An MMOC News Article I’d Like To See

Parody, not to be interpreted as actual.

Blizz HQ, Irvine, CA.  For Immediate Release:  The time has come to finally address every single duper complaint and rectify the issue.  A team of experts has been hired to replace the interns we’ve had in place monitoring the situation since 2004.  Three experts have been hired from several local high school computer science clubs.  After an exhaustive background check we found that they have indeed made at least one post on the official forums, and that’s good enough for us.   One of them even offered to work for just a Blizzcon pass and a shout-out in the forums.  We hope this will finally put to rest the complaints of our critics that we aren’t serious about preserving our in-game economies.

The interns have been promoted to part time status and will now oversee development of PvP balance, since no one has officially been in that role since release.  This was an oversight on our part and we do apologize for the delay.  Please note that we cannot discuss the details of our interns, since no one has actually seen them since November 2004, but we know they exist because someone is cashing their paycheck and forgetting to make coffee when the machine is empty.  Let’s all congratulate them on a job well done.

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The time has come to roast Blizzard for their inept economic security issues.

Would I be remiss in stating that Blizzard and its employees generally have their heads up their asses when it comes to in-game economics and securing it for everyone?  Or could I just stop at “heads up their asses?”  Probably.  I follow a majority of the “personalities” on Twitter.  From what I see it’s mostly nonsensical beer tips, what they’re eating for (insert meal here), some tweets related to their actual jobs, and a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.  Why do I continue to follow them?  Because I like to point and laugh at the inept even if they’re getting a piece of my subscription money.  They have all the bases covered for hours of entertainment, fun, and surprises.  And who wants to be the last to know over on MMOC?  Twitter is for breaking news, dammit.  Like what grocery store sushi looks like vs. actual sushi, because can’t tell the difference and I usually call it ‘bait’.  Thanks to them, I feel loved and respected everyday, because Blizz is like Apple, it’s all about a positive community where anyone saying anything negative gets slapped down as a hater rather than a consumer with modest expectations.  Some of the fun we see:

  • Community managers who haven’t a clue except how to kiss people’s asses, stay neutral and diffuse conversations with an unending supply of “Squirrel!” retorts.
  • Game developers/designers constantly looking like they don’t care anymore or have no idea what they’re doing.  At the close of TBC, there was a concern about the B-Team being put in charge.  6 years of farm league play!
  • Managers touting their team’s successes and the bi-annual CEO tweet telling me a game is releasing that night and that I should buy it.  Definitely scouring my missed tweets for these.

If this was any other corporation, I would say they would fit right in.  They’re about as out to lunch as any other company you can name.  I don’t fault their ambivalence.  Employees punch a clock for one reason – paychecks.  And rightfully so, nobody works for free and shouldn’t be expected to.  Except bloggers.  The truly passionate are busy running their own businesses, and in the case of gaming they’re making their own games as an indie or under a more ambitious studio.  As much as you may like or love Blizz, they’re just another corporation that makes a product with a loyal following that’s so scary I fear for the future of the next generation.  (I won’t even go into the fact that many of them are breeding with other like-minded sycophants, it’s simply frightening.)  By the way, get off my lawn.

I’m sure the grunts doing the actual work are overworked, sleeping at their desk during crunch-time, and more than likely aren’t getting comped meals at the cafeteria except maybe once in a blue moon.  These are the people that never get enough backup or respect, because they are asked to put in more hours rather than get more assistance to handle the issues.  I’ve worked in this capacity, your life is just a series of priorities, and when something isn’t a priority it just becomes a talking point at the next meeting that gets about 30 seconds of actual talking time.  This is where the phrase “we don’t have the resources” comes from, it’s merely code for “fuck that, we don’t care about that right now”.  I imagine a siloed hierarchy that’s probably not much fun to work in because fingers are pointed at the bottom in those systems.

Conversely, the personalities have succeeded at making one of the most vile communities in the world.  You have 22 year olds living with parents acting up like 14 year olds that just learned a new swear word playing this game.  Sure, gamers tend to lack a certain social compass, as demonstrated by the “You suck” hierarchy that comes with the game.  It’s revenge for all the sand kicked in their faces as 6 year olds.  There’s an easy way to police the behavior in game, but we don’t want to go back to 2004/5 when they actually banned people in trade from the game.  There’s real dollars at stake here.  By the way, did you hear about the tokens for gold?  It’s just another innovation created to … Squirrel!

I personally have played their titles for 15 years, starting with Diablo 2, speaking of vile and toxic communities.  That community was like attending the Player Haters Ball everyday, complete with 12 year olds whose only mission in life was to pwn.

True story, guess what became of those 12 year olds?  I wasn’t a Starcraft player, and I certainly wasn’t into the Warcraft series until finally talked into it through much harassing.  In my time dealing with them I’ve learned one thing is true:  They are extremely slow to react to issues affecting their games and when they make a decision it is generally off the mark and seems like they threw a dart at a dartboard to come up with the policy.  Having worked in corporate America for a long time, I imagine their meetings are not unlike other companies.  People are asked questions, people reply with inert answers, and nobody challenges another department for doing a shitty job, because that’s management’s job and we all know those guys are giant pussies with no backbone who like their BMWs and mortgages.  It’s all positive, just like the cash flow.  The problem is the lower level are probably passionate, but once they get comfortable they start worrying about whether they’ll see the sword or ring.

