A Better Night


image Roughly a month ago I wrote a piece about the WoW Token, when it was officially announced and seemed to be something coming into the game “Soon ™”.  There are a number of websites that index the price of wow gold, but I don’t plan on linking to any of those for reasons.  At the time of writing those sites seemed to indicate the going rate for gold was something along the lines of $15 for 30,000g.  Now the strange thing was that there were some absolutely insane outliers, like sites offering nearly 100,000g for $20.  Now this week the WoW Token has launched, and I have been watching it thanks to an extremely excellent market website showing the current token price.  Firstly I expected the token currency to drop in gold value, but not this fast and not for this long.  I expected there to be a significant rebound once players started snapping them up in lieu of making subscription payments… and we may still see that towards the end of the month.  The token started at 30,000g, raising to 35,000g and then tanking quickly down to as low at one point as 18,000g before coming back up and hovering around 25,000g.

All of this while more volatile than I had expected, doesn’t really shock me.  What does shock me is the reaction from the third party gold sellers.  Those same gold index sites seem to be painting a bizarre story.  Gone completely are those 100,000g outliers, and they have been replaced by values that are almost lock step in line with the legitimate wow token pricing.  I expected that as the wow token gained traction that the third party sellers would start offering more outrageous deals trying to tempt players into taking that risk.  Instead if anything it seems like the WoW Token is now setting the standard operating price for gold regardless of how you obtain it.  This is just puzzling to me, and I cannot fathom why this would be the result.  Now as far as the WoW Token goes, I still think we will see a significant climb in price as folks subscriptions start coming due.  For me personally the WoW Token still is not “worth” the price.  Now if I could buy one or two of them and immediately purchase some big ticket items… I might be enthralled.  For the time I already have access to the sorts of gold that it is currently worth so it is not a huge draw.

A Better Night

Wow-64 2015-04-10 06-18-41-75 Tuesday night was unequivocally horrible.  I am still not sure what was wrong, but for whatever reason we were completely off our game.  We started as we often do with Heroic Blackrock Foundry, and downed Hans and Franz without much issue.  Then we moved on to Gruul and wiped until we had lost our will to live.  Finally towards the end of the night we moved on to Darmac… and squeaked by with a victory by the slimmest of margins.  Last night once again we started with some attempts on Heroic Gruul, only to end up wiping over and over once again.  I am not sure what has happened to us, or happened to the encounter… but it went from something we can do fairly easy to being damned near impossible for us.  Thankfully we chose to shift gears and take on Normal instead after a handful of wipes last night, and in a large part that made for a more enjoyable evening.  We went on to clear all of the content we have cleared before in the past, and since we were used to bashing our skulls against heroic… it seemed pretty simple.

The problem is we still have yet to touch the Iron Maidens fight, make any real progress on the Heart of the Mountain encounter…  and then there is still Blackrock.  I really want to make some traction on those fights and get to a point where we can at least say we are clearing normal.  This piecemeal heroic work is nice, but it feels like right now we are doing it in lieu of forward momentum on actually beating the instance.  This is one of those places where I am torn, because by god I really really want my heroic sword from Gruul.  Once again I am pantsless, and I am trying to keep from going through the bullshit required to craft a comparable pair.  I know the second I do… I will get a heroic drop, or mythic pair from my bi-weekly garrison crate.  I simply don’t want to deplete all the money I have to make it work.  Maybe the effect of the WoW Token will drive the price of Savage Blood down…  with people trying to sell them in order to make the gold to “make rent”.

Elder Scrolls Online Console Pre-order


One of the cool emails that I received yesterday was to notify me that for the next thirty days I had the option of purchasing a digital copy of Elder Scrolls Online for my console of choice for only $20.  This was one of the big selling points that they made several months back when they announced the official launch date of the console version.  If you purchased the game prior to April 9th 2015 on the PC you could then get a cheap copy on the console, as well as the ability to transfer your PC characters to the console version as well.  Since I was a long time alpha player, and ultimately a launch day player this was no major incentive but I am absolutely taking advantage of it.  I honestly wish more games would give you a significant discount on other platforms when they re-release the game.  For example I have purchased State of Decay on Xbox Live, Steam, and will more than likely purchase another copy when the Year One Survivor Edition comes out.  It just feels nice to have at least some sort of a break here.  As such I have already pre-purchased and am hoping that it offers a preload of the game as well.

From the day the game came out it always felt like it would potentially work better with a controller.  I will tell you the real reason why I am picking it up with the ps4 is that I hope to play it through my vita.  I spent a fairly significant amount of time faffing about in Destiny while playing on my Vita, and I cannot imagine a better experience than hanging out in bed and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  Similarly it gives me something to do while waiting on other things to happen in other games.  Upstairs I have my ps4 set up beside my computer, and in the living room I have a PSTV so I have four places I can comfortably play some Elder Scrolls Online.  I am amped for this release and I am hoping  the game finds its true potential with the console audience.  Right now the console players really do not have that many “meaty” mmorpg options, with Final Fantasy XIV pretty much being the absolute best choice.  Elder Scrolls Online should cover a very different niche of players, and I think it will ultimately be extremely successful.

Long Live BLEX

An Interesting Thread

Today is my last day before going on a two week break, and I am absolutely pumped.  However instead of talking about that, I am going to talk about an interesting thread I read yesterday afternoon.  In the thread Blizzard talked about a series of potential changes coming in 2015 to improve quality of life.  There was of course a mention of the new heirloom collection system that would make swapping heirlooms between characters on your account significantly easier.  My hope is they also make the acquisition of these heirlooms significantly more straight forward.  There was the announcement of a Legendary follower coming to our Garrisons as part of the legendary item quest chain.  At this point I already have what feels like an army of followers sitting in disabled status, so that isn’t really that important to me, but its a nice to have.

