Kerry Fraser-Robinson, founder of virtual worlds developer RedBedlam, has called on the sector to embrace gold selling and realise the importance of economy in MMOs.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Fraser-Robinson explained that gold farming would always exist so long as it offered the path of least resistance and that it has the potential to ruin games unless action was taken against it.
"It's going to happen whether you like it or not," he said. "People will always find the path of least resistance, if you stop them buying your gold then they'll buy that gold from somebody else who is gold farming."
"If you don't build that into your system then you're not going to be able to compete with the gold farmers and that will ruin your in-game economy, which will in turn ruin your game. At the very least having the recognition that virtual economics is a discipline and is a very important integral part to being a virtual world," he added.
"Take EVE Online for example, they didn't allow for in game transactions but they did design a very robust economy and they did design that game knowing it's a problem, and designed it with an awareness of virtual economic conditions."
"The closer you get to having a virtual world that has any kind of trading, barter or value system you have to take virtual economics very seriously."
Fraser-Robinson went on to say that MMO developers should take on board the advice of economists and that in the future this would be a necessary step.
"I only know of just two or three companies that actually have economists specifically for the purposes of understanding their own virtual economy," he said.
"I think that's absolutely essential going forward… because wherever humans are in communities and whenever they are bartering there is a market and there is going to be a market place. If you let that go with no regulation and no recognition then very, very crazy things will happen."
He added that all attempts to halt currency trading in virtual worlds was futile.
"Trying to stop that happening is literally like telling the tide not to come in - you will fail."
Kerry Fraser-Robinson's full interview with GamesIndustry.biz can be read here.