Blizzard’s aptitude for tolerating hacks and making bizarre decisions is legen-(wait for it)-dary.  I remember a dupe exploit about 12 years ago in D2 that destroyed the item market many months ahead of the patch that ultimately made it irrelevant.  It was released publicly so everyone who was in the know (like everyone) was able to make copies of every item in the game that didn’t have a socket in it.  It was that specific.  Ironically, this dupe lasted all weekend, because the hacks team punched out on Friday and the lunatics had the run of the asylum for several days.  The following Monday they patched it and the forums were alive with “Blizzard is pist!” posts and it was stated that something would be done.  Within a few weeks they retaliated, by banning the people who were running bots and posting a gamewide Message of the Day proclaiming hundreds of thousands of account closures.  For the people who ran the dupe?  They got to keep their items, accounts, and remain wealthy.  I know, this made me shake my head.  The result was – “don’t tell the customers anything about how the game, as they know it, is completely tainted, patch 1.10 will fix it, and we’ll release that when hell freezes over, just stall em.”

Remember this? This was 8 months after the dupe spree.

So you wonder why ladder seasons are part of the Diablo franchise?  People needed resets not because they were bored with the game, but to deal with the sheer amount of hacks and cracks that made their way into the game uninterrupted.  I wonder what WoW would be like if we didn’t see a complete reset every 2 years and you simply moved into a new tier rather than a new story?

Good lord Zero, what’s your point?

This brings up my question.  What destroys the game’s economy more?  Duplication of items (dupes) or bots? One of these is my source of ire whenever people bring up quality gaming environments.

For certain, bots are more mainstream and operated by tens of thousands of players.  They are generally for sale by very intelligent programmers and assist various people with various things they want to do in the games that are deemed boring or repetitive.  No question, they can be annoying and they’ve been around in every online game community since the invention of online game communities.  In WoW they can be seen in almost every area of the game – PvP, raids, dungeons, leveling zones, auction houses, popular grinding areas, etc.  Realistically they have a large effect on the economy, providing large amounts of various materials that normally would not be farmed.  These ill gotten gains generally don’t amount to a large amount of in-game currency by most measures, and most Auction House barons love them because they provide a ready supply of low cost materials that people are generally too lazy to farm for on their own.  The most important aspect of them however, is that they inject a ready supply of legitimate items into the economy, even though they are retained through methods frowned on by the general public.

Dupers however, are a different matter.  These people are capable of making copies of items within the game and making them available for sale to everyone – infinitely and at no real cost to the duper.  For item based games like Diablo and Warcraft, this is the golden ticket.  Buyers of dupes generally do not care if the item was legitimately dropped or created in the game, they only know that their character will benefit from that item.  For WoW, the items that are duped are generally nothing too game breaking except for breaking the economy.  They always have the same thing in common – the items are always the most expensive and sought after items in the game.  It makes sense, don’t bother with volume when just a few million in sales will fix your gold selling efforts for the next month.  Bend it, don’t break it, make just enough to fuel your gold sales for a few weeks and move on.  In the past, we’ve seen the following items copied with extreme fervor:

  • Raid only and highly desired crafting materials
  • Every Trading Card Game mount and pet
  • Epic gems
  • Crafted and unbound mounts
  • Unbound vendor only materials

If you’re on a small or unpopular server, you’ve probably not seen this stuff in action, so to you, you would follow Blizzard’s company line and believe there are no dupes or that Blizzard had an issue and they resolved it!  For those of us on the major servers, this is a common issue that is outright denied by Blizzard and a vast (surprisingly) number of sheep, I mean fans, parrot everything their dear blue leader says.  They’ll tell you to report these activities, but they won’t be allocating any resources towards destroying them entirely.  With the amount of work they’ve done to counter these issues, I would suspect the “hacks” email probably goes to a vacant email, or is immediately trashed.  Prove me wrong here.

About 2 weekends ago, I watched a really solid documentary about changing the marijuana laws and the ramifications of maintaining the status quo.  Regardless of where you fall on this issue, they had a solid point.  It’s easier for law enforcement (and probably safer) to take down dozens of first time dope offenders and dealers than it is to really get at the root of the issue and go after the big cartels and kingpins.  Basically the metric is 1 bust = 1 bust.  People want results they can see on paper, people want promoted, and people want to look good.  The money is then allocated towards accomplishing these goals.  I imagine the “security” department at Blizzard looks about the same and probably follows the same protocols.

Meanwhile, at Blizzard’s Game Security Compound (the closet on the 2nd floor, East campus)

The issue is however, that one duper has the ability to destroy entire economies.  In a few hours, a duper can release hundreds of new Spectral Tiger mounts, or thousands of Savage Bloods at way below market prices just spamming your trade channel and finding fences for their goods.  These items are not legitimate items and the buyers know this.  They (the fencers) purchase from these sellers and immediately start walling off the auction house looking for a quick turn.  Criminal?  Hey, these epic gems fell off a truck, fughetta bout it.  Worse, they do this across every major server.  Remember this, it’ll come up later.

The duper then turns around and moves their gold to another account or guild bank for future sale to gold buyers.  It’s a really simple system, and redistributes gold to those willing to pay 50 cents for a thousand gold.  A buyer wanting to buy 100k would pay 50 bucks, a million would pay 500 bucks.  It adds up pretty freaking quickly, doesn’t it?  Total cost?  The duper’s time.  Duping is an extremely low cost business and the returns are fantastic.  Once you have the technique, provided it never gets patched, you have the golden goose literally.  You just print money.  And if you’re up against Blizzard, you can be assured that your technique will exist in perpetuity.

