Thoughts on the WoW Token: About Time!

No doubt by now you’ll have heard of the new WoW token that’s been introduced by Blizzard. In short, it’s an alternative way to pay for game time with in-game gold. For others like me, it’s an alternate way to acquire in-game gold by buying a token for actual USD and listing it in the Auction House. This was a possibility announced a few months ago during December. I will say though that if you have stock in gold farmers, you should sell and unload that right away. The fact that it’s a safe and secure way for people who wish to exchange is the key takeaway. Gold selling sites are around for a reason: Because there is a demand for in-game currency. There’s lots of players like myself out there who understand that making gold is easy but simply do not have the time or wish to put in the effort to do so and can afford to spend real money instead. Some people have good income and would rather put that hour’s worth of work into 50k gold instead.

Has the world ended? Nah.

Price setting

According to their FAQ:

Q: Why can’t players set their own prices for the WoW Token?
A: The WoW Token feature is designed to facilitate the exchange of gold and game time between players in as secure, convenient, and fair a way as possible, and without making players feel like they’re playing a game with their hard-earned money. Having a set current market price and a straightforward exchange system is the best way to achieve that—you don’t need to worry about whether your Token will sell or not due to being undercut or the market shifting, and everyone receives exactly the amount of gold they were quoted.

Great, so if at the point of sale I’m told the token sells for 50k, then when a buyer comes along, I’ll have received 50k. But does that mean it will actually sell for 50k?

Q: What happens if the price quoted to me is different from what the Token actually sells for?
A: You will always receive the gold amount quoted to you at the time you place a Token up for sale, regardless of what the current price is when the item actually sells.

The token gets listed for 50k but instead the price fluctuates and falls and Joe Highschool ends up buying it for 40k due to the extra supply. Joe pays 40k, but I still receive 50k.

On the other hand, it sounds like it could go the other way around. What if the price trends upward? Maybe there isn’t that much supply to begin with and Joe pays 60k but I get paid out the 50k. Not sure where that extra 10k goes. The nether? No, it looks like it’ll just get taken completely out of circulation. In theory, it should even out.

Blizzard will tell you exactly how much you get for your gold and it’s better this way. There would be severe price differences on various servers if it were unregulated. For example, you could end up paying 100k+ on a smaller server versus 40k+ on a larger realm. It’s preferred to have a set standard of how much gold it will cost for a month of game time regardless of what server you’re playing on. Remember, the price is set regionally (NA, EU, Asia, etc.) instead of by server.

In addition, it would account for the number of gold billionaires out there in existence who could outright control how much tokens cost.

Let’s not forget that tokens are also bind on pickup right after. You can’t buy a token at a low gold price and then turn around flipping it later in a few months when the price climbs. It means tokens cannot be used as investments. That’s the key here. Additionally, you can buy tokens anytime you want but you don’t have to list them right away.

“We think there will be buyers and there will be sellers. It’s not really possible or sensible to be both. When you purchase a token off the shop, there is literally only one thing you can do with it: You can list it on the auction house for sale,” he said. “You can’t use it yourself, you can’t mail it, you can’t give it to a friend, you can’t destroy it. When you buy it off the auction house, the only thing you can do is to consume it, to add 30 days of game time to your account.”

Botters would be crippled. Think they’re going to spend all their hard earned gold on game time that they can’t sell? Gold botting revolves around acquiring in game gold and then selling it for hard currency which people generally won’t buy because it can be legitimately attained from tokens.

Blizzard learned much from the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House. That largely failed because players could simply cash out their gold into hard currency. That two-way transaction system allowed things like botting to be way more lucrative.

Watcher confirms that the monetary price of a token will never fall below a regular monthly subscription.

Comparison to PLEX and CREDD

Eve Online’s PLEX system operates a little differently:

  • The players set the price, not Blizzard
  • PLEX is tradable even after being sold to players
  • PLEX can be used to pay for several account services (Transfers, other products)
  • There is a dedicated line for people wishing to purchase packages greater than 300 PLEX.

I for one would be quite interested in having tokens be used as a way to pay for account services like server transfers or faction transfers.

