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Legitimate 'gold farming' could be vital to MMO business, says Turbine

Turbine executive producer Jeffrey Steefel believes MMO business models will change in the next five years to accommodate using real-life money to buy in-game currency and items.

Turbine executive producer Jeffrey Steefel believes MMO business models will change in the next five years to accommodate using real-life money to buy in-game currency and items.

While Turbine's Lord of The Rings Online doesn't tolerate the 'secondary market' just yet, he said his team would pay attention to developments in that area.

"The 'secondary market' is a huge topic of conversation across the industry, and we're watching it really closely," Steefel told our sister site Eurogamer.net.

"Our position is pretty straightforward right now. Our responsibility is to the subscribers of the game, to deliver to them the experience they expect. So we certainly do not support people farming or taking advantage of the system in that way. It's against our Terms of Service and we do try and enforce that."

"But, we all know that something will happen in the next two to five years to business models in general, so we're paying attention to what's going on; watching what's going on with Sony Station whose servers support and manage this."

Traditionally the secondary market exists when players of an MMORPG go to websites such as IGE.com, where they can find the game and server they play on, check the availability of currency or items and buy them using real-life cash.

These items are then delivered to the player in-game by an anonymous source.

A no-tolerance policy to 'gold farming' is fairly common, and account suspensions or bans are well documented in both Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft.

But Sony Online Entertainment is treading new ground with its first-party auction house Station Exchange, which gives EverQuest II players the option to legally purchase in-game assets.

It gives SOE the opportunity to manage and moderate transactions, as well as provide a secure and trustworthy service for players.

While some players see this as a form of cheating, others argue that time constraints can hold back a persons enjoyment of a game, especially in a genre as famously time-consuming as MMORPG's.

"That's the endless philosophical discussion," Steefel continued. "If I can find a way for every type of person in my game to play the way they want to without adversely affecting anyone else, then that's win, win, win. And that's what we'll try to figure out."

The full interview with Jeffrey Steefel will be published on Eurogamer.net later this week.

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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