Poor

10 Oct

“There’s nothing noble about being poor.”

- Brian Kinney, Queer As Folk

This afternoon, I was on my lunch break when my Twitter feed suddenly exploded with Tweets talking about a new companion pet at the Blizzard Store and how people thought it was a bad idea.  Now, most people tend to get really excited at the idea of a new pet being introduced to the game, so I couldn’t figure out why this one had everyone up in arms.  I asked for more information, before heading back to the office and discovering this announcement:

Q: How does the Guardian Cub pet work? How is it different from other Pet Store pets?

Unlike the other Pet Store companions, the Guardian Cub is a tradable, one-time-use pet that permanently binds to a single character upon use. When you purchase the Guardian Cub from the online store, the character you designate will receive a bind-on-use item to carry in his or her inventory.  You can either use the item yourself to permanently add the pet to your character’s collection (consuming the item in the process), or — after a brief initial cooldown period — you can trade the item to another player so he or she can add it to one of their character’s collections. Note that once the pet has been added to a character’s Companions list, it can no longer be traded, so make sure you’re giving the cub a happy home.

This indicates that the new companion pet will not be Bind on Pickup, like the others were, and you could potentially sell this new pet on the Auction House to make some gold.  Blizzard seems to be aware of this and doesn’t seem to mind:

While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services. However, please keep in mind that there’s never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they’ll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. (You can read more about our stance here.) While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling “black market” and account theft.

To tell you the truth, I don’t mind, either.

I have never been someone that has had a lot of money, in any game that I have ever played.  I have never had more than 10,000 gold on my character, at any given time in World of Warcraft and didn’t even buy my epic flying mount until Wrath of the Lich King and that was only because I discovered that I could sell my Bind on Equip bracers to raise the money to do so.  I’m sitting on a little over 100 platinum in Rift, and when I played Vampire the Masquerade, I was the poorest Ventrue in the history of the chronicle.  Antitribu or not, I was po.’  I couldn’t even afford the last two letters.  I was that poor.

So, for someone like me who has no concept of how the Auction House works and who really doesn’t have the time or the patience to download seventeen different add-ons, plus the mobile armory application to make a piece of gold, I’m all for this addition to the game.  I’ll even go one step further and say I approve of purchasing gold, in general.

I mean, really.  Who is it hurting?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of the more illicit means that people go about earning a living from farming gold.  I do not condone stealing accounts, hacking into people’s accounts, spamming in chat channels, or any of the other shadier aspects of the business.  Were such business conducted in a more ethically sound manner, I would probably partake in a little bit of gold purchasing, myself. 

I have achieved some fantastic accomplishments in World of Warcraft while being broke.  I have been in top raiding guilds (at least for the servers I was on), earned a number of impressive mounts, and even netted myself a Legendary weapon.  How much gold I had in my account didn’t factor into any of that.  People didn’t take me to raids because they assumed I was wealthy, they took me because I knew how to play my class and because I did my job.  There’s a reason you don’t see “How much gold do you currently have?” on a guild application (or at least no guilds that I’ve applied to).  Because it ultimately doesn’t matter.

You might have been able to buy a chopper or purchase Maelstrom Crystals before the rest of us could afford them, but what did that really get you?  Did it make you a better tank?  Did it make your Arena Rating shoot up by 300 points?  What did having all that money really do for your character?  There are people that were probably doing more with their game time than you were, who had less currency than you did and one could even argue that they were doing better, because they weren’t spending all of their time being consumed with how to make more money.  They could have been busy theorycrafting or farming BGs or getting by on the gold they made from doing dailies, while grinding rep for shoulder enchants. 

In a gaming environment, money is great to have, but it does not make you who you are.  It certainly provides a certain level of comfort, but it doesn’t buy everything.  You can’t buy skill with gold.  You can’t buy situational awareness with platinum.  You can’t purchase manners or social skills with Resources at 5.  So, for all of these reasons, I think the issue of whether or not it’s morally sound to purchase in game currency should really be put to bed.  If someone wants to take money from their bank accounts that could be going towards real life pursuits and put it towards financing their pursuits in game, so what?  Does it bother you that someone might have more money than you do and that they may not have had to work as hard as you did to get it?  What’s wrong with someone wanting a little piece of what you already have?

At the end of the day, I’m glad that I don’t play a game where money makes me what I am and where I can’t get better if I don’t spend money.  Anyone who has ever spent time playing a collectible card game will know what exactly what I’m talking about.  Magic the Gathering.  Pokemon.  Marvel Overpower.  Those were games where money could buy you skill and could give you a huge advantage over someone else who may not have had the means to buy a box of the newest expansion the day it was released.  Those were games that made you feel like crap, when the other kids showed up with binders of the newest cards that you had never even heard of that you knew you could not afford.  That was something to get upset about.  This situation with the new companion pet?  Not even close.