Perhaps the best time to buy tokens for maximum return on gold? During the fall when students are slowly making their way back to school. Conversely, I suspect the gold price of tokens will drop during the late spring and summer months as people enjoy this… outside stuff and enjoy the weather.

A couple of years ago (2012), PLEX used to be worth around 600 million Isk (their in game currency). Now it’s sitting just below 800 million. Seems like a bubble just waiting to burst but who knows?

I wonder if PLEXes be used as a form of tax sheltering, heh.

One more thing I’ve found is that it seems the price of a regular subscription to EVE Online is cheaper than the same game time equivalent of PLEX. You’d think since both are for 30 days of game time that the prices would be the same, but it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Inactive accounts

Don’t worry, if your account is inactive you can reactivate it anytime as long as you have the sufficient gold. You can still login to the game but you’re restricted to low level characters and can’t interact with the auction house or trade chat since it’s restricted. But if you have the gold, you can purchase a token right from the character select screen.

The auction house impact

Yeah, you can it’ll have a huge impact for sure. A Spectral Tiger goes for around $450. Mythic BoEs can easily break 100k. Expect prices to fluctuate before leveling out over the first several weeks.

What’s neat is that this offers a great way to buy pets or other BoAs on other servers without you having to establish a presence. An Anubisath Idol might go for 65k on my server but end up being 30k on a different one. I can sell a token for the necessary capital to buy an Idol at 30k and circumvent buying the one on my home server.

On a side note, the auction does need an overhaul real soon. A unified regional auction house might do wonders but then does anyone really want to contend with thousands of pages of one Draenic Dust?

There’s been some concerns that this is another step closer to players being able to buy gear with hard currency. In a roundabout way, it’s possible. Here’s what Ion had to say about that:

“In Diablo III, gold and the items that were being transacted there were really very direct analogs for power. That’s what was changing hands. The very best items in Diablo were what was on the auction house,” Hazzikostas said.

“World of Warcraft … since day 1, one of the distinguishing features of our game and the game economy was that the best items in the game and the most powerful items are only obtainable through personal exploits, whether you are earning conquest points in arenas or rated battlegrounds, or whether you’re killing dragons in a raid and taking a flaming sword off the dragon’s corpse. You have to earn that yourself, gold won’t get you those things.”

Translation: BoEs aren’t the most powerful items in the game. Do expect a potential change to the Black Market Auction house. Seems like Blizzard has the foresight to consider that and increase the chance of items being sold to pets, mounts, and other cosmetic stuff.

In any case, those’re my thoughts on the topic. Quite excited for this. Patch 6.1.2!

Those of you with millions of gold: Do you really need 20 years of WoW game time?

Further reading

Venture Beat’s Interview with Watcher

It’s a Pet Store not a Gear Store

Blizzard’s opened up the virtual pet store where you can purchase the first of several pets to come. I don’t actually know this, but I’m fairly certain we’ll be seeing more purchasable pets later.

What’s the big deal?

In a nutshell, the micro-transaction MMO model involves consumers paying for certain items. I have a friend of mine who plays Maple Story and I routinely tease her about buying a wedding dress for 5 bucks or other stuff only for it to disappear about 3 months.

Gear has an expiry date it seems.

The Korean “free” MMOs employ this model very well. I’ve briefly participated in some but I broke off from it seeing as I couldn’t sustain it. Figured I was better off investing in WoW instead.

Anyway, there seems to be this slippery slope argument that’s making the waves on Twitter and in some of the comments I’ve seen.

“If Blizzard sells in game vanity pets for real money, we’re now one step closer to being able to purchase real epics and gold for real money too!”

Since we can buy pets, we’re much closer to being able to buy weapons and other equipment to boost our characters and make them that much better.

I don’t think so

This is a great move by Blizzard from a profitability standpoint. Being able to purchase pets isn’t something that’s brand spankin’ new.

Players can redeem loot codes from the CCG booster packs for in game bonuses. I’ve got guildies with the Ogre Suit, the Turkey mount, the Spectral Tiger and so forth.

