Friday, November 6, 2009

All the pandas were Kung-Fu fighting

A few days ago Blizzard announced a "not so micro"-transaction store and they are testing it out with two pets. Two pets is just testing the waters, there are so many thinks one could think of that could be added to the store. There's speculation of how far Blizzard is willing to go, and the consensus is that they will not make you pay for anything game changing, but only they know, and so far Blizzard has been very very vague about the whole thing.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether paying real money for a virtual pet is acceptable, but most people neglected to notice an important fact: Blizzard semi-legalized gold selling. The reason I say 'semi' is because they are trying really hard to neither confirm and deny. Dozens of these pets are getting sold for gold on every server right in trade chat. Yet when you ask, blues will only respond with a link to TOS and tell you to interpret it as you like. Confirming that you find RMT(Real Money Trade) OK, along with microtransactions would be bad publicity. It will always be one of those grey areas that people on the forums will argue about.

Well l bought one today! I paid someone 6000g for the Pandaren and I found a seller in about 5 minutes. The biggest problem is trusting the other person to not scam you. However I was lucky enough. I believe eventually there will be third party services that let you transfer the pet at minimal risk.
My thoughts on the issue couldn't be clearer. I'm all for it! If you read the post I made about gold farmers, this is the best solution to the account hacking I can see them come up with. All you see in the Customer Support forums these days are people who got their accounts hacked. Goldsellers hack your account and then resell your own gold to you, they're evil.

If you say that Blizzard is OK with the pets being used to buy gold why won't they just add a direct way to purchase gold whenever you need it?

I'm gong to quote an MVP from the forums who answered this question perfectly:
Adding currency to the game in this manner (where no
one originated it, it's created at the player's beck and call) would
create a situation where it would practically be necessary to purchase

I just don't understand the utter pathetic amount of laziness necessary to justify purchasing gold in this game.

The answer both IRL and game economies are the same. If you keep printing more money it's going to cause inflation.
Now if you've thought about this before, you couldn't have possibly missed the money printing press in this game - Daily Quests. In fact, Daily's were Blizzard's first attempt to *fix* the economy. I have to say, this was probably their worst decision yet. Daily quests quickly created the catch-22 that the MVP in the above quote talked about. Dailys 'added currency to the game at the player's beck and call. Probably not as fast as direct gold buying/selling would have been, but fast enough to devalue gold 'to the point where it would practically be necessary to keep running dailys. Not only that, but Blizzard raised the amount of gold everyone got from daily quests over time. Prices are so high on important items like consumables, enchants, and gems that sometimes it takes a few days to get the money to buy what you need. The people who crafted the item and sold them receive the (arguably now less valuable) gold, while the quest runners who farmed gold to buy those items have no way to get more money other than doing quests again. As a result the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Economists came up with a solution to the rich-get-richer problem a long time ago - it's called a progressive tax.
Adam Smith wrote:

 The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They
find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little
revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life
occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house
embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries
and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore,
would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of
inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It
is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public
expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more
than in that proportion.
Obviously, Blizzard can't force me to pay a tax, I pay my $15/month just like everyone else, so if I was forced something I wouldn't want to, I'd simply stop playing. However, they can create the next best thing - an incentive to give a portion of my wealth away.

By adding the pet in the middle of the transaction Blizzard ensures that no new gold is being created - just transferred from someone rich, to someone in greater need of that money. It's a wealth distribution system, and a good one at that. The reason
account hacking and botting became so popular was because there were many people tired of running dailys just to support the 'fun' aspects of the game, so they opted for the next best thing available, which was to buy gold and risk losing their account. However now there is a semi-official way to trade money for gold. The way I see it is, every pet sold is an account not hacked.

As I mentioned in the very beginning, I purchased the Pandaren Monk pet from someone else for 6000g. I'll admit the decision was impulsive, but it was not one I regret. I can justify the decision economically since by paying someone 6000g that's 6k they didn't farm from doing daily's, 6k that will be infused back into the economy without contributing to inflation. Hoarding gold, doesn't make sense from any point of view, inflation will devalue it in the long run, so something I pay 6k now might turn into 60k a year from now. Also what's the purpose of saving gold, if you're not going to use it. Buying this pet gave me a feeling of satisfaction I haven't gotten from this game in a while. In fact, I decided to set aside 5% of my profits towards such purchases in the future. I recently hit 100k and looks like my next purchase (probably lilKT) will be when I reach 200k. 
Gevlon wrote that buying pets was stupid because it's a sign of being social, and Kevmar simply didn't seem into pets that just stay there next to you! So what will? There has to be at least some thing in the game that will make you want to spend your hard earned gold on. What's the one item you're willing to spend money on and how high are you willing to go? Tella wrote about giving in and buying a Hyacinth Macaw, and wingman posted a screenshot on JMTC of someone selling a mount on the AH.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on this issue - microtransactions that can be 'traded' seem a great way forward to slowly negate gold selling.

    Also agree that buying gold at the current state of the game is just stupid, you can easily farm gold faster than you can buy it (if you compare it to your hourly wage).

    All in all I hope more vanity microtransactions appear in the future... tabards, mounts, etc. Just like the trading card items.

    My only issue is if they start adding in gear with stats. Until then, this is a great idea by Blizzard in my opinion.