Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What if: 30 Days Game Time: How Much Would It Be Worth?

With the recent revelation that blizzard is toying around with the idea of allowing a game time item to be purchasable with real cash that could be sold in game for gold, presumably through the auction house and trade window as an actual item, has made me think what it would be worth to buy and sell for.

A topic like this is likely to have a large range of answers that are very dependent on the person themselves.  Do they have disposable income, are they willing to spend that disposable income on a game, are they good at making gold in game or not, there are many factors that will go into it.  My personal opinion on the matter might match some and might not match most, because each one of us is an individual with different circumstances in life and different feeling toward spending our hard earned cash on or in a game.

For the purpose of this what if post we will work under some made up, because we really do not know, numbers, rules and situations. 

We will work under the idea that the game time token will sell for slightly more than purchasing time for yourself like it does in other games that have been using this model for many years.  Lets say if 30 days cost 15 dollars in the US than the game time token will sell for 20. 

We will also work under the presumption that blizzard has completely fixed the ability to dupe items so that would be a non factor and we will figure this based on it being an item like all other items in game.  Completely tradable and not limited.

I am going to give my opinion on this three times.  The reason for that is because I actually have three different opinions.  Yes, I do, and yes you can have more than one opinion.  It all depends on what angle you are looking at it from.  The buyer, the seller, or the person that will not take part of it in any way.  So my three opinions on what it is worth differ based on which angle I look at it.

What if you could buy game time, how much would you pay?

If I were the one doing the buying I would want it at a reasonable price.  While I do have the ability to make gold and I do have a nice little stash of gold going, I am capable of paying for my own game time with cash.  So for me to use in game resources it would have to be so cheap that I could not say no.

I would say that if the price of 30 days game time were to be 10,000 or less I would be interested in it.  I would most likely even switch from spending real money to in game money only.  Even without playing the auction house and just playing the game like normal I think that gathering 10,000 per month should be reasonably easy for any active player.  So much so to the point where it would be, at worst, a net wash on my part.  Even on the slowest months, not trying to make any gold and not being very actice, I would say I can make 10,000, so I get that month for free, so to speak.  I just have to give up the gold I made for the month and with the stash I have that does not really seem like it would be a huge price to pay at all.

Anything more than 10,000 and I would have absolutely no interest in buying it with in game gold.  Heck, even the 10,000 number might still be a coin flip depending on how I feel on that day, but that is the highest I could see me ever paying for game time with in game gold.

What if you could sell game time, how much would you sell it for?

Looking at it from this direction, as the person spending real cash, I would never in a million years spend 20 dollars of real life money to get only 10,000 gold in game.  In my personal opinion you would need to be extremely desperate for gold and have way too much spending cash in the real world to waste it on making such a small amount like 10,000.

So what would get me to open my wallet and buy some game time tokens to sell in game.  Well, being I do not need gold I will have to play like there is something I want to buy and I need to gold.  So first off I would need the desire to spend the gold, which I am sure blizzard will add so people like myself have a reason to buy game time to sell in game.  Now lets assume that there was something I wanted to buy, what do I think would be a reasonable selling price.

For me to open my wallet and spend 20 dollars I think we would need to see the 30 day game time tokens selling for at least 100,000 gold and even then I would only spend real life cash if I were in desperate need, or felt like I was in desperate need of whatever it is I was selling them to gather to gold to buy.

If they wanted me to open my wallet freely and be willing to drop a hundred dollars here and there on game time tokens to sell we would need to see the gold selling price in the 250,000 to 300,000 range before I felt comfortable spending real life money in game for gold.

Being we are playing the what if make believe game here I am going to take this one step further.  What type of selling numbers would I need to see to get me to open my wallet and start spending some serious bucks, as in hundreds?

I would need to see the game time cards selling for over 1,000,000 each.  Much over if possible.  Even if I did not need the gold for anything, I could see myself spending two or three hundred dollars to sell game time and I would stash the money so if I ever needed it than it would be there.  If they were selling for 1,000,000 each, yes, I could most definitely see myself spending money I did not even need or want to spend because it would be such a good deal and it would be worth it, in my opinion at least.

What do you believe will be the actual pricing?

This is the third and last part.  What I believe the actual pricing you can expect to see on your local auction house for these things if they went into the game as described.

