Tuesday, October 11, 2011

World of Warcraft introduces real money auction house

As Gazimoff so correctly remarks, the introduction of the Guardian Cub pet, which costs $10 in the Blizzard store and can be sold for gold in the World of Warcraft auction house, effectively turns the auction house into a real money affair. You can always buy kittens, sell them for gold, and use that gold to buy BoE epics or whatever else you want. The pet puts an "official" dollar to gold exchange rate into World of Warcraft. Except for the fact that you can't exchange the pet back for anything useful, that is very much like the PLEX economy of EVE. One difference is that WoW, unlike EVE, has a lot of items that can't be traded for gold, and are thus not touched by this.

What does this change? Not much, surprisingly. Because gold has been available for dollars since World of Warcraft was released. Only you had to get it on the black market. And that market was huge. Blizzard repeatedly banned hundreds of thousands of gold SELLERS. Now obviously a gold seller needs several customers to survive, so millions of people have bought WoW gold over the years. It is just that nobody ever wanted to admit it.

So the major effect of this "kitten economy" might be something that Blizzard has been unable to achieve for 7 years: Killing the third-party gold trade. Why would you want to buy gold from some website where you risk getting scammed and have no means to get your money back if the gold isn't delivered, if you can buy the gold via completely legit and official channels?

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