Greedy Goblin

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weekend minipost: Blizzard learned nothing from the Diablo3 RMAH

In their infinite lust for pay-to-win money, Blizzard announced PLEX, game time item that can be traded for in-game gold.

Idiots. They learned nothing from the Diablo 3 RMAH disaster. For those not following, the real money AH in Diablo 3 allowed players to trade items and gold. As a result, everyone and his mother were dressed up from the AH, making actually playing the game redundant and pointless. If you completed the storyline once, there were absolutely no reason to return. Also, the farming of in-game items and gold became horribly "undervalued", I mean, players found that farming earns them less than flipping burgers in Africa would earn them. While this result is trivial for me (why would anyone pay you to play a game), they were seriously frustrated.

Finally, to save the game and keep the expansion pack buyers players, they removed RMAH. And now, they want to introduce it to WoW. Morons.

The only game where PLEX works is EVE Online. Not because there is item destruction here. In WoW, every new tier obsoletes the old one, practically destroying it. It's because in EVE there is an ISK-hungry hardcore population: the PvP-ers. The more they play, the more ships they burn and the more ISK they need. The more invested and hardcore they are, the bigger ships and assets they fly and lose. The problem in Diablo III and WoW is that every hardcore is a gold/item producer. It's like a no-PvP EVE server. The more you play, the more gold and item you get and want to sell.

Who do you sell them? To the casuals? Why would they bother to pay $1000 for a BiS item when all they do is lolling around with their friends? It's not World of Tanks where gold ammo allows them to pwn superior players. They don't (and cannot) compete seriously in mythic raiding, so upgrading their gear has no point. Please understand that in WoW everyone will get good gear eventually, only your speed differs. So unless you are in competitive raiding, you have no reason to care for your ilvl, it will increase without effort. Remember: currently literally everyone has better gear than the very best raiders had 2 months ago.

So the result will be the same as in Diablo 3:
  • 3/3 upgraded crafted items selling for $1-2
  • Gold will be laughably devalued (not just against real money, but also against items).
  • Casual players will realize that they progress much faster if they don't play.
  • "ima l33t" kids will be very frustrated to learn that their epic sillz worth less than cleaning windshields for tips R the gas station

PS: those who protected Blizzard when I said they went pay-to-win now feel stupid.

PS2: real world economy post comes on Monday, don't miss it!


Another Byte on the Web. said...

I am fine with this, so long as Blizzard keeps its stance of "you can use gold to boost yourself up to the door of raiding, you are on your own from then on". Crafteds can't get you farther than a few Normal item pieces (3 at most), and BoEs cover only a handful of slots, and can't be farmed mindlessly. For most things, you will have to raid.

This is completely different than end-game Diablo players (who would be willign to spend cash on items), for whom farming the items efficiently is the whole game.

Also, stupid people love cosmetic items. Expect a bunch of 100K mounts/battle pets/transmogs to pop up next year, and for WoWPlex to be sold for ~20USD. Also, it is a way to make official something that happens unofficially anyway (About 10K gold can get you a month's subscription). It is not like trading real money for WoW Gold is uncommon anyway.

maxim said...

Many people thought Blizzard to be idiots over the years.
Most of these people are either gone, or irrelevant to the gaming scene. Blizzard is still a juggernaut.

Ultimately, this is all a continuation of "Garrison = Pay-To-Win" nonsense. You never quite managed to prove that point without stretching the definition of Pay-To-Win so thin it becomes invisible.

On topic:

You can't buy endgame gear in WoW with gold. You can buy SOME gear, but it won't be endgame gear, unless you are in a super-hardcore two-weeks-clearing guild, willing and able to supplement that gear with thousands of quality-raiding member-hours immediately after content release.

Contrast with Diablo 3 RMAH, where you could buy any gear at all, invalidating all progression except for the final difficulty.

Also, WoW has not been about gear for the longest time now. Therefore "everyone will get good gear eventually". Whereas, to Diablo, loot is its very essence and getting good gear in it requires some very real effort (and RMAH broke it in pre-x-pac D3)

The question of "who will buy WoW-PLEX" is weird. Ultimately, those who want to pay real-life money for in-game gold will want to buy it.

This involves top-tier raiders, to whom rapid gear progression is essential, because of competition for spots in good raiding groups. Not all of these have 200k+ gold banks on hand :)
This also involves people who just want that shiny BoE because they have not yet figured out that WoW is not about gear (surprising amount of these around :D)

There definitely will be a market for wow-PLEX in-game. I personally would gladly shell up to ±30k a month at current prices for WoW-Plex.