The price I would be willing to buy at is so low, it will never get that low and the price I would be willing to sell it is so extremely out of line that I know I am being a jerk for saying I would want 1M for it, so they will never go that high.

What it comes down to is what can we expect it to actually fetch in game and I think we already have the answer to that.  Take a look at the auction house for the "hot" items.  On my server it is the 670 back and waist on the auction house.  Something we all have easy access too if we wanted to do a few trash runs and something everyone needs, even to a lesser extent than game time.  See what the highs and lows for those items are and that is what I figure the range would be.

The reason I say look at your server is because each server has a different economy.  Some might not have many heroic BoEs on the AH, some might have more, some might only have normal, some might have mythic.  You need to judge it on the hot item, the things selling well with good turn over that are in demand.

On my server that would mean that the game time items would sell from 18K - 35K, and you know what, that seems about right.  I can see 30 days game time easily selling for that amount.  For someone like me it is not worth buying at that price, and it is not worth selling at that price.  And if it is too high for me to want to buy and too low for me to want to sell, I think it is in a good place for everyone.

That is my opinion only of course, so what is yours?  What price would get you to buy it, sell it and what do you think it might average?  What if.. of course.


  1. I think it will settle up on a level where most wouldn't be able to afford it.

    Here's why:

    The number of people who will buy these tokens from Blizzard will be some small percentage of players, similar to a percentage of players who buy stuff in F2P games even though they are F2P.

    The number of people who'd like to have these tokens is all people, so this is the case where the price is going to be ruled by supply - and the price for the token in gold will settle at a level where the number of tokens bought coincides with the number of tokens sold (that's a trivia) - which is, again, some small one-digit percentage of the players.

    Now, that's still a lot of tokens and there is a lot of money in it, but the number or players chasing tokens is also very large and the relatively small proportion of those players who will succeed at getting these tokens will do this because they will be able to offer the highest price. Since, again, we are talking about some one-digit percentage of players winning over all other players, the price that they will offer will be vastly higher than the average. In fact, the amount of new gold generated in an effort to get these tokens, will be so high that it will be enough to redo the game economy several times over from scratch.

    So, in the end, there will be a lot more gold overall, and the price of the token will be several times above what people could earn playing "normal" hours doing "normal" things like instances or professions, maybe farming here and there. I think the number will be like 60-80k gold. Maybe 100k, maybe even higher, because, again, enough people will really push it to the extreme trying to make *more gold than others* in an attempt to pay their gametime (and perhaps earn real money, but that's another topic).

    That's my opinion.

    (This already exists in other games, by the way, eg, in Eve - not just tokens, but this entire scheme and more.)

    1. Very good points, one other thing to consider though is there is no real reason for a gold tycoon to ever buy more than one of these tokens per month, but there might be people wanting to buy gold that want more than one tokens worth per month. So even though the number of Gold Sellers is higher than Gold Buyers that could even it out a bit more than you are accounting for.

    2. While what you say is true I do not really believe it will be a "small" amount of people. Even more so if the price is high because then it would draw outliners like me, people who could buy to sell but most likely won't. Those free to play games are bring in hundreds of millions and in come cases a billion a year because people are paying. It is not really in small amounts.

      Unless of course you and I have different definitions of small. By small I am thinking less than 1% where I can see way more than that actually buying to sell.

      I do however agree with you that the price will settle a little on the higher end as there will only be some paying cash, but everyone wanting with gold. If it gets as high as you suggest it might, I could see me buying a few to sell maybe.


      In another game I made a boatload of money buying and selling these 1 month passes. I would buy from one person desperate for money for 300K each and I would turn around and sell them slowly one at a time in the range of 750K-900K each. He wanted to unload a lot for quick cash, I was willing to play the long game, in the end I made billions, yes billions, in the game just from buying and selling.

      With that said, some gold tycoon in warcraft will do the exact same. I am 100% absolutely certain of it. They will buy, for a cheaper price, from someone desperate for gold and then play the long game and sell for a higher price turning their millions into billions in wow just like I turned my millions into billions in the other game.

  2. I have been thinking about this some since the announcement myself. I looked up the price of gold on some of the shady gold selling sites to get a real rough starting point. It seemed like for your $15 you could get around 20-25k gold.

