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.