The "gold is worthless" argument is also stupid. In Diablo, gold became worthless because there was altogether too much of it in the economy. Current WoW-economy is actually pretty stressed for gold. If i wasn't running my AH business, i definitely wouldn't be able to even get my garrison up to speed, much less buy epics.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: hahaha, it's funny looking you dig deeper and deeper into trouble instead of just writing "OK, I was wrong, Blizzard went pay-to-win".

"This involves top-tier raiders, to whom rapid gear progression is essential, because of competition for spots in good raiding groups. Not all of these have 200k+ gold banks on hand"

YOU claim that to be competitive in the progression raiding one should pay real money, which is the most narrow definition of pay-to-win: you must pay to win.

Gevlon said...

@Another Byte on the Web: goldselling in WoW is uncommon. However if only 1% buys gold, that's still 100000 buyers, almost as much as players in EVE.

Stupid people do love cosmetic items, but that doesn't need PLEX. They already do sell them cosmetic crap for $20-50

maxim said...

You see, the constant implication here is that pay-to-win is somehow bad. But if you are saying that any microtransaction that affects game balance is pay-to-win, then you are going to have to explain why all microtransactions that affect game balance are always bad.

Looking forward to it :)

maxim said...

Also, your selective reading is becoming annoying.

I have raised the issues of definition of "Pay-to-win" and how WoW does not fit my definition of "Pay-to-win", because you can't just straight up buy victory in it.

You seem to have a different definition of pay-to-win, though. But your definition is on the level of "air is transparent" - completely devoid of anything that would make it relevant or important to much of anything.

I'm not sure i care about your definition of pay-to-win.

Please explain why do you care? What is it with you and microtransactions that affect balance that makes you want to attack them everywhere you see them?

Or have i been misreading your posts all this time and all of this is not an attack on WoW's game design, but rather you just using loaded words to fuel your own popularity?

Gevlon said...

Every microtransaction that affect balance means that your progress (aka win) is dependent on your payment and not playing. Which is the definition of cheating in every real world game. Imagine that I give money to the football referee and he shrinks my goal area.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: you might not buy the referee (corruption aside) but you can buy a great stadium which will give you a clear advantage in home games (the "12th man"). Not to mention that a rich team is able to buy better training structures, better equipment, more qualified staff and of course better players. The correlation between investments and victories is pretty clear.

Basically you cannot pay to get a direct advantage from the point of view of the game mechanics (the rules are fair) but you can pay to get to the game better prepared.

I don't see much difference in WoW since most raiders consider the game to be... raiding: everything before and after is either goofing off or raid preparation.

Stojly said...

Gevlon, real money can already buy you WoW TCG mounts that you can sell for gold (100% legal and not against TOS). And you could since... 2006. Your 'Blizzard is selling gold' agenda is 8 years too late.

Anti said...

Stojly only morons want shiny mounts and pets. Game time is required by everyone. Sure, Blizzard has been selling gold for years, but this will be the first time this non-moron gold owner will be taking part.

I was gold capped since early Wrath and wouldn't have let my subscription lapse if I could pay with gold. As it is I have probably been subbed a total of 6 months since cataclysm launched.

Anonymous said...

Blizzard makes the same mistake about their game economics and they don't learn from failures. This is clearly the sign that they don't know what they are doing. I guess this is the consequence of that they employ a gazzilion members uncontrolled. Microsoft did this but has changed now.

Stojly said...

@Anti: 'only morons want shiny mounts and pets'

Gold is gold. Doesn't matter where it come from. Believe me, people are willing to pay A LOT of gold for those mounts. If we are looking at at from the 'Blizzard is selling gold' perspective, it's simple:

Situation A: Blizzard sells me a mount for cash -> I sell it in-game for gold
Situation B: Blizzard sells me game-time-item for cash -> I sell it in-game for gold

I don't see a difference between the two. You (and apparently Gevlon) do. I am just asking why.

Gevlon said...

@Stoyil: he means the demand for mounts is limited, since it needs someone with lot of gold but no brain.

On the other hand game time is demanded by everyone.

Camo said...

Even if there was a gold destroying mechanic in WoW and the population would act like in EVE, the price for PLEX has risen from 500m when you started to 850m over the last three years.
I don't know how hard it is to start as a trader now, but in an earlier post you said it is much harder for the normal newvie player to farm up that much ISK instead of just paying the subscription fee.
Another thing is multiboxing and botting which will be easier with ingame tokens as you cut the need for a subscription.

