Well, they went for it. I was predicting against it due to the frenzy of bitterness left over from the Diablo III real money auction house fiasco, but it looks like there will be a PLEX-like item from Blizzard, as was previously brought up, that people can buy for real world money and then convert into in-game gold in World of Warcraft.
Called WoW Tokens, Blizzard will join the other games that have followed EVE Online and its PLEX model to help combat/sate the pressure some players feel is on them to buy the in-game currency in order to get what they want out of the game.
While Blizzard is not the first to take their cue from CCP on this front, though they do appear to be one of the few, aside from SOE, to avoid a cute acronym. And even Krono (as in “Chrono” as in “Time”) strikes me as a bit cute. But for WoW it is just a token.
Past versions of PLEX from other companies include:
- Krono – EverQuest & EverQuest II and maybe other titles.
- CREDD – WildStar
- GRACE – Anarchy Online
- DUEL – Darkfall
- REX – Rift
- APEX – ArcheAge
Avoiding a cuteness however is not the only thing that sets Blizzard apart on the PLEX-like front.
First off, the WoW Tokens are good for one sale and one sale only in-game. You cannot buy one from another player, then hang onto it until the market price goes up in order to resell. This avoids speculation and investment buyers that have been driving up the price of PLEX in EVE now and again.
Then there is the gold you get for your WoW Token. As World of Warcraft has over 500 servers outside of China the last time I looked, the market would seem to be fractured in the extreme. Yes, the more recent server pairings have reduced the effective number of servers by joining them in every way short of a full-on merger, there are still a lot of servers out there.
The Blizzard plan appears to be to join WoW Token sales into unified markets based on regions. These regions will be:
- Americas, Australia, and New Zealand
This should prevent the low population server problem, like Daybreak has with their Krono, where prices can vary wildly because of demand on a given server.
Within these markets, you will get a price quote up front when you list your WoW Token for sale. I find this to be the most interesting bit, as within this special marketplace, it really looks like Blizzard wants to be able to inject gold into transactions to keep the market stable.
Blizzard is setting up a region-wide, cross server, cross faction market, with no fees, promising a specific amount of gold up front, and not necessarily matching up buyers and sellers directly the way it works in the auction house, all with an eye towards stopping illicit RMT. It does not seem like very much of a stretch for Blizzard to step in now and again and complete outstanding orders now and again when the buy and sell prices get out of alignment.
That makes complete sense if you view this as Blizzard attempting to apply a topical antibiotic to the festering sore that is illicit RMT. For this service to have any impact, it needs to feel like a viable alternative to the gold sellers. So I suspect that, when this service goes live, you may end up buying a bit of your gold directly from Blizzard. I suspect somebody diligent like Gevlon will watch this market and will be able to “prove” at some point that Blizz is kicking in some gold now and again.
All that is left is to set the price of a WoW Token. Blizzard has left that in the TBD file, but the price has to be more than $14.99 to cover the additional overhead that this program will entail, but I doubt the price can exceed $19.99 per token if Blizzard wants it to succeed.
And then we will have to see what the in-game market will bear. A quick Google search shows gold sellers going down to fifty cents per 1,000 gold. Now Blizzard doesn’t have to match that price, since they offer a safe and legitimate method of buying WoW gold, but they can’t be off by a huge factor either. So I couldn’t see a WoW Token for selling for less than 30K gold given a high estimate price of $19.99 per token.
Which doesn’t seem that bad I guess. Blizz might not even have to get into the price support business to aggressively at that level of pricing. But how that will play out in the longer term will be interesting to watch.
Anyway, you can read the sum of all knowledge on the topic over at Blizzard’s site.
And, of course, this being a WoW related topic, lots others have opinions. It is big enough news that my wife caught it on a Yahoo headline. A few posts from the local blogesphere you might care to peruse: