Gold farming in raids? Unlikely.

New York Times has a new article about gold farmers. Most of it is the usual whining about poor downtrodden farmers working in sweatshop conditions and being harassed by racist westeners. However, the article gets more interesting near the end. The writer laments how mean old Blizzard has shut out the farmers from a large part of the game: raiding. And then offers a solution: Goldfarming guilds. 24 skilled goldfarmers who take you (for a price, of course) to the raid instance of your choosing, kill the boss for you and let you loot the item you wanted.

This caught my attention since several guilds do this already, although not for real-world money. Pre-TBC it was not uncommon to see a high-end raiding guild advertise runs to Molten Core, Blackwing Lair or even Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. You paid them a certain amount of in-game gold and they would let you tag along and grab any epics that their own members did not need.

However, I think this article has more hot air than glimpse of future gold farmer tactics. Why? Gold farming raid groups are a very risky business. TBC had already diminished these "charity" runs since the importance of a single raider increased when Blizzard shrunk raids to 25 people. The goldfarmers would have to be overgeared for the instance to complete it while being handicapped by the presence of their customer(s). Getting that gear requires a whole lot of effort and thus carries a significant risk. Playing and gearing up 24 hunter bots takes a whole lot less time than playing and gearing up a 24-man balanced raid group in full epic gear. And all that effort can go to waste if Blizzard bans your goldfarming guild. Getting your main raid group banned would be a devastating blow to many gold farmers.

There are also limiting factors. The raid timers prevent you from killing a specific boss several times in a week, so only one of your many potential customers would even have a chance to get that piece of loot each week. If the piece doesn't even drop you have an unhappy customer on your hands. Unhappy customers don't like to pay you money. Raid IDs prevent the customer from joining other raids, so you can't sidestep the problem with multiple groups, either.

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