Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gaming as a Job? - Coming to WoW.

With the recent announcement that Diablo will be having a real cash auction house we know it is only a matter of time before that concept gets to WoW.  Most likely it will not be any time soon, next expansion at the earliest would be my guess. 

Anyone who thinks that it is not a possibility that a real cash auction house will come to WoW is completely fooling themselves.  There are a few good reasons I can think of why the real cash auction house would be a huge plus for Blizzard.

1) Gold Sellers:
- Blizzard probably spends a lot of time trying to shut them down.  Blizzard probably spends a lot of money on lawyers trying to sue the people that they can actually track down.  Blizzard probably has to employ extra people just to handle this problem.  With all that said, Blizzard spends a lot of money to try and stop people from selling gold.  Allowing people to sell gold in game means there is no need for that any more.

2) Saving Money:
- If they allow gold to be sold on the auction house they are saving themselves a ton of cash.  They no longer need to pay people just to track down the gold sellers.  They will not have to pay lawyers to sue them when they find them either.  It will save them a lot of money and remember boys and girls, businesses are in business to make money.  Sure they try to offer a good product but the bottom line is money.  If they are not making money there is no reason for them to stay in business.  This saves them money, which means it makes them money by not having to spend it.

3) Making Money:
- Lets all not forget the best part of this for them.  Every micro transaction they get a cut of.  Millions of people play the game, if even 10% of them will buy and sell using the real cash auction house they make money.  They make money when you list something, they make more money when you sell something.  They do not need to buy or sell anything, they just sit back and collect when you do.  How do you this ebay became huge?  The same exact way.

4) Make Money Off The People Making Money Off You:
- For years and years the gold sellers sold gold, items, etc and made a fortune on it.  So much so that there are new companies popping up all the time to do it.  There is a large market out there.  By adding this system they are no longer fighting them, they are employing them.  Every time a gold seller sells gold, items, etc, Blizzard will get their cut.  Better then trying to stop them, make them work for you.

5) More Subscriptions:
- To take advantage of this real money system I would not be surprised if they charge an additional fee to list real cash items for sale.  Maybe not buy, but list.  This means they will be making more money from subscriptions.  Not to mention from all those gold sellers that want to do it legal and collect their checks now, they will now need a real account under their own name, paid legally.

6) Employ People:
- I can assure you that there will be some people that will quit their job and just grind on WoW selling things if this happens.  I can easily see making 1000 a week selling stuff for cash on WoW with little to no effort.  For some people, that is a hell of a lot better then what they are making now.  While talking to a friend yesterday we joked that I picked 12 stacks of whiptail while waiting in dungeon queue, if only the real cash system was here I would put them up for 5 bucks each and have made 60 dollars real cash while waiting for my dungeon.  60 for doing nothing?  I'll take it, thank you. 420 dollar per character, per week?  Insane money if the stuff actually sells.

7) Keep People From Breaking The Rules:
- Are you aware of the amount of people that buy gold?  Neither am I but based on the number of gold selling services out there I would guess many people buy gold.  With that said I am sure many people get caught too and get banned from the game.  If they buy and sell stuff out of game, then those people will buy and sell stuff in game.  If they are buying stuff in game then they are not breaking the rules which means Blizzard has no reason to ban them meaning they are still a paying customer instead of banned rule breaker they make nothing off of now.  It is good for business when you are not forced to ban people that pay monthly.  Another good for business point and lets pop up a reminder boys and girls, they are in business to make money.

8) Allow People to Play Catch Up:
- People with money will be able to play catch up just by spending.  This makes them enjoy the game more feeling there is less of a grind.  It makes the people selling the stuff happy being they are making money.   It makes Blizzard happy to take their cut.  It makes raiders happy because they can sell the stuff they do not need that is BoE that drops and still get their BoP stuff from bosses which is better in most cases and would allow them to extend their epeen still, maybe even more. It makes everyone happy. 

9) People Will Play More:
- The longer this is out the more people will try to make money with it.  This will drive prices down of course but it will in turn keep people playing longer.   People farming raids for BoE drops means more pugs running which means more people getting invited to clear content, which means more people being happy playing.  Happy players spread the word.  Happy players will get their friends to play.  Happy players let everyone know.  Money makers will tell others this is a great way to make money.  Money spenders will tell others this is a great way to spend money.  Those that are not making or spending will be able to take part in a much more active community because of it which means they will be doing more being happier and telling others how active it is which is always a selling factor to gaming.

10) Gold Making Opportunity:
- For those that do not buy and sell you can still take advantage of this.  I can see it already.  /2 Hiring top players 1000g per hour, Firelands trash.  RL keeps drops.  You might not have the money to spend or want to sell stuff, but you too can make gold in game by helping someone else that is trying to make money selling.  I would not mind making 1000g per hour for playing when I am going to play anyway.

