CCP Copies Blizzard’s WoW Token Idea

I suspect that the headline above is how some World of Warcraft players will react to PLEX, should they ever hear about it or the existence of a game called EVE Online, now that Blizzard’s WoW Tokens are going live in North America.  That is the way these things tend to go.

But $20 will apparently get you 30,000 gold in WoW a some point today.  (There is even a video to show you how it all works.)

The WoW Token highway has no exit

The WoW Token highway has no exit

You and I though, we know better.  We know that EVE Online has had PLEX for over five years at this point.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

And we know that, after CCP introduced PLEX into New Eden other MMOs adopted similar currencies to allow their players to exchange real world money for in-game currency.  So we have:

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

Interesting experiments, with a mix of subscription-only and free to play titles to observe.  But those are all small time compared to WoW, with populations totaled all together barely matching a small percentage of the 10 million players last reported in Azeroth.

With WoW Tokens, the PLEX idea is hitting the big time and, going forward it will like be the benchmark system against which all others are compared.  PLEX may have come first, but WoW Tokens will likely be the biggest such item for a long time to come.

Of course, Blizzard is taking steps to cover itself on the WoW Tokens front.  The WoW Token market is setup region-wide, so they have populations larger than EVE Online to keep the prices stable.  And should stability be an issue, they have setup a system where they can control prices.

I will be interested to see where the prices go over time.  30,000 gold for $20 seems like a reasonable price, enough to steer people away from illicit RMT.  We will have to see if, over the longer term, 30,000 gold is worth 30 days of game time to the richer players in game.  That joke about CREDD might come true for some in WoW.  And I do find it interesting that, while the starting price for WoW Tokens is 30,000 gold, the intro video I linked above shows a payout of nearly half that.

15,864? Where is my 30K Gold?

15,864? Where is my 30K Gold?

I am waiting for somebody to setup a site to track the pricing and compare it across regions.  It will be interesting to see what sort of split, if any, ends up being necessary to support pricing sufficient to fight illicit RMT.  How much gold will Blizzard have to inject into the WoW economy in its own version of quantitative easing?

Will WoW Tokens have the same effect that PLEX did in EVE Online, where suddenly everything can now be converted to a real world value, where we know how much a titan is worth in dollars and euros and yen?  The mainstream press obsesses over that conversion when it comes to EVE Online because dollar amounts make for better headlines.  I am waiting for the WoW addon that converts all gold values to real world currencies.

Also, now that WoW gold will effectively that have a real world monetary value, we can examine the exchange rates between currencies in various games.  Right now it looks like about 27,000 ISK in EVE Online will buy you 1 gold coin in WoW, which feels about right I guess.  That would give me about 200,000 WoW gold worth of currency in EVE Online.  More than I have in WoW, but ISK is probably more important to me in New Eden than gold is to me in Azeroth.  Necessities versus luxuries.

And, finally, I am now waiting for some site (like maybe The EVE Onion) to start valuing the cost of battles in EVE Online in terms of WoW gold.  So that 75 billion ISK brawl in Pure Blind the other day, that was worth nearly 2.8 million gold!

Hrmm, I might need to put together a conversion spreadsheet to track that exchange rate.

Anyway, others writing about WoW Tokens on their launch day:

And, from the comments, a site to track the price of WoW Tokens.

15 thoughts on “CCP Copies Blizzard’s WoW Token Idea

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Noizy – Heh, it depends on which numbers you use I suppose. Going with the 11 trillion ISK baseline (from the infographic), and using today’s PLEX (~802 million) and WoW Token (30K) price estimates, I get about 392 million gold… or 58 million EQ2 platinum… from my initial spreadsheet.

    See, this is going to be fun. What is a CREDD going for in game these days?

    Edit: With WoW Token prices plummeting today, it now looks like the fight at B-R5RB only cost 280 million gold.

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  2. stabs

    I wonder if some day we’ll have an exchange rate between the games so we can grind WoW dailies for Thoraxes to pvp with in Eve.

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  3. SynCaine

    Well considering WoW was the first MMO, I don’t see how anyone can argue that CCP and others are copying Blizzard tokens here. Duh.

    On a serious note, I remember when SOE went the PLEX route, and you wondered how such a system would work in a game where gold is more fluff than need. Never did see an answer, so maybe now that WoW is doing it, we finally will.

    Only themepark I’ve played for real in ages is FFXIV, and while gold is very important and needed for fluff their (housing), no PLEX system (yet?).

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – SOE did what it tends to do with things like this, it jumped on the idea and implemented it without much thought, then left it to stagnate. You can try to buy/sell a Krono in EQ2, but the demand and pricing varies wildly from server to server.

    I will give Blizz this, they did spot the obvious issues. (They did, after all, do a trial run with the kitten economy.) They grouped all the servers into large, regional groups so there were no stagnant markets and they have injected themselves into the middle of all transactions so they can control pricing at each end of the deal to keep things from getting out of control.

    But in the end, Azeroth isn’t New Eden. I have no need/desire to buy gold, because the game gives me more than enough to meet my needs, and I am not willing to work harder (and turn the game into a chore) to earn gold just to cover a $15/month bill. And I suspect I am not alone, so I will be curious to see how demand holds up. In EVE Online I need ISK to stay in the game, in WoW gold really doesn’t have the same grip.

