One of the most profitable activities in The Elder Scrolls Online is the practice of selling carries for gold. Discord servers and communities exist that facilitate the buying and selling of carries for all of kinds of content in the game. While these communities continue to thrive, they are met with scrutiny from a vocal group of players that disagree with this endeavor and argue that it is a hindrance to the game and community. I asked a carry-seller on the PC EU server (who prefers to remain anonymous) a handful of questions regarding the controversy that surrounds this practice. They are as follows:
A fair amount of players look down on the practice of buying and selling carries. As someone who sells carries yourself, how do you feel about this notion? Is their disdain for carries justified, or are these players being unreasonable? Have you ever been bothered by players that think this way?
Personally, I do not see anything to be wrong with carry runs. Otherwise, I would not participate in them. This might seem like I feel this way just because I benefit from them, but the truth is, I was never bothered by other people taking this quick route even back when I just started playing and had trouble completing overland quests. I think that most of these ideas against carry runs originate from jealousy. I am not judging anyone here by the way, it is simply the way I see it. Internally, people might be unhappy with the fact that they are either unable to clear the content, do not have enough money to buy a carry run themselves or are unable to become a runner themselves. I have never been told any logical reason why a part of player base consider carry runs to be bad and thus, I do not get bothered by people who think otherwise.
Moreover, what do you have to say, specifically, in regards to the following most common criticisms about carries:
1) Buying a carry “cheapens” the achievement associated with such a run, therefore buying/selling carries is killing the integrity of the game.
As someone who has obtained multiple trial trifectas over course of four active years in ESO and have not bought any carry run (at least not yet), I have never felt this way about other players buying carry runs. It is impossible to pretend, for example, you have earned a trifecta title in a common way if you are unskilled in game. Hence, I disagree that carry runs harm integrity of ESO rewards.
2) Since selling crown items for gold is permissible in game, players can effectively use their real life money to buy crowns, sell those crowns for gold, and then use that gold to buy a carry – would this not be considered paying to win?
If ESO was a game where your performance heavily depends on equipment you wear or achievements you have, then I would agree. However, ESO is a game in which your own skill will do far more than your equipment. Someone who buys a carry run to obtain the best-in-slot gear but lacks knowledge of ESO gameplay will have much lower output than a skilled player with a cheap and easily accessible overland or crafted gear. This personal performance level is closely connected to obtaining titles or skins and personalities via carry runs. If an unskilled person, who bought those, enters group content, then the origin of their achievements is immediately obvious to everyone knowledgeable about the game. Furthermore, having log system prevents pretenders as checking logs is e a daily routine for most endgame groups nowadays. While buying carry runs might accelerate your progress, you will not get much more than collectibles and titles unless you are already a skilled player. Therefore, I do not consider buying carry runs in ESO to be pay to win.
3) Selling carries is a form of player exploitation,
I disagree it’s a form of exploitation. If carry runs are to be called exploitation, then it can be stated that a repairman who comes to fix your home appliance, or a mechanic who is fixing your car are exploiting your need for having functional machinery. Carry run is a process during which players sell both their time and skill and hence is a service, just like the others.
(I think the argument here is that carry sellers are supposedly taking advantage of the fact that some players can’t get clears, so they introduce a means to sell them a clear instead of recommending a prog guild or something)
Players who are serious about buying a carry run are buying it because they want the varying reward from clearing the content instantly. If they get recommended a progression group and join it, they are going to spend a variable amount of time clearing it. This can be, depending on personal skill, group skill, luck and difficulty of content, anywhere from a few hours to a year-long (or occasionally longer) progression with every joy and difficulty which comes with it. Players who buy carry runs might not have enough time or patience to go through this process and might just want to have a particular cosmetic collectible, title or a dye for roleplaying purposes and might not be interested in PvE at all. Other times, it might be a player transferring from other server who wants to skip through the process of obtaining gear all over again and accelerate their progress to get back to where they were on previous server.
Have you ever had a bad experience selling a carry before, and if not, have you ever heard of anyone who has? This could either be a bad experience with a client, or even a bad experience with a fellow groupmate was a part of a carry run.
This definitely happens. Be it while advertising or while in the process of carry run itself. While advertising, you might get called scammer, spammer and other strange words which are too rude for me to have them memorized. Sometime, a potential client does not believe a carry run is worth the amount of gold we ask and turns hostile. Sometimes you simply get to be a target of trolling by someone pretending to want to buy a run. Nevertheless, people also tend to be very nice and polite. It just depends on who you meet with whatever mood they currently have. During carry run, it can happen that client does not want to pay for the service in advance. In those cases, we simply cancel the run unless client changes their mind. Other times, it might also happen that client was a troll and does not show up. Client also might be late and the carry run is rescheduled resulting in a need to update the original roster for runners which can’t come at a new time. This all comes with price that, depending on content, either three or eleven players-runners were waiting for nothing. I have also had bad experience with fellow runners in terms of their lack of skill and experience for the content. Fortunately, those happens very rarely, and they tend to be quickly stripped of carry role for the particular content. Occasionally, one or more runners might end up not being able to come and fail to sign off in advance which also comes with extra wait time for everyone, including client.