We Buy Purples!

August 11, 2011 at 1:44 am (Game Developments)

What a time to be unable to post!  To get back in the swing, I want to take a moment and air some issues, both positive and negative, regarding what might happen should the Blizzard plan for Diablo III’s real money option in the auction house be ported to World of Warcraft.  While there aren’t  plans for this to happen, the future is always an unknown.  These are the types of issues that the community at large and Blizzard need to consider, and weigh both sides of the issue, before recommending or condemning the idea.

For both Blizzard and the player base, having cash sales in the WoW auction house would provide some tangible benefits.  First and foremost, Blizzard would generate revenue if they follow the proposed Diablo model.  Each time Blizzard sent cash to a player’s PayPal account (for example), a percentage of the amount would remain with Blizzard as a “processing fee.”  However, the casual player would be far more likely to use the income to assist in paying for their WoW account, or buy Blizzard games and gear.  While the money would remain in-house, Blizzard would find that it’s other products sell.  One might even hope that an “affiliate plan” would allow a player to take their money to buy Blizzard-licensed products from other vendors.

The other major upside would be the near elimination of the gold selling phenomenon.  With the ability to buy items off the auction house, the need for in-game gold would be virtually eliminated.  No longer would capital cities be filled with corpses spelling website names, and the endless whispers and shout-outs in chat would be gone nearly overnight.  With gold selling gone, the endless hours of GM’s researching spam notices and banning accounts would be gone – increasing the hours available for research into other problems.

While the benefits would certainly be welcome by both Blizzard and the community, this coin has another side.  While the elimination of gold sellers, don’t expect these fly-by-night organizations to go away.  Instead, expect them to polymorph into a couple of different forms, the first of which would be a return to the “gold farmer” of old.  I think you’d find some of these groups would adopt a policy of farming the latest herbs and ore with the intent to completely monopolize the auction house.  Given a few players with multiple accounts, by dominating the spawn points for these materials you could drive prices sky-high, particularly in the early days of an expansion or patch.  The drive to quickly level professions would drive up prices, drying player’s in-game gold quickly and forcing them into cash transactions quickly.  This type of gold selling would be easily adaptable by a group, and the sudden appearance by “for-profit” guilds might quickly surface.  Other gold sellers would continue to aggressively attempt to hack accounts, with the intent of sending all BoE gear to another to be sold for cash.  The other items would be sold, and their gold sent elsewhere, using it to buy up items for resale on the cash market.  Expect the direct cash payout to cause increased numbers of hacks, and even more attempts by players to infiltrate your accounts – and as a result, Blizzard would be spending additional time and money on restoring players’ belongings.

Another strike for a cash-optioned auction house would be that there would be a literal dollar value on playtime.  The dollar value would either be set by Blizzard (if Blizzard sets a set ratio of gold to cash in the AH), or by the economy (if the individual players set both numbers).  Another issue is that one’s potential earnings in a given time wouldn’t be constant – as the random number generator would determine how often you received those epic BoE drops that would in all likelihood sell for the greatest amount. 

There are many more issues out there, most of which have been looked at by the sound and fury in the blogosphere.  If you can think of things I and others have missed, bring them up here… perhaps I’ll revisit the issue later after a bit more reflection.


  1. Flibbletalos said,

    I agree totally with the fact the current “Gold Farmers” would just change the form of their sales and as you said the coin has two sides. I have played Diablo since the very first one and god forbid if anyone else can remember all the sellers were for gear in that game cause none of it was bound to your character. This is blizzards attempt at squashing all the “Black Markets” on gear, items, and gold. An no offense Rusty but also if you would look alittle deeper into the Diablo AH concept you will find that Blizz is going to seperate the world into regions that will be locked. So all the chinese gold farmers will end up selling to themselves for awhile. Also there will be a in game gold AH for people to use if you don’t want to use the cash AH.

    I believe that the concept for a cash and in game gold AH is a pretty sweet idea but it will just need heavy moderation or some people are gunna just go nuts with it. For example right after firelands came out an people started posting some of the BoEs in the AH on my server they are going for anywhere from atleast 75k to 99K + in the AH. So the thing Blizz is gunna have to consider is “How much is too much” for a Item to sell for on the AH.

    Well Im off to dig alittle more into the Diablo 3 info to see if I can find more facts on everything. Happy Hunting and Good Luck.

    Flibbletalos – Nazgrel – Insomniacs – Raid Leader – 8195 Achievements Points

    • Rustbeard said,

      Somehow, I don’t think that anyone in China that really wants to will have a problem accessing a IP in the US. WoW technically doesn’t allow access on US servers from China currently, and yet, we find those folks on the server now – I don’t see that anything that Blizzard can do.

      As far as price controls go, I don’t see why Blizzard should place any restrictions on the auction house. Any item that is highly desirable, upon its first appearance, commands a large price. Compare the price of DVD players when they first came out to now. The only difference between someone cornering the market on ore, and selling BoE items from an instance is that those individuals can’t stop you from entering the instance and farming your own – the ore or flowers have limited spawns (and thus, limited numbers available), while the instance drops are limited to the percentage and the RNG, a function of the number of attempts – which in theory is infinite.

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