Tobold's Blog
Monday, December 22, 2014
 
World of Warcraft thinking about Free2Play

Free2Play is such an imprecise term, most MMORPGs can be played for free in one form or another, for example in free trials. So you could say that WoW has been Free2Play for quite some time. But in a recent developer post, Blizzard said they were thinking about introducing "tradable game-time tokens for the purpose of exchanging them in-game with other players for gold". Which is pretty much the least controversial way of allowing people to play the full game for free. It diminishes (but not removes) the illegal gold farming business, by giving players a legal way to buy gold. And at the same time it gives other players a way to turn their gold into subscription time to save money.

I don't think World of Warcraft is the ideal game for this sort of tradable game-time tokens. The game economy has always carefully excluded most of the stuff that players actually want. Buying a million gold pieces is probably a lot less useful in WoW than the equivalent in many other games. Unless the last expansion has introduced a ton of tradable epics, I'm not quite sure what people are going to want to spend their gold on. In my experience (from previous expansions), where through auction house trades I achieved a pile of gold, was that you can't even properly equip a twink with that gold, because the AH never has any decent gear for sale.

Nevertheless there are obviously a lot of people buying gold illegally, so giving them a legal option is a good idea. And those players who now have a lot of gold can play WoW for free. It will be interesting to see how that works out, and whether it increases the subscription numbers further, after the recent growth spurt.

It is somewhat ironic that the game who invented those tradable game-time tokens, EVE Online, is going in the reverse direction: EVE will in the future make "input broadcasting and input multiplexing bannable offenses". Or in other words, EVE will make multi-boxing a lot more difficult, which will result in less accounts, and less trades of ISK to PLEX.

Comments:
You are wrong, currently you can buy many BoE mythic warforged items of very hing lvl. Thay are insanely powerfull.

http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2014/12/pay-to-win-in-world-of-warcraft.html
 
As I argued in a Podcast at the weekend, until they totally remove the Sub, this game remains Pay to Play, or in the case of buying high level characters for cash, Pay to NOT Play ^^

This game will never be truly free to play, IMO, if Blizzard want to maintain the level of Customer Service they currently supply, as the money required to upkeep that level of human resources needs to come from somewhere.

But yeah, if it gives people like yourself the IMPRESSION they're going F2P, that's absolutely a reason why these tokens might work.
 
There is a gold sink in form of the Black Market (buy Ashes of A'lar for insane amounts of gold while being attacked by your competitors if you're on PvP server).
 
With enough gold you can pimp your char with 7 raid grade epics right from the AH (provided other players sell their BoE/crafted gear). On top of that the BMAH sells mythic gear from raids that are not even available to players.

I really hope Blizzard does not go through with that. Main reason: the gold to buy Plex has to come from somewhere and when Blizzard stays on the path of making everything expensive (eg thousands of gold to build the garrison on alts) a time will come when more and more people use bots to farm it. Players without bots will have to play long long hours to buy anything good on the AH.
 
WoW will be going Free2Play in a way that also will make it Pay2Win, I think. When I can buy BoE mythic warforged items on the AH with gold, then at least I know that it was through my own in-game efforts that I got that gold. If I can buy it with my credit card, then what point remains in the game?
 
My belief is that WoW won't truly go f2p unless they can replace the lost income from somewhere.

The most likely possibilities are Overwatch (whenever that comes out) or the video game circuit.

Activision/Blizzard is out on their own now, and they have investors to answer to on a quarterly basis. This version of F2P (which is kind of closer to "pay to win" than anything else) will serve to answer more accurately one burning question on everyone's mind: just how many subs are gold farmer accounts?

It won't eliminate gold farming by any stretch, but it will potentially eliminate some of the sweatshops out there. With those gold farming operations gone, investors will have a better feel for just how many subs out there are truly playing the game vs. fly-by-night gold farming operations.

But one thing that it might increase, however, is account theft. The reward in account hacking suddenly becomes greater if you manage to hit the mother lode and nab an account full of gold.

 
I am pleased with this and hope it happens ASAP. I no longer have any interest in raiding, but still enjoy the economic/AH pvp. So hopefully if Bliz starts selling gold, they will make more things purchasable with gold.
 
