World of Warcraft posted more details today on their new system that would allow purchasing of game time tokens with real money, and then allowing people to buy those game time tokens with gold. Thus, you can basically buy gold with real money – with the caveat that you have to use Blizzard’s official system to do it. I believe that this is a very important thing for the game, and that it has more benefits than negatives. Keep in mind that this system is NOT yet implemented in the game.
Why people keep buying gold
Back in Vanilla, I met someone who told me that they bought gold from a gold seller for WOW. I told them it was against the rules, and they didn’t care. I told them that the gold was stolen from other accounts, and they didn’t care. I told them that they could get banned and they didn’t care. In fact, no amount of reasoning convinced that person that they were doing anything wrong. Blizzard has spent the last 10 years trying to beg people to behave. All that begging, banning, and admonishing hasn’t worked. People who want to buy gold with real money have always existed, and they’ve been willing to overlook the harm that this practice has caused to others. Due to the fact they can’t buy gold legitimately, they are willing to break the rules. Thus, Blizzard has hit the point that there is no way to beat the gold sellers, unless they beat them at their own game.
If you can’t beat them, join them?
After 10 years of trying everything under the sun to stop gold selling & buying, Blizzard has come up with a new solution. This new solution allows for trading gold for game time via the auction house. This new solution allows for people to buy game time tokens they can sell on the auction house for gold.
This solution, however, isn’t Blizzard’s first attempt. Their first trial run with gold -> real money transactions was in the form of a pet. You could buy the pet on their website for real money and sell the pet in the game for gold. However, because people only needed one pet (and many people just bought it and kept it), it didn’t do anything for helping support a healthy gold trading economy and didn’t impact real-money gold selling.
So, with their first attempt not hurting the game (but also not helping the game), this new system is meant to create a better system for undercutting the people who steal gold from your accounts.
How the game token works & avoiding scams
Note that this system is NOT yet active. Anyone currently claiming to have access to these tokens are scammers.
- You will be able to buy the WOW tokens online directly from Blizzard with real money (They will NOT be available via other methods).
- You can sell them on a special market on the auction house for gold (you can NOT sell them anywhere else besides the auction house. You can NOT trade them with people in the game at all. You can NOT give them to your friends.).
- You can buy the tokens from the auction house with real gold (you can NOT buy them from anyone in trade chat).
- When you buy the token from the auction house, you can redeem it for a month of game time (You can NOT resell the tokens, as they become soulbound. You can NOT sell the game tokens themselves for real money).
- If your account is currently not active, you can buy the token for gold in the character select menu.
- These market values are fixed at a certain amount by Blizzard, but long-term the trade value may have minor market fluctuations over time based on supply and demand. You can NOT “game” this system for profit.
What about the market impacts?
People are wondering what impacts this will have on the WOW economy. I believe the impacts will be largely temporary and minor – that is, for the first week or two, the market might fluctuate a little bit. While some people who are gold-poor now will have more gold, this only means that more people will be able to buy stuff. That is, this has the potential to take some of the gold from gold hoarders (who can now fund their game time via their gold stores) and redistribute that wealth amongst a greater number of people. Given that people have always “bought” gold (even if illegal), the impacts of gold buying just meant that it gave a small group of people a large and unfair advantage (due to cheating). With this new system, it is likely that this advantage is now being evened out across the players as a whole, leading to potentially increased fairness. We might see AH prices tick up a bit for BOE gear items as more people suddenly have gold they want to spend on gear items. However, any market changes will eventually also settle down within a few weeks of the system going live, as the system dynamically adapts to change. Within a month of this going live, we won’t really notice market impacts. I’m all for trading a couple weeks of market instability for many years of reduced value for gold selling scams. I think the trade-off is more than worth it.
In conclusion, this new market is beneficial to the game
Blizzard’s goal is to provide people with a safe, efficient way to buy gold with real money. Blizzard’s second goal is to prevent gold scam websites from profiting off of compromising our accounts. In both of these respects, I believe this system will work. We can’t ever 100% eliminate the scam websites, but we can greatly undercut their market by providing a system where you can buy gold in such a way that is legal and protected by Blizzard.
That is, when the new system goes active, there is never an incentive to buy gold from the scam websites because the scam websites come at a substantially higher risk to all involved. When you buy gold from scam websites, you risk having your WOW account permanently banned. When you buy gold directly from Blizzard, you have a guarantee that the transaction was legitimate. If you buy time tokens with your gold, you benefit by allowing people to have a legitimate system for purchasing gold. Thus, we protect our own game assets from being stolen via account hacking if we get everyone to use this system instead of scam websites. Lets make gold selling websites a historical relic by using this system. There is no reason for people to hack your account and steal your gold if we provide them with no market to make real-life money off those thefts.
Please note that you can’t trade these tokens in trade chat. You can only buy and sell them in the marketplace. Thus, anyone trying to sell game time tokens on other websites, in-game trade chat, or via other methods are all scams. Protect your gold, money, and time by waiting until this system is implemented and then using this new legitimate system. We all benefit by using this new system to protect ourselves from scams.