Being able to directly buy the pets removes the RNG aspect of popping open card booster packs and wasting money until you found one with the vanity item you want.

I don’t quite see this as being a punch in the face of players who spent countless hours farming for those Raptor eggs. I had guildies who would stay up late riding around and tying to find the right raptor for that particular pet.

A Pandaren Monk does not equal a raptor pet, just like the Rusted Protodrake does not equal a Spectral Tiger.

Players who invested their time and efforts into getting those bonuses earned them. If Blizzard was actually putting up Ashes of Al’ar or the Mimiron head mount for sale, then an argument and an uproar could be made then. 

But guys, it’s just a pet.

It’s a vanity pet.

It does not increase your stats.

It doesn’t do anything to increase or decrease your performance. It doesn’t affect your game in anyway. All it does is grant you a simulated neon sign above your head that says “I CAN AFFORD A PANDA THEREFORE I AM AWESOME!”

I can see them adding like tabards, more in game pets and mounts. These are items that you can already acquire from the CCG. It’s logical to assume they wouldn’t be out of bounds.

Save your rage for when it really matters.

If the day comes that Blizzard decides to sell gold, weapons, or the shirt of +1000 stats, feel free to raise hell.

Because I know I will.

Now I think I’m going to pick me up a Panda.

Tobold Interviews a Gold Seller

MMO Blogging enthusiast Tobold managed get in an interview with a gold selling company that’s not based in China. I don’t support RMT at all in any shape. With that being said, that does not mean I’m not curious as to the motivations and foundations behind them. Im always interested to learn about everything and anything (I have Wikipedia as my home page for crying out loud). Tobold asked some intriguing questions and received some ever interesting answers.

EDIT: RMT stands for Real Money Trading (or the process of exchanging real money for virtual currency and items).

After posing this perspective I’m often asked, “So why do Blizzard ban RMT accounts then?”, and the answer is always the same. To open a WoW account requires both a CD Key and subscription, but as Chinese credit cards are not accepted this become a 60-day pre-paid game card. A Chinese workroom would pay around $35 for both these resources, the majority of which goes right into Blizzard’s pockets. As a rough estimate based on experience within Chinese workrooms, I would say 200,000 workroom accounts were banned in 2007, 99.5% of which would have been replaced by a new account (with a new CD key and pre-paid card) right away. Based on these numbers, the banning of Chinese “Gold Farmer” accounts was worth approximately $7,000,000 last year alone. Now you can better understand why RMT continues to exist and why legal action against RMT is extremely selective.

Obviously a controversial piece like this would garner a few negative comments. Sure enough, a brief look at the comments showed several dissatisfied readers. True, Tobold had to publicize the address of the company in question but I think a link is a fair trade off in order to ask honest questions and get honest answers. The world revolves around a give and take relationship and you can’t expect to get something for nothing.

There’s been documentaries and interviews of serial murderers and rapists and other criminals done before in the past. It doesn’t mean we support what they do. Interviews like this help in expanding our understanding and view of deviant acts like this.

If you’re against buying gold or RMT in general, then it’s highly unlikely that reading an interview like this will change your mind.

In Vancouver, we have a special place in the Downtown East side called a Insite. It’s essentially a safe injection site for drug users to go to in order for them to practice what they do in a safe place. This government funded installation is meant to help drug users in a controlled environment that is fully staffed. Obviously a place like this can send the wrong kind of message; namely that the government supports illegal drug use. On the other hand, if an individual is going to shoot cocaine or do drugs anyway, at least there’s a hygienic place that exists where they can go to in order to do it safely without overdosing themselves.

Applying this to WoW and RMT, I’m more aware of the trades and practices that dealing with Chinese RMTers can do. This organization reports itself as being in America which means it is subject to American laws and business practices. I’d like to say that offers an element of comfort to players who might be desperate enough to turn to RMT in the first place.

Disclaimer: I mentioned it earlier and I’ll say it again. I don’t support RMT at all. But I still like to learn. If you’re going to comment, please do it respectfully with regards to the views of others.

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