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Moneypet! Blizzard Adds Convertible Currency to World of Warcraft

"Do You Still worry about Buying Gold? Old brand provides cheapest and favorable price for you! Fastest delivery Speed! WWW.BLIZZARD.COM Discount code: CUB Welcome!"

Well, this is fairly large news. Blizzard is set to add a new vanity pet for World of Warcraft to its out-of-game shop – the difference being that unlike all the others they sell, this one is freely transferable in-game. And Blizzard is not shy about pointing out exactly what that means:

While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services. However, please keep in mind that there’s never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they’ll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. (You can read more about our stance here.) While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling “black market” and account theft.

If this back door to monetizing in-game gold transfers looks familiar – well, it should, as Eve Online has a similar scheme where players can buy monthly game-time codes and then sell them for ISK (in-game currency) – CCP even has an out-of-game secure transfer website set up to facilitate this.  Trade in these GTCs are very active, and the player base has essentially embraced this pegging of in-game ISK to out-of-game currency value (currently US$ 1 / ISK 40m). It hasn’t eliminated in-game botting but it has put a stake in RMT dealers – why bother, when everyone is an RMT dealer. It also, ironically, at the highest end of the game turned Eve into a free-to-play game since it is possible in nullspace to earn more than 400m ISK / monthly and thus pay your own way via purchasing game time from people who don’t want to bother to.

Blizzard’s moneypet isn’t the same, and that may be its weakness. For while Eve’s GTC traffic is based on an actual good (a monthly subscription, which already has implicit value, at least to people who want to play Eve), WoW’s moneypet is literally created from thin air. Which, while better financially for Blizzard in that it literally is printing gold and/or money, it also inherently has less value than a more tangible good. There is also the small matter of the moneypet being an in-game manifestation of “Hi, I like to sell gold”, and that, to put it gently, may not be a popular opinion.

So, unlike Eve’s GTCs, investing in Blizzard moneypets for resale is far from a sure thing. The irony may well be if a game company sells a moneypet and no one actually buys it, does anyone care? It would, after all, be a market-driven response of disapproval that would say more than any message board post…

…oh, who am I kidding. Blizzard is going to sell 9 trillion of these in an hour.

  • Making 400 million ISK every 30 days is more than just possible in 0.0 if you put your mind to it.  I am pretty sure I could make that much running a level 4 mission in Empire space every week night, so long as I salvaged and collected every last bit of loot after each mission and sold it on the market.  But it would make it a free-to-play mindless grind.

    Would a PLEX-like item work in WoW with its little (relative to EVE) faction/server economies?  Would 30 days of game time go for enough gold at the auction house to make it seem an attractive alternative to buying illicit gold?  Security and being within the rules is worth something, but what if the illicit price is 10x better… or 100x better?

  • Jeremy Thornhill

    For the player, this is nowhere near as good as PLEX. As you say, PLEX continue to have real-world value in the game and are thus (relatively) stable, while the market for these pets is going to be much less certain. What happens when everybody who wants this pet owns one? Do they become an alternate in-game currency in and of themselves? Do people start trading “sword of leetness for x kittens” in WoW as they sold “sword of leetness for x SoJs” in Diablo 2? Or do they ultimately end up with virtually no value at all?

    For Blizzard, this is much, MUCH better than PLEX. You’ll have players speculating on using this as a way to transfer currency, and how well it actually works as such doesn’t even matter because they’ve already spent the dollars. Even if in-game gold-for-kitten prices are absolutely miniscule, as long as they’re worth *something* at all they’ll continue to sell to *somebody* as they’re literally the only sanctioned way to get a tradeable in-game item for real money.

    Blizzard also neatly avoids CCP’s PLEX problem: since there are precious few ways for PLEX to leave the world, CCP is just getting revenue now at the expense of revenue later. That’s actually not a bad deal, but compared to WoW’s money printing press here it’s peanuts.

    • Adam

      Agreed – the point about PLEX is that it doesn’t make CCP any money – it is simply an advance sale of the subscription. The WoW sparkly kitten will actually make Blizzard some money.

      • JuJutsu

        Actually it does make some money for CCP, the value of money right now is higher than the value of the same money in the future.

  • Ratshag

    Nine trillions an hour sounds about right. But 99% of them’s gonna be folks buyin’ it fer theyselves or someones they know. Yeah, I figgers some buggers is gonna blow a crapton of dollars on the things, plannin’ on becomin’ Azerothian’ bajillionaires, but they’s gonna be many disappoint ’cause everyone what wants will already have. A month afters the things go live they’ll be in the bargain bin on the AH.

  • Rodalpho

    The obvious disadvantage of this scheme over selling gametime tokens is the limited number of people that are actually willing to pay for a pet. Once those people all get their pets through either RMT or in-game trading, the market becomes saturated and prices will quickly drop. Blizzard will need to regularly introduce new pets to keep the economy going. If it’s popular, I guess they’ll be happy to do just that.

