This question could be considered two questions in one. Asking about real money (if it were legal) and in game gold.
I made a comment yesterday in my random thoughts about being so frustrated not being able to get a group to do challenge modes that I had even considered paying real money to get a group to do it with. Although I haven't and wouldn't because the few I saw asked for stupid prices, in my opinion, it made me think what would be worth paying.
It would of course be different for each person based on their own cash situations. Where I said I would be willing to 20 bucks per gold some people might be willing to pay more as it seems many have if the sites are to be believed. Some that sell for 200+ per gold have many testimonials saying the service was great. So apparently there are a great deal of people out there that like to waste their cash, again, my opinion, it is their money and they can do with it what they please but I consider it a waste.
In the same end someone could easily say that if I paid 20 dollars to get a group willing to do it with me I too would be a fool who would soon be parted with his money. Like I said, to each their own. But that comment I made had me thinking about paying for things in game, things like CMs that I should be able to assemble on my own but have had little luck with.
Then later in the day while browsing the forums over at MMO-C I came across a post where someone was asking if people would pay 750K for a SoO heroic run with no guaranteed drops going their way. My immediate thought was, hell no, even if I can afford that no problem, who the hell would ever pay that much.
When reading the responses it seemed like there were many people that said they would pay that much, and more even. Of course there were others that said they wouldn't. I suspect, but can not be sure, that the main reason so many wouldn't is because they do not have that type of gold so the bottom line is even if they would pay that much they couldn't pay that much as the do not have it.
Then a few pages in someone posted something that rang a bell and made a great deal of sense to me. They mentioned the prices things sell for otherwise, like heroic gear on the BMAH, or pets on the AH, or mounts on the BMAH, and when breaking it down that way it actually made 750K sound like a good deal.
Before I get into the heart of my post I would like to give a detailed answer to that persons question, as I see it. After that I will get into talking about the value of things, in both cash and gold.
I would never pay gold for a heroic run. I would offer my services as a decent hunter that has read everything there is to read and watched everything there is to watch. So why would they bring me? Because I would be willing to pay, but not willing to pay for the run. If they said I could come along and buy any piece of gear that dropped that I wanted for 50K, then I would do it.
I would not give one single gold piece to go on the run. That is a complete and total joke to even ask someone to pay to do something that if they really wanted to they could put in the effort and do themselves anyway. I would however be more than willing to pay for the gear drops I wanted without the competition of needing to roll against others. 50K for a heroic weapon, to me, seems more than fair. With my luck with drops and my guilds slower progression it can still be 2 or 3 months before I get a heroic weapon. So paying 50K for one seems like a very attractive option.
I would also be willing to pay 100K for the mount at the end because I am relatively sure that my guild will not be downing heroic while it is current and thus not getting the drop every week. After all we have never finished a heroic tier while it was current. We have gotten to the last boss a few times, but never killed the last boss until the next patch came out. After all, and I have said it many times before, we are only the average guild and the average guild will never see most of the heroic bosses, nevertheless the last one on a regular basis every week.
As for pets, they drop on normal, I might be willing to pay 5K for those as I can always turn around and resell them for a profit but that is about it. I will get them sooner or later from normal as we clear it each week for the next 6 months most likely. Either that or as many guild as will be clearing it each week for the next 6 months they could very well end up being even cheaper than 5K on the auction house in due time. So the pets have little to no value to begin with in terms of gold.
But end result is, absolutely not, I would not pay 750K for a run with no guaranteed drops, I would not even pay 750K for all drops, even if I did not need them, going my way. 750K, even if I can afford it, is just a joke and it out of line, even if that person did make a valid point when he said, if you get 2 drops and the mount you already made out well because 2 drops and a mount will cost you 750K on the BMAH.
Well, to that guy I have to say, I would not pay that much on the BMAH either. So that argument, while it makes sense, holds no water. I have a BMAH rule. I'll bid to 25K, once it passes that, I don't get it. Needless to say, I never get it. Hunter pieces on my server usually go in the 500K range. Because there is a hunter on my server that makes sure no one else can win anything, to the point he will pay to win it even if he does not need it.
So now to the heart of the question, how much would you pay for those things, real money or in game gold? These are my opinions.
Pets are easy when it comes to real money. Blizzard set the cap with selling pets from the store for 10 dollars. The trading card game set the bottom with most, but not all, pet cards selling for as low as 1 or 2 dollars on ebay. So pets, in terms of real money, are worth 2-10 real money.
As for in game gold I would guess it depends on rarity. If a pet is new it will usually sell for more as there are not many out there but once the market is flooded the prices go down. Look at the turnip from the farm. I sold my first one for 9K when I first got it. I've gotten a few more since then but now that the expansion has been out for a while I can not even sell them for 9 gold. Big drop from 9K to 9 don't you think?
