Virtual Gold

Money.co.uk recently took a look at some interesting statistics for three large games. World of Warcraft was included of course, producing the interesting graphs below. Read the full infographic and take a look at similar statistics for EVE and Second Life on their site.

Also gold related, ArsTechnica recently talked about Fair Trade gold. You may be familiar with Fair Trade coffee, where coffee is bought from the people that grow it at better prices than they could get otherwise. The idea behind it is that the growers can better their lives through better pay and working conditions, along with improving their community through the program. They give a brief overview of the hierarchy that is behind every gold sale.

The 75 page report (pdf) has some interesting tidbits as well. They look at microwork that involves tasks that are easy for humans but harder for computers, saying "For instance, one delivery center is located in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The workers there are mostly refugees from the neighboring war-torn state of Somalia. According to Samasource, training provided by Samasource staff allows even refugees who have never seen a computer before to earn money as microworkers". A similar model could be applied to gold farming, with workers being paid more directly and the training and funds helping them to improve their situation.

They also take a look at outsourcing social media, such as paying for Likes on Facebook. A case study showed that a company paid each person that clicked Like a small amount, a short and easy task that earned them a small amount of money. This cost the company almost nothing compared to the contract they got for it.

Many of the people who worked on virtual currency farming are from companies that number ~100-200 workers, being male dominated. 38% of the workers were previously unemployed and 56% previously had a job, but only 6% were students, indicating that it isn't a first choice for many fresh graduates. A majority of workers in the small sample size complained about their families negative perceptions of them, as well as the long working hours, with over 38% of them working more than 60 hours per week. Generally 40 hours per week is considered full time in the United States for jobs that pay hourly. The average wage is only $2.70 per hour, with one respondent making $13.40 per hour. Most of the money made in each gold sale is going to the gaming studio that employs the workers, with the next largest sale going to the Retailer.

With conditions like these, you can see why fair trade might be something to keep in mind when buying gold. (Although the type of person who buys gold likely doesn't care!)


Everbloom has managed to level to 85 while doing no quests, no dungeons, and getting no kills. No battlegrounds were played either!

Written by Michael 'chaud'
Share |

Please login to post comments