En Masse Entertainment, the North American publisher of the upcoming Action-MMORPG TERA, is taking player security very seriously. A few weeks ago En Masse revealed that it would be integrating the Crisp Platform into TERA, allowing them to more easily monitor game threats such as botting, gold farming, phishing attacks and the like. At PAX Prime, En Masse revealed an innovative solution to the gold farming issues expected to emerge when the title launches: it is legitimizing RMT (real-money trading) with an item called the Chronoscroll.
Inspired by EVE Online‘s PLEX system, chronoscrolls are in-game items players can buy directly from En Masse, which can be used to extend game time by one month, or sold to other players. CCP Games, the developer behind EVE Online, shared their knowledge of the PLEX system and its value in undermining gold selling and related issues with En Masse, which the publisher has clearly taken to heart.
In essence, players can buy a subscription from En Masse and play as they would normally, or they can purchase chronoscrolls from En Masse with the same effect. The chronoscroll(s) are delivered directly to the player’s inventory, which can then be used extend playtime, or traded to another player for in-game gold. The value of the chronoscrolls are set by the in-game economy rather than by En Masse itself, meaning that the value of the scrolls are at the whim of the market.
The chronoscroll system is also beneficial in that it doesn’t create inflation, since the gold players use for purchasing the scroll is generated and circulated by the economic system normally, rather than injected from an uncirculated/hoarded source (a gold seller’s stock).
It seems like a promising prospect. En Masse benefits by earning money directly from players who purchase the chronoscrolls, and players benefit by earning an item they can use to legitimately trade for gold. What’s more, players who earn enough in-game cash to purchase chronoscrolls from other players can potentially play TERA for free. Rather than trying to quell the demand for in-game gold, En Masse is introducing a sanctioned, manageable and much more controllable method of RMT. If it works out well, chronoscrolls could greatly discourage gold sellers from investing energy and time in TERA.
The approach is not without flaws, of course. It (theoretically) makes gold-selling more difficult and unrewarding for third-parties, but at the cost of actually legitimizing gold selling. Sadly, players who are willing to pay real money for an advantage in-game can (and will) do so with chronoscrolls. It is an ethical dilemma that will no doubt leave a bad taste in some players’ mouths.
Likewise, the success or failure of the chronoscroll system is heavily dependent on supply and demand. Assuming there is a large demand for the item (hopefully, the promise of playing for free is incentive enough), then selling chronoscrolls to other players could easily become a viable source of in-game currency. In order to stay competitive, gold selling companies would need to cut into their profits to meet or beat the value of the chronoscroll. If there isn’t enough demand for the scrolls, however, the system falls apart. Fortunately, if the chronoscroll system does fail, the worst that could happen is that En Masse simply scraps the system.
Only time will tell if these features works towards the player’s – and En Masse’s – advantage. Those interested in learning more about the chronoscroll system can read an informative FAQ on the subject, right on the official TERA website.