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How a Gold Farm Works(1)

Here is a most informative post in the thread:

-----BEGIN QUOTE-----

I guess I should mention, as I failed to in my last post, that I have been in the process of dismantling my "business" since Christmas. You may wonder why I do not just fold it up completely and immediately, but that lies in needing to make sure that those I am responsible for, are taken care of. I expect to be completely done within the month.

This is going to be long, but I'd like to explain what my business essentially was, and my views on things in general and why what is currently going on is quite serious for EQ. Not just for the plat sellers like I was, or just those who rely on bazaar gears and trading to equip their character, but also those at the raiding level. While it certainly impacts raiders the least, it does eventually.

I started selling about 7 years ago. I started on my home server, amongst a few other sellers. At the time EQ was EQ, no expansions, fairly new, and you could sell 1,000 platinum for $500. I got into selling because of a GM at the time who I spoke to on occasion who was selling platinum and other items from places like mistmoore, guk, and solusek b. This was at a time a GM was an unpaid volunteer player, and the kinks hadn't been worked out as far as the EULA which forbid the buying and selling of intellectual property.

My tax return for that year which has salary from 2 months of my job which I quit to make this my full time business, showed $150,623.78 after expenses. By this time I had made another character on another server and bought myself another computer and was playing on two. I killed guards in everfrost and sold the weapons to vendors and then bought items from players, or sold the platinum. That's the entirety of what I did to make that income.

There was more and more competition coming in on a weekly basis, and I never made so much as I did the first year, even though I had to work more and more. Like any business if you are one of the only places around for that product, you'll make a killing compared to being in the face of extreme competition.

Fast forward a bit, I started to look for employees who were already selling platinum and items, who wanted a bit more security in what they did and the advantage of things like health care, a more steady paycheck, and the advantage of information exchange on where and how to make the best money in EQ.

Over the years I eventually had 16 employees on 7 servers, and the business was approaching $800,000 a year in income with hardly any costs associated with it beyond paying those 16 people, and health care.

I always operated the business in a strict manner that if I were to ever find out an individual cheated or exploited, or macroed, or duped, or scammed or acquired their coin or items in any other way than fully legitimate means within game, that they would be fired on the spot. I am happy to say that I never had to terminate anyone for this, but sad to say I did lose a husband and wife pair who quit to run the cheese tradeskill exploit as they felt they could make more doing it. It was fixed within two weeks after they quit, and had already been extensively reported.

We weathered various exploits which came and went, and prices which were steadily falling. It's what happens as more and more platinum enters the game, or more and more get into buying and selling. We always kept up, though, until some time into Gates Of Discord, at the end of 2003, when the first major major problem to hit, happened.

Back then prices on platinum had been near $200, per 100k, at the beginning of that year. Within two months, the price fell on the secondary market from $200 per 100k, to $25 per 100k. The problem? There were many guesses and many claims, but it was a combination of many issues. For one there were tradeskills which could be run under a macro for profit. There were many people doing this and using offset hacks to warp around or use combiners like the forges from somewhere outside the zone boundaries so you could not see them. Ever run up to a forge back then and find it was in use but nobody was standing there? Well, now you know what was probably going on. With a macro you could make a few hundred k a day per server per character you had doing it. 40 + servers at the time, times $100 a day per server, and you'd be fairly rich in short order at a steady diet of $120,000 a month. At these prices, at the time, there was room for about 5 times this business in the overall market, at about $500,000 per month. The income on the secondary market was a large percent of what Everquest took in in subscription fees, and this was right about the peak of EQ subscription.

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