Shandren said...

First off: I'm not saying i buy the argument Gevlon is making here. But be that as it may, Maxim, you cannot just claim that Gevlons points are wrong with reference to what you think p2w means. He has in several posts in his last article on the matter called it pay for advantage. If the definition of pay 2 win was as narrow as you want it to be (aka a game in which paying money literally buys you the victory, no holds barred) i doubt you will find many "p2w" games at all. Such a definition would, if anything, water down the usefulnes of the concept...

The issue people have with p2w is exactly what Gevlon is going at, that someone can use REAL life dollars to get a competitive advantage in a game. The "pay judge to shrink goal" analogy is spot on. If your opponent is good enough, he might still win even with the disadvantage of having to score on a smaller goal, but this would not make such an option any less pay to win. The suggestion stems from a very misguided, and far to literal reading of the term.

Could you please focus your attention on the other parts of your comments, because you are not this wrong on all points, rather au contraire

Regarding the "pay for better equipment/stadium in soccer"-point from anonymous above. It is true that this is buying an advantage over teams that does not have good equipment. However you very rarely see teams in competitive leagues that does not have sponsors able and willing to pay for such things.

In real world soccer every profesional soccerplayer will already have (close to) the best equipment possible. In wow this is not as distinctively the case.
I do accept the point that soccerequipment/stadiums/etc are by themselves a way to pay for advantage, and it is maybe one of the reasons we dont see unknown teams suddenly enter the best leagues. (Another reason is that the good soccerclubs often buy the best players from these unknown teams.) But I would argue that this a point against professional soccer, rather than one in favor of legalising "goldselling" in wow.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest problem will be "Gold will be laughably devalued (not just against real money, but also against items)."

If you want to buy anything good you'll have to spent more and more and more gold and that will have to come from somewhere. The average Joe will come to a point where he has to sell a Plex or run a bot.

I just cancelled my account, they ask you why so I wrote a line about not wanting to have Plex in wow. Blizzard surely reads that, let's hope I'm not the only one.

maxim said...

I will argue that proper training in any modern sport already requires money. Ideally, an athlete wants to spend 0 time away from training, so either he himself or somebody supporting him has to pay for his food, shelter and other necessities not directly related to training.

Furthermore, most efficient training usually requires training appliances, which can also be expensive (and the one training with inferior appliances will be at a disadvantage). Same for actual trainers.

People don't really care how much money and effort it took to create, say, Ronaldo. The important thing is performance in a continious series of actual matches.
As long as payment does not allow to completely bypass the actual skill check, - or changes the very nature of the game, - it is not pay-to-win and there are no problems with it.

Your football example is flawed. Buying a new BoE is closer to buying superior sportswear than to shrinking the game area.

Furthermore, you are trying to apply the concept of "cheating" where it doesn't belong.

"Cheating" is violation of ideal of fair play. WoW occasionally pays lip service to fair play, but the end goal is not the ideal itself, but rather maintaining and justifying a measure of design control over the game environment.

If WoW designers could provide individually tailored experiences to everyone with the result of maximising profits - they would, and any ideals of fair play would be benched.

Incidentally - introducing these playtime tokens is not a bad way of achieving said individualization.

maxim said...

Pay-to-win is an actual technical term in game design profession. It is simply not used in the professional field in the sense Gevlon is pushing its usage.

Microtransactions that affect balance are necessary for pay-to-win, but not sufficient for it.

The language is important, because the bad reputation of pay-to-win is consistent with some very specific use of balance-affecting microtransactions, not all instances of said use.

Saying that all instances of said use are bad is denying the displayed and proven worth of those instances where it is good.

It is essentially saying that games such as Clash of Clans or Candy Crush Saga, that served to significantly increase the scope of game design in the past years should never have been made.

Also the football field example is, at the very least, an incredibly poor metaphor for buying a BoE item. BoE item is more like better sportswear, which is not cheating.

Anonymous said...

"he means the demand for mounts is limited, since it needs someone with lot of gold but no brain.
On the other hand game time is demanded by everyone."

So TCG mounts were okay just because they were harder to sell? Sorry, I but just don't buy that logic.

In this article (and several others), you came to the conclusion "Blizzard wants to start selling us gold!"

If the TCG mounts were okay, then the logical conclusion should have been "Blizzard wants to lower their price on gold!"

If they were not okay, the conclusion would be "Blizzard is STILL selling gold, like they did for 8 years"

maxim said...