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21 Responses to “Poor”

  1. Pliers #

    “I’ll even go one step further and say I approve of purchasing gold, in general.”

    I think that’s taking it too far. I’m fine with them adding this pet, but direct pay-to-win, in an MMO, is game-breaking. Paying money for blizzard to create new pixels that influence other people’s play is not a good thing.

  2. Oestrus #

    I guess it depends on your definition of “win.” You may have all the gold in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t figure out not to stand in things you shouldn’t, you can’t peel a DPS warrior off of your healer in the Arena, etc. Being rich does not make you a great player, which is how I measure “winning.”

  3. Pliers #

    Being rich would allow you to buy better arena partners, runs through content you aren’t good enough to be a part of, and tons of gear.

    If being good was how you win, then hundreds of thousands of amazing players would have already won, and moved on. While I agree that what you say is a *goal*, I don’t think it’s winning. Certainly not what I mean by “pay-to-win.” And the community at large defines victory in an MMO differently than the one you offer.

  4. Zse #

    How is it pay-to-win?

    Aside from selling bear runs back in BC I really don’t see anywhere that having a ridiculous amount of gold would put a player above and beyond someone who has an average amount of gold. Each tier they could buy 2-3 new pieces of new ilvl gear off the AH from crafting, perhaps a boe weapon from the newest raid, and maybe boe boots or bracers, but those things are hardly gamebreaking.

    Even if they do manage to get new gear off the AH, so what? That purchased gear doesn’t make them a good player. Gear does not equal good. If gear equaled good, people wouldn’t have still been wiping on Yogg after months in Ulduar wearing full epics when another guild did this: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2009/08/ungeared.html

  5. Pliers #

    As someone who has had nearly 1 million gold, I can assure you that it does open up doors that someone with a few thousand cannot compete with. And what’s more important than it helping me is that it hurts others.

  6. Arazu #

    As someone who does have 1 million gold, I can assure you it doesn’t. Wow gold is absolutely meaningless and if Blizzard wants to experiment with EVE-style gold buying, it hardly matters because gold doesn’t really do much of anything in this game. The method they’re using kind of hurts pet collectors I guess, but whatever.

    I have a close friend with more than double what I have. The only difference between her and me is that she’s known as the chick with a lot of gold. I gave away somewhere between 150-200k in the last year and it’s made no difference whatsoever to me. Even if I gave away my entire bankroll my playstyle wouldn’t change, I wouldn’t have any less opportunities.

  7. Tomaj #

    I think, more than anything, people are concerned about what kind of snowball effect this could create. I’m going to reserve my opinions on the matter for now… but the underlying problem is that Blizzard just can’t figure out enough ways to make gold sinks for people. With the ever-expanding server economies (and the exceedingly easy ways to gain gold, even outside the auction house), there’s just not enough ways for people to spend the gold.

    The benefits in-game are two-fold: people that have IRL cash, but not much in-game gold, make money from these pets. The people that have in-game gold have no need to spend IRL cash, and can just purchase on the auction house.

    The one major point that I disagree with is not having a version that will be allowed to have on all your characters, as opposed to every other pet store pet, and needing to spend an additional $10 for each one of these should you want them on additional characters. Outside of that, like I said, reserving my opinions on this for the moment.

  8. Oestrus #

    Reserving your opinions… until you can write a blog post, too?

    I’m on to you, sir!

  9. Tomaj #

    Pfft, I have no desire to write about this myself. :P I just prefer to keep my opinions to myself on this matter.

  10. Oestrus #

    *glances at the comment spam*

    Way to keep your comments to yourself, sir.

    ;)

  11. Pliers #

    There’s no snowball effect. It’s been possible for years already. The slope is simply not all that slippery.

  12. Tomaj #

    I disagree. The “snowball effect” in question is more referring to gear, etc. that can be bought in game. In its own way, being able to sell something for in-game gold is game-changing, however you look at it – because it can inflate (or deflate) the in-game economy, or it can be because of achievements (useless as they may be), etc.

  13. Juvenate #

    I’m really bothered by this new pet. As I’ve said on other comments of my blog, I earned my gold in WoW. Gold is a reward. We aren’t entitled to it. It should be something earned for accomplishing things, whether it’s playing the AH, doing Dailies, or downing bosses. It shouldn’t be handed to us like this. It devalues it.

    Speaking of devaluing, this will cause an inflation of gold on servers. Gold will be even more easily accessible and more of it will circulate. I’m gonna predict that this will cause prices to go up.

  14. snuzzle #

    This new pet will not, in any way, devalue gold in th ame way directly purchasing gold from Blizzard would. The gold is already there, you’re trading someone gold they already had for the pet you just spent $10 on. No new gold was introduced into the economy. Unless they purchase illicit gold to buy the pet with in game gold, which is just an absurd notion when the pet is available for real money from Blizzard, too.