    Now we know there is a big enough market of people willing to buy this gold while in the process of risking their account breaking TOS and dealing with shady websites.

    The market for people who would buy gold if it was 100% legit for similar prices has to be larger. IMO this sets a rough floor price for what gold will sell for. (there is a chance a few servers out there are outliers though) I personally think gold price will on average roughly go 1.5x-2x the value when becoming legitimate. This puts a range on price for a game time token around 30k-50k.

    I am fairly flush with gold myself account wide 600k or so and have made around 130k since WoD started. I don't see myself selling for my game time unless the price is lower than my estimate, I think I might pay for my time with gold if the price does settle around 20k or so though.

    1. It seems like my estimate of 18-35 might actually fit in line with the gold selling prices you found.

      It would definitely put buying them out of the range of 90% of the player base if they reached 50K, but I do think that is possible.

      The one thing we, as in people with gold as you said you have a fair deal as well, need to remember is we are the 1%. The majority of the player base never even sees 50K at one time in their entire life playing the game.

      So that leaves the question, if all the people with the gold are the only ones that can afford them, who is going to buy them? Is it going to be another person with gold buying to try to flip them? It is something interesting to think about if the price gets that high. It basically limits the prospective buyers.

      Using your conversion however, the price would have to be UNDER the gold sellers price, in my opinion. If 15 can buy you 25K gold and the price of the game time token is over 25K gold, you are better off just paying for the game time itself. Because, lets face it, the only way the vast majority of the player base will be able to afford to buy the packs with gold is if they are buying gold. So if the cost of the gold is more than the cost of just paying for game time directly, they will just pay for game time directly.

  3. I have serious doubts about this whole thing.

    I remember too well when Blizz rolled out the Diablo RMAH. Many people got all jazzed about how they were going to farm in Diablo and pay for their WoW accounts.

    Seemed pretty naive at the time. And of course it never happened.

    I'm guessing the number of people willing to pay real money to buy time tokens so that they can then trade for in-game gold is going to be very limited. If those tokens are at a premium over the regular cost of the same time, then even more so.

    And, like you said, the payback they're going to want is going to price the tokens out of the range of most other players.

    So you'll end up with, at best, a niche market just like the market for tradeable loot card mounts/pets/etc. The very rich in-game might exchange stuff with the very rich out-of-game.

    To the extent it helps reduce purchases from gold farmers and nefarious gold farming behavior, that'll be great.

    But I'd be bummed if it further distorts the server economies and/or encouraging widescale item duping (I imagine gold farmers wouldn't mind funding their operations by trading in-game gold rather than real cash and they could still potentially undercut game tokens).

    1. Seems like you see it much the way I see it happening. I can see, if they do not fix duping, this completely backfiring on them big time. That would mean cheap time on the market, so cheap that everyone would buy it, and then blizzard makes no money at all.

      In a way, that might be the only way to get them to fix the duping problems. I can not believe you can still do it in game but you can, and it is not even hard to do.

  4. For some time now Eve online has had a item in game to add game time or be sold for in game currency.

    This is very popular within the game. They have even hired and gotten advice from economists.

    The one problem I see with an item like this in wow is that each realm has it's own market whereas Eve Online has one global market. Wow players may find themselves short-changed redeeming/selling the new item on certain realms.
    Currency rates also factor into this as well, US players may get a better "exchange" rates than EU members etc.

    For certain Blizz will make money out of it. You just have to look at the pet/mount sales to see that this new item will work for them as well.

    If there is a large take up on selling the item for gold it will lead to a gold glut, leading to inflation in AH prices for items in general.

    There is a lot to consider.

    1. I read a lot about eve and their use of the item. Many games use it, wildstar, the recent upstart does it as well. It seems to be the way of the future for games that want to charge for game time.

      Good point on the different realms. I could see myself going to a realm where they are cheap just to buy them from there.

      Perhaps blizzard could make that item, and only that item, game wide and not server single.

    2. there is already inflation in AH prices. Has been since Cata came out.
      And each time an add-on comes out, it gets worse.

      It also got worse when real life fuel went sky-high. But like eggs and butter, the AH inflation isn't coming down in prices.


    3. Prices only come down when an item has no use any longer. Oddly enough seems the in game mirrors the out of game very well. Things we want keep going up and the things we have keep going down.