These techniques are extremely well guarded.  You don’t just Google “duping technique” and locate them.  Of course, you’re welcome to click on any of those links if you like keyloggers and trojans, buyer beware.  The real answer is that there are more fingers on your hands than people in the world that have the techniques.  Think Coca Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe security.  Think better than Twitch password security.  Actually, just kidding, their security is probably run by Blizz.  Of course you could buy these techniques, but be prepared to blow a truckload of money.  Think 10’s of thousands.  And they will eventually get patched should Blizzard get off their dead asses and follow the logs on the reports they get.  It’s amazing to me that they cannot seem to close the holes in the code, it just screams “they’re better than us”.  Thank goodness these guys aren’t working for anything important like insurance company databases, national security, or maintaining your local elementary school’s lunch menu website.

It’s long been suspected that the techniques are merely buried code within the game, left by former employees who know the backdoors or were instrumental in creating them.  It has merit, these would be the people intimately familiar with the system.  I would suspect however that the people doing this are just really smart hackers.  They specialize in tricking the server into doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and without the server even noticing.  In theory it seems like it would be really easy to close it down, no?  Just pull the logs of what the character did in game and go from there.  I mean, I’ve only given you assholes reports of the names which should have an associated log for years, maybe if you checked your flipping email from time to time?

It is, however, entirely possible that the methods these people are using are completely beyond repair.  That is, fixing the issue would break other aspects of the game, and the methods used by the dupers are merely open holes that if fixed would create severe issues and Blizzard is entirely aware of the issue but cannot confirm or deny because it would only exacerbate the problem.  How many lines of code make up the game?  I wouldn’t be shocked to hear millions.

Of course I ask too much, because gold is one of the only reasons I bother playing Warcraft anymore – I get a kick out of creating systems and piling up masses of pixels when 99.99% of the player population stares at spreadsheets with a blank look on their face.

This brings me to my ultimate point

At issue is the new token system, which I will outright tell you I have no interest in participating in.  This will be an affront to gold sellers, going head to head by pitting the players against every gold seller in the world.  But it’s important to remember, gold sellers today get their gold for resale from two very distinct sources:

1) At the wholesale level, trading actual cash or gametime to those who farm gold through legitimate or illegitimate means.  This is a giant market, because people of all types sell their gold for any number of reasons.  I’ve heard sob stories of “gotta pay the rent” to legitimate reasons of “what the hell am I going to do with all of this?”

This underground trade system has existed forever, and is most going to be crippled by the token system because it relies on people to sell their gold, which isn’t exactly printed.  It still takes time and some work to build up enough to sell to a wholesale buyer.  And if the prices go the right direction with the token system, these people will be out of business because the prices they will be offering will be too low to make sense.

2) The duper level.  These guys jump into a server over a weekend, spam TCG mounts, Savage Bloods, and any number of other goodies until they fill up their guild banks.  Each item costs them only their time to sell the items, there’s almost zero operating costs involved to produce the gold.  Once they finish the gold is moved around and Blizzard has to track them down to ban the accounts with the gold.  Dupers aren’t stupid, they will pawn the gold off to #1, because it’s quick money and there’s no reason to dominate an entire marketing channel, not when you can always make more.  Specialize, don’t generalize, because getting too greedy gets you noticed.

Blizzard’s Official Position

Dupe-deniers like to claim hacked accounts are the sources of the dozens of Spectral Tigers and thousands of Savage Bloods that magically appear on the market in the span of a few days.  Sure, these hacked accounts just hang around with multiple Spectrals on them and hundreds of Savage Bloods.  And yeah, there’s hacking going on, just not the type dupe-deniers want to believe.

I do honestly believe they do ban the hell out of gold seller accounts, which is what ultimately determines the price of gold for every server because they’re able to put various accounts out of business and remove millions from the game at the push of a button.  Once they catch an account selling gold, or an account that looks like a gold farm, it’s gone.  But why was that duper gold allowed to exist in the first place?  Do they really just track only gold sellers and that’s the end of it?  You see, this is going to have a very real effect on the value of those tokens.

Think region wide here, because the gold you’re going to see offered in the system is not going to be coming from servers like Ravenholdt or Twisting Nether, the gold is going to be coming from major economies like Illidan, Tichondrius, Sargeras, Kel’Thuzad, Stormrage, and Darkspear where duped item sales are a way of life.  The duped item gold gives players who deal in such articles a clear and present reason to deal in dupes, allowing them to benefit through gametime while poisoning the rest of the realms and either lowering the amount of gold offered for sale through abundance or increasing it through scarcity.  Thus, your gold token values are not going to be determined by the market, because the market is tainted.  I can’t put my finger on it right now, but something seems like it’s waiting to get busted wide open with the advantage headed towards the cheats and allowing them to operate perpetually.  Let me clear that up a little.

Like I said, remember that these guys use the goldmakers on every server as their fences.  These people know they’re buying dupes, even if it’s never mentioned in trade or chat logs that what they’re buying is completely non-legit.  When you deal in crap you’re not supposed to, you don’t talk about the crap you’re not supposed to because that causes problems.  You negotiate a price, take the merchandise, and off you go.  You shut up, take your product, and go destroy everyone who wants it.  Ultimately, the “goldmakers” are just a pawn of the dupers.