"Gold will be laughably devalued" is a simple transferrence of Diablo / Eve experience to WoW.
It is also stupid, as WoW is a very different game from both.

Value of gold is decided on supply of/demand for gold.

Introduction of RM playtime tokens does very little to supply of gold in the economy.

It might return some gold stockpiles into circulation. It also might prompt some people actually farm for subscription. I doubt that either of this will have any sort of significant impact on overall supply of gold in the economy.

Introduction of RM gold tokens increases the demand for gold by providing an extremely useful item that can be purchased for it. This is a significant structural shift.

Demand shifts up, supply stays mostly the same = value of gold will rise.

P.S: this is going off only what we know so far. Some potenital decisions by Blizzard (f/ex if they choose to allow purchase of these tokens for fixed amount of gold from NPCs or seed them in the economy in other ways) can affect the picture dramatically.

Anonymous said...

@Shandren "The "pay judge to shrink goal" analogy is spot on."

No, it's not. It would be analogous to a raider being able to pay to nerf the boss, which is not what happens. A better analogy would be "pay to get better shoes", which is what actually happens even in real: the wealthiest players and teams are able to buy better equipment. This is more evident in sports more influenced by equipment in the first place:

- A golf player with more advanced (and expensive) clubs.
- A tennis player with a more advanced racket.
- A skier with more advanced skis.
- Swimmers with more advanced swimming suits (Speedo's Racer swimsuit)
- Pilots with a better car: in Formula 1 it was necessary to introduce a cap to expenses to open the competition to more teams. Even with these caps in place the wealthiest teams are able to research and race with more advanced cars completely outside of the capabilities of the smaller teams.

In all of these cases the players are not able to pay to change the rules of the game in their favour (shrinking the goal), but they are definitely able to pay to show up and compete with a distinct advantage compared to an opponent who didn't invest as much (better equipment).

In some competitions equipment is tightly controlled to limit this, which usually means that every player has to compete with basically the same gear: this would be analogous to WoW raiders being issued standard gear and being able to raid with nothing more than that, at least if they want their progress to be "rated".

NoizyGamer said...

I don't know how is actually affects WoW. I do know that players buy tens of millions of gold every day from shady gold sellers already.

I know that the big difference between EVE and WoW is that EVE is pay to lose. People pay real life money so they can lose ships. And as a certain Russian millionaire found out, buying titans doesn't guarantee victory in null sec.

Gevlon, I think the question you have to answer is whether Blizzard conducting RMT is better for WoW than the present levels of RMT being conducted by shady gold sellers and the bots/farmers who supply them. PLEX brought issues to EVE, but the RMT activities were so bad CCP didn't really have a choice. From the outside, it looks like the RMTers are running loose in Azeroth.

Ulsaki said...

Most of the players in game are poor because they are stupid and make bad decisions. Someone playing for 5 minutes every day could easily become far more wealthy than the average player within a month or two.

Even bad players will grind dailies for months to blow it all on a trinket which is nearly useless to them (they don't need it and they're so bad that their DPS will be almost identical anyway).

These players who get their hands on gold by selling game time tokens are going to want to spend it on something. Either on stuff like gold sinks which drains it out the economy, or on crafted items. These players having more disposable income will inflate prices, but this will be countered by an increase demand for items.

I take a lot of money out of the economy since I generate very little gold myself. So my gold has to come from other players. I've already taken their gold once, and I'll find some way of getting it back off them again.

In any case, I'll enjoy having other players pay for my play time.

Gevlon said...

My main worry is that the game itself will be changed in order to encourage gold buying. In Panda, goldselling was irrelevant as gold could buy you nothing but mounts and pets.

In current WoW you can buy 670 gear for gold. Also, this very 670 gear is created by alts, which are for sale in the item shop (the instant lvl 90).

I'm afraid in a half year, gold can buy you even more power, making goldbuying (or pro trading) a must.

Esteban said...

Anyone who says that gold-buying will be irrelevant is taking the position that WoW's economy itself has been irrelevant up to this point. There is no question that it's going to get rather wrecked.

If I still played that game, I would consider starting a Mythic raiding tourism business for whales. The only commodity in short supply will be peer-approval.

Shandren said...

