Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Black Market Auction House

In Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard is opening a Black Market Auction House. This auction house is bid-only (no buyout) and will feature rare items like mounts and pets. Stuff that is traditionally hard to get, like Rivendare's mount, or Ashes of Al'ar, and requires a lot of farming.

(There's also a possibility that the current tier Heroic raid and PvP gear will show up on the Black Market. As Theck points out, this specifically is a horrific idea. It will cause a lot of issues with Loot as Investment, and I think also devalues those items as Loot as Reward.)

The purpose of the Black Market is to serve as a gold sink for whales. A way for goblins to spend hundreds of thousands of gold without greatly impacting the rest of us. I'm sure that the Black Market will fulfill this goal.

I don't think I have any items that would actually be sold on the Black Market. Maybe an Ulduar or Firelands drake. I certainly do not have enough gold to buy anything off it. So maybe my point of view is skewed.

However, I don't think the Black Market is a good idea. The type of items that would be sold are the type of items that generate stories.

Stories about how it dropped for your guild and you won the roll, or how guild all passed the item to you. Or stories about how you farmed for days, and it finally dropped for you. Or how you worked with a small group of people to get everyone their mount. Or even how you're a lucky punk and you accidentally found and killed the rare spawn while questing without even knowing it dropped a mount.

These are the type of items that bloggers would make blog posts about, and other people would jump in comment about their experiences. Everyone who gets one of these items has some sort of interesting story to tell.

In some respects, the story of how you got the item is more important than the item.

And to all these stories Blizzard is proposing to add, "Actually, I bought it from an NPC on the Black Market."

How exciting.

Ah well, it could worse. It could be a Real Money Auction House.

Edit: I've thought of a parallel situation: the warlock and paladin class mounts. Back in Vanilla, every paladin and warlock had a story about their class mount. There was lots of farming, and you had to rely on friends and guildies. Then Blizzard just gave out the class mount from the trainer, and all those stories dried up. Maybe it was necessary because of the level cap increase, maybe it wasn't. But I think that the Black Market will end up doing for all those rare mounts/pets/items what the trainer mounts did for the paladin and warlock class. And I think the game will be worse off for it.


  1. Actually I find the idea of a Black Market fits the universe perfectly-- far from being story-less, that it's a story in itself.

    I love the idea of there existing a shady, underhanded, ethically-grey method of obtaining items. The idea that a character might be coy about revealing the method through which they obtained it-- that they may even tell others that of course they obtained it legitimately and what do you take me for?

    Looking up a player's achievements to see if they got it the "proper" way is the thing that has no story to it. =)

  2. Hadn't thought about it, but agree. I played WoW for 5+ years. I stopped playing over two years ago.

    I still remember getting my paladin mount, a few months after starting.

    Having said that, I also remember levelling as a protection paladin prior to Burning Crusade when holy was the only spec :-) You can still find the stories. You might just have to look harder.

  3. I guess it all depends on how often things show up. If they are always there then it becomes an expensive NPC vendor, but the idea seems to be different.
    Rare items, showing up rarely, in a non-PvP-safe zone (not that I care, I'm on a PvE realm) seems a good approach. What I mean is that a new Ashes every 6 months will not really dilute the stock more than the perma-farming of that instance has done (don't look at me, never farmed there :).
    Also, getting your money up into the millions generates quite a good amount of stories.... they are just different ("the day I flipped XXXX for YYYY gold in 10 mins!").

  4. Black Market might be good source of currently unobtainable items like vanilla Dungeon Set 2, the old Naxxramas sets/recipes, or the old ZG mounts.

  5. There is a cap on bid. It is currently gold cap.

    BMAH will force people to log in to check if something new has "dropped" on the BMAH. It'll be part of daily choir. Not for everyone, of course.

    Good point on the story and experience behind obtaining the mount. The BMAH will also devalue old mounts because they'll become more common. A reason these old mounts are so valuable is because they're rare; now they'll become less rare. In what degree though?

    I also expect the value of mounts and companions in general to fluctuate. In a way they'll become more wanted because they're shared account-wide in MoP. In another way, because of this reason they'll become more common and therefore devalued because alts have them too. You got ashes of alar on your old warrior main while you rerolled to DK in WotLK? No problem, actually you can now use it on your new main (monk) as well. Imagine: congratulations, monk, you have reached level 60. Go learn flight skill so you can use your ashes of alar to fly around in Outland.

