Blizzard announced yesterday that their newest and cutest companion pet will not be bound to your account when you buy it from the Blizzard Store for $10.
This means you can turn around and sell it at the auction house for GOLD!!!
Ostensibly, the reason for this is that Blizzard wants to allow people without the real world fiscal means (or the stubbornness to refuse to play the cash shop game) to be able to purchase the pet in-game… and to stop people scamming with bogus pet codes.
Since the introduction of the Pet Store, many players have been asking for ways to get the companions we offer there without having to spend real-world cash. By making the Guardian Cub tradable (much like the BoE mounts from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game), players interested in the new pet will have fun, alternative in-game ways to get one. In addition to trading the pet, players can give the Guardian Cub as a gift to another character for a special occasion; guild leaders can use them to reward members for a job well done; and so on. We also hope this change will help reduce the number of incidents of scamming via trading for invalid pet codes.
Of course, for some in the community, this was a huge, “AHA, GOTCHA!” moment! The RMT alarms have been sounded!
Unfortunately, if this is Blizzard breaking down the doors and letting RMT run rampant, they aren’t doing a very good job of it.
In the continuum of cash shop MMOs, with LOTRO at one end, where Turbine (last I checked) doesn’t let you buy anything that can be resold on the auction house, and Rune of Magic where, the last time I played, you could simply list RMT currency for sale at the auction house for people to buy with the in-game only currency, this is a lot closer to the LOTRO end of the spectrum.
The first blush comparison is with PLEX, CCP’s own cash shop item that is the root of many a quickly realized stellar fortune. Both can be purchased for cash, both can be sold in the marketplace for in-game currency.
However, PLEX is a consumable. The market for PLEX is insatiable it seems, and the market price has slowly risen since it was introduced about two years back.
Companion pets, on the other hand, are… well… forever. You buy one and there it is, you have one. Blizzard has made the guardian cub a per character pet, as opposed to previous pets, which were per account, which meant once you bought one ALL of your characters, including any made going forward, had one. This might increase demand some. There will always be somebody rich in gold who will want one on every character.
But Blizzard has made the cub less attractive for people to buy outright for themselves… which pet would you spend $10 on, the one all of your characters get, or the one that only a single character gets… so I would guess that most people who are going to buy a cub are going to do so with the intent of reselling it, thus increasing the supply in the market.
It almost makes me wish I was still subscribed to WoW, just so I could go in and watch the behavior of this new guardian cub economy. (Somebody please do this? Gevlon? Anybody? I want a “Cub Watch” economic report.)
As a method to reduce fraud and to allow people access to companion pets via in-game currency, this seems like a reasonable, if unambitious plan.
As a sword in the heart of gold sellers, this will probably be a non-event. The in-game economy is too small on most servers to absorb many guardian cubs, especially on the downtrodden half of some servers, like the Horde side of Eldre’Thalas.
Frankly, EverQuest II Extended has a more open path to go from cash shop to in-game currency, and barely anybody screams about that. You can buy rare crafting materials for Station Cash and turn around and sell them on the market if you need some platinum quickly. Common thread – consumable.
When Blizzard is really serious about putting gold sellers out of business, they will follow CCP’s lead and put sellable game time in the in-game economy. That will close the loop and cut the gold sellers out.
Addendum: Blizzard, surprised as usual that anybody is upset about something they did, had this to say when accused of endorsing RMT with the new guardian cub:
TCG Loot card mounts like the Spectral Tiger have been BoE for a long time now (since patch 3.2), and that was and continues to be well-received, and as far as we’ve been able to tell hasn’t had any adverse impact to the game or economy – despite them selling for sometimes astronomical amounts of gold.
It’s potentially worth noting that no new gold is being introduced into the game’s economy with those mounts or the new Guardian Cub pet.
Our goal with the Guardian Cub is to provide alternative ways for players who don’t want to spend real money to add these pets to their collection. Even though this has been available a while now with the TCG mounts, this is obviously a new kind of way to deliver Pet Store pets, and we’re definitely interested to hear your feedback and ultimately see how this will play out.
Which is pretty much what they said in their original message. So they either think you cannot read (a pretty safe bet in quite a few cases) or they are demonstrating how to stay on message.