WoW TCG Art Gallery: Mind Soothe
WoW TCG Art Gallery: Jackknife
WoW Fan Art: Grip of Death
WoW Fan Art: The One Who Keeps Secrets
WoW Art Gallery: Chen Stormstout
WoW Art Gallery: Gahrunt Foulfang
|1||WoW Patch 5.3: Faerie Dragon Mount|
|2||WoW Noblegarden 2013 Guide (March 31 - April 6)|
|3||WoW Patch 5.3: Armored Dragonhawk and Steel Warhorse Mounts|
|4||WoW Patch 5.3: Pegasus Mount|
|5||WoW Children's Week 2013 Guide|
|6||WoW Patch 5.3: Legendary Questline|
|7||WoW 5.3 PTR Patch Notes - Updated April 4th|
|8||WoW Patch 5.3: Wrathion Questline Update|
|9||WoW 5.3 PTR Patch Notes - Updated April 11|
|10||WoW Patch 5.3 - No Sky Claw Mount or Pierre Pet|
Patch 5.2: Throne of Thunder & Raid Schedule | Isle of Thunder | World Boss Nalak Guide | World Boss Oondasta Guide & Loot Table | Season 13 Armor Preview | Tier 15 Armor Set Preview
Mists of Pandaria: New Race: Pandaren | New Class: Monk | New Dungeons and Raids | New Class Talent System | New Pet Battle System | New Challenge Modes
Patch 4.3: S11 Sets | Legendary Daggers | New Mounts | New Dungeons and Raid: End Time Well of Eternity Hour of Twilight Dragon Soul | Void Storage | Transmogrification | Classic Two-handed Swords | Two-handed Axes | Coming Soon
Tier 13: Warrior | Druid | Paladin | Shaman | Warlock | Mage | Rogue | Pirest | Hunter | Tier 13 Set Bonuses
Overview: Deathwing | System Changes | Underwater Kingdom | Guild System | Tips
New Races: The Goblins (Horde) | The Worgens (Alliance)
Revamped Areas: Orgimmar | Stormwind | Azeroth
Classes Changes: Paladin | Death Knight | Druid | Hunter | Mage |
Priest | Rogue | Shaman | Warlock | Warrior
New Battleground: Twin Peak
|WoW: Gold selling and the Guardian Cub|
Pamela is an MMO vagabond with experience in a vast array of titles. She focuses on solo and duo content in MMOs with an emphasis on having fun without needing too many other players around. Follow her to read more about enjoying all types of MMOs.
Blizzard’s Pet Store has been around for a couple of years now. In that time, many pet sales have gone to charity and, of course, into Blizzard’s pockets. It’s clearly a successful and profitable venture otherwise the company wouldn’t continue developing pets exclusively for the Pet Store.
Aside from this Pet Store being available in addition to a monthly subscription, millions have purchased either pets or mounts from the store. Most of the pets cost $10 each and will be available to all characters on an account present and future. Mounts from the Pet Store cost $25 each and share the same availability to the account on which they are claimed. Two pets, the Wind Rider Cub and the Gryphon Hatchling, are $25 each but come with a real-world plush. All of these cannot be traded or sold within the game.
With that in mind, the Guardian Cub announcement in November was unexpected, but not surprising to some. The Guardian Cub costs $10 like other pets, but it’s not bound to the buyer’s account. Additionally, the Cub is not unlocked for all characters on an account once learned. This means that a buyer can purchase the Cub for $10, wait for the 24-hour lockout to time out, enter the game, and sell his/her new acquisition via trade or auction house. Essentially, the buyer just paid $10 for a flexible and market-determined amount of gold.
This is gold selling. There’s no way to sugarcoat that, but whether or not it’s ethical or a fiscally sound move is up to the buyer. Some folks will be happy that they can buy a new pet without having to pay real money. Some gamers will see this as an opportunity to make serious gold. Some will be disappointed by the fact that only one character can claim the pet they just purchased. Fortunately, for the one-use issue, vanity pets will become shared at the Battle.net account level when Mists of Pandaria releases. In theory, that would make the Guardian Cub account bound and available to all characters on an account like the other $10 pets.
The Guardian Cub can serve other purposes besides making gold and adding a pet to a personal collection. As stated by Blizzard, it can be given in-game as a gift or rewarded to a guildmate for a job well done. One of its bigger purposes is to actually combat gold selling by third-parties.