    Regarding BMAH & gear: we've seen what happens with loot as investment in Diablo 3 AH but this cannot be compared with BMAH because we do not know the amount of times certain items appear. In the beginning of expansion gold gets you BoE purple (in begin of Cata, ilvl 359). Often a big upgrade over a blue. Some of these were good or even BiS until HC raid. In later major patches, usually same story. While this isn't the same high quality as PvE HC or even PvP rated it certainly is a similar mechanism. And why not? If you worked hard for your gold and you wish to use your gold for something which improves your performance (or some vanity item) that is your choice. Gold is the means to an end. For these people, the whole hard work on AH is their story and nobody decides if that is epic enough, if it was worthwhile.

    Of course, most WoW players don't have gold cap or are too lazy to earn their own profit (while it is rather easy) so they would not be able to compete on the BMAH. Some will complain about BMAH with underlying reason they're jealous losers who cannot afford the items whereas the rational loser would say: earning that much gold isn't worth my time, have fun with your overpriced item. The BMAH will unfortunetely not only be a gold sink, but also be a reason for gold sellers to sell gold. Ironic, given the name "Black Market Auction House".

    There's alternatives to get rare mounts though. I've noticed a new trend on my realm (high pop realm) started at end of FL: one starts a raid/dungeon group to farm a mount with X number of PuGs. As loot rule one states in trade ad that "if the mount drops, the highest roller gets some Y amount of gold" (usually between 10k-20k) with sometimes a small price for the 2nd winner or some other mechanism (there's variations). Some /who commands show these people are daily and weekly able to trade PuG for mount run. Maths however show these people "work" for a small drop chance (e.g. 1%) to have say 20% (5 people) or 25% (4 people) chance to win a (IMO rather small) amount of gold. For example, assume (with summon etc) doing SWP takes 20 min. I'm not even including the time to summon or make group here! This means 3 runs per hour, but of course you can only do one a week. If you do it with 5 people (it is possible with less, but let us assume 5 for the average quality of player, and assume raid leader can also win), assume 1% drop chance, and the highest roller gets 20k this means: 3*20k/100/5=120g/hour. Yep, correct. These people are working for 120 pieces of gold per hour on average. Now I wonder who is not able to make 120g/hour in WoW?!? For the goblin, he also loses 20 min of his time to gain profit, true, but for all party members there's also gold drops. I'd say: forget BMAH. This type of way to get your mount is a true bargain for the mount-farming goblin.

  6. All the gold farmers and account hackers must be rubbing their hands at this.
    We already see TCG pets/mounts on sale in the normal AH for silly money like 300-750k.
    I'm sure the odd person out there enjoys earning their wow gold legitimately, but for most the short cut of buying gold is by far the easiest choice to make if they need to pay out huge amounts of gold for a single pet/mount. If you don't have an authenticator, now might be the time to invest in one.

  7. If stuff is rare enough, I think it will work out OK. The downside of the lack of story for that one person is balanced out by the upside for the rest of the people due to removing gold from the economy.

    WoW is in desperate need of a gold sink. This is the best idea I've heard of so far in that vein.

  8. The Black Market is less of a problem than the Paladin and Warlock mounts. I'm one of the old players from Vanilla who has the stories about getting my Warlock mount and helping guild-mates get their Paladin mounts. That was serious character content they deleted. The Black Market is basically saying "hey, instead of paying guild X to run you for the bear you can just bid that money!".

    It creates a pseudo-competitive environment, sets a potential PvP spot on some servers, and (most importantly) pulls gold from the economy.

    Not something I'd use but I have a hard time seeing how this going to have an actual impact on most of the player-base. People who want to just buy their way to gear will find a way.

    What this says about 'playing for fun' vs. 'playing for perceived success' is something else entirely.

  9. Rohan,

    Has Blizzard made public their reason for adding the black market AH to the game?

    I agree with you on the downsides of the addition, but it seems like they wouldn't have chosen to add it if they didn't think there was a benefit to it, and it's hard to decide whether the addition is good or bad without considering what that benefit would be.

  10. Chris, it's a gold sink. There are people out there with millions of gold. This is designed to suck all that excess gold out of the game, without making a new mount or pet which is completely unattainable for normal players.

    In theory, because there's less gold flying around, prices for more normal or everyday items should drop.

  11. Removing stories is what Blizzard have done continuously though - see LFG, see badge systems, see removing attunements etc. etc.

    these were all replacements for so-called difficulties. and while the situations before maybe weren't always perfect either, they made for stories - difficulties aka randomness, restrictions/rareness or punishments are where stories COME FROM!

  12. If that's the real reason, then it's an extremely bad one. Buying items on the BMAH won't "remove" gold from the economy (except for auction fees), it'll just shuffle it around.

    I really do hope this isn't Blizzard's thinking.

  13. @Chris, I think you've misunderstood how the BMAH works. Items aren't being sold by players, but are sold by the game.

    So if an Ashes of Al'ar sells for a million gold, Blizzard removes that million gold from circulation. It does not go to another player.