What will happen eventually is the price of gold is going to crater within the token system if the gold sellers can figure out a way to make it work and offer their gold for far less.  If wholesalers are offering 100k for 20 bucks, and the token system is only able to get you 40, 50, or even 80k, who will win?  The idea behind this system is to allow everyone to benefit within the system and to clean up an already dirty and shady fact of gaming life.  And if you have dupers just printing the gold outright by appealing to player greed and vanity, do you really think people are going to want to blow 20 bucks for an inferior amount when there is no penalty ever enforced on the end buyer?  They have ignored the massive number of buyers for years.  Duping items is the big missing piece of the puzzle that Blizzard absolutely, positively, must close or this whole token system will be regarded as another step in the wrong direction because it will be exploited without careful oversight.

It’s funny, I say all this and they never fixed Diablo 2’s duping issues and it resulted in virtual item sales sites that lasted all that time.  That game’s been going for almost 15 years and is only 4 years older than WoW, so don’t anyone hold your breath too long believing anyone is on top of it.  And yeah, I’m the asshole because I call them out on their bullshit.  We’ll see!

Thanks for stopping in!

Welcome to the New Site

Zerohour’s Abuse of the Economy

For certain this is what I do every week in Warcraft, and ironically this was the name offered to me by Stede over at LNWS.net (thanks to him for the name). There’s no other word for it, I take advantage of online gamers financially like no other on the planet.  Others have come and gone, tired of the boloney thrown their way by constant game changes that don’t match their easy gold making ways, but there’s only me standing.

No doubt the traffic’s gonna suffer with a name change, but let me be the first to welcome you to the renamed ZHNameless blog, now known as

AbuseoftheEconomy.com

Be sure to update your bookmarks, update your RSS, and go with the greatest goldmaker in Warcraft today.

Nothing has changed here.  The intention of the site is to maintain my ever present informative posts, while offering the right amount of humor, nostalgia, egotism and contempt for other players that’s earned several thousand readers every month.  You’re dealing with the pinnacle of gold making when you deal with me, which is strange because I never really tell you what to do other than think.  But as Napoleon Hill discovered years ago, I hope that you too will continue to think and grow rich.

Updated posts continue shortly!

Thanks for stopping in!

What the Gold Tokens Will Mean for You

Last night I happened to strike up a conversation on Twitter with Sivation.  Somehow I missed this fellow, and they’re very interesting to talk with.  They also run a blog.  After some discussion in DMs, it was decided that I needed to publish this article.

Don’t get too excited for Patch 6.1.2, this only puts the infrastructure into the game.  From what I’ve seen we won’t have the actual tokens in the game for a little while.  When it does arrive however, I’m off the grid forever.

Well maybe.

Blizzard’s system is rife with issues, no doubt about that.  I got a pseudo-chance to debate Elvine in his “expert” column on Wowhead, but that was almost pointless because, well, Wowhead.  There’s lots of concerns about inflation, paying to win, how people use their gold, and how unfair it is and how we should all be in some manufactured rage over it.  I want to address something, and I’m no economist, but I happen to understand the mechanics a lot better than most.

At Issue:  This is going to cause inflation

Since day one of the game’s release, and prior to it’s release, Blizzard games have tended to deal in RMT.  That’s Real Money Trading for those of you unaware.  Diablo 2 supported lots of us with extra income to spend on hookers and beer, and I was approached prior to the release of WoW about joining up with a few Indonesian suppliers to sell gold in the game.  At the time I regarded World of Warcraft as a crappy idea.  I tried Star Wars Galaxies and hated the subscription model.  Lots of us back then were going to buy Guild Wars just in protest.  I actually did buy and play Guild Wars for a while and it was really good, so good that I remember actually carting my computer from Phoenix to LA just so I could play it while in a week of sales classes with the company I was with at the time.  It took me over a year to come to the Warcraft scene and several D2 friends chomping at my hide to come PvP.

Quite the digression there, but I chose to play Warcraft entirely legit.  I worked the auction house because it was absolutely familiar, as I had been one of the chief people Blizzard was trying to kill on Ebay.  Before all this D3 RMAH crap, I had made lots of real money off their game when it was a real and fair challenge only accepted by the truly ambivalent to Terms of Use players.  Why would I choose to sell others the great gear one could get for pennies on the dollar from trading sites everywhere?  Because there’s a fortune in pixels, silly!

You think I learned my skills just experimenting for a few years in a make-believe sandbox?  I was doing auctions for many years prior, and I love auctions because there’s something in them that gets my blood racing.  I should work for an auction company in some capacity because it’s a real passion.  But this experience taught me several things about how people online treat their credit lines and parent’s checkbook.  I learned that appealing to the masses was the best bet; giving them what they wanted and desired, at a fair price, and how they wanted it.  I also learned that people want things immediately and have no time for bidding wars.  When given a choice, they’ll pay a premium if it means they can have their stuff NOW.  Sound familiar?  Well I found the AH at level 5 on my first character, and have been here raking in gold whenever I want it since.  Today I consider a million gold pocket change, and soon to be a week’s pay.  How’s your auctions coming?

In the time I’ve played, I’ve been asked to sell my gold to both players and wholesalers, and yes I’ve traded for a month or two of subscription time, most people I know have.  While I don’t excuse my behavior pointing to other people’s behavior, I will say that there has always been a market for this type of trade.  Making gold comes naturally to me and I’ll never be broke.  I log in to what many would consider a fortune every single night.

