Warning: This post is a tin foil hat edition
Please take it with a grain of salt
Blizzard has finally made their stance on gold buying public. They support it. Even more than support it, they have decided to make a reason for you to buy gold and they spent time, effort and development money to create the perfect place to spend the gold you are buying. Enter the Black Market Auction House (BMAH).
It has been a long held belief around some in the community that blizzard doesn't really mind the gold sellers being out there. Anyone that has ever reported one of the susan express gold sellers posting in trade can tell you that. Even more so, someone that did not report the susan express gold sellers could tell you better.
If you do not report them their future messages will not be blocked, so you will see them in all their gold selling glory. All... Day... Long... You will also see that they keep going for hours and hours on end.
I've seen days where one susan express person was in trade all day long on the weekend. Were the GMs letting them post or does no one work on weekends? That is a full day of people reporting for spam. That is a full day of any GMs possibly logging into the game and seeing trade. That is a full day of no one playing the game that does not see it at least once. Yet they are not banned. They are not even silenced in trade. Blizzard wants them to get some solid sell time before they pretend like that give a crap.
The common tin foil hat belief about gold sellers is as follows.
1) Gold seller creates an account.
2) Gold seller sells gold for some time quietly.
3) After a long time operating, blizzard gives them a short ban.
4) They come back and shift their stock to another account that just sells quietly and has not been banned yet so it is not lost.
5) They change that account to just an advertising account and spam trade until they are banned.
6) Go back to step one.
The reason for this approach is simple. They want the gold sellers to feel as if they are getting away with something. If they ban them as soon as they find them they might stop making new accounts because it is not profitable for the gold seller. The gold sellers need to sell product to make it worthwhile to keep getting new accounts, blizzard has to allow them to make money to keep the flow going. So they let them make money, enough to feel it is worth having accounts to do this, and then ban them for a short time, to let them know a permanent ban is coming.
This allows them to send all their stuff to another account so it is not lost when they come back and then they spam trade with that account until they get the permanent ban they knew would be coming shortly thanks to blizzard giving them the nice little warning. Now this forces them to buy a new account and some game time, making money for blizzard. Even if they only buy one new game, the base one, it is still a product sold for blizzard and it is still an additional subscriber for their numbers.
This is how gold sellers are handled. They let them get away with it just enough so it is worth them continually buying new accounts, thus buffing up the companies bottom line.
The introduction of the BMAH is just pushing it to a whole new level. More people will be needing gold to buy stuff on the market, which means more gold sellers.
More gold sellers means more people to ban and make buy new accounts. New accounts mean more income. New accounts mean more people that they can label as active players for the stock holders meeting.
By creating a market that offers items that can not be attained any other way in the game, like offering T3 sets, they are saying you have to buy this, you can not earn it in game in any other way. It is pay gold or you don't get it.
This will create a much larger market for gold sellers meaning they can ban gold sellers more often, as they are making a lot more real money, which means they will buy more accounts more often. It is a full circle. They create more demand for gold, so gold sellers make more money, which means they can ban them more often.
When people are not buying a lot of gold they can not ban them often. It might reach a point where it is not worth them making new accounts all the time. But if they are making a lot of money, they can ban them much more often. This means it is worth them making more accounts which makes blizzard more money and looks like they are getting a nice subscriber boost.
This tin foil hat is on fire now. It burns. It burns because as wild as it sounds, it does sound... possible?
But could there be any truth to it behind the scenes?
People might say that blizzard does not want gold sellers around because that means hackers too and that makes more work for them. There could be some truth to that but you also need to remember that they offer everyone in the game the perfect way to protect their accounts.
They do not want people getting hacked, that just creates work for them. So they offer a free authenticator, just pay shipping and handling, so you can protect your account.
So basically anyone that says that the hackers causing them more work is proof they do not support gold selling is wrong. It is an unfortunate side effect that they have created a way to beat, instead of banning the gold sellers and account hackers to begin with they just tell people, protect yourself and let the gold sellers do their thing, here is the item to protect yourself.
For things like Ashes, you could still farm it if you want to in game, or you can buy it with gold. So that could be a flip of the coin in wondering if they support gold sellers by creating the BMAH. However, by offering things that can only be attained through the BMAH they are basically saying they want people to have a lot of gold.
Being we live in the x-box generation of instant gratification, and they know that, people will not grind to make money. The grinder generation is mine, not the ones playing the game now. The x-box generation will just go out and buy the gold and blizzard is 100% fine with that.
Blizzard has been working on ways to drive up subscribers ever since they released the patch they passed off as an expansion called cataclysm that they charged us for and they scared away a fair portion of their customer base with. The annual pass was a subscriber grab, and it worked. The scroll of resurrection was a subscriber grab, and it worked. The BMAH is a subscriber grab, and it will work too.
The thing is, it is a back handed subscriber grab. They want gold sellers buying new accounts, selling gold, getting banned and then starting all over again by buying another account. This way their subscriber numbers will go up while their player base gets happier because they feel like they are getting away with something and getting hard or impossible to get items.
It is win/win for blizzard on many levels. For those that know how to make money, there is more reason for them to stay in game playing. For people that are not good at making money, there is even more reason for them to stay in game to grind money. For people that buy gold they get to feel like they are getting away with something. For the gold sellers they will be more likely to continue to make new accounts no matter how often they are banned because they are making money hand over fist.
It is all good for blizzard, as long as hacking does not increase. So expect a new push for people to get an authenticator so they can let the gold sellers do their thing while they have less hacking worries. Don't be surprised if an authenticator is included with the new mists box, just so they can let the gold sellers do their thing with less hacking going around.
This might very well be completely tin foil hat but you have to wonder what are their true intentions. There are a lot of questions we can ask them and I wonder what the answers would be.
Is it really just a gold sink or just a sign they are out of ideas?
If they are really trying to get away from grindy content for the x-box generation why create something that would require people to grind gold?
If they want people out in the world why stop them from making TK groups every week to get the ashes mount when they can sit in their home town and buy it?
If it is just about making money, why not sell T3 at a cash shop like they do the mounts?
How is creating the BMAH good for the game?
Are they going back to the concept of whoever has to most time to play has all the best toys?
Do they have a plan to stop people from cheating (buying gold) to get stuff over others that actually worked for their gold?
This might be a tin foil hat edition but something inside of me read the announcement of the BMAH as blizzard putting up a huge sign in blinking neon lights over Org and SW that read "Buy gold NOW!" in huge letters going blink, blink, blinkity blink.