@anonymous. There is no de facto difference between buffing yourself (higher ilvl) or debuffing your opponent (nerfing the boss). Its the relative numbers that matters. I admit that its not "the same" but the effect is, in both cases the fight becomes easier.
I am also not specifically saying that the plex idea is bad. It has a lot of upside in certain areas. I just dislike that people wont admit that it is a way to pay for advantage. As said i fully accept that gear in soccer has a (small) influence, and that there might very well be "legal" ways to pay for advantage in rl sports like better clubs, better bikes, better whatnots. I just dont think that this makes it any less true that plex would be a way to pay for advantage in wow.
Then there is the historical factor that originally wow was legally (there has always been goldselling fcause) sort of a closed system. Up untill tcg/guardian cub shennanigans at least. Whereas rl sports have "always" (i presume) allowed certain advantages. If there is a sport in which members are required to use some specific set of equipment... (Maybe the stones in curling?? I dont actually know) and this is then changed to allow people to bring their own custom made equipment of which something can be bought for a lot of cash that is measureably better, I would presume some fans/players would be in uproar as well.

It sounds like you aggree that it is a way to pay for advantage, but that you think that such an advantage is ok if it is gained during the "preparation phase", and not in the game as such. And if I accepted your premise that "the game" is raiding and everything else is preparation, then obviously you are right that better gear is merely an advantage from preperation, rather than a change of the "game". But this seems to be a sketchy premise. The game as usually understood, is the actual game. If the amount of rl cash i have has an influence on my chances of beating an encounter/opponent (its less important for pvp as there doesnt seem to be boe pvpgear... If theres a pvetrinket or something theres bis for pvp the argument still applies but perhaps with less force), then i can pay for advantage, no matter how specifically this chance is influenced, be it better gear, more abilities, actual +damage rl money potions, a "nerf opponent" ability, etc.
An out of game advantage would be a better pc or a faster connection... Each of which can have immense consequences for the performance in a raid. But this is not (or at least only rarely) what p2w opponents bitch about

Shandren said...

Ill admit that it wouldnt be cheating in the way paying for a goal being shrunk is, but this only due to the fact that it would be legal. Imagine it being made legal in soccer and hear the outrage :-)

Shandren said...

@Maxim (wall of text sorry)

I don't work in the industry, so you might be right on the technical definition of "p2w" from that perspective. But then you and Gevlon (and I) are simply talking about different things. I would not argue that you can automatically win WOW by throwing cash at it just because plex is getting implemented (you might be able to buy mythic runs later for gold, but that will wait to be seen). I will still claim however that it is a way to pay for advantage.
If P2W only covers paying to actually WIN (like winning NOW, and certainly, or with overwhelming odds), and not paying for significant advantage, then you are right that plex is not p2w. But there is a usage of the term that has been quiete common in gaming circles for a good amount of years, in which p2w does include paying for advantage.

I will try to use "paying for advantage" instead from here on.

As mentioned above in my reply to anonymous, i might be off in calling the goal analogy "spot on", because it would technically be cheating under current rules in soccer, whereas buying BoE's for RL money isnt cheating if plex gets implemented (nor has been technically since the TCG/guardian pet stuff). One could easily argue however that it would still be "cheating" in some sense (like going against the spirit of the game), even if it was specifically allowed.

On the other hand I dont think the sportswear analogy is spot on either though.
When you accept the "better sportswear" analogy to BoE's you seem to be implicitly accepting the premise that "raiding" = "the game", which I, as argued above, dont accept. Part of the game is getting the epics in the first place, either by running HC's/Running CM's/grinding appexis/buying BoE's/crafting/whathaveyou. The amount of time (and in some cases amount of skill) you put into these activities, are seen as part of the game, not as out of game activities. Using real life money (out of game ressources) to influence your progression through this "preparation" part of the game, is still paying for advantage. In this case the advantage being that you dont have to spent the time/skill/whathaveyou to run the CM's/farm the crystals/make the money/level the alts/whatever.
If it was currently the case that all competitive raiders (im not talking only world firsts, a lot of people care merely about how they do in comparison to other guilds on server, their friends, etc) had a full set of BiS pre-raid gear without spending RL money, then you couldn't actually buy an advantage. But as this is, very much, not the case, using RL money CAN buy you an advantage. (continues next post)

Shandren said...


One of the merits of games is that you can to at least some extend compete with people who are far richer than you, because you are playing on a level playing field. This wont tilt the playing field immensely, it will however make it less "level".

Im not certain what Gevlon argues about whether PfA (paying for advantage) is ALWAYS bad, but i share his general idea that it takes something away from the purity of a game.