I’ve discovered almost every hole in each expansion since, and I’ve worked at exploiting them to their fullest potential and worked even harder keeping my discoveries under wraps and only sharing my finds with a select few people.  If you want to be rich in the game world, and in the real world, you work at it and you keep your mouth shut about how you’re doing it.  Otherwise you take your clothes off for money online when you have nothing else to offer, and based on the twitch crap I’ve seen and “best of nominations”, we’re not far off.

Ultimately, I don’t think this will cause much inflation, because people have always Mastercarded their way through this and every other game for nearly 20 years of online gaming.  If there is an item or gold seller out there, there are people who are desperate enough to seek them out. In Warcraft, gold buyers tend to SPEND their gold, and that gold is either taken out of the game through vendors, or parked in someone’s fat guild bank where it will never re-enter the economy again.  Inflation implies a homogenous growth in the money supply causing prices to escalate relative to that available supply.  This is only achieved when everyone is participating in the system and not in isolated cases.  Inflation occurs at the beginning of every expansion because everyone is participating in quest turn-ins and increasing the money supply.  So unless a vast majority of players suddenly turn into gold buyers, you won’t see a huge spike in prices for general goods and consumables.  I suspect many will buy their tokens strictly to get some gold together for day-to-day use.  Buy 50k in gold, you are pretty well set for this expansion for casual raiding.  People that buy their gold also tend to spend it rather freely, which is why they’re always buying more.  It’s that old adage I like about giving fools a million gold, and taking a million away from me.

Motivations?

Where you WILL see a spike in prices will be at Madam Goya’s shack in Nagrand.  She offers all those shinies for gold that nobody has real access to unless they beat their heads against a wall in old raids for a year or two, or they magically come up with an outdated and limited supply TCG loot card off Ebay.  The only way for the vast majority of players to come up with the gold to get those items is to outright buy it, and this can get expensive quickly.  In the past buying gold could result in account closure, but now that prohibition is about to be lifted, everyone with a Mastercard, Visa, Amex, or Discover Card will be able to participate without fear that they will lose all their shit.  The only people losing their shit are the Al Capones of the gold selling world who are about to get some massive competition.

This sounds rather strange, doesn’t it?  Am I saying that the token system will ultimately turn the Black Market Auction House into the Real Money Auction House people disliked in Diablo 3?  Yes.  I am.  Welcome to the future of gaming folks, name an MMO out there today that doesn’t have micros.  After the system is released, you will enter Nagrand and you’ll hear the faint sound of a vacuum cleaner sucking up coins.  As you get closer to the Ring of Blood the sound will become deafening.  This system is going to remove truckloads of gold from the game forever on every server with each passing day.  I wish I could put together a graphic for you so you better understand it, but picture a cyclone over Nagrand dumping exclusive mounts, gear, and TCG items everywhere while sucking a train of gold into the sky.  The Blizzard store now includes the ability to acquire every pixelated unique snowflake item in the game.  It’s the mother of all micro transactions, because there’s no set price for how much you will have to pay everytime something comes up that people want! 20k? 1 million?  The possibilities are limitless, especially when Blizz is going to set the price of what gold is actually worth.

Further, thanks to the collection tab, you can also shop for these items across several servers on the same account.  You don’t have to pay money to only transfer 50k or a guild bank, you can now do this unchained across every server of your choosing.  I suspect a TUJ style listing of each server’s BMAH auctions will be heavily in demand because that stupid toy box needs filled.  Just log into the server of your choosing, buy some gold, and go nuts bidding for what you want.

Consider further that one is completely able to pick up pieces of gear they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.  PvP gear and higher end PvE gear.  Removed transmogs.  Think of the catalog of Madam Goya, I think you may get my point.  It’s not pay to win because you aren’t going to gain any particular advantage at this point.  It definitely will save those with limited time to play a hefty amount of time.

Unclaimed Black Market Containers are also gambling for addicts.  Much like D3’s RMAH was considered gambling, these future scratch offs for gold are going to produce tons of revenue from the hopelessly degenerate gamblers.  Will we see news articles about the people losing their homes chasing down those elusive rewards?  One can only dream, right?

But Is This Really Going To Happen?

Will people actually throw down hundreds of dollars just to buy things in a stupid video game?  I hear you, “Zerohour, you’re full of shit.  People don’t just throw down credit cards on pixels.  People aren’t willing to spend hundreds or thousands on a stupid game.”  Wrong.  Head, meet sand, population: you.

Look at Hearthstone.  This game had severe Pay to Win elements.  Were people pissed?  Were they quitting over it?  No, they were demanding ports to their phone and entire streams were dedicated to winning the game.  I had friends who used to cash in their Battle Net Balances for Hearthstone cards.  Hundreds of bucks to do it.  This was merely a digital version of MTG and Pokemon, but people fell hopelessly into the business of feeding the machine.

Look at Diablo 3.  The RMAH may have been hated by so many people that they were able to get Blizzard to reconsider it, but I assure you Blizzard did this with a heavy heart and lots of cash in the bank.  It sucks they went to the soulbound gear system with no trading allowed, but this shows that they are quite aware of what would happen if they conceded and allowed trading.  People would be spending tens of thousands on gear that they would never profit from in the REAL black market.

Watch for Overwatch.  This is really nothing more than a reimagining of Team Fortress 2, and that’s not Blizzard’s fault.  Team Fortress 2 specialized in fun FPS play and a gigantic shop for skins and flavor items.  What gaming giant could refuse this opportunity?  Blizzard saw this and obviously realized that they were missing out on a ton of money in FPS with overpriced pixel shops for special snowflakes.  The prices people pay for these things is nuts, and if I was them, I’d Double It!  Let’s ask Jay Wilson what he thinks.