However as you wade into the post there are significantly more controversial topics.  For some reason a lot of folks on twitter seemed to stick on the fact that they were considering integrating WoW with twitter.  This is one of the features that I absolutely loved about Rift, that I could hit /tweetpic at any point and send a picture to my twitter feed along with some text.  Even more so I am hoping that they go as far as Rift did and allow us to see our twitter feeds in an in-game tab.  I loved being to read and respond to tweets while playing a game.  Now some folks are complaining that this is going to make twitter feel super spammy… and it probably will for awhile.  That said we learned to tone it down in Rift so I am sure folks will learn the same lessons in WoW.  WoW also doesn’t seem to give you an achievement every five minutes the way that Rift did, so that should help cut things down as well.

Long Live BLEX

The most controversial thing in the post was an announcement that Blizzard was considering creating a token system that would allow players to trade a month’s subscription on the auction house.  Now this system works extremely well in Eve (PLEX), Rift (REX), Sony Online Games (Krono), and Wildstar (CREDD).  From now on I have decided that I am going to start referring to this idea as “BLEX” or Blizzard Exchange, because it fits the Plex/Rex naming scheme.  A good friend of mine suggested “BLUX” for Blizzard Bux, which is also pretty great.  In any case this is not a new concept, but in fact one that is alive and working in many different games.  The system has always felt like a win/win for me, but I know there are folks out there that are extremely skeptical of it.  Essentially it allows two things…  firstly players that have more time on their hands than money, can ultimately play the game for free by purchasing BLEX for gold on the open market.  Secondly it allows players who have more money than time to purchase an extra months subscription and trade it off for in game currency.

Why this is important is that it almost instantly destroys the third party in game currency market.  When I first started playing online games… gold farmers were quite honestly an army of players who sold gold and platinum to clearing house companies for real currency.  While it was frustrating to see areas of the game camped by sellers…  this was more a nuisance than a really dangerous problem.  Then the account hacks started, as the criminal underground entered the business of selling in game currency.  The primary source for the third party sellers was the pay folks to compromise accounts and then attempt to cleanse the money through a series of throw away alts before selling it to a customer.  Every last bit of gold was in essence compromised because you could not tell the legitimately farmed currency from the stolen.  When you legitimize the purchase of in game currency this market quite literally goes away over night.  It becomes no longer worth the time to hack an account and steal currency, because the price gets driven down to margins where they cannot really profit from the sale.

BLEX is Good For Games

I’ve always seen these type of systems as a bit of an equalizer, in that if you are coming into a game your friends are playing months behind…  you can spend an extra months subscription to help catch up on the currency side of things.  In the games that have had the system it did not actually have any catastrophic effects on the market, in fact in many cases it drove the price of goods down significantly because they were no longer the sole means of money acquisition.  The nice thing about having a market traded transfer of gold is that the value fluctuates with the game.  When the REX system first went into play in Rift it was trading for roughly 900 platinum, now as the game has released additional content and the acquisition of money has gotten faster in game, that price has increased to around 1500 platinum.  Items sold on the auction house themselves seem to move significantly more quickly, considering that players no longer feel quite so pressed for funds.  During the Nightmare Tides expansion launch I crafted several pieces of armor that sold for a couple hundred plat a piece.

Rift however is not the only game I have seen this working in first hand.  The Krono system also has been really good for Everquest 2.  Prior to its launch there was an unofficial market of selling game time cards in open chat for platinum, much like there is an unofficial trade of purchasing items from the trading card game in World of Warcraft and then turning around and selling them for gold in game.  The release of the Krono pretty much closed that market down entirely and with it no longer being an unofficial process… actually reduced the cost of a months subscription time.  I watched the prices for Krono start about what folks were openly trading a game time card for a week before… and it quickly dropped down to something more reasonable for the players purchasing that account time.  So ultimately this works out decent for the folks trying to purchase game time with their in game currency.  I expect were BLEX to launch the currency tokens would start around 100,000 gold… and trend downwards for awhile.  What is interesting is there is always a monthly up and down cycle… towards the end of each month the prices spike as folks are needing to purchase the next months game time.

Doubling Down on WoW

Ultimately I see this discussion that is happening as a positive thing.  Blizzard has a strike against it in the RMT department, and fans are not quick to forget it.  The real money auction house was a pretty horrible concept, but thankfully this “BLEX” idea is one that has been well tested in the market already.  If they simply follow the same model that is working for everyone else, I feel like they will be just fine…  so long as they don’t “tweak” it to make it more insidious.  Essentially I see these changes as Blizzard trying to modernize their game.  It lacks a lot of the features that we have just come to expect from other titles… and previously I think the end game was always that Project Titan would come along and offer a modern MMO under the Blizzard banner.  However with that project now gone, and no new Blizzard MMO on the horizon…  I see all of this as them recommitting to World of Warcraft being their flagship MMO title.

There are a lot of things that I would like to see integrated into the game.  I still feel that it is in desperate need for a mentoring system, to allow you to play older content for real with your friends.  One of my chief frustrations with the instant 90 system was that it functionally said that nothing released before Warlords of Draenor had any “value”.  There is so much amazing older content, that I think players who have not experienced it…  are missing something fundamental about the World of Warcraft experience.  My hope is that they will devote the resources that had been lacking on making the quality of life changes needed to bring World of Warcraft back to truly top tier status.  When this game launched it took the  best ideas from all the games around it, refined them and applied a coat of polish to all of it.  It is time for Blizzard to do the same thing again, gather up the current generation of MMOs best features… and integrate them into the game.