The Price of World of Warcraft RMTs in the Auction House

Diablo 3 looks like it will have a Real-Money-Trade system placed in for the buying and selling of in-game items but could this feature somehow make its way to World of Warcraft?

Okay, so here’s the deal. In Diablo 3 you can list items up in the auction house for sale for real world cash, USD, YEN, whatever floats your boat. If another player buys it then Blizzard takes an eBay™ transaction fee out of it and then you’re given the money directly in your PayPal™ account. You can sell anything from items and dyes all the way to characters. The big question many players have is will we see people able to buy in-game items for real life cash in our favorite online game: World of Warcraft?

The truth is, I honestly don’t know and I’m placing bets that there is a small chance we will. Normally I’d say that Blizzard wouldn’t dare cross that line but here is the thing: it happens anyway. Don’t say it doesn’t, in all likelihood you’re guilty in some way of buying something inside of the game for real world currency. Look at eBay or forums designed to allow players to buy, sell, and trade in-game items and characters. There isn’t any stopping it, the Chinese gold farmers to this day still exist and are bartering their wares of hundreds of different websites.

Now, before you get your pitchforks, let’s do a quick apple and orange shaped apples comparison. Diablo 2 had a particular website where you could buy/sell/trade items and characters for points on that website which were bought for real life money. Not only that, eBaying™ things in D2 was easy as pie and honestly, it had no effect on anything since you weren’t going to end up paying real life money to “win” the ladder, so no one cared.

In World of Warcraft items are like magic (and, strangely enough, are filled with magic) and are used persistently in a persistent world. Having a better item or a full set of something is super important and has a big impact on gameplay for you, your guild, and the server. So paying $20 for the best shield in the game from the uber elite raider may be considered by many to be unfair, at the same time, it’s already achievable by simply buying gold then buying the item off of the auction house.

Which is better? Supplying the illegal gold farming companies with gold or just giving the money directly to the player with the item? Both, right now, are in illegal in the game but I can tell you one thing: I’d rather see the money go straight to a real actual WoW player if someone was going to do it then I would like to see it go to gold farmers.

One neat quirk about something like this is that I’m sure, right now, you’re saying couldn’t the gold farmers just use WoW to peddle their ill-gotten gains? Well, we’re looking at a few things here. First, to sell an item that would fetch anything more than a shiny dime we’re looking at items that are either rare (companion pets and the such) or come from end-game instances. So they aren’t going to be getting their hands on those types of things in bulk (and if they could, oh they would be selling them like mad).

Will you see players in mass farming zones to try and find rare drops to put on the AH? Who knows...

Second, I’m sure that with D3 Blizzard will make sure you have to actually link your PayPal™ account to them and will have a huge fraud detection system online to stop it. First, it’s for your local currency, so you’re not going to link your Chinese WoW account into the North American servers. Second, you can’t make new verified PayPal™ accounts with ease. Games like Second Life have strict rules about where Lindens go to and come out of, and if a company like Linden Labs can keep things secure then I’m sure Blizzard could.

So, let’s look at the facts. Are we going to be seeing real life money prices in the auction house soon? I doubt it. Would it be a horrible idea? By Doomhammer no! It would simply circumvent an already existing (and illegal) process that many players exploit currently to bring it more into legal territory. Not only that, it’d provide an excellent way for WoW players to produce a bit of extra income from their constant farmings or guilds to come up with a way to foot guild hosting (or even better, a way to snag a bit of money to hook yourself up with a Ten Ton Hammer Premium Membership for our awesome PlayerScore perks).

At the end of the day, I feel that this move with Diablo 3 is a step in the right direction and would love to see something similar in WoW, although with a few caveats. Disagree? Come bring your thoughts to our comments section below. Love the idea? I’d still love to hear your thoughts!

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About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.

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