Thanks, Jay, that’s what I thought.

Let me introduce you to Jack.  Jack (not his real name) is a buyer of gold.  Jack is a successful small business owner.  Jack competes against me in GDKP runs, and Jack, like me, is loved because he pisses away gold with seemingly no care.  Jack buys millions of gold from gold sellers because he’s your average player with real money and this is his entertainment.  Jack hasn’t the time to farm up gold because his attention is towards making real money, not pixels.  Jack pays out the ass for gear when he competes with me, because he pays 500:1 for gold.  That means for every 100,000 gold he bids, he pays 50-70 bucks in real money.  He’s fine throwing down several hundred thousand because it would mean he wins.  He’s like me, a bully with their bankroll that likes to win.

A long time friend of mine from back in D2 days (I met him because he was a customer of mine) actually quit D3 when they removed the auction house.  He doesn’t have the time to mess around in the game looking for gear that might be an upgrade, he wants gear NOW because he has what those in the real world call “a good paying job”.  I remember what he told me after they removed the auction house – if I can’t Mastercard my way through a game, I’m not interested.  He was true to his word.

We have to realize that microtransactions are the future of games.  They’ve been around in the underground since online gaming for items and gold started.  Ultima Online, Everquest, Diablo 2, Star Wars, Dark Age, Guild Wars and Warcraft.  The research is there, the experience is unquestioned, people will always buy gold for real money.  Can you eliminate it or regulate it?  I think regulation is the answer.  It’s a giant market, just like useless apps are a giant market for phones, micros are almost exactly like it.  I can buy an app that tells me when to feed my dog for crying out loud.

Epilogue

So what does all of this mean for you, the average player who probably won’t be buying tokens or selling gold to token buyers?  Not a helluva lot unless you shop on the BMAH.  There are people with both the means and the desire to acquire things with their real world currency.  Is this fair?  Absolutely!  That’s the free market.  You are free to sit on your ass and do nothing or free to go try to make something be successful.  If you cannot participate in this latest venture in either capacity, then the only thing you’ll notice is a lot more Spectral Tigers riding around, more Mim’s heads flying by, and people will finally have the means to pay those stupid repair bills because dailies are a pain in the ass and who has the time to run Heroic Firelands for 20 minutes?

If there is a reduction in gold in the game because of widespread overuse of the BMAH, you’ll see prices of your flasks, your enchants, and your gems stay pretty much at the same levels.  Why?  Because the gold that is being unlocked has been rotting away in guild banks for years and has absolutely nothing to do with the future prices of materials and consumables.  High priced stuff is purchased on a perceived value, and most regular players will never acquire these items.  Gold for many of us is a dead asset unless we need to use it.  Those with millions of liquid pixelated currency laying around have chosen not to let their gold work for them.  You, however, have nothing to worry about.

Ok, Jay, that’s enough now.

Now for me, I personally help the economy every weekend by redistributing 30-40% of my weekly profits to help my local world ranked raiders increase their gold supply in GDKP runs.  Remember, these are the highest stakes GDKP runs in the world where a seat at the table requires a quarter million gold on hand minimum and the pot grows to several million in just hours.  There are no friends in GDKP, and that’s good because I don’t have the room for more.  I can’t wait to see if this token system actually affects anything for us.  And if you’re on the US realms and interested in getting into these runs, please feel free to tweet me @zerohour15 for more information.

Thanks for stopping in!

 

10 Reasons to Hate Inscription

Most people know I dislike glyphs, but how many knew I disliked Inscription?  Ok, I’m sure most of you.  But there was a time when I used to make a very good portion of my gold from it, but we call that Wrath, and Greatness cards, and Glyphmas.  Since then the allure of the profession has made me wince whenever I log into my druid.  I’ve just had a real disdain for it, while I know most of you out there think it’s the best thing sliced bread.  I wish it would go away already.

Here are my reasons for disliking Inscription to the point of using the word HATE.  It wasn’t hard coming up with an even 10 reasons, I actually have a few more but they’re really nit-picky.  If you like Glyphs and DMF decks and making staves/off-hands, please stop reading.  You have been warned.

1) This is a profession, that since Cataclysm, has practically been for “opening of expansion only” and then turns into a bot farm – both actual bots cancel posting and people bots doing it manually.  Right now the only thing you can do is upgrade what you have, and in most cases the gear offerings are subpar and really only appeal to non-raiders in LFR or those raiders who have gotten extremely unlucky with particular drops and want a weapon with their exact secondary stats.  Unfortunately with talent trees being reduced to only a few real choices with each class and glyphs being only learned once, they become a market for Pokemon style players and new players just needing a few for their alts.

2) Glyphs are the lowest form of goldmaking within the crafting family and as such are a beginner’s profession.  If you run over to The Consortium and read the endless questions about setting up glyph making empires, you can find oodles of explanations about what not to do and the mistakes of others.  And if you don’t want to do a search, be like everyone else and start a new thread.  Yes, the people doing this tend to be getting ‘serious’ about goldmaking, so their first act is downloading TSM and setting it up incorrectly.  To do it properly, you HAVE to set up the actual costs, because we all know you aren’t out farming your own Celestial Ink, you’re trading it for current content inks like everyone else.  Further, it’s a make money button in most people’s eyes.  Very little depth to it so it appeals to the people not interested in thinking too much so the overall market is saturated with stupid.