  15. Hestiah #

    I’m not sure what the huff is about. I think I feel similarly to you with regard to this particular situation. I think the shadier and more abusive ways that people obtain gold for selling makes the “gold buying” such a terrible market. The gold your buying could be from your guildie, or a friend, and that is just plain shitty. However, if buying gold were a Blizzard sanctioned thing, then no one would care.

    Here’s the thing. I have $100 I don’t need. In a game that I play there’s an item that I want that costs 25k gold. Why shouldn’t I be able to spend that $100 to get the gold? I’m not saying everyone should do it. I’m not saying everyone will participate. I imagine most people can find something better to spend that $100 on anyway, but for me, I want that damn [Really Uber Item of Awesome]. If I can go to Fry’s or Best Buy and waste $100 on something lame and dumb, why can’t this be my “lame and dumb” item of the week?? It’s not about having more or being better all the time, sometimes it’s about finding other ways to spend my time… and money. I don’t want to spend weeks and week (and possibly months) trying to make the 25k, I want it now! Buying gold is a really good way for Blizzard to capitalize on people’s need for instant gratification.

    I’m just sayin’, if I could, I’d buy gold. Mostly so I could have some amazing items in game and show people that I have far too much money to waste, but value my time. I don’t fault people for this.

  16. Tomaj #

    In the short term, that might seem fine. But say, you don’t have that $100 until next. That’s okay, because you’ll have that [Really Uber Item of Awesome]. However…. you’re not the only person that’s been buying that gold, so the monetary value of the item actually goes up due to inflation, and that $100 is, say, $20 short of in-game gold that you’d actually need to get the item. In this same regard, the value of one gold piece in game goes down because of that inflation. (You can see the same thing in real life economics with the value of an American dollar, for example, or any other currency.)

    Basically, this means, if I want [Really Uber Item of Awesome] and I don’t have the IRL cash to pay for the gold, I’m stuck with a couple options. (A) I farm the gold up the old way, and potentially stuck in an eternal game of catch-up as gold value decreases and item value increases, but I never actually obtain the amount of gold needed for the item due to this, or (B) say I’m shit outta luck and deal with never having said item.

    Now, at the moment, this is only a vanity pet, which not everyone’s interested. All fine and dandy, but with the huge amount of transactions that are going to come with this, this will put a lot of gold into the in-game economies. Since there’s more gold available, the other crafted items that everyone wants now go up in price to support that increased cash flow.

  17. snuzzle #

    I see what you’re saying, but that only applies to when new gold is introduced into the economy by gold purchases, which this does not do. The gold only trades hands, it’s not being created when someone purchases the Cub. This just gets more gold moving around the economy, it should neither contribute to nor help against inflation.

  18. Psynister #

    This pet, in and of itself, doesn’t bother me.

    If I were a crazed pet collector (which I’m not, by any stretch) then it would probably bother me that they’re asking $10 for a single pet that I’d want to add to all of my characters which would get expensive real quick. If the pet was super cute and had some cool, interactive animations (like /bow when you have the Pandaren Monk targeted) then I’d probably consider getting one for one of my characters.

    I think if Blizzard really wanted money from this, they would have been better served charging less for it so that people would be willing to buy larger quantities. What’s more likely the case, is Bliz is going to use this to judge how much gold the current player base perceives $10 to be worth so that we do see literally cash for gold transactions from Blizzard themselves rather than the goldfarmers.

    I anticipate we’ll see little impact on the economy overall from this pet by itself as there’s not going to be a never-ending supply of people who want to purchase these. Spikes for sure, but nothing long term. The snowball that Tomaj mentioned is what really has the potential to drastically change the economy. If this really takes off, WoW is in for a world of change in the not-so-distant future.

  19. Guinnyn #

    While I agree that this is a really good shot at stopping illicit gold selling on WoW, it also hurts the people (like me) who would just buy the pet for themselves. Of course I understand Blizz needs to do that on a highly desirable item, which is not “game-breaking” and only interesting to collectors… but how about those collectors who just want to have the pet themselves on all of their toons?

    I am not against the usage of this pet to be sold on the AH. I agree it will lessen the account hacking and other escuse means the gold farmers have to obtain their products. I Just wish I could have it on all of my toons without having to cough up $10 for each. :/

  20. Oestrus #

    How many toons do you really need to have the pet attached to? Is it seriously going to be that expensive? I can understand having it on your main, the toon you play the most. Anything after that and even after THAT seems kind of silly.

  21. snuzzle #

    What would be nice to see would be an option to purchase the BOE one for $10 and a BOA one for, say, $20 or $15. That way, altoholics or collectors could get one for themselves and others who just want one or want to sell it hve their option too.

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