CoC is clearly a good game from a developers point of view. And I'd argue that they manage to use PfA in a not too intrusive sense. But it is very clear to me now when I have been in a clan a few months and seen some people sky- rocketing past me on the "friendlies war screen" that paying really does buy you faster advancement in the game. The only reason this matters to me personally in this case is that it may end up knocking me of the 40vs40 wars. I dont much mind whether the opponent i am fighting is where he is due to throwing money at the problem, or due to having played for a long while, cause i dont ever see them again anyways.

I play Candy Crush Saga purely as a soloplayer game, I dont have facebook or anything enabled so I cannot see the highscores or positions of my friends. So that part of the PfA aspect bothers me even less there. However the constant prompts to throw money at the problems, and "recent" innuendo change on "loss" screens (The button was changed some while ago from something to "concede", which implies that you give up by not using money to solve the problem, making using money an actual part of the gameplay).

Both of these games are good games in some sense of the word. They might not have been as successfull if not for the PfA aspects, but I would argue that they would have been better *games*. Whatever that means exactly. I cannot imagine my enjoyment of the games being any less without the option to use money to advance.

About the proven worth of PfA: Mention an example in which a game is strictly better (not measured in amount of cash made obviously, as im not doubting the effectiveness) due to its PfA parts. There might honestly be some, but i cannot think of any (gambling maybe?)

Are all balance affecting microtransactions bad? Probably not, they might allow people who doesnt have the time for the "preparation part" of a game to still play the parts they want. They might allow people a (i would argue false) sense of accomplishment in games like candy crush, or just a not "free" way to get past that level that has annoyed them for a while now.(fully free ways to get past obstacles makes noone want to climb the obstacle).
Do they hurt the "purity" of the game?... yes. And the line between catchup mechanic and skip past mechanics are rather thin. And there are other non-free ways to allow people to get past levels they are stuck in.

I think ill stop writing now.

TLDR: Plex is paying for advantage, and PfA makes the games playingfield less level, thereby hurting the purity of the game as a "game".

Anonymous said...

If you completed the storyline once, there were absolutely no reason to return.

I'm not to sure if you are familiar with ARPGs.
within any ARPG launch. for example torchlight, path of exile, diablo 1,2,3 you have "seen the story" within a couple of hours. halfnaked on normal mode.

You don't need RMAH for story.
the frustration was the stupid RNG system. Wilson got his teeth kicked in finally and rightfully so, so it could change to a better system. YES ARPGs need RNG but look at D2 pot, horadric cube and charm system, it did a great job to even out bad rolls and still feel progress. D3 1.0 didn't had anything just 6 property RNGesus loot. And there the RMAH with all the "good" rolls came. but you didn't grind for story.

Anyhow. OT: Yes it's more than stupid but obvious that they will make truckloads of money with it.

My main worry is that the game itself will be changed in order to encourage gold buying.
worry? you? Play other games!
I'm glad that they do this. Just for the reason that Blizzard will never ever die and all those million idiots are pluged into WOW and not into the games that I play.

Anonymous said...

In half a year 670 gear won't matter anymore, because the then current lfr will drop better gear.

Having lots of gold gives you only the slightest of competitive edges. World firsts are never bought with gold. Those guys just manage to pull off boss kills in blue gear, which take the average player heroic epics and a boss nerf...

maxim said...

I agree that gold becoming more important for in-game stuff and also becoming a possible source of game-time would encourage people to find and use more ways to get gold, including illicit ones.

But i really think that both gold being an actually valuable currency in-game and being able to buy playtime with gold are things that are great for long-term health of the game. So it is more a case of taking the possibility of bad with the good.

maxim said...

There are multiple discussion levels here.

First, the "pay-to-win" level, where by calling WoW pay-to-win, Gevlon lumps it together with worst examples of game design in the industry that are truly pay-to-win.
This is what i'm arguing against, as WoW is clearly a superior example of game design.

Second is the "pay-for-advantage ruins game purity" level. Apparently, there is some arbitrary game design goal of "purity" and WoW is coming short by embracing pay-for-advantage.
Well, there is no such goal outside of competitive eSport games. WoW preserves purity in the single part of it that has any shot at someday becoming a prominent eSport - PvP arenas. In all other areas, this "purity" is mostly a non-issue.

Ultimately, this idea of "purity" of game boils down to wanting to play the game on the terms you like (for whatever reason you like them) and forcing everyone else to play the game on your terms, in order to make your personal experience better.

This is okay in games where most players can be assumed to play for competition. These players actually want to all play on the same terms, because this allows them to focus on honing their skills. This is, however, not okay in games like WoW that attract all sorts of players, not just those driven like competition.