3) Gevlon used to make all his gold off glyphs.  If you ever read his blog when he was actually grinding gold, his #1 suggestion whenever he wanted to “help” people on other servers make gold was “make glyphs”.  Gevlon LOVED to troll the bads in this game, so if Gevlon recommended it, you know something was awry with it.  While Gevlon’s more or less long gone, the armies of people sold on this profession is endless.

4) The weapons made with the profession carry an extremely high opportunity cost to craft (and for me at least) don’t move.  With everyone now able to reroll for very little gold, this craft is now all about who can craft that staff with the best stats and post it for the lowest price on the AH.  As a complaint in general, all weapons are 630 and will always upgrade to a max of 10 points below the content.  Today a person can snag a 640 out of LFR with no problem so there’s no appeal to grab an item that will make do until they get what they need…  unless they intend to upgrade it with expensive Savage Bloods, it’s probably going to sit around a while, or someone got desperate and failed Bronze Challenge modes.  In summary, your target market is the masses who either have no gold, no skills, no guild, and no luck.  Yuck.

5) DMF trinkets were changed this expansion to be available for crafting without the DMF being in town.  This means that all the junior scribe geniuses can keep deck prices screwed up year-round now rather than once a week.  DMF decks already lost their luster within the first tier of content, and thanks to most of them being poorly itemized come down to one deck that everyone wants, and then 3 others that you work hard to give away; see Tanking Trinkets.  You spend an inordinate amount of time trying to trade off bad cards so you can get good cards.  Of course there are those that swear by these items, and every so often MrRobot says they’re a BIS for crafted items, but I’m not interested in appealing to specific niches when I get to be the one constantly reposting them.

6) It’s too time consuming for low reward.  Post a hundred glyphs, spent 2 minutes clearing out your mailbox of them.  Posting them takes far too long even though it’s almost entirely done with TSM.  Undercutting happens within 5-10 minutes of a post, and resetting your inventory takes half that amount of time if not the same amount.  This is why there are so many glyph bots – people are willing to lose their accounts rather than manually deal with the market.  Need I mention milling?  We were told before beta that we would not be milling our own herbs.  They could easily have done for Inscription what they did for Jewelcrafting, and I would not be making this post.  I’ve been messing with glyphs lately and it boils down to about 1-2k revenue per day.  On my server that’s astoundingly awful.  I used to pull an easy 5k per day before MMOC made this mainstream in Wrath, and I miss those days.

7) At the end of every expansion since introduction of the profession, you get charred glyphs.  When they change the content, they remove glyphs from the game and your reward are a bunch of vendor grays.  Like I always say, glyphs are nothing more than a substitute talent tree.  You have to buy new ones each expansion because they flat out cannot remove this profession because too many people are in love with it.

8) The majority of glyphs are horrible and boring.  This is just poor design.  They removed talent trees because of complex decisions having to be made by their playerbase, which is mostly non-gamers calling themselves gamers.  Now the new mantra is to make the major glyphs do almost nothing for you, but just being somewhat useful in given situations.  I really dislike that and I say remove talent trees all together and have glyphs be the talent tree.  Level 15, 30, 45, etc there are glyphs for everything you want.  This would at least make them sort of interesting again.  They could have made glyphs in reduced quantity through the garrisons (see above) and made a very rich talent tree via glyphs.  Talent trees and glyph UIs look extremely similar, merge the two and set level requirements on glyphs that aren’t game breaking.  Revamp the crafting of these to require you to actually perform a CD for each level of glyph you wish to make, up the mat requirements.

9) As I alluded to, it is the ONLY profession in WoD that did not get some sort of major change or overhaul.  Jewelcrafters no longer have to prospect.  Leveling it requires the same trek as before, unless you want to spam something for 600 levels that’s ultimately not profitable.  Armor crafters received the ability to make great items for disenchanting.  And I’m still milling by hand.

10) It takes very little for the entire market to get screwed up within seconds and there’s very little you can do about it unless you want to constantly play the White Knight and reset the market, only to have the same thing happen within minutes or hours.  Like I mentioned with #2, it’s so easy, any mouthbreather can do it.  Therefore, the prices are generally screwed up because said mouthbreather cannot compute the actual costs of herbs as it relates to inks and they post it because TSM told them to (mouthbreathers are bad at settings).  But then said mouthbreather will tell you they have no costs because farming makes them free so deal with the 10g glyphs that cost 40g to make in real costs, these guys have their leet dual gatherers running all over turning gold into lead.  Mouthbreathers make me sad.

That’s a lot of hate right there.  I guess it sucks that the only use I’ve gotten out of my scribes since WoD’s launch has been in daily cooldowns and weekly work orders.   I do have a lot of love for one particular part of the profession however, and I’ll let you guess which part.  Everything I talked about above makes my process continue to be highly profitable, so if you can guess how that works then you’re looking at a gold mine of your very own.

The Number One US?  World?

Lately I’ve been seeing friends and extreme goldmakers like myself drop like flies.  One of my heroes notified the world last week that he was out.  Others have been inactive and not interested any longer.  Am I the number one by attrition?  Have I outlasted the best?  You can talk about streamers and such, but they’re all pretty sketchy.  Here, this is my week, which is almost 100k less than the week prior.

These numbers are 100% through professions.  There’s zero transmog, zero resetting, and zero dupe selling (Savage Blood, TCG).  Just good old fashioned spreadsheet application and profit taking in those markets which are best served.  So the question stands…  who’s the best?

