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WoW's Wealth Disparity - Casual vs. Hardcore

Updated Tue, Nov 22, 2011 by Mem

Most people claim that when they log into a game they are escaping from their own mundane realities and while this is mostly true, there are just some realities that you cannot escape from…even in the realm of fantasy. One of these seemingly inescapable realities is cold hard cash, or as it is known in Azeroth; gold. However, the similarities to real life don’t stop there.

Much like in our reality World of Warcraft has its very own upper, middle, and lower classes with more hardcore players typically being upper class and casual players taking over the middle and lower classes. While this class system is inevitable, wherever there is money to be earned, we can’t help but wonder what the distance truly is between the classes.

WoW Money Distribution

The wealth difference between casual and hardcore can be plainly seen.

It is pretty safe to assume from the get go that the distance between the hardcore and the casual is quite large. We can conclude this because World of Warcraft as we know it is currently designed to reward players who can put a bigger portion of time into the game. Time consuming tasks such as raiding, playing the Auction House, and constant farming are currently some of the most profitable when it comes to WoW money. Hardcore players by definition can put more time into the game compared to casual players, and because of this have more opportunities to complete these money making tasks making them inherently richer.

To solidify this claim and show us exactly how big the gap between classes currently is we can look to a recent survey done on WoW money over at The Golden Crusade. The survey in question ran over an eight day period with the goal of establishing an average wealth, wealth distribution, and demographics of the World of Warcraft player base and the results of this survey on WoW money were, to say the least, stunning.

(Check out the survey on WoW money yourself at The Golden Compass.)

While this survey is far from perfect, it is probably more close to the truth than we would like to think, meaning that WoW money is more unevenly distributed than we could have ever thought possible. In the survey it is revealed that the largest portion of players, the 99% (Occupy Azeroth anyone?) own only 75.75% of the overall wealth leaving almost 25% of the wealth to the top 1% of World of Warcraft players. Also revealed in the survey was that 82% of the player base is “below” average when it comes to WoW money giving us an excellent idea of the huge disparity between the more hardcore and casual players in the game.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen the top 1% owns almost a quarter of the wealth in game. The only consolation here is that unlike in real life, hard work and long hours can propel you quickly to the ranks of the upper class, and you too can become one of the 1%. Never mind that you may have to quit your job, ignore your wife and kids, and only venture outside when your stores of food run low.

WoW Money in Mists of Pandaria

Are you one of the lucky 1%?

After seeing the gap between the classes in World of Warcraft there will be some of you that are outraged and already planning to camp out in the nearest major city, while others won’t see what the big deal is…I mean they did work for the money right? I find myself torn between the two extremes. While I think that those that have the time to earn money should be rewarded I cannot bring myself to write off the more casual player simply because they can’t spend as much escaping from reality.

My hope is that with all the pro-casual additions (Raid-Finder, Valor Points for quests, ect) we have seen in Mists of Pandaria that the casual player will have a chance to catch up in the WoW money department. That’s not to say that hardcore players shouldn’t still have more cash, they without a doubt should have something more to show for their efforts. However, if the statistics above are to be believed the gap between casual and hardcore has grown to immense proportions and needs to be significantly reduced.

This is a game after all, and it is supposed to be fun for all, not just for those who have the most time to devote to it. Penalizing players simply because they don‘t play as much as others seems to be very anti-fun to me. Unlike in real life letting the rich get richer and the poor stay poor simply won’t do at all. So it is my wish that in Mists of Pandaria casual players will be offered some new ways to fatten their pockets, and the playing field of WoW money will be leveled just a little bit more.

How do you feel about the WoW money distribution? Are you part of the 1% or the 99%? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Couldn't be consred less about it. It's not like I starve if I don't have any wow money, the wow character doesn't have to eat, except when raiding. And If I need repair money I go n do 1-2 quests.

1% owns 25% of the WoW wealth, that is monumentally better then real life where the top 1% owns 30-40% of the wealth. Time to replace our economics professors with WoW developer?

The top 1% own 95% of the wealth, not 30-40%, at least in the USA. Before the recession hit, it was at 90%. The 1% have done very well for themselves in the past decade.

As someone who has made 400k + gold in the last six months, I can say it only takes an hour a day tops to make 10k gold a week on my server as soon as I developed a auctioneer routine; that being said making gold easier to get will not help, it will just further contribute to inflation. Does wow really need a minimum wage?

While in concept, giving those with less money an increased opertunity to increase their wealth sounds good, in practice those who have more time (the 1%) will also take advantage of whatever method is provided, and of those with less time or inclination to do whatever it is thats needed to get more gold, some will take advantage of it, and some won't, leading to a larger gap between rich and poor.

As has been stated there isn't a lot of upkeep involved in the day to day character's life. The largest use for gold tends to be either purchasing skills (cold weather flying as an example), or buying stuff on the auction house. The skill purchasing costs are set by Blizzard and they can make those as cheap or as expensive as needed to allow players with less gold to access the skills as required. The auction house however is player driven and thats where inflation (or greed) seems to come in. I can understand rare or better items costing more, but it's when the cost on the average items starts to be priced out of the reach of most folks that it becomes something of a problem. Not saying we're at that point now, but I have seen inflation creeping in.

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