Where Does the World of Warcraft Gold Come From?

As of March, 2011, there were more than 11.4 million subscribers to the popular World of Warcraft game. Every one of those people need in-game gold in order to buy gear, enchant and gem said gear, buy potions or food and repair things after being killed by enemies. Most people get that gold into their hot little hands the old-fashioned way: they earn it. Grinding through quests, dailies and heroics is time-consuming, though. Some players simply don’t want to have to work that hard in order to reap the benefits having a lot of gold in your bags can bring. Instead, they choose to buy their in-game money with real money… a practice that is frowned upon by Blizzard Entertainment and most hard-core players.

There are websites out there which will sell you mass quantities of gold in exchange for your hard-earned cash. Many of them offer as much as 20,000 gold at a time, with delivery promised within the hour. The question, though, is where that gold comes from. It’s a well-known fact that gold farmers suck. I’ve heard horror stories from players trying to complete quests who cannot because a gold farmer is busy camping an area in order to kill repeatedly for the money drops. Who the heck is behind this farming?

A recent article in The Guardian ran a story on Wednesday about this topic, and the post shocked many. Chinese citizen Liu Dali was a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp. During the day, he was forced to do hard labor outdoors. At night, he was forced to kill demons, animals and even other players… farming WoW gold. He claims to be only one of many prisoners who were literally forced to play games like WoW for many hours every day, earning gold to later be sold for real money.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off. If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

It is believed that about 80% of the people who farm for gold in games like WoW are located in China, and that there are more than 100,000 people doing so. With such a lucrative business venture, it’s hard to tell how many of those people are being forced to play, and how many are doing so for very VERY low wages while their bosses rake in the profits.

I do NOT want to know if you are a WoW (or other game) player who buys in-game gold or credits. That’s just something we don’t need to share, y’all. I’m not putting anyone down or judging them. Your way of playing is your own. However, I know that if I were playing one of those games, I’d find it much more satisfying to earn my bankroll the hard way.

7 thoughts on “Where Does the World of Warcraft Gold Come From?”

    1. nope, i am a casual at wow and i currently sit on 20k gold all earned the “hard way”. It wasn’t that hard. If you enjoy the game you play it and the gold comes from playing it. Ive never even thought of buying gold because i never thought i didn’t have enough gold and thats how the game works.

  1. I would say that nowadays, earning gold in WoW is pretty simple. Back in 2005 though, scraping up 100g was a painstaking process and I can see why users would opt to buy gold for little to nothing and save weeks of farming.
    Back in my hardcore raiding days, we raided 5 nights/week, from 7-12pm, I worked full days in a stressful job.. and somehow needed to find time to pay for my repair bills & mats.
    Sure, most of the fake gold comes from China. But I think the case above may be isolated : if you were living there, didn’t have a job, and some guy comes up to you and tells you you’re going to get paid to sit at a computer and play a game for 12 hours straight… kinda sounds like a pretty cool job to me 🙂

  2. I would say that nowadays, earning gold in WoW is pretty simple. Back in 2005 though, scraping up 100g was a painstaking process and I can see why users would opt to buy gold for little to nothing and save weeks of farming.
    Back in my hardcore raiding days, we raided 5 nights/week, from 7-12pm, I worked full days in a stressful job.. and somehow needed to find time to pay for my repair bills & mats.
    Sure, most of the fake gold comes from China. But I think the case above may be isolated : if you were living there, didn’t have a job, and some guy comes up to you and tells you you’re going to get paid to sit at a computer and play a game for 12 hours straight… kinda sounds like a pretty cool job to me 🙂

  3. I would say that nowadays, earning gold in WoW is pretty simple. Back in 2005 though, scraping up 100g was a painstaking process and I can see why users would opt to buy gold for little to nothing and save weeks of farming.
    Back in my hardcore raiding days, we raided 5 nights/week, from 7-12pm, I worked full days in a stressful job.. and somehow needed to find time to pay for my repair bills & mats.
    Sure, most of the fake gold comes from China. But I think the case above may be isolated : if you were living there, didn’t have a job, and some guy comes up to you and tells you you’re going to get paid to sit at a computer and play a game for 12 hours straight… kinda sounds like a pretty cool job to me 🙂

  4. I would say that nowadays, earning gold in WoW is pretty simple. Back in 2005 though, scraping up 100g was a painstaking process and I can see why users would opt to buy gold for little to nothing and save weeks of farming.
    Back in my hardcore raiding days, we raided 5 nights/week, from 7-12pm, I worked full days in a stressful job.. and somehow needed to find time to pay for my repair bills & mats.
    Sure, most of the fake gold comes from China. But I think the case above may be isolated : if you were living there, didn’t have a job, and some guy comes up to you and tells you you’re going to get paid to sit at a computer and play a game for 12 hours straight… kinda sounds like a pretty cool job to me 🙂

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