So pets are supply and demand based and prices can vary. For the newest hottest ones, that are not ultra rare ones, I would say 5K is reasonable. For the ultra rare drop ones perhaps 20K max.
Mounts, like pets, are easy when it comes to real money. Once again blizzard set the mark selling mounts for 25 bucks. But the card game also has a say in the matter and unlike pets where the card ones are most times cheaper than the blizzard number, the mounts are usually more expensive. Probably do to their rarity.
Most card game mounts will go for a minimum of 80 bucks to 150 bucks. With some out liners being less and some substantially more. Over all, I can see a mount being worth 100 bucks. That seems reasonable in my opinion based on the market set forward by blizzard themselves and the card game.
But what about gold, there is usually something tied to getting a mount in game such as an achievement or a rare drop. Lets just say it dropped in a raid and someone said if you offer a reasonable price what would you pay for it. I can see paying 100K for a mount, even more so an extremely rare one like the heroic drops that become 1% once the raid is no longer current. But only if you are a serious mount collector. Even me as a serious mount collector I would look at it as I can come back and farm is solo, I have over 200 other mounts to keep me busy, no rush, and that no rush part is why I would say 25K for a mount is reasonable. Only 100K if it was something I really loved and would use all the time and quite honestly, no end raid mount has ever looked that good. At least in my opinion.
Can we say blizzard set a market here with the helms? I do not think so, they are only cosmetic. In my opinion they are also over priced, extremely over priced. Even if they had stats on them, even if they were best in slot, even if they were heirloom and would remain BiS from 90-100, they are still grossly over priced.
No, I am not a cheap person. I actually spent 80 bucks on one of the card game mounts years back because I loved the way it looked and I still ride around on that mount as my flying mount up to this day. It is just a beautiful mount. So I am not cheap. It is just that I do not see gear as having value cash wise like that. Remember, unlike my mount which I can use now and forever and it is always as good as it was when I first got it, all gear is replaced, sometimes quickly, so it holds little value.
If gear was to be sold (in this case call it buying it during a run as that is currently the only way it could happen) I think 2-5 bucks would be reasonable. 2 for the small pieces, cloak, rings, neck, waist, and wrists, 3 for main pieces that are not tier, 4 for tier pieces and 5 for weapons, shields and trinkets.
If real money could buy gear, those numbers, in my opinion, are reasonable.
In game we actually have a marker for buying gear with gold that we can use to set the bar. The BMAH on your server sets the market, so to speak. As everything is not there all the time, it is not really a standard market, it is a rarity market. But it is somewhat the same.
Like I mentioned on my server, with "I won't name and shame" gold buying hunter that will make sure nothing goes on the BMAH that a hunter can use that he will not win, because as someone in his guild told me, he will just keep buying gold to make sure he wins everything even if he has to pay the max for it because he wants to be the best geared hunter on the server. He buys stuff he does not need just to keep it out of the hands of other hunters.
But I am sure that guy is the exception, not the rule. I've had people in my guild get BiS items off the BMAH for what I would call reasonable prices in my opinion. A monk healer won something for 35K, a warrior won two pieces for 22K and 25K respectively. As long as you are not a hunter you can get BMAH stuff reasonable sometimes. Most times I would say the average BMAH gear goes in the range of 30K-60K on my server after the first few weeks of a patches release.
So that is where I would set the market for gear. In that range, lets even say more toward the top end, so gear would be 50K per piece. That is where I would place the value of gear gold wise. Your numbers might differ of course.
Runs are a tricky one, there are different types. Lets start low.
If I am doing nothing and I see someone offering 10g for a run through the stocks I will send them an invite and tell them to keep their gold and run them through it for nothing. It only take a couple of minutes and it makes me feel as if I am doing something nice. It takes the edge off my grumpiness and actually makes me happy to do so. So as such it has 0 gold value in my opinion which translates into 0 cash value as well.
Side story, this weekend on my monk I was grinding some black price reputation when some priest was asking for people to help with champions of the thunder king. I was already capped on valor, but took the quest anyway so I could turn it in next week and offered to help. I ended up soloing two of the three because she and her friends were not exactly the best, to be polite. Even used my own stones to summon, I usually just stockpile them to sell for gold. I then took her and her friends around and showed them where all the rares are, killed all the rares for them, and explained the fastest route to get to them all. I even helped them do all the quests even if I did not have them myself. I did this for 0 gold, basically 0 valor, maybe a little black price reputation that was a lot less than I would have gotten if I had just stayed grinding mobs, but it was just a nice thing to do. Does this have a gold value? Does this have a cash value? Absolutely not, being a decent person should never have any price tag on it.
So for old content, there would never be a gold or cash cost tied to it. This means any runs of any sort like that.
Now lets get to current, CMs, raids, heroic raids.
CMs - Like I mentioned I looked this up online after having such a hard time getting groups to see what type of cash people wanted for a run. I was expecting to see something like 90 bucks for all of them, so 10 bucks per. Even that would seem costly for something that should be simple for any mildly skilled player. Oh boy was I wrong.