Trying to force "purity" on WoW essentially means ruining the experience of 80%+ of players for the sake of the 20% that want to be competitive (specific percentages vary, depending on your definition of competitiveness, but it is always 10-30% in MMOs)

The only person it makes any sense to compete against in WoW is yourself. If you want real competition against other players who themselves want real competition with you, WoW is only able to scratch that itch as a matter of side-course to its coop-PvE main dish.

This brings up an interesting question that, for some reason, nobody has yet figured out a PvE eSport. Wonder why is that :)

P.S: the "shrink the playfield" example is bad because buying a gearpiece doesn't have near the magnitude of effect of shrinking your playfield. This example could work better if there were gearpieces available for gold that significantly affected, say, max attack range, or cooldowns of abilities.
If WoW ever starts selling tier pieces for gold, then it would be orders of magnitude closer to pay-to-win than now.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: this conversation largely went offtopic. Please read the post again.

It's not "OMG WoW is pay to win", that's only a PS at the end.

The topic is "WoW is terrible field for PLEX, since everyone wants to sell and no one wants to buy". WoW is a PvE game, where doing PvE is obvious, while EVE is a PvP game where lot of people pay to avoid doing PvE.

Shandren said...


I think I'd really enjoy having a discussion with you irl :-) sorry about the hostility in my first post. I disaggree with a lot of your points, but you put them clearly, and your ideas seem to be coherent. Unfortunately typing my responses on a phone takes waaay to much time, and we have apparently gone off topic, so ill refrain from diving too deep into the fray again. I will just note that a lot of people still play wow "competitively", without even raiding mythic, or for that matter heroic. They just compete on other parameters like pets/mounts/nicest transmog set, or set goals like "being in the top 5%" etc. You can argue that this is "stupid" or wrong competitive goals, but there are still people to whom it matters. PfA doesn't only mess with world-edge competitors, it also means something to these people.

I dont see how wanting a level playing field amounts to the same as wanting everyone to conform to my terms. I just dislike that offgame inequalities like wealth drifts into the game. The only counterargument i see to this is that it is fair that richer people are better off in the game as well, and that is a point i really dislike.
If dude 1 is uncompetitive and likes mount X he can buy it cause of offgame wealth. If dude 2 is uncompetitive and likes mount X, but is poor, he wont be able to buy it. Which puts him worse off than dude 1 even if he isnt competitive. For completionists having stuff that is only available for offgame money must be terrible as well.

See now i started answering anyways..

As a last point for this time. I will just repeat that i am not decisively against plex in wow. It will allow some people to catch up by using their hardearned money instead of time they dont have, it will allow some folks that might unsub due to economics to keep playing and it wont hurt me personally at all. I still think that "purity" in the sense of no PfA'ing allowed, is a good. But whether it is an important enough good to outweigh the benefit of something like plex, I'm not to certain. I'd argue that the tcg/guardian cub stunts were worse, because i fail to see the benefit of those systems, to anyone that isnt blizzard...

Ill let the discussion get back on topic. Happy arguing.

Shandren said...

Why would noone want to buy Plex (i assume you mean for gold since you say people will be selling)? This seems wrong. It seems that anyone who wants to play wow, and values real life money higher than gold would want to buy plex. Why would people be happier buying subscriptions for ingame cash in other games than in wow?
Pve vs pvp doesnt seem to enter the picture at all

Gevlon said...

@Shandren: but what does purchased gold give you if you have little time? In EVE it makes sense, you skip PvE and jump on PvP without risks (your ship is replaced).

But what do you do in WoW? If you buy raid gear, why would you raid (you already have the gear).

If you just want to see the raids, you can do it in LFR for free.

I'm aware of goldbuyers, I just have no idea what they do with the gold. I made awful lot of WoW gold and still have most of it.

Anti said...

WoW is already pay to win. Style War the chinese guild that got the world 3rd mythic highmall clear had an average ilvl 5 (perhaps 10?) ilvls higher than Paragon and Method.

How did they do this? Between the raid members they had something like 88 pieces of 695 gear they purchased from the BMAH. To do this they bought BMAH gear from multiple servers (with gold they either bought, transfered or earned on each server) and then, assuming server transfers work the same, paid blizzard cash to transfer back to their home server.

maxim said...

Fair enough. Let's narrow topic to impact of PLEX on WoW.

Basically, there are 2 questions here.

1) Who is going to supply PLEX into WoW economy. That is, buy it with intent to sell it for gold.
2) Who is going to provide demand for PLEX.

(2) is a non-issue.

