Boys Playing Girl Elves Rejoyce

August 22, 2011 at 1:31 am (Game Developments, Snark)

I'm so hot, I'll melt the Frozen Throne!

I suppose the old saw is officially true, if you wait long enough, items long out of fashion eventually come back to the mainstream.  With the forthcoming patch 4.3, you will now be able to transmogrify your gear, transferring the stats to a piece of armor you already own (of similar type and stats).  I’m certain that most of the game can’t wait to see Elves of various persuasion questing and raiding once again in skimpy plate; and those who say they don’t are lying.  Aside from the skimpy costumes, I expect there to be some interesting changes, and of course, the opportunity to make some cash.  Unlike most previous patches, however, you can begin preparing for these changes now, and be on the cutting edge when the patch drops.

Look for a resurgence of old raid runs, particularly those early ones where the gear tokens drop directly off the bosses, instead of using the current point structure for the majority of the gear.  Raid leaders, this is a time to get noticed.  Start running some of the older raids and have the raid group wearing complete sets of tier gear – but with your new stats.  The look of your entire guild standing on the bank steps wearing say, Tier 4 gear, can’t be ignored.  And, if you’re recruiting, trust me, you’ll stand out with a group of members wearing the gear and riding on their guild mounts.  And your group photos will now look like a classy private school class, rather than folks wearing clashing armor!

Won’t all that good stuff cost loads of gold?  Who’s going to have the cash to do all of this?  Relax folks, the swami knows all.  Sadly, he isn’t telling me either.  But, to ease your wallet, you may wish to start hording some of the skimpier and cool looking blues and greens that drop.  That’s right, don’t send all the goodies to the AH until you know what it looks like on you.  Unless, that is, you’re on the Undermine server and playing Alliance.  Then, sell it all, at Labor Day blow-out sale prices.


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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.

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