@ Redbeard "It won't eliminate gold farming by any stretch, but it will potentially eliminate some of the sweatshops out there"

I don't see how it will get rid of them. These sweatshops will farm more gold than ever, buying Plex for more than any real player wants to pay. Then they sell the Plex for a little less real money than Blizzard itself. I bet these Plex sell way better than illicit gold does today.
 
@bryksom-- If implemented properly, Plex would only work for the account that generated it. You'd have to farm gold still, but having Blizzard set the exchange rate means that they can control by how much effort it would take a gold farming operation to make money.
 
You are wrong, currently you can buy many BoE mythic warforged items of very hing lvl. Thay are insanely powerfull.

You can always count on Gevlon to provide wrong/incomplete information, as well as suggesting a "strategy" which is so grossly inefficient that he should remove "goblin" from his blog title.
The P2W of having multiple alts has been in existence for ages through refer-a-friend, which has a much much higher result/cost ratio.
As for the "insanely" powerful, I got one of those upgrades from the raid last week. It's a 300 DPS increase on top of a 27k DPS total, i.e, a bit more than 1%... talk about exaggeration.
 
"The P2W of having multiple alts has been in existence for ages through refer-a-friend, which has a much much higher result/cost ratio."

Alts have never been this insanely profitable, to be fair, which is his main point. I could basically generate 1000g per day in less than 5 minutes per alt -- so having 10 level 90+ characters is an easy 10k per hour (but only for one hour per day).

"As for the "insanely" powerful, I got one of those upgrades from the raid last week. It's a 300 DPS increase on top of a 27k DPS total, i.e, a bit more than 1%... talk about exaggeration."

Getting a bunch of them (especially while starting with worse gear initially) can easily be a 10-20% improvement, which is a big deal in progression raiding (even if irrelevant in all other cases).
 
This already basically exists in WoW. There are many pets and mounts you can buy with real money and sell for gold, it is essentially the same thing.

Surprise, surprise, it didn't ruin the game.
 
Well as far as balancing, it would have to be pretty cheap to make it so that it's worth the players time to play themselves instead of paying some Chinese guy minimum wage. In the alternative players aren't going to be too motivated to make their own gold to pay for game time if the exchange rate is so bad they're putting in a 100 hours of work for $15.

Also, and I'm sure Blizz is acutely aware of this, if you make it so that people don't need to play the game because they get to max level for free, buy all the gold they want, etc. Without the ever dangling carrot of faux achievement people will get bored faster and leave even though it is easier.

Also having a cash value for their time may well underline how much time they are wasting on crap. I'd assume Blizz would set the exchange rate so that paying for game time with in game currency to encourage people to pay in cash. The more indicators players have of how much time they expending on chores in game will wake a few people up sooner to how little their game time is really worth.
 
Ever since I been reading this blog I remember reading about how WoW is headed to f2p in one form or other.

As long as millions of people are willing to pay sub Blizzard will keep the sub model.

WoW is never a fail as long as they are bringing in truck load of cash. The criteria is reliable profit not game quality.

 
Seems that some people have it wrong.

You will not be able to buy subscription from BLIZZARD for gold with this system. You can buy an item that gives gametime, but you buy it for real cash. You can however THEN sell this item to me (or someone else) for gold, allowing ME to buy gametime from you for gold, that you bought from blizzard with cash.

At no point will anyone be able to play without blizzard having been paid real money. It just might be someone else who have paid blizzard. Actually as far as I am aware the price for the BoE gametime object is usually (other games do this) a bit higher than an equivalent amount of subbed time. Making it actually beneficial for blizzard for people to pay to play this way...

So blizzard will never be the ones setting a "gold value" on the item, ingame capitalism will determine this, perhaps as suggested by someone above in tandem with illegal gold markets.

This is purely a way to allow someone to pay for someone elses gametime, in exhange for some of that players gold.
 
"...EVE will make multi-boxing a lot more difficult, which will result in less accounts, and less trades of ISK to PLEX."