Appeal to the masses and sell them what they want, being exclusive doesn’t guarantee a consistent income.

Thanks for stopping in!

Thank Goodness for Small Miracles

It looks like the token system for gametime is real, and from my post at the end of last year, it looks like they’re going to do it right!  Not tradeable, BOP after the first sale, and the system doesn’t seem to look like it will be exploitable.  Further, a separate part of the AH will be dedicated to it.  It sounds like I was in the development meeting for it.  The only thing I didn’t get was notification that there is an economist in place to insure that those buying the gold are getting a good deal.

Now if they’ll just release it in a timely manner before I bankrupt myself in GDKP runs.

Oh yeah, the complaints from those with the gold have already begun.  Lots of worries for no reason.  And I can’t believe what I’m reading.  It’s either for one of several reasons:

1) People are concerned that others will have a means to access gold they didn’t earn, just fill out the merchant services information and go get your unearned gold.

2) They’re ultra legit and this is an affront to everything good and decent about their favorite game, even though gold sellers have been in the game since day one and their precious little world is about to be tarnished by the real world!

3) They’re very concerned that people will finally wake up and realize that grinding gold is worth it!  And that spending time grinding it means they will have more competition.  Oh no! Or that Blizzard will not slack off on their aggressive anti-bot stance, and the fellows over at Honorbuddy will get away with something even more because of some imaginary concocted reason.

4) People are actually pissed because they currently sell their gold for more cash than the lousy subscription cost, and this is going to interfere with business.  Getting a job is hardly in the cards, because that would interfere with sitting on their asses.

Pay to win (P2W) isn’t even an argument here, because gold is pointless unless you need it for something gamebreaking.  Nothing has even come close to that outside of the BMAH, and I’m fairly certain that world ranked guilds already have their subs paid.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and let people know now that grinding gold for your sub is not worth it.  Unless you’re me, and you pull in over half a million and over in sales a week.  And I can guarantee you that the vast, vast majority of players in the game are not me, because I only play on one server and only I have access to my account.  In fact, I’m 1 in 10 million according to the current stats.  I’d like to meet the person who’s making more than me, I’m pretty sure they’re not dealing in legitimate Blizzard intended markets or they’re running a dupe technique.

But let’s discuss my reason behind #4.  I know point of fact that many of the people out there grinding gold right now are doing it for nefarious reasons.  Maybe nefarious is too strong a word, maybe the money pays for their beer and good times.  Maybe it’s how they subsidize their income.  People, for whatever reason, are people.  They’re going to try to get ahead with the least amount of effort.  People bring coffee machines to work because they can’t get off their asses to get a cup in the break room.  Anyone who claims to have made over 5 or 10 million gold in this game and isn’t able to show you the gold on their characters at this point is probably selling gold or has contacts over at Ownedcore or in-game that are buying from them, wholesale or retail.

I say all that and I can’t show you my gold results from expansion to expansion.  Why?  Because I love to piss it all away at the close of each expansion.  It’s just what I do.  Gold is meant to be spent, and to acquire millions without a use is the ultimate in useless life spent.  When I started WoD I had under 400,000g between my characters.  I was broke by my standards.  What happened to all of it?  Well I did some BMAH, but I also did GDKP across 5 different characters with the top 3 guilds on Illidan.  I went through millions just doing that because I like treating other “rich” people like they’re shit and their tears are more delicious.  In the last GDKP I ran in SoO I detected a hint of lemon.

Besides all this, the efforts by Blizz to crack down on bot users is going to probably escalate to Def Con 1.  Harmless bot fishing?  Bye.  Gathering herbs and ores because you’re 15 and you pwn everyone?  Probably should stay in school.  Running a posting bot because you’re asleep at 2am and you just can’t fathom that sales are being made while you’re sleeping?  Hasta la vista, bitch.  I have a feeling Blizz is going to be monitoring AH activity with this change even moreso.

How?  Well money silly.  Goldselling in games is a multibillion dollar business.  In some MMOs, selling the currecy is more profitable than the game itself.  This service is going to cost the people buying that gametime.  I am expecting to see a price tag of $20-$25 US for each token purchase.  This is going to be a gigantic windfall for Blizzard, and they’ll probably have the extra resources afterwards to boost many QOL and security issues within the game itself.  That premium is definitely deserved.  Funny story.

In my first job out of college I was talking with my boss (who owned the company) about the future of phones.  He believed we would always have landlines, and I believed that one day we would all be talking online for free and that phones as he knew them would go away.  I argued (I was a young and clueless fresh college grad of 23 and an idealist at one point) that the phone companies deserved to take that hit, after decades of overcharging for services that they didn’t deserve any premium for because they already laid the lines and that bill was paid years ago and if anything the prices should go down on landlines.  His argument was I had a long way to go to learn about business.  They laid the lines, they deserve to be paid for that service.  Well, he was wrong about several parts and right on one.  I definitely learned about how business works (took about another year of getting my teeth getting kicked in), and I really learned that the business that makes the exclusive offering dictates the price that the market will bear, so he was right.

Blizzard deserves whatever price they get for this offering.  They make the game, they make the rules.  Everything they do has been focus grouped and test marketed, it’s not done on a whim.  The results are pretty clear – they retained 10 million subs this last expansion again.  Don’t like it, play something else and vote with your wallet.  Of course, we all know you can’t.

By the way, we’re not all talking on landlines today, are we?

Thanks for stopping in!