Earn money by playing games online
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In 2003, an economist named Edward Castranova calculated the approximate value of Norrath, the land players explore in the game Everquest. Money was, and still is, hard to come by in Norrath, so some enterprising players had taken to selling their in-game cash on eBay.
Castranova tracked the auctions of these traders over a year and found that the gross domestic product of Norrath was somewhere between those of Russia and Bulgaria. So a fictional land, infested with dragons, was worth more, economically speaking, than some real-world countries.
Since then, the business of gaming has exploded. Players seeking a fast buck inhabit every game, and pro-gaming, where players compete for cash prizes, has also taken off. Forward-thinking developers are creating their latest projects with player commerce in mind. Fun is a serious business. Want to earn a piece of that pie? Here’s where to start.
It’s the ultimate outsource. While you continue with your real life, a counterpart in the Far East lives the boring part of your virtual existence. He’ll ‘level up’ your character, zipping you past the dull opening stages of games such as World of Warcraft or Lineage, until your character is better able to take on the highest level demons in the game.
Power-levelling businesses charge by progress made: from zero to level 70 (the highest World of Warcraft currently offers). They’ll even throw in equipment and skill upgrades for just under £100 – the equivalent of 24 hours of play-time.
Fast Forward – World of Warcraft is one of the games where characters are levelled up for cash
Think you’re a mean shot with a sniper-rifle? Do you have the reactions of a ninja, and the tactical awareness of Patton? Maybe you should consider a career as a professional. Gamers can compete in leagues and tournaments across the world, and every type of game is represented, with each demanding its own highly specialised skills.
Early matches were for bragging rights and high-stakes betting. But these days big-money prizes (and even bigger sponsorship deals) are up for grabs every day.
The violent shootouts of Counter-Strike are where some of the best and most tense competition can be found – teams of four fighting for control of a bomb site, displaying almost super-human aim. When one shot can bag you thousands of pounds, you’d better not lose your nerve.
Smaller scenes exist for other shooters such as Painkiller (where arguably the best gamer in the world, Fatal1ty, plies his trade) and Halo. Decent teams can expect to earn a living wage from tournament prize money, and the best of the best have bought houses with their winnings.
For mega-payouts, you’ll need to fly to South Korea. There ‘PC Baangs’ (internet gaming cafes) are more popular than nightclubs, and the national obsession is Starcraft – a futuristic strategy game. League battles get prime time spots on TV, and the best gamers are treated like sports celebrities – with incomes to match.
Baangs for bucks – With games live on Korean TV, some Starcraft players are major celebrities
The South Korean equivalent of David Beckham is SlayerS_`BoxeR`, or Lim Yo-Hwan, a 25-year-old tactical genius who wears a blueand-white latex catsuit to his games.
A high-level suit of armour in World of Warcraft can cost upward of 1,000 gold pieces, and the average play session yields just under 3 gold. ‘Gold farmers’ exploit that fact mercilessly.
Most congregate in areas they know to be lucrative, and chase anyone away who might interfere with their work – including legitimate players. Even the nicest of gold farmers will have an unenviably pungent reputation.
Golden opportunity – If you’ve time to ‘grind’; World of Warcraft is a potential profit area
How do you do it? Gold farming requires a massive time investment, and you’ll need a couple of high-level characters already in place. It’s a case of using those characters to ‘grind’ high-yield areas. The final lump sum can be auctioned on eBay – but be aware the value of gold fluctuates rapidly.
How did a single player earn £10,000 worth of space-cash in less than six months? By pulling the biggest confidence trick in multiplayer history. In the space-faring game EVE-Online, players are free to form corporations and make investments in mining facilities across a galaxy. Out in the depths of space, anyone can dent anyone else’s earning potential with a well-aimed laser.
But Dentara Rast (his real name is a closely guarded secret) had a plan. He offered to take investors’ cash and use it fund start-up mining projects well out of the way of the front lines. He guaranteed to double their money. When early investors cashed out, they were more than satisfied with the returns.
But there was a problem: Rast was hoarding the cash, and paying ‘profits’ from capital invested in the scheme. It was a massively multiplayer pyramid scheme. Eventually, he came clean, but refused to give back the money. It was, he said, all in the spirit of the game…
Cosmic cons – In trade-based games such as EVE sc
amsters can create a black hole in economy
How do you do it? Key to Rast’s scheme was a masterpiece of planning and co-ordination. He spent a year in Eve building relationships with key players. Then, he started a second character, and as money entered his scheme, it was siphoned off into this new account. The cash was untraceable. You’ll need to do something similar to make money – but Eve players are now paranoid about in-game investments.
Tim Edwards contributes to Windows Vista: The Official Magazine, and is the Deputy Editor of PC Gamer.
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