The Economics of Gold Selling in Online Games: An Exploration of Causes, Consequences, and Countermeasures


This dissertation delves into the phenomenon of gold selling in online games, a practice that has significant implications for the virtual and real-world economies. It examines the causes of gold selling, the exploitation of players, the collapse of in-game economic systems, and the tacit acceptance of this practice by some game publishers. The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative data analysis with qualitative player and developer interviews.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The first chapter introduces the concept of gold selling, its prevalence in online games, and its impact on the gaming industry. It outlines the research questions, objectives, and the significance of the study.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The second chapter reviews existing literature on the economics of online games, the sociology of gold selling, and the legal and ethical considerations surrounding this practice. It identifies gaps in the current research and positions this study within the broader academic discourse.

Chapter 3: The Causes of Gold Selling

Chapter three explores the causes of gold selling. It discusses the economic disparities between regions, the demand for quick progression in games, and the profitability of gold selling operations. It also examines the role of game design in facilitating or discouraging gold selling.

Chapter 4: The Exploitation of Players

The fourth chapter investigates how gold selling exploits players. It discusses the use of deceptive marketing practices, account hacking, and the creation of “gold farms” that exploit low-wage workers. It also explores the psychological impact on players who fall victim to these practices.

Chapter 5: The Collapse of In-Game Economic Systems

Chapter five analyzes how gold selling can lead to the collapse of in-game economic systems. It discusses the effects of gold inflation, the destabilization of in-game markets, and the erosion of the player experience. It uses case studies from various games to illustrate these effects.

Chapter 6: The Role of Game Publishers

The sixth chapter examines why some game publishers allow gold selling to occur. It discusses the economic benefits of banning accounts and selling new ones, the challenges of policing gold selling, and the role of player demand in perpetuating this practice. It also explores potential strategies for combating gold selling.

Chapter 7: Gold Selling Countermeasures

Chapter seven outlines the research methodology, including the data collection and analysis methods. It discusses the use of player surveys, developer interviews, and economic modeling. It also addresses the study’s ethical considerations and limitations.


This dissertation contributes to the understanding of gold selling in online games, a complex issue that intersects economics, sociology, and game design. It provides a foundation for future research and offers insights for game developers and policymakers seeking to address this issue.

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