Not really. The theory is that the people running ISBoxer (which I think should be familiar to those who play WoW) will leave, lowering the demand, and thus the price, for PLEX. When the price drops, then those who were priced out of the PLEX market by the ISBoxers will be able to buy PLEX, and can then reactivate their dropped accounts or pick up new accounts. So the number of actual accounts should stay the same, unless people pick up PLEX to purchase things out of the cash shop like ship skins and character clothing or character services like multiple character training. But in either case, ISBoxers leaving EVE should not cost CCP money. At least, that's the theory.
 
Let's wait and see. Diablo' RMAH (real money auction house) was introduced as the final solution, the only way to prevent scamming and goldselling sites. It's not the same thing BUT it has something in common.

We all know what it happened: it just ruined the experience and Blizzard admitted it was a wrong thing to do (then... they removed it from the game).
 
Alts have never been this insanely profitable, to be fair, which is his main point.

I never said this is false, I agree completely. But 10 alts = $600, which is a lot of money. If you "invite" one friend who "invites" another friend you can then powerlevel with your high-level character:
- two characters on the invited accounts
- for each two leveled on the invited accounts you get one extra on the first invited and a second one on your main account.
This is A WHOLE LOT MORE money-efficient than buying level 90s. It's also a lot more profitable, since you'll have more alts (which are only really needed for the beginning of the expansion, you can then shut down the additional accounts 3 months later).

BTW (begin parenthesis) all this P2W discussion comes simply from the fact that Gevlon must "demonstrate" that WoW is P2W, to justify the fact that he plays a game - EVE - which allowed all this from the start. Since he cannot accept the fact that he's just an average player lacking the skills and the motivation to be part of a high-level group, he's on a trip to "demonstrate" that the only reason he's not such a world-class player is a fault of the games and not of his own. (end parenthesis)

Getting a bunch of them (especially while starting with worse gear initially)

Except it's not that easy (BTW for me it was a normal->mythic upgrade).
In particular it needs someone who has downed the 1st mythic boss who is willing to share/extend his raid lock just to let people farm the mythic instance thrash (means at least 2nd week of raiding), a lot of people willing (and able) to farm it and the sell the results.
And, guess what, the people who would profit from buying those upgrades are the same ones who are farming this stuff..... so no, you cannot really boost your progression with the farm/AH/sale.

The only exceptions are:
- BMAH, which provides an insignificant amount of items (but I agree that here a guild may luck out and get one item -> but then it's the 1% increase)
- world drops (the agi trinket is really "insanely powerful"), the % is so low that you cannot really farm it, here having 100k in your bank will definitely help.

So in short yes, you can buy yourself some significant upgrade, most of it after it has become irrelevant for any significant progression.....
(BTW there are also the garrison missions which can provide mythic-level gear, but again after it's relevant).
 
"Since he cannot accept the fact that he's just an average player lacking the skills and the motivation to be part of a high-level group, he's on a trip to "demonstrate" that the only reason he's not such a world-class player is a fault of the games and not of his own."

Well, being 7/7N and 6/7H puts him well above an average player, to be fair. And I'm speaking as someone who leads a two night a week guild that routinely clears the hardest difficulty while relevant (2/7M at the moment).

"In particular it needs someone who has downed the 1st mythic boss who is willing to share/extend his raid lock just to let people farm the mythic instance thrash (means at least 2nd week of raiding), a lot of people willing (and able) to farm it and the sell the results."

I wasn't even referring to mythic trash items, solely just world 665 BoEs and three 670 crafted slots of your choice. Even doing like half a dozen normal/heroic clears the first week like the top guilds do doesn't guarantee you'll have better than a 630 blue in every slot.

I mean, you do realize crafted gear and BoE equips had a much larger impact on raiding in WoD than they did in all of MoP, right?
 
I mean, you do realize crafted gear and BoE equips had a much larger impact on raiding in WoD than they did in all of MoP, right?

That I agree with. Probably a consequence of the 2 1/2 weeks of "waiting" for raids to open and a response from Blizzard that crafting was irrelevant. (I still find it irrelevant, BTW).
 
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