Black Market Auction House

Last night I hopped onto Siori after work and quickly took care of a few dailies.  I didn’t do the cap of 25, just a few here and there that I enjoy (such as “Whack-A-Pygmy“).  In short order I had gathered up about 35g.  That’s to say nothing of doing my full round, or even standard quests in Cataclysm that she hasn’t done.  As World of Warcraft has expanded, so too has the amount of gold rewarded to the players from simply playing the game.  I’m not even talking about those of us who actually enjoy generating our coffers by way of the Auction House.  More than ever, getting gold in WoW is easier than ever.  As the scale goes, that means we’re going to get more in Mists of Pandaria.  What’s the point to this observation?  The Black Market Auction House.

If you’re out of the loop at all, I’ll take this moment to explain.  The “BMAH” as it’s been dubbed, is a quasi-private auction house.  Players will be able to bid on a variety of items on it, from mounts and pets, to gear that is no longer in the game.  Think something like Ashes of Al’ar or Cat Carrier (Bombay), or the gear from old Naxx.  Maybe Defias gear?  Who’s to say for certain?  The bottom line is Blizzard is creating the gold sink they’ve wanted for some time.  Not on the level of Vial of the Sands or the Chopper…much bigger.

Personally, I think it’s a brilliant move.  Is it because I have a fair bit of gold?  Not really, because I won’t be going on a spending spree.  That’s just not my style.  Occasional exceptions will be made, for certain.  But for the most part, I might just peak in to see what’s there.  From what I’ve read regarding Beta, there’s all kinds of items including the “current” raid tier.  Now that I don’t necessarily agree with, but at the same time it’s not that different than the current status where a player can buy their way into Heroics in no time flat.

What has surprised me though, is what I consider a “sky is falling” attitude towards it.  Many people, including Grumpy Elf and Be MOP (only ones on my blogroll that come to mind), feel this is Blizzard’s way of encouraging players to go out and buy their gold.  Some folks have gone on at length about this and I don’t understand why.  Opening up the Auction House last night on Runetotem I came across Ruby Shades for 400k.  The Guardian Cub continues to sit at roughly 5k (and was also flagged like crazy as a glorified way to buy gold).  These are items that players can go out and purchase gold for at any time.  They’re also just two examples and on one server.  They’re items available in game, and if you buy them the money stays circulated because more than 80% of it goes to another player.  It doesn’t disappear like it will on the Black Market.  I also see TCG pets and mounts on the Auction House quite often.  Nothing about the Black Market, to me, suggests any particular reason to risk getting banned.

Instead, I argue players will do something different.  They’ll earn and they’ll save.  You can make money dirt simple in this game.  I said it off the top.  When the game isn’t in a lull like it is now, it’s even more absurd how much gold gets tossed your way.  However, the average player tends to spend it as it comes in.  Profession levelling, Enchants, Gems, or in some cases…gearing their toon.  As Zharym pointed out in his clarification this week, there are far more logical and time saving ways of gearing up for raids than trying to buy them on the Black Market.

Let’s pause and play devil’s advocate for a moment.   Let’s say a player does buy gold simply for the Black Market.  They now sit on a sum of money like many other players already in the game, some of whom consider the regular Auction House to be the real PvP of Azeroth.   Guess what?  The Black Market Auction House has no buyout.  It’s bid only.  So even having the gold doesn’t mean you’re going to get exactly what you want.  It increases your chances, but no more than the guy who knows how to make it hand over fist…and likely already has.   WoW has millionaires who’ve done it the honest way. That will continue to happen.  Buying gold to run the risk of getting band just for the chance to bid on items?  Looking on average, 100k of gold will run you 150-200 dollars (US).  I’ll tell you right now, if the existing gold makers of Azeroth are bidding on the items, that’s not near enough.

So I just do not see the Black Market as reason enough for gold selling to increase.  It’s not worth the risk, and the sellers are already out there.  People who are buying gold now and running the risk, are going to continue doing so just as much as the sellers.  But I don’t see an influx of new buyers just for mounts and pets.  Perhaps I’m underestimating the general player base too much.

Instead, I see people doing what Blizzard has been trumpeting, and that’s getting the players back out into the world (to say nothing of the many other bass-ackwards implementations that suggest otherwise) .  People will farm to make gold.  Also, we have the dailies like what I did with Siori.  Only many more.  And no cap on how many you can do come Mists.  Think of the gold that alone generates if you decided to spend a day doing as many as you felt like (presuming there’s no change to the current rewards).  Heck, just going 85-90 is going to result in an absurd amount of gold.

I look at the BMAH as yet another choice for what the player wants in the game.  For those who raid, they’ll continue to raid.  Some will continue to buy their gear to meet the requirement and then farm bosses as is the norm.  Others, will pet battle or level their Monk/Panda.  Some will continue to work the Auction House for all it’s worth.  Some will be want the old Naxx Tier gear for Transmog and will try to outbid others on the Black Market in order to get it.

I understand the purists who feel things like mounts and pets and weapons that are still able to be obtained via RNG should not be on the Black Market.  While I would buy one or two of them, I freely admit to agreeing with you on this.  Blessing of Kings has an absolutely brilliant take on it, talking about how people who buy these items will miss out on the great stories.   I love a good yarn as much as anyone else and am always happy to share gaming stories (otherwise, half my posts or more need to be deleted), but to be honest there is nothing stopping you or I from continuing to try and farm the Phoenix Hatchling because we want it the old way.  I only say that because Blizzard is going to proceed as they see fit and while we would like to see things one way, they’ll go the other on this.

The end effect of this, as well, is something I haven’t even touched on.  The in-game economy itself.  Since mid-Wrath the economy on most servers has been just…awful.  If you haven’t noticed it, then truth be told you’re probably not one of the people controlling it.  This became much more possible with Cataclysm because, again, the rich get richer.  It was nothing for anything and everything to suffer a fool’s markup because the money was there to pay it.  Guess what?  For the people that want rare things, that money is going to get sucked out of the economy.  Less money means less ability to pay the demand, which forces the suppliers to reduce their demand.

There are going to be exceptions to this.  Some people will continue to focus their efforts on the regular Auction House and manipulating it, as well as you and your gold.  That’s just fact.  But in a number of cases, instead of flipping that money to inflate the price of something else or to buyout an item for more than you’ll make in a month, they get themselves something shiny.  Will it be disappointing for the ones who worked hard for it?  Absolutely.  But, when you’re flying around Azeroth, or riding your first land mount at level 20, remember there are players out there who shake their head at you and think you don’t know how easy you have it.

It’s apples and oranges to a small degree, but the similarity is just the same.  The game is moving on and unless Blizzard scales things back (which aside from difficulty, they don’t seem keen on doing), there’s just going to be a point where there is way too much gold out there.  Heck, I think we reached it in Cataclysm.  But now I see a great way to remove a good portion of it without it having an impact on most players, other than their pride/jealousy.  But most of all, I also don’t see it as a big “come on in” sign for gold sellers.

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