In case you had missed it blizzard is releasing a new game time token which people can buy with real life cash and sell in game for gold with the next coming patch, tentatively 6.1.2. Of course something like this has people talking and I am no different.
I would love to share more information on the topic but there is little available to share. We do not know how much real life cash the token will cost and we do not know what the in game exchange for selling it will be. None of that has been set yet.
What we do know however is that these will not be sold on the free market. Meaning that the in game sale price will be set by blizzard. No buying and selling and undercutting on the market at all. Just a simple as you buy it with real cash and it enters the sale pool with everyone else that purchased one for a preset price. When yours sells from that pool, you get the gold.
As an added plus people who have expired accounts will be able to buy this off the auction house. While normally the auction house is off limits to someone with a trail account you will be able to buy this one item off the auction house. So if you had some gold reserves last time you played you can log in even without a current subscription and buy this item with gold and now have an active warcraft account with absolutely no cash out of pocket.
Part of the idea as presented is that this will allow people with more free cash than free time to effectively buy gold in game legally with their disposable income and those with more free time than free cash can make gold in game to buy this item off the auction house so they can effectively play with no out of pocket expense.
From a business standpoint I see this as a huge plus for blizzard. They could very well end up with more paying players. The people with cash effectively paying for multiple 30 day passes each month and the people without cash buying those months in game for gold. Everyone playing will be a paying customer even if player A pays with gold and player B pays with cash someone paid for those 30 days somewhere along the line. So it seems that for blizzard this could be a huge win. Adding the ability to buy the game time for gold while not even having an active account is even better. It allows people that might want to come back but have not the chance to do so to be capable of coming back with no out of pocket cost if they had the gold reserves from the last time they played.
So from a business standpoint, as I said, I think this is a huge plus for blizzard. But will it hurt the game for us the players? Lets face it. As much as I want the business end of blizzard to do well so they keep making the game I enjoy the bottom line is I want to keep enjoying it. If adding this to the game somehow negatively effects my game play either directly or indirectly than no matter how good it is for blizzard the business it could be bad for warcraft the game.
So do you think it will hurt the game?
After they announced this the other day I did a quick google search for gold sellers. I wanted to see, in terms of the current market for gold, what the 15 dollars would get me if I were to buy it from a gold seller. Prices varied but the average seems to be that 15 dollars would get me around 20,000 gold.
In the grand scheme of things 20,000 gold is not really a lot of gold in the game. Sure it would have been a small fortune when I was new or even a few years back but from where I stand in game now 20,000 is really nothing special. I can make that each week just logging in and doing my follower missions and nothing else. 20,000 is nice of course, but I am not exactly sure if it would be worth 15 dollars to buy it.
We do not know what price blizzard is going to set the tokens at, and they will be setting the price, not us, but I would not be surprised if they, like me, look at what the current fair market value for gold currently is and find that 20,000 will be the starting price.
I fit neatly into the category mentioned earlier of the person with more free cash than free time. So this should be something that appeals to me. But at 20,000 per 15 dollars it surely doesn't. For me personally at least. Add a zero there and blizzard just got me to waste a few bucks. But there is a balance, who is really going to have 200,000 to buy 30 days time, very very few. As a matter of fact, even at 20,000 very few people would be able to afford it if the warcraft wealth numbers are to be believed.
But putting my own greedy desires for large numbers of gold for my cash aside and saying that it will move at fair market value and with the majority of the player base considering 20,000 as a lot of gold, I can see many people using this as a way to make gold.
And that is where the question comes, will this hurt the game.
We have already established that to someone like myself, with both cash in life and in game that I will participate on either end. I will pay for my own game time and and I will not be selling these. So it should not affect me at all right?
I don't think so, and that is what worries me. It should not impact me at all as I am not participating in it but I fear it will have an impact on me in a major way.
Blizzard has already stated that they will be "adjusting" items for sale in game such as those that come from the black market auction house and raid drop bind on equip gear.
I believe the reason they are doing this is to keep the game from turning into what some might consider a "pay to win" sort of game. If they had great gear coming from the black market auction house and bind on equip items for a fair amount of gear slots people might feel as if they "had to" buy them meaning they would feel like they need to sell game time to make the gold to buy them.
So by limiting the number of BoEs and top items on the BMAH they will push away the idea of the game becoming "pay to win". In theory anyway.
I have two issues with that, the first being I really do not care if someone uses cash to buy gear. I couldn't care less if someone was capable of buying full mythic gear in game. I will still wipe the floor with most of them. Gear just increases potential, if someone does not play well they can have all the gear in the world and still be preforming at LFR levels anyway. But me not caring about people buying their gear is more a matter of opinion only of course and another topic all together.
The second thing I worry about is that same BoE gear. The game already removed valor gear. Right now the only thing I have to offset my dreadfully horrible luck in game with concern to drops are BoE drops, which I am currently wearing 3 of. Four if you count the fact I did get the BoE neck to drop off a boss, but still I liked the idea that if I needed it I could have visited the auction house to get it.
As it stands I did not pay for any of them, they were all trash drops I farmed with guild but knowing that if they did not drop there was always the option of visiting the auction house was a nice thing and now that will be gone. So how is someone with bad luck to get at least some pieces of gear if they want to remove BoE raid drops, or severely limit them, because some misguided fan boys might cry the game is turning "pay to win".
So as you see, these tokens, even if I will not be buying or selling them already will have an impact on my game play. Blizzard already took away my chance at ever raiding mythic again by changing it to 20 man strict content and unless I am willing to switch servers, guilds and friends I will never raid mythic again and they took away my net for bad luck called valor gear but now they want to strip the possibility of getting gear from the auction house as well because they are afraid someone might call the game "pay to win". I am not exactly liking this at all.
And that is only one way that the game tokens could, or might, change the game. It would be a change which, in my opinion at least, is hurting the game.
But that is not the only way it could hurt. While some are yelling it will destroy the economy without fully understanding that it isn't actually adding any gold to the game they still might have a point even if they are crying for the wrong reasons.
If a player on server A which has a very robust market which allows him to make gold left and right starts to buy his time for gold and a player on server B which is a dead server in terms of gold this basically allows the shifting of gold from server A to server B.
While it is true that no one will know where their gold is going it is completely possible that moving gold from one server to another this way can have a profoundly negative impact on the economy of some servers. So even if no gold is being added to the game, gold is being shifted from the gold rich servers to the gold poor servers by process.
This becomes yet another thing that could impact my game play even if I do not intend to take part of it on either the buying or selling end. It is something that I will never have any interaction with and it is already lining up to being something that could have a large impact on my enjoyment of the game possibly. Not exactly an exciting prospect from where I stand right now, not at all.
I have only begun to think about this and all the aspects of the game that could be impacted by it for better or worse. But in the end I think this will actually hurt the game even if I do believe it will help blizzard. Call me selfish if you will, but I don't care if it helps blizzard if it hurts the game in the process. Or could hurt the game, maybe.
We still do not know what to expect as all the information is not out on it yet. So all we can do now is speculate, guess, and just wonder while we think about it. Who knows, maybe they can find a way to settle my worries on the situations I already mentioned. We can surely hope.
Care to speculate? Do you think the WoW token will hurt the game?