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Developer Jagex has had it with gold farmers in its massively multiplayer online game, RuneScape 3. Starting today, it’s launching what it considers the final blow to that dark side of the community: bonds.
Gold farming is when people dedicate themselves, or crafty A.I.-controlled bots, to racking up enough in-game money to sell to other players for real cash. Elaborate gold-farming operations overseas have sprung up because it has become such a lucrative industry. This causes inflation in a game’s economy, frustrating both players and developers.
In a serious tone that resembles tragic public service announcements, Jagex chief executive Mark Gerhard explained in a video (above) how the new bonds will help “destroy” gold farming. Bonds cost $5 a pop. You can gift them, trade them for items and in-game currency, or redeem them (either for a 14-day membership, 160 RuneCoins, or 8 spins on the Squeal of Fortune wheel to win prizes).
It’s up to the RuneScape community to decide how much bonds are worth in relation to other items. And since you can use bonds, and not just gold pieces, to obtain any resource or piece of equipment in the game, Jagex cuts out the farmers and their effect on the demand for gold. A secondary measure — a 10 percent tax for players trying to trade bonds that have already been traded once — creates a gold sink, a common tactic in MMOs that removes gold from the economy as a way of reducing inflation over time.
“With this update, our aim is to unlock your investment in your account: giving hardcore players a way to get more than ever for their time and dedication, and more freedom for everyone in how they trade,” Gerhard said in a blog post. “On top of that, we hope to see this open up the full members’ game for many more free players, those who can no longer afford subscription and — crucially — to deal a death-blow to the long-standing issues with gold farming.”
Gerhard goes on to describe the struggles Jagex has had with gold farming ever since the first RuneScape launched more than 10 years ago. In 2013 alone, the developer removed 3.7 trillion gold pieces from gold farmers’ banks and banned 1.1 million member accounts. Reasearch has shown that 40 to 50 percent of the active player base buy gold from gold farmers.
“Guys, [bonds are] absolutely the right thing to do for the long-term health of this game,” Gerhard said.
You can read more about how Bonds affect RuneScape 3 here.