    • Considering it doesn’t take much manpower to develop new pets, I’m positive they’ll introduce new pets regularly. Unless they decide its impact on the economy is too negative.

  • David Carson

    It has always seemed to me that Eve’s Plex system would actually encourage black-market gold farming & selling. A monthly subscription to Eve costs $15, but if you’re willing to risk an account ban – and the history of goldselling tells us that many players are – buying black-market ISK and using that to buy a Plex would bring the price down to somewhere around $9.00, based on my quick Google. 40% discount for breaking the rules, don’t tell me that that doesn’t encourage the black market.

    Blizzard is going to sell 9 trillion of these in an hour.

    It would be amusing if they made enormous sales to people who thought to convert some $$ into gold – and then the market was so utterly flooded that they couldn’t be unloaded for more than a pittance.

  • Vexis58

    I don’t really see the new minipet as being that much of an issue. Unlike mounts, since minipets are completely optional, there are only two reasons to buy this:
    1. You legitimately like the way it looks and choose to have THIS minipet following you around in-game instead of the seemingly hundreds of other options.
    2. You are trying to get some kind of “I have a lot of minipets” achievement.

    I had a very good reason for buying the sparkle pony when it came out. I like to make a lot of alts, those alts need to ride mounts, but I can’t stand the fugly racial mounts for some of my favorite races (Draenei and Tauren, mostly). Getting different mounts at a low level requires a certain amount of dedication (I don’t want to have to grind rep to exalted on ALL of my alts), and I’d rather shell out $25 now to be able to avoid riding ugly mounts on all of my future alts.

    But for a minipet? I got the only minipet I ever use from the BC collector’s edition, and while I will pick up easily-accessible minipets in-game just for completion’s sake, I’m not going to go out of my way to spend absurd amounts of gold on minipets I’m never going to use. I imagine a lot of other people are going to feel the same way, and all those people buying this minipet hoping to exchange it for in-game gold are going to be out of luck.

  • gx1080

    LOL. A fool and their money….

    First week, 5000+ gold on the AH.

    A month later, 5g on the AH.

    Man, that’s a sucker trap.

  • solkan

    But the critical difference is that you don’t want to end up with a stock pile of Moneypet’s, so there’s going to be a bit of a market limit on them. 

    Unless I’m misunderstanding and Blizzard’s added a $ sign next to gold and other currencies that NPC merchants provide for items, or some way to turn them into free play time.

  • mcl

    Pets are BLIZZ’s ‘gateway drug’.  I predict account bind gear within 5 months after this roles out if it makes some dough.  BOA gear that isn’t BOP.

  • Sinij

    So pretty much everyone who said its only a matter of time until any cash shop turns into Pay2Win were right.

    • John Smith

       Of course they were right, why would you doubt common sense? If you can print money and get away with it, [b] you print money and get away with it.[/b]

  • gx1080

    You know what, screw it.

    First, wanna see real play to win instead of Blizz scamming suckers? Play a Korean MMO.

    Second, even if it’s PayToWin, so fucking what? Nobody cares about playing WoW anymore, just about the NUMBAZZ, so if they just sell gear, people buy them, get bored and leave, then good riddance.

    You know the future that I see? All new MMOs are bugged pieces of crap that go F2P after 6 months and then just sell everything they can on the store. So basically, everybody is Cryptic.

    Hyperbolic rant aside, if that does happen, then the MMO genre deserves to die.

  • This is just a test for Blizzard. If it works (i.e. people buy pets for $10 and then find buyers willing to purchase the pet for gold), they are going to introduce more desirable items at higher price points.

    Remember how Stone of Jordan functioned as a monetary unit in Diablo 2? Now this time, it will be pets (or mounts) .

  • wowzolo

    Agree with Vexis58, those pets are optional so no one is forcing anyone to pay.  All Blizzard did is put out a new feature that can be purchased.

  • This is how Blizzard intends to absolutely and completely milk every last possible penny out of WoW before they move on to their next MMO.

    This is the slippery slope that will eventually screw the game up so much it cannot be fixed. But they don’t care, because they see that time on the horizon anyway.

    So they’ll just ride it out into another few billion in profit. By the time they’ve trivialized and devalued everything in the game to its final extreme end, they’ll shut the doors for their new MMO.

  • Jake Donson

    For the player, which is nowhere near as good as PLEX. As you say, PLEX still in the real world value in the game and are (relatively) stable, while the market for these animals is much more uncertain. What happens when everyone wants the company have? Do they become an alternative currency in the game for themselves? People begin to negotiate "sword Leetness kittens x" in WoW, because it sells "x SOJ Leetness
    WOW Gold sword in Diablo 2? Or do you eventually end up with almost no value? A Blizzard This is much, much better than PLEX. Players have speculated about using this as a means of currency transfer and how it actually functions as such, does not even matter because they have to spend the dollars. While in the game for the price of gold kitten quite small, it's always worth anything at all * is going to continue to sell to someone * * as they are, literally, the only way to get a penalty in the game marketable real money.