 profit for $150 pay. Even better than Nike and Michael jordan. Don't even need to provide material.

 
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