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  5. bhagpuss

    “Need” defines itself differently for every individual. Presumably if no-one felt a “need” for gold in WoW or gil in FFXIV then there’d be no gold or gil spam in either. Whereas in fact its all-pervasive and highly intrusive.

    As I always say at this point, the thing that puzzles me isn’t that people want to buy the Tokens and turn them into gold – it’s that anyone prefers to take the time and trouble to farm gold to buy the Tokens rather than just paying the Sub fee, which must surely represent a trivial expenditure to anyone able to own and maintain a PC capable of running the games in the first place.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @bhagpuss – Well, if we’re going to define the popularity of things by the persistence of the advertiser, as opposed to the buyer, you’re going to have to stipulate that there is a huge need for penis enlargements, Chia pets, building contractors in my neighborhood, and helpers for deposed Nigerian royalty who are trying to collect their missing fortunes.

    There will always be spam for gil or whatever in chat channels because, like most electronic advertising, it is cheap.

    But I tend to agree with you. I see a lot more market for buying gold… the traditional trading of real world money for something that would otherwise take time… than the reverse. On Twitter, Belghast was encouraging people to spend their gold on WoW Tokens now while they were cheap, before the price rose. I would fully expect the price to collapse… if Blizzard wasn’t sitting in the middle of transactions and able to support the market if needed… rather than rise.

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  7. carson63000

    According to wowtoken.info it’s up to 31,218g on US realms now. I’m certain it will go higher, I can’t believe that demand to buy tokens for gold, at that price, won’t outweigh the supply of tokens people purchased for cash. Soooo much hoarded gold in the WoW economy.

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  8. Random Poster

    Hell you can end up hoarding gold without even really trying. I tend to make sure my main is self sufficient with what he needs so I rarely buy anything from the AH and would occasionally sell herbs on the AH. Without really trying I was at almost 400k gold by the end of Cata (bought MoP played for a month so no money gained then) Granted this was amassed over a 9 year period but not an insignificant amount. so gold just sort of adds up over time.

    I’m down to about 300k gold now after paying back an old guildie friend who bought me WoD over Christmas when I was broke thanks to birth of my new daughter with about 70k gold and then various costs getting professions caught up to where they needed to be on my main and a couple alts.

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I get it, I haven’t been short of cash since I wanted to buy the flying mount/skill during Burning Crusade. And yet, illicit RMT in the form of people buying gold is still a big deal.

    You have to remember, the people who read (or God forbid, write) gaming blogs are the outliers. We’re the weirdos, the odd balls who log in every day just to wring another pile of gold out of our multiple garrisons. My gut (which is not to be relied upon, because it said Blizzard would pull back on this whole idea, so I’m already wrong on that score, though I was right on the money with the 30K starting price) says that after an initial boost, as all that horded gold buys a few tokens, people are going to go back to sitting on their fortunes because the monthly fee isn’t all that much, while in-game gold represents effort expended.

    I guarantee I will be keeping an eye on this. I will be interested to see where this all sits six months down the line. And if it hits Gevlon’s 100K number, I’ll plunk down the $20 myself and pick up that expedition yak. But I don’t think it will get there.

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  10. Jarhead

    price of token has dropped to just under 27k less than 12 hours after release.
    I think i’ll buy my first now and jump in hard when they hit 20k.

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  11. anon

    ” PLEX may have been first, (…) ”

    Hmm, there is this web-based mmo I play that has had this PLEX-like item thingy for quite a few years prior to Eve. It is called Torn City and I can’t help but wonder that there may be others out there.

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  12. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anon – I meant it as first amongst the various scheme on my list, but I will change that to “PLEX may have come first…” which more clearly shows I am still talking about the relationship with WoW Tokens and the other items like Krono and CREDD.

    There are, after all, few new idea and a lot of old ideas simply in new circumstances.

    I don’t know about Torn City though. From what I can find, they added a subscription option, and their own PLEX-like scheme, later in the life of the game, maybe as late as 2010, which would put it after PLEX.

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  13. Onwuka

    I have maybe 300k across all my characters, which I imagine is somewhat typical of your weirdos and oddballs. Not rich, not poor. All of it earned this expansion, mostly automated from the garrison and selling junk the garrison produces on the AH . I cancelled my recurring payment plan and bought four tokens, using two to extend my game time. I probably would have bought more if the tokens stacked or could be placed in the bank.

    I don’t have a strong opinion on which direction prices will go or where they will settle, but it seems to me that most of the speculation is focused on the forces shaping the demand side of the gold exchange. What people spend their gold on, why so many can’t seem to earn enough in game, how much gold is ‘worth’ $20… But on the supply side, doesn’t it matter that there is really nothing to do with more than one token a month? That seems to be a bigger limitation that anything else to me. I’m no wow millionaire, but if I buy one token a month I’m effectively the same thing.

    I imagine that most of your wierdos and oddballs bought their tokens for gold yesterday, now what? Unlike Eve (the only game on your list I’ve played when RMT currency was available) there isn’t really a benefit to having multiple subs. I’ve seen a few people hoping that Blizzard expands the token to be usable for account services. To me that seems to be an easy way to induce more buyers. I may be limited to one sub fee a month, but I could always buy a boost to 90 with idle gold.

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