WoW Tokens – PLEX with Price Supports

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.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are ~800 million ISK in Jita

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.

The WoW Token highway has no exit

The WoW Token highway has no exit

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:

  • KronoEverQuest & EverQuest II and maybe other titles.
  • CREDDWildStar
  • GRACEAnarchy Online
  • DUELDarkfall
  • REX – Rift
  • APEX – ArcheAge

Avoiding a cuteness however is not the only thing that sets Blizzard apart on the PLEX-like front.

Process diagram

Process diagram

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
  • Europe
  • Taiwan
  • Korea
  • China

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:

9 thoughts on “WoW Tokens – PLEX with Price Supports

  1. xenothaulus

    This is fantastic news for those of us with a lot of gold. I quit playing at the end of Cataclysm, but the Garrison feature in WoD seems really cool and I would like to check it out, but do not want to subscribe to a game again. I will definitely be able to now if they go through with the new tokens.

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  2. SynCaine

    This really is more like buying gold directly from Blizzard, like paying SOE to drop you weapons in H1Z1, than PLEX, where CCP doesn’t create ISK on demand. New Blizzard doing New Blizzard things.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Well, I wouldn’t put it in the same category of air dropped, somebody else can steal them, lockboxes, which is one of those “I will never give SOE a nickel for H1Z1” features. But Blizz clearly has a different scenario from CCP, having 500+ individual economies to deal with. As noted in the post, I look forward to seeing people figure out the system Blizz is setting up and start to calculate how much gold Blizz might be dumping into the economy. I can’t see myself getting involved on either end of the WoW Token market, but I am sure there will be plenty of takers.

    As for where ISK and gold come from, up until now they are from the same source, NPC loot pinatas and NPC quests. So I am not sure I can really stick my nose up in the air about one or the other.

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  4. Jarhead

    At 30k I’d buy 1M gold worth and not even blink.
    My only questions are;
    Firstly will expansions be purchasable with the token.
    Secondly will the token automatically apply to my account? If I buy 20 will I have the next 20 months paid for or will I have 20 tokens to use at a future time, The second method allows me to take breaks without wasting tokens.

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  5. Raziel Walker

    What does a player need to spend money on? When I played it was just repair bills and buffs for raids/dungeons. Does wow have enough gold sinks that prices won’t inflate even faster as plex prices already do?
    I get the feeling this idea is more like the DIII RMAH failure as the eve plex. Luckily this is just a gut feeling so I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. (And then every other MMO in the universe will adopt this model as the solution to F2P)

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  6. SynCaine

    @TAGN: If tokens aren’t selling at the price Blizzard wants, they will create the gold to keep the system going, that’s what I meant by spawning gold vs CCP not spawning ISK. Agree that in addition to H1Z1 spawning stuff for you if you pay, it also has the lovely lockbox ‘feature’ that makes F2P so great.

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – I know. That is pretty much what I said in the post, that Blizz will more likely than not inject gold into the system to keep the price stabilized. I’m just fine with it because inflation doesn’t hurt me, as I only sell at the AH so a rising tide raises my boat as well, and because I am interested to see if they can actually make this work (i.e. not screw it up) and actually kill off some of the gold sellers out there. I was just saying that right up until that first injection of gold, ISK and WoW gold all have had the same source.

    I forget where I saw it, but there was a good quote from some lockbox MMO apologist that explained that lockboxes were clearly more fun because people spent more money on them than they would just to buy stuff outright from a shop.

    @Raziel Walker – I am pretty bad at focusing on gold accumulation and I seem to have an excess. I ran a little short on one character in upgrading my garrison, but that sorted itself out in a week of follow missions.

    On the other hand, I don’t own, nor do I have a real need to buy, that $120,000 gold grand expedition yak or some of the other high priced mounts.

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  8. kiantremayne

    I don’t object to the idea, in principle. I do think Blizzard’s control freakery on setting the exchange rate and restricting any player trading or speculating in tokens is likely to cause more problems than it solves though.

    Here’s a thought – assuming a WoW token costs more than a month’s subscription (as does, for example, a PLEX) does that give Blizz a motive to make having scads of money more attractive, because every player nudged towards buying a WoW token means more real world money for them, regardless of the in-game selling price?

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  9. Chris (@SiebzehnSilben)

    Concerning the 19.99 price point, Blizzard has been really silly* with their “micro”-transaction pricing in the past (20€ for a mount). I am quite concerened that high token price + Blizzard injecting gold into the server economies will be the final blow to the ailing wow-gold economies.
    Blizzards track record predicting changes on ingame economies caused by their actions is less than stellar…

    * read as fucking ridiculous

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