Here’s a bit of fascinating reading for anyone interested in the MMO phenomenon of gold farming – ICTs for Development profiles an actual World of Warcraft gold farming business, complete with a brief profit and loss statement. How many people work for the business? Which in-game tasks do they perform to earn their gold? How much does the business pay its staff, and what is its profit at the end of the day? Which intermediaries does it use, and what is their mark-up? The article discusses these topics, and more.
Note that eventually, the proprietor described in the article abandoned gold farming. The price at which he could realise 1,000 WoW gold fell from US$7.10 in March 2009 to US$3.37 in January 2010 to just US$1.00 as of the time of writing (March 2011), a pretty steep decline in just two years!
The same author, Richard Heeks, has also written a working paper on gold farming in general. I have only skimmed it, but it looks as though it could also be worth a look for anyone following the topic.
(Link courtesy of Gama Sutra)