People were asking for as much as 1800 for a full run of all CMs, and they wanted access to your account so they would play your character. That was worst case, best case was usually in the 500 range, if they had access to your account, more if you wanted to play your own character.
Needless to say these were not options for me. First off, what would be the use of getting a CM gold if it wasn't me getting it. I want to do it because, as odd as this sounds, I want to do it. I do not want someone else to do it. So I thought I might stoop low and pay to get people to run it with me, but that was also out of the question because of the prices.
What do I think would have been reasonable? Remember I said I was thinking 10 bucks per gold, well I think that is reasonable. Maybe 20 bucks max so the 4 people can split it 5 bucks each. Seems fair for playing a game. I still do not believe in paying cash for runs, even if I did look into it out of frustration from not being able to get a group, but I think a max of 20 bucks per gold seems fair.
Now to CMs for gold. What would be reasonable? I've seen a lot of people offer it for as much as 30K per gold run. You're kidding me right? Lately I am seeing numbers closer to 10K and even once saw someone offering it for 8K per gold.
In my opinion, 2K max. 500 gold per person for a few minutes of their time. If they are really good they can blow thought it, and it is not like I will not be helping, I will be doing my fair share of work. The 500 gold per person would be a "thank you for your time". Just like the person that throws 100 gold in a trade window when you make something for them and tell them not to worry about it. You are doing it to just be nice and they are just saying thank you for your time. CMs are basically the same, but being it needs a higher skill set then pressing a craft button, 2K or 500 per person seems more than reasonable in my opinion.
So 2K per gold run, that seems nice. If I could get gold runs for that I would have all gold runs now. It would not be buying the gold, it would be tipping the people for helping you, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in my mind.
Raids - There are people selling normal runs for upwards of 250K, can you believe that?
Maybe being my guild is a lesser guild progression wise that does more normals with multiple groups and usually has no problem clearing normals in time even with alts is why I look at things differently, but I would not sell a "normal" run and I sure as shit would not buy a "normal" run.
We give those spaces to alts, to guild members that do not raid often, to friends from other guilds, to people we are trying to recruit, or just to a pug to fill a spot if need be. The idea of charging for it never even crosses my mind. Even when we get to the point where we can carry 2 or 3 people in a 10 man because we over gear it and have done it so often, the thought of charging people never even entered my mind.
It is normal people, there is nothing special about it, if you do not do it now you will in 3 months or 6 months when people are still running it, way over gearing it, and looking for any warm body to fill the pug. So no, absolutely not, normal mode raiding has absolutely 0 gold value and as such also has 0 cash value. How people are getting others to pay 250K for a normal run is beyond me.
Now to heroics, something that has some value to a vast majority of the player base, as in over 98%, because they will never see the last boss of it when it is current. Now this is something that has value, some might even say great value.
Looking online, at those same sites that were selling the challenge modes, the prices for heroic runs are insane. And if you want gear, better take out a mortgage on your house. It is not like these prices are stuff people are pulling out of their ass either, people are buying it. Really? I have to question them for doing that.
Like I said, I am not a tightwad, but I would never even for a moment consider paying the prices they ask. Even cheaper I would not on most of my characters. What would be my top price? I might be willing to pay as much as 200 bucks to bring a freshly dinged 90 through there if I got everything that dropped that I wanted. Everything meaning all gear, mounts, pets, etc. I would also make sure I had 10 coins saved up before hand and did not turn in for my coins for the week, so I would basically have 13 coins for the run. So I would get any pets, the mount, and hopefully come close to completely gearing out a fresh 90. That seems worth 200 bucks in my opinion.
On my main, no thank you, I would pay for the gear that dropped during the run that I needed at the above mentioned rates on gear, but I would be contributing so I am not paying you so I can do my fair share. I'll only pay you to get the gear without having to roll against anyone.
But apparently I am completely out of touch with paying for heroic runs because it seems like they sell. So maybe me saying I would not pay cash on my main and would only pay 200 if I got everything on a fresh 90 is too low, but hey, that is the absolute most I would even consider.
As for gold, it hold the same as cash for me. I would never pay for a run on my main as I would be contributing, but I would pay for drops so I did not need to roll against anyone. I see nothing wrong with that. For a freshly dinged character or a rarely played alt that I just want to get up, and to get the mount of course, I might be willing to push as far as 100K. But that is with everything going to me.
Seeing the large amount of people that said 750K was a good price, and the person who rightfully reasoned out why that is a good price, once again I have to say I am out of touch with the rest of the people that play on this point. I just do not see why anyone would pay to get carried. I would do everything I could to try to find my way into the group, but paying is not one of them. If you want my gold, sell me the drops and don't make me roll on them. But to each their own it seems.
How much would you pay for pets, mounts gear or a run?
In real cash and game gold?