11) Transfer Fees:
- When money is involved some people will pay and pay huge to get what they want.  I can see people advertising on the forums looking to pay for the underwater mount that is bind on use.  Say they offer to pay something outrageous like 1000 for it.  Someone on a different server that has it will make a level 1 alt, pass it to them, server transfer, and sell it to them, then delete the character.  The seller makes money, the buyer gets its item and blizzard gets the listing fee, the selling fee and a server transfer fee.  Yeap, Blizzard will love this.

12) Speaking of Transfer Fees:
- There will be some people that will continuously transfer to low pop server, farm the crap out of them, open a guild back and fill it and then transfer to a high pop server or any server where the prices are higher, real cash wise, to sell it.  I can see people rotating like with with many characters.  This means lots and lots of fee for Blizzard and I am sure they will not see this as a problem at all. Between server transfer fees, faction transfer fees, guild transfer fees, all from people looking to make money selling for real cash which would get even more fees, this is going to be a cash cow.

13) Don't Underestimate Micro Transactions:
- Take farmville for example.  Last I read the thing pulls in over 5 million a week for a game that is not even 1% as complex as WoW was to code.  Even with small numbers there is a lot of money to be made.  Again, look at ebay, a billion dollar company that does not buy or sell anything, it just collects its cut, a micro transaction of you will.  There are 100s of games out there like that.  Ones that live off micro transactions.  I used to be a mod for one and have two friends that own micro transaction games.  I know the numbers are insane sometimes, first hand.  I've seen people sign up for one of those games and spend 2K in their first day.  Not kidding.  Micro transactions can make a ton of cash.

I can see a lot of drawbacks to this as well like tons of people farming herbs, ore, leather, making it a bit harder to gather for those that gather for themselves but in the end it will all equal out.  The more people farming to sell, the lower the prices will go and sooner or later inflation in the game will be down because the market will be flooded with everything you could imagine.

Personally I like the idea of selling for real cash and would be selling everything I can get my hands on for real cash.  While I do not need the money, so to speak, there is no such thing as having too much money.  I'll sell everything I can.  Even if it means stacks of herbs 1 dollar each.  If I do not need it for anything then it is still 1 dollar more then I had before.  More is more no matter how little that more is.

The biggest drawback for me is the fact I do have money.  Which means I will spend it.  How exactly is that bad?  Well, I enjoy the hunt, the grind, the earning items even if the random number generator hates me.  If I saw the polearm for 50 dollars I would buy it in a heartbeat.  With that said, once I have it there is no reason for me to do trash runs on my hunter ever again.  This is a bad thing.  Good thing I have a million 85s to keep me active if I wanted to.

I see this coming to WoW and I see lots of people being upset by it as well.  One thing I see that I doubt other will see at first look is that in the long run this would be good for the game as a whole.  It will make money for blizzard, all but wipe out illegal gold and item sellers, and even let some people make some real cash while playing a game they enjoy.  Sure, there are some drawbacks, but I think the pluses outweigh the minuses in this case.

The question is not if this will happen, the question is when.


  1. I sorta kinda almost agree that it will likely become a permanent feature of online games in the future but it will be a good while down the road before it hits WoW. D3 isn't even in beta yet and while I think it likely you are correct that eventually WoW will see this system implemented eventually, I can't see it happening till after it has proven itself successful in D3

    I will admit that the first thing I thought of when I saw that on MMO-Champions, was omg, a nice way to pay for my subscription and maybe make a bit more on the side to boot.

    I am posting as anonymous in case any of our guild mates are reading this site, but you know who I am...

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  3. I doubt that this would save Blizzard money from not having to sue gold sellers anymore, because instead they'd have to deal with the legal repercussions of dealing with real money, account theft being a real crime and so on and so forth.

    Also, maybe I'm naive, but I do hope that they never actually implement this in WoW. I wouldn't buy anything with real money, but the mere knowledge that I could sell things for real money would be too much I think. Lost a roll on an epic BoE? Now it's not just a game anymore, you missed out on real money. Don't feel like farming today? You're missing out on real money! There's a reason most people like to keep their jobs and their hobbies separate, because when you're always worrying about how much money you're (not) earning while doing something, it becomes a lot less fun than when you just do it for the sake of it.

    (Reposted to fix tags.)

  4. Xayíde@GurubashiAugust 2, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    From a pure gameplay perspective, I think this is bad for any game.
    The person with the best items will always be the richest or the one most willing to spend RL money on virtual items and not the ones that really know how to play the gold game and invest their time into it, or just the one that plays a lot and plays smart.
    I'm from Brazil and people over here usually don't have as much money as Americans or Europeans (broadly speaking), specially if you consider exchange rates (although this might be a non issues since WoW is coming to Brazil this year). I know many many Brazilians that pay their subscription with gold so they do not have to spend US$15 every month.