(1) is easy. Back in vanilla getting 100 gold for an epic mount was too hard for me (and i didn't really understand how the AH works at all back then), so i went and bought some gold. The game immediately got 100% more fun, when viewed from the back of a 100% speed golden mechastrider :)

I expect any player that lacks AH skillz will find himself in that situation at some point, so he will have the option to go out and sell some gametime :D. As there are more players like that out there than otherwise, they will be your initial WoW-PLEX market-makers.

Getting familiar with AH game requires time, effort, dedication and even a bit of love towards spreadsheet form of gaming. I personally haven't gotten competent at it until many years after vanilla. It took learning some stuff about stock markets and finding TradeSkillMaster that allowed me to make WoW-golds the way i like to make em.

Nowadays, i am certainly not too pressed for WoW-gold, but maintaining this state requires spending ~20 mins EVERY morning doing mindless clicking. Maybe one day i'll want these 20 mins of my daily life back and the PLEX price is going to be right for that :D

maxim said...

If you ever start selling enchanting scrolls anywhere around me, things will get real competitive real fast :D

So yeah, there is competition in WoW.

However, does it mean that i should somehow be mad at people who come with their gold and flood my markets with stupidly cheap goods in an attempt to force me out?

Not really. Because being able to survive and thrive despite that kind of competition is part of that particular game.

Should it bother me that Paragon gets sponsored for their play and thus are able to spend 10+ hours/day gaming on x-pac release?
Should it bother me that some guy in some chinese guild used his RMTed goldcap to outfit his entire guild in full stage3 crafted epics?

I don't feel bothered by that in the slightest. All of this doesn't devalue my guild's current mythic efforts in the slightest.

Now, when my WotLK guild was unable to beat LK hc before raidbuff maxed out, due to personal fails - that bothered me. But that's not the kind of thing that will be even remotely affected by PLEXing.

What i do feel is that i'd want Blizzard to have access to that money stream so that they are able to make more content for me.

And, ultimately, if some rich guys want to give Blizz their dough for pixels - i don't feel any need to prevent them from doing so :D

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: the problem I see is the large discrepancy between buyers and sellers that could be seen in D3.

I mean there will be lot of people wanting to buy PLEX for gold and much less to sell. This will lead to a largely inflated price that makes any kind of goldmaking activity pointless if you are employed (and not a bot).

This will mean that doing casual crafting or farming will be just as pointless as doing level 25 quests in Duskwood. Sure, there will always be people, who do it for achievement or because they like it, but if you type /who Duskwood, you can see that most people prefer "current content".

"Current content" is defined as "giving up-to-date rewards". The farming activity gives gold or items. If their value is trivial, people will ignore it.

Dàchéng said...

I have to agree wholeheartedly that this may be the end of Warcraft. When people can buy whatever they want (up to the door fo raiding, at any rate), then what is the point of the rest of Azeroth? If the activities in the living world are made pointless by being replacable with a credit card, then why would we continue to remain in this living world? Why bother crafting, skinning, playing the AH, and all the other in-world activities we spend our time at if they are made pointless by a euro purchase?

And when all is left is turning up on raid night, I wonder if that will be enough.

maxim said...

I believe this discrepancy issue will be mitigated by the fact that Diablo gold was nigh worthless to begin with, whereas WoW gold is worthwhile.

Ultimately, what you are talking about here is gold inflation. In Eve it happened (and continues to happen) largely because of bots. In D3 it happened because the real currency were high end items, which are not many by design (every character needs one in every slot) and therefore are much easier to inflate than currency.

WoW doesn't currently have noticeable bot problems and gold is actually a viable currency in current iteration. Making it nonviable would require creating gold in the economy in large numbers.

So, unless the PLEX thing makes people farm significantly more than before (which i seriously doubt), we won't see much inflation.

The rest depends on actual purchasing power of PLEX. If one PLEX buys you one epic above LFR ilvl, this won't really hurt the player activity.

If it buys more, then there will be issues, but there is both a bit of invisible-hand autocorrection (the more people buy gold through PLEX, the less gold you can get through PLEX) and Blizzard's ability to introduce various goldsinks.

Also, need to remember that PLEX are not exactly cheap, either. You still need to shell out the dough to get em.

I have went through at least 3 cycles of having run out of things to do in WoW and quit.

I expect to get bored again around the time my guild gets Grom Hellscream down - and expect to unsub for the year or two it'll take Blizz to get to the next x-pac :D

All this doom and gloom of player inactivity - been there, done that, what else is new.