alt="" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/197774">

I remember it almost like it
was yesterday, the moment I finally collected enough gold to purchase
my first mount. At the time I believe the cost was right around 100
gold for the mount and up until the second I purchased it I was sure
that this was an impossible amount to reach. I was of course wrong, and
I did get my mount eventually, but not without a ton of effort and
restricting my personal spending down to almost nothing. And
don’t even get me started on the cost of an epic mount!

Today in World of Warcraft we
all know that gaining 100 gold is not much of an achievement, and
players across Azeroth have more gold than ever before, more gold than
most of us back in vanilla WoW could have ever dreamed of. And gaining
that gold is so easy my 5 year old could do it. Because of this, prices
have inevitably risen to match. As prices go up and more gold streams
endlessly into the economy the value of gold is falling with no clear
end in sight. Now its easy to brush all this aside, but consider that
this influx in money may have the potential to not only kill the
bustling Azerothian economy but turn the virtual world we know and love
upside down.

Like real life, some inflation in WoW is inevitable. Inflation is the
rise in the prices of goods and services and consequently the erosion
in the purchasing power of money. Making inflation the enemy whether we
are talking about the real or virtual world. A real life example of
inflation can be seen when you consider the average price of a gallon
of milk just 50 years ago. Then a gallon of milk in the United States
could be purchased for just around 1.00, today that same gallon of milk
costs the consumer over triple the cost at a whopping 3 dollars or more
a gallon. The same holds true in World of Warcraft where an item such
as a flask, which once cost 20 gold, now can cost well over 100.

In successful economies this
inflation as shown in the examples above is watched and regulated to
make sure that prices increase slowly and the value of money
doesn’t plummet like the Hindenburg. In the past Blizzard has
done everything in its power to promote balance in the economy, usually
putting in place a series of gold sinks, otherwise known by the much
more entertaining term; meat sink.

For those of you unfamiliar
with this term, gold sinks, are a non-essential items or services that
take money out of the WoW economy. The Traveler‘s Tundra
Mammoth is one of the more well known gold sinks in game asking players
to spend a whopping 20,000 gold to own the reigns to this much sought
after mount. Here are several other examples of common gold sinks in
game:

  • Special Mounts 
  • Profession Fees 
  • Auction House Cuts 
  • Quest Fees 
  • Travel Expenses 
  • Extra Bank Spaces 
  • Repair Costs

Now, I know what you're thinking,
why should I want to dump my hard earned gold down a perpetual black
hole and what value do these gold sinks actually have? Especially when
they are often viewed by most players as simply a way to flaunt their
wealth. The truth is these gold sinks are so much more than luxury
items and are one of the few things standing between the World of
Warcraft economy and perpetual ruin. One soldier standing in the
forefront of the battle against inflation.. Dramatic? Maybe, but true
nonetheless.

Typically as WoW ages more gold
sinks or more costly versions are introduced into the game.
These gold sinks would either be mandatory or appeal to a large portion
of the player base so that a significant amount of gold could be
drained out of the economy thus lowering the amount of money players
could amass and by doing this keeping prices lower and gold value
higher. Recently it appears that Blizzard has all but given up on the
gold sinks, and by doing this have possibly given up on the battle
against inflation and because of this the in-game gold is piling up and
up.

There are surely a few of you
out there screaming “viva la free market”, so where
exactly is the negative here? WoW players having more gold to stockpile
can’t be a bad thing right? Wrong. Much like real life, WoW has three classes : upper, middle, and lower. Upper class players typically
are more hard-core and spend tons of time working the Auction House and
other means of money making, middle class players are made up of those
who get into the money making game, but not quite as much, while the
lower class is made up of your everyday casual player who has very
limited time to spend in-game. We can always expect the upper
class to get richer, they are money

style="padding: 5px; float: right; width: 250px; text-align: center;"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/197818" target="_blank"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/197818/preview"
width="245">The
Traveler's Tundra Mammoth is one of the best known meatsinks in game.

making moguls and like dragons, will stop at nothing to have huge
stockpiles of wealth and only make up a relatively small portion of the
player base. The problem occurs when a huge gap arises between the
middle and
lower class.

The middle class typically set
the prices of items and services as they are the main buyers and even
play the Auction House a bit for minimal gain. Because of the excessive
amounts of money being put into the economy, and the lack of gold sinks
or other methods to siphon at least some of the excess out, the middle
class has found themselves with more gold than ever before meaning that
they will pay much more than they once would without even batting an
eye at the cost

These middle class buyers are
purchasing many items that more casual players typically purchase as
well and here in lies the eventual problem. Because middle class
players are able to amass so much more gold than lower class players
and there are currently no gold sinks to even out the playing field
prices will continue to rise until the casual lower class will find
that buying anything besides simple repairs will become utterly
impossible. And while it's true that the lower class does have more
money than they have ever seen before, they simply don’t have
the time, or sometimes the ability to work the Auction House, complete
quests, or even run profitable instances leaving them unable to keep up
with the rising costs. The worst part of this scenario is that the
problem won’t stop here.

Inflation doesn’t
stop on its own, instead it snowballs until it is out of control and
even the middle class with their newly found wealth will begin to feel
the pinch. Imagine having to purchase a glyph that once cost 150 gold
for ten, twenty, or even thirty times that price. Eventually players of
both middle and lower class will become frustrated with their inability
to buy even the most basic essentials and will no longer help keep the
economy filled with life. Leading more players to find themselves with
an economy much like you would have found in the infant stages of WoW
when little to nothing could be found on the Auction House

Inflation cannot be tamed, but
it can be controlled so that the economy doesn’t begin to
spiral out of control. This is why we the player, of all WoW classes,
upper, middle, and lower, should embrace gold sinks as what they really
are; the last stalwart line of defense against out-of-control prices
and the eventual dissolution of the economy in Azeroth. And while gold
sinks are clearly not the only solution to the inflation problem,
Blizzard could simply offer more rewards for completing quests,
instances, and other feats, however, throwing money at the problem will
only make it worth less, and the real problem even worse. Gold sinks
seem to be (at least in my opinion) one of the best ways to fix an
ever looming problem, but whatever the solution Blizzard chooses
something needs to be done soon.

How do you feel about gold
sinks? Do you think they are essential to the game or do you have a
better solution to limiting inflation? Share your thoughts in the
comments section below!


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our World of Warcraft Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Mem
Amunet, also fondly known as Memtron, is an organic life form best known for its ongoing obsession with Blizzard Entertainment's numerous properties. To that end, Amu has authored hundreds (thousands?) of the most popular World of Warcraft guides, editorials, and Top 10 lists on the planet. When not gaming and writing, Amu is busy chasing after her three children in a perpetual loop of ongoing disaster.

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