Online games are designed to be huge time sinks. It's how the developers make money. Whether you're paying a monthly fee or you're playing a free game with microtransactions, you're in a world designed to prolong your stay. One way these games try to keep you involved is by making in-game gold a scarce commodity. The harder gold is to obtain -- and the more expensive valuable items are -- the more you'll play and the more you'll be tempted to spend on cash benefits. It's this scarcity of gold that leads people to MMO gold buying.
What is MMO Gold Buying?
Simply put, to buy gold is to spend an amount of your real, hard-earned cash in exchange for in-game currency, whatever the currency of the game you're playing might be. The exact exchange rate depends on the game and its economy. Sometimes it even varies within individual servers of the same game. Typically, you will be able to revel in extreme wealth by purchasing only $25 to $50 worth of gold. That is, if the transaction actually happens.
The Legality of Buying Gold
In nearly every MMO around the world, buying gold from a third party seller is against the terms of service. It gives you an unfair advantage over other players, inflates the economy and supports the people who farm gold in the first place. If you are caught purchasing gold, you may have the gold removed or your account banned, depending on the administration team. MMO developers take the issue quite seriously.
Where Does It Come From?
The gold you buy from a gold seller comes from two sources. The first source are the botters. These people tend to live in poverty and are paid a meager wage to operate several accounts. These accounts will perform repeated action -- or host a bot that does so for them -- essentially farming the game with the sole purpose of making gold. The other source of gold is from hacked accounts. Hackers will break into an account and strip it of its gold and items. They will then sell the gold and, occasionally, the items themselves. Usually, when you're buying gold from a third party seller, you're supporting the people who make the gaming experience worse.
Should I Buy Gold?
The short answer is no. Some games, those with microtransactions, may offer legitimate means of spending your money and converting it to gold. For example, MapleStory has a number of different cash shop items you can purchase to sell to players in-game for mesos. In other games, you may be better off spending your time playing the markets to make your own gold. In far-reaching cases, buying gold harms every player in the game. It means you are more willing to spend more gold on items, which means sellers price their items higher. This cycle of inflation can ruin a game economy over the course of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the gold seller problem.
If you're not concerned about the game economy, keep in mind that many gold sellers online are scammers as well. They will happily process your payment and then never deliver the gold. The chances are very good that you won't receive anything for your trouble, and you have no authority to appeal to for compensation. Simply don't buy gold and avoid the problem altogether.