Realistically, third-party gold selling will never stop. If it could be completely eradicated I honestly believe it would be by now. It affects retention too harshly and negatively since most account comprises are due to the efforts of a gold seller. Not to mention, accounts that are comprised create extra work for a developer. If no accounts were ever stolen to farm/steal gold then a whole division dedicated to recovery could be non-existent. Those workers could either do something else, like general customer service, or they could eliminated. That would be less money for a company to pay which means more money would be put back into the product if that company were smart.
At the players’ level, gold selling still exists because another player will buy it. People wouldn’t go to the effort of stealing an account if they couldn’t make a profit off of it somehow. If gold were more accessible within the game, it’s possible that the demand for such a service would deteriorate. However, because an MMO is a living creature, the more gold the gamers have the more they’ll charge for menial things. Gold sellers still exist but offer more gold for the same amount of money. As long as players feel like they need some gold quickly, the gold seller will be there willing to sell it.
Developers and publishers fight gold selling in many ways. Specifically, Blizzard offers authenticators and reprimands players that do buy gold. The Guardian Cub pet is, as stated by Blizzard Entertainment, another way to combat such practices. If a player can pay $10 to Blizzard proper to get a quick bit of gold, that player might not resort to a third-party seller. The differences between buying the Guardian Cub and just purchasing gold illegally are major. Buying gold from a third-party will compromise your account, but you will be “guaranteed” a specific amount of gold for your money. You’d also be ripping off another player because that gold that you’re paying for was most likely stolen from another compromised account.
Buying a Guardian Cub for $10 is a safe way to acquire gold and it obeys the rules of the Terms of Service. However, you’re not guaranteed any specific amount of gold for the pet. Prices for the Guardian Cub will eventually even out, but during its first day of sales some gamers will make an enormous amount of gold off of this pet. Over time, that number will likely decrease as the market gets flooded with Cubs. So there’s no telling how much that $10 will actually get you.
Clearly, the Guardian Pet can be spun either way. It can be seen as a positive for pet collectors if they look to the future. They don’t have to pay the $10 to get a new pet, and when Mists of Pandaria is released, all of their characters will have access to the Cub. Players willing to buy the Cub in order to make gold off it should be happy because someone will always want to buy the cub for their price. Unfortunately for the seller, though, that price will vary greatly depending on the availability of the pet on his/her server.
The biggest negative to the Guardian Cub’s tradable nature is that it could create an even slipperier slope for Blizzard and the company’s so-called item mall. The availability of virtual purchases in addition to a subscription fee was once an aberration. Now, it’s pretty common practice among the pay-to-play games like World of Warcraft, Aion, and RIFT. As more items become available and as more players purchase them, it becomes more likely that development for such items will continue. If a company as restraint, the items will remain purely cosmetic or simply improve the quality of life of the gamer. However, there is a chance that seeing such profit off this auxiliary method would create an urge to get more sales from a wider variety of items. Players could start seeing weapons, armor, and other stat-boosting items in the Blizzard Store as a result of the success seen with the Pet Store.
The official FAQ for the Pet Store assures players that such items will never appear in the store or be sold by Blizzard. Yet another one of Blizzard’s games will completely support a player driven real-money trading system. Diablo 3 will have both a real-money trading auction house and a gold-only auction house. Although Blizzard won’t directly sell you that rare axe, be assured that they get a cut of your buying it off of another player. A listing fee will be in place and taken from the seller whether an item sells or not. Please note that this is to encourage competitive pricing and a yet to be determined amount of transactions will not be charged a listing fee.
I digress, however, off of the original point. The Guardian Cub, although not a step in the best direction, doesn’t spell out doom for World of Warcraft. If you truly hate its tradable feature, simply don’t pay real money for it. Unfortunately, players don’t necessarily control the fate of a game; especially a popular one. If Blizzard sees fit a real-money auction house for WoW, it will happen. If one day someone high up decides the Pet Store needs to turn into a full-fledged item mall with weapons and armor, it will happen. We, as players, don’t have much control over that other than voting with our wallets. If you don’t like where your game is heading, you need to stop fueling its negative progress with your money. Will the Guardian Cub make these things happen any sooner? It’s hard to say considering it is such a small step away from the already superfluous Pet Store and toward a “gold for money” era.