Case Study: $1,000 a Day on a Bot Farming in World of Warcraft
Some of you may already know that there is money to be made in MMO games, but not everyone is aware of just how much ordinary players can earn.
In 2019, World of Warcraft: Classic was launched, and it completely changed my perspective on MMOs. Through playing this game, I was able to earn a significant amount of money, almost enough to buy an apartment in a European capital city. Anyway, let’s start.
Who Are Pixel Sellers and How Do They Make Money on Games
Amongst ourselves, we humorously refer to ourselves as providers of virtual commodities. The truth is, we sell people pixels at exorbitant prices. Our main customer base consists of foreign players who are willing to shell out anywhere between $100-$300 on in-game currency or items.
These transactions are usually one-day deals, and there may be more or less of them depending on the demand for the particular items we are selling.
There are generally three groups of people who make money in games:
- The first group are resellers, who buy in-game currency from gold farmers and then sell it to buyers. It is unclear how much money resellers make, but they are often viewed as parasites within the RMT (real-money trading) community. They make their living by speculating on the prices of in-game items and currency.
- The second group are legitimate or manual farmers, who are players that spend 12-16 hours per day manually gathering in-game resources to sell for real money. A skilled farmer can earn over $100 per day.
- The third group are bot farmers, who use automated software to gather in-game resources. A competent bot farmer can earn as much as $50,000 per month.
How I Was a Bot Farmer in World of Warcraft
Multiboxing is a technique used in MMOs where players control multiple characters simultaneously. It requires specialized software and hardware to manage several inputs at once. With multiboxing, players can farm for resources, complete quests, or participate in player-versus-player (PVP) activities more efficiently. Some players can make significant amounts of money from multiboxing activities, especially in games where resources or rare items can be sold for real-world money. However, multiboxing can also be seen as a controversial practice, as it can give players an unfair advantage over others who do not have the necessary resources or technical knowledge to engage in it.
After facing multiple bans on my main character, I realized I needed to find an alternative source of income. Living off $800 a month was no longer feasible for me. Luckily, a friend of mine was testing out a bot, and I decided to take the gamble as well.
My initial “farm” wasn’t anything fancy, but it still managed to bring in 3-4 thousand gold per day. At that time, those amounts estimated to be about $90-120. It was a small victory, but it gave me the motivation to continue exploring this new opportunity for making money in the gaming world.
Initially, I started selling gold to resellers, as they paid immediately and I didn’t have to pay any exchange fees. This approach proved to be effective for a while.
As the value of gold decreased, my profits began to dwindle. In an effort to increase my earnings, I turned to power-leveling characters using bots. I would have my main character farm dungeons while I introduced and removed power-level characters. However, after a month of this, I found it to be too time-consuming, with each character taking about 10 days to level up. I decided to level up only 3 characters per month, which would increase my daily income by $50-$80, despite the falling gold prices. Eventually, I purchased a bot that automated power-leveling in the open world. On the left, you can see the characters that farm gold in dungeons for sale, while on the right are the “babies” who will have work to do once they are all leveled up.
Until March 2021, I had around 15 bots that generated a revenue of $250-300 per day (equivalent to 10-15 thousand gold at a rate of $20-25 per 1,000 units). Here is a statement from my PayPal account for the month of January, during which time I was already selling gold on a dedicated exchange. I always left some money there since it takes three days for confirmation, and there was no need to withdraw unnecessarily.
In March, I became aware of server rental and decided it was time to expand. Power-leveling characters in the open world was no longer feasible as other players would report them, leading to a decrease in their lifespan. As a result, I switched to leveling packs through bots in dungeons. This saved me time and increased the characters’ lifespans, but the business was not without its challenges. I had to keep track of several packs simultaneously and remove them after the character had leveled up before reintroducing them.
One person could manage 5-6 packs at a time (resulting in 20-24 ready-made characters) without going crazy. I never attempted more than that. In a month, I could create around two sets of 5-6 packs.
In May, things took a turn for the worse with the release of the Burning Crusade Classic Pre-Patch. All public and semi-public bots were rendered ineffective. Blizzard had managed to track down the developer of the unlocker software that allowed bots to function and put a stop to it. The developer, in turn, provided Blizzard with the HWIDs and IPs of all his clients and fled with their money.
The fallout was intense with banned characters, no bots, and the value of gold skyrocketing, leading to panic and crisis. Fortunately, luck was on their side as a Chinese reseller was able to offer a semi-private bot for EU servers. In addition, Blizzard’s introduction of a boost up to level 58 meant that power-leveling was no longer necessary.
Starting from June 2021, I have been earning $1,000 or more every day with the help of the bot. Most of the earnings were transferred to Payoneer, but I also received some funds via PayPal and Webmoney.
Here is a proof of my earnings for those who doubt my success in gold farming. As you can see in my bank statement, my income reached its peak from June to October.
The transfers from Payoneer to Citibank and WMZ exchangers indicated a steady stream of income from the bot farm, which at its peak had up to 150 active bots. This required the use of up to 30 remote computers to manage and operate the bots.
Bans and Losses
The issue of bans has been prevalent for the last six months, with the average lifespan of a bot being drastically reduced. Previously, bots could survive for 2-3 weeks, with characters generating profits before they were banned. However, the current scenario is bleak, with a ban being issued within two days of botting activities. This has made it challenging to maintain a sustainable income stream, and I have had to reduce the number of bots I operate to avoid getting caught. Despite the setbacks, the rewards of running a successful bot farm continue to be enticing.
Blizzard Entertainment, the company that develops and publishes the game, has been taking measures to combat the use of bots, which have become increasingly rampant. The abundance of bots frustrates the legitimate players and puts the company’s reputation at stake.
Recently, bans on bot accounts have become more frequent and unpredictable. Even some characters that have never been used with bots are getting banned.
Although the income from botting can be significant, the risk of getting banned is always there, and the consequences can be severe.
Bot farmers have previously used Tinkoff or PayPal to make payments, as it was a way to save money. However, in the last six months, it has become increasingly difficult to do so.
Spending on Сonsumables
Accounts, dedicated servers, bots, and proxies are all essential expenses for bot farmers, and they can add up quickly. However, the costs have increased in recent months due to bans and crackdowns by Blizzard. At one time, bot farmers were able to recover about 80% of the cost of accounts, but now it’s becoming more difficult.
An account costs $50 for character leveling up (one-time fee) and $10 for a one-month subscription. Dedicated servers can be purchased for $7 per day if bought daily or $67-$116 for a month. Bots typically cost between $20 to $40 per month, and proxies can be purchased for as low as $2 each.
On average, bot farmers spend $1,500-$2,500 per month on subscriptions, bots, and dedicated servers. Boosts for accounts can cost up to $8,300, which is why it’s important to have a rule in place to minimize losses. For example, one bot farmer put two dedicated servers (10 characters) into operation, recovered the costs, and then invested in more. By doing so, they minimized their risk of losing everything.
Making money through automation in popular MMOs is possible, but it’s not as easy as it used to be in the past. World of Warcraft has become a challenging game to farm gold due to the presence of many bots, and bans are more frequent than ever. Even if you manage to make some money, the profits may not be worth the time and effort required.
However, it’s still possible to make money through automation in other MMOs. For instance, some players made millions through dupes in New World in just a couple of months. Lost Ark, which was recently released by Amazon, is also being farmed by many players. The profits of these games are not disclosed, and I don’t communicate with farmers from there.
In conclusion, while it’s still possible to make money through automation in some MMOs, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so in World of Warcraft. Players interested in making money through automation should consider exploring other MMOs.