Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Kitten Economy

The big news this week is that Blizzard is going to sell a new pet, a Winged Guardian cub (or kitten, as everyone is referring to it), in their Real Money store. Unlike the previous pets, however, this new pet will be trade-able, and thus can be sold on the Auction House for gold.

Here are some assorted quick thoughts:
  1. Yes, it's technically a way to indirectly trade real money for gold.

  2. Prices will probably start pretty high, and then fall rapidly as people get kittens.

  3. As an experiment, it's good, because it won't permanently distort the game. At some point, we'll probably reach a kitten saturation level and everything will calm down.

  4. I think people are paying a lot of attention to the real money aspect. But I think Blizzard might actually see more gain in reducing or eliminating support costs dealing with scams.

  5. We may also see an increase in liquidity in the markets. There's probably a lot of goblins hoarding large amounts of gold, simply because there's nothing for them to buy. Some of that gold will go to kitten sellers, and then get turned into things like mounts, motorcycles, and Vials of Sands.

  6. I wonder if a lot of people who don't normally purchase pets might take a flier on one. You buy a pet and put it on the AH. If it sells, great. If not, well, you can add it to your own pet collection. Right now, I'm thinking of going this route, even though I've never bought a mount or pet before.

  7. I much prefer this to Eve Online's method of selling game time. As I've mentioned before, I think it's important that everyone in the audience spends a little money, shares some of the burden of paying for the game, and that good players do not end up playing for free.

  8. I think that the effects of gold-selling in WoW are more nebulous than in a lot of games. It is actually somewhat hard to purchase "power" with gold. You could buy BoEs or crafted equipment. It might help you in a GDKP run. You might be able to purchase a raid spot if guilds still sell them. But realistically, I think the vast majority of kitten gold will probably get turned into other pets or mounts.
All in all, experiments are good for the genre. This one will be particularly interesting to watch unfold.


  1. I share your view that Gold doesn't effect your power much in WOW.

    Potions, Flasks, and Repair bill are the big regular expenses Players have, and occasional dailies and dungeon runs funnel enough money to players to afford those.

    BoE items are the only big raid capability effecting things you can buy, but really, you don't need that at all. (With a few minor fringe cases like Frost DK's and Cleavers for this raid tier)

  2. I think you're overestimating a lot of the possible effects, especially when it comes to the effect on current gold sellers; there have been a number of similar vanity items available for sale from the TCG as BoE since 3.2, and things have gotten worse if anything. This is pretty much as Blizzard says; a way for people to obtain a pet store pet without buying it in the pet store.

    That said, like TCG items which people bought with actual cash and then turned for outrageous amounts of gold(no, I don't have specifics; paraphrase from a blue poster), this will be a minor form of legit RMT. However, I solidly disagree that allowing players to subsidize the playtime of others through game time card RMT isn't a good way to accomplish the ends of curtailing third party harmful RMT; I strongly believe that it is the best way outside of a direct sale from the company in the game, either direct from the developer or through a player driven currency exchange.

    All in all, I don't think there's anything Blizzard could do to the economy that would bloat it more than they already have. Depending on how you level, you could easily have access to several thousand easy gold from leftover quests, not to mention what's available from dailies and weeklies. Inflation was starting to get bad towards the end of Vanilla WoW and has really only gotten worse by leaps and bounds with each expansion.

  3. When you get down to it, all the gold in the world won't buy you skill. Buying gear with gold might get you to an iLvl to get into raids, but if you have no idea what you're doing, you won't do any good.

    And let's face it: buying gear or a vanity pet just to show off in Org or SW won't get you anywhere either, not with vanity gear on the horizon.

  4. Just one quick point: A lot of the actually desirable items from TCG sell for LOTS of cash on ebay and the like. Exmample: The Spectral Tiger mount, whioch is tradeable, still goes for about 500-600 dollars (it used to go for 900 or more). The Ethereal Plunderer goes for about 200-250, not sure if this is tradeable. I just think items worth that much actual cash are not really comparable to something you get for ten bucks.

    To that end, gold is easy to get in WoW. I rarely feel that goldfarmers have any effect on my server's economy. I don't see what the hooplah is for someone to make some small amount of gold if they are silly enough to spend real money to get it.

    I really have no idea about this. But if someone is after actual gold, you probably would get a lot more from a gold farming site for 10 bucks than selling a flying pet.

  5. What's next...weapons or armour to satisfy the masses that can't for whatever reason raid. Remember what happened in Diablo.

    @Redbeard - All the skill in the world won't get you into raids either when the spoiled rich kids have all the gold they want to buy what they want and people look at their gear and you lose your spot. Already cata is becoming more like wrath with pst your class, ilvl and must know the fights.

  6. I think that to begin with, this will have a big impact on the econmy, but it'll die down soon enough. But it just shows that Blizzard are becoming money hungry. Which will in turn lead to them rushing to get content out even more now.

  7. Gold enables players to pay others to play their characters to 2.2k and get the best weapons for PvP. They can buy Gladiator as well, which they use to weasel their way into high level RBG groups. It is not "somewhat hard to purchase power."

    This is an awful experiment. Blizzard is trying to find new ways to make money, not experimenting to improve the genre, and they don't care if it has a negative impact on the game.