    On the other hand, BoE gear usually is not the best gear, but only a way to gear up faster. You usually get better items in raids, specially heroic raids, so the most hardcore players will still get their prestige gear. For the average Joe though, if he's not willing to spend RL money, he'll stay behind.

    Rewarding players for their money and not for their skill and time invested is just wrong.

    I understand and agree with your outlined points, they were my thoughts exactly when I read the announcement. It makes sense for Blizzard to do it, and I think Diablo supports this much better than WoW from the little that I know about the game. Nevertheless, I agree it's inevitable that this system comes to WoW and I'm already dreading it, both because I will be tempted to spend (like I did with most stupid vanity items in the Blizzard store...) and because game balance will have an injust RL money factor.
    On an extreme comparison, I think this is like legalizing drugs. Doing it will probably end many violence problems, but people that wouldn't consume them because they don't want to be illegal will start to do it. Plus legalizing it doesn't change the fact that it's bad for your health.
    They will avoid account theft and bans but will make the game worse in the process for people who never messed with these things in the first place.

  5. I can see this being awesome for people who enjoy playing the action house, but since it's a part of WoW that I don't engage in, I would not want to participate in a real money game economy either, in fact I'd quit with no remorse, that's just not a game for me.
    So we can talk about how it's good for the game, but the game needs willing players, and the D3 receptions weren't positive at all, I don't see this coming to WoW.

  6. This MIGHT make me leave the game. Once real money is involved in this way it changes the atmosphere. I agree completely with Shintar's post in this regard. And how will it affect my ability to buy things from the auction house for in-game gold? Why would someone post an item just for gold and not for cash? I buy most of my gems and enchants for gold but would NOT pay real money for them. Will I still be able to find gems and enchants or will I have to go without because no one will post things for just plain old gold anymore?

  7. I cannot help but cast a cynical eye to your rosy view of the future. If anything, it will make the game even MORE cutthroat, as ninja-looting and griefing become even more commonplace. Still, it's possible it could be a positive net contribution. It's impossible to say at the moment.

  8. Thanks for continuously implying that you have more money than the rest of us normal people. Nothing like rubbing people's faces in your arrogance when the economy is this bad. Maybe people just want to play and we counted on Blizzard to protect our fun instead of siding with the unethical gold sellers.

  9. You said that you would list whipetail for 5 bucks - gold sellers offer 10k gold for 10 bucks on my realm. why should someone buy 20 whipetail for 5000g?
    I m pretty sure this will maybe work on Diablo but the market of wow is already runined- Blizzard didn t do anything to introduce any kind of moneysink into the game. While it was a pain in the ass to get your epic mount in vanilla you can now easy grind thousends of gold with dailys in a few days. In vanilla and BC making gold was a challenge i now sit on 350k gold and i can t do anything usefull with it. The market is flooeded with cheap stuff and everyone sits on a fortune. why should anyone waste any real money on wow stuff? Why should i buy a epic sword for 100 bucks when i easly can grind the gold for it together in less than a week? The whole crafting system in wow is a joke aswell as the market- and therefor i see no chance to introduce such a system to wow.

  10. I'm not sure if one can make cash out of auction house. All the 'real' dollar one make in-game can only be used within Battle.net... e.g. paying your game time etc. I don't think one can redeem cash...

  11. I think people commenting negatively raise some good points, but if a real money AH gets implemented none of the problems will be Blizzard's. Nobody on your server sells for gold? People will notice when sales decline. Rich people getting geared faster than poor people? Unless they're your guildmates and stealing your raid slot that doesn't effect you at all (and if they are stealing your raid slot, a) they're jerks, b) your raid leader's a jerk, c) that means someone with lots of gold could do the same now, and d) if you play the AH right you could BE the guy using his money to gear quickly). Things get more cutthroat? Blizzard will deal with abuse, and the fact that they aren't banning gold buyers (and are getting subs from sellers) will let them go crazy with the Banhammer without a net loss of money. Can't deal with the fact that some parts of the game can now lead to "lost" money? That's a pretty weak argument when you look at the list of benefits.

    Personally, having said that, I kind of hope we can only get "Blizz Bucks" out of this, or at least have to give Blizzard a sizable percentage of any money that gets "cashed out". The former would be best for the gold AH while still allowing people to pay their subs without an external income, while the latter would reduce the number of people for whom the cash AH would be worth using for anything other than subs/character transfers/other Blizzard game.

    Finally, one benefit that wasn't listed would be the lowering of the paywall- people could just buy Vanilla with their real money and the xpacs with money earned in game. That could be huge for getting new players.