Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The WoW Token Arrives Today

Yesterday, Blizzard announced that they planned to launch the introduction of the WoW Token, its version of EVE Online's PLEX ... today. Well, at lest in the Americas region (North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand). Tokens will cost $20 USD/$25 AUD in the in-game cash shop and Blizzard will set the initial auction house price to 30,000 gold. The WoW Token will operate in a region-wide, not realm-wide, market. Blizzard has also placed an initial limit of allowing players to purchase 10 WoW Tokens within a 30-day period.

The price point that Blizzard set reflects the real world price that players have already assigned to WoW gold purchased on the black market.

Black market prices on Earthen Ring, Horde, 6 April 2015
The graphic above lists the prices that shops on Player Auctions were offering for 30,000 gold on Monday. Except for one shop that is already barely below Blizzard's initial price, these black market shops are all at least 15% over Blizzard's initial price.

One major difference between EVE's PLEX and Blizzard's WoW Token is that in the Blizzard model, players do not necessarily trade the WoW Token for gold on a contract basis like they would a weapon or flask. An interview lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas did with Venture Beat in March revealed a slight twist:
"One interesting note is that no matter when or how big the movement in the market is, sellers and buyers will always be guaranteed to get the price they saw. If a seller posts a token and the market moves downward before a buyer picks it up, the purchaser will pay the cheaper price — but the seller will still get the higher gold price they were quoted when listing the token. The same thing will happen in reverse: If a buyer pays more gold for the token than the seller was promised, the seller will still get paid the lower price.
"'Potentially there are small amounts of gold that are being created, but also destroyed,” Hazzikostas said. “It’s about security and certainty, and it all evens out.'"
Between these price guarantees along with the inability to trade or resell a token once purchased from the auction house, Blizzard hopes to avoid the WoW Token becoming the investment vehicle that PLEX became in the EVE economy.

From an RMT standpoint, Blizzard appears well-positioned to cause the sellers of black market gold some problems. With the rules around the sale and possession of the WoW Token, the item should never become a viable product for sale unless the RMT shop resorts to credit card fraud. Also, the initial price point should force gold sellers to, at least initially, lower prices in order to attract sales. Even if the price of the WoW Token falls to 25,000 gold, that still equates to a $24 USD/30,000 gold rate, which still matches or beats the price of the major gold sellers on Player Auctions. I personally believe that gold sellers will need to beat the price offered by purchasing the token by 30-40% in order to generate a high level of sales. Such a drop in the price of black market gold would definitely hurt the wallets of the professionals.

However, just like PLEX in EVE, the WoW Token will not, by itself, end gold selling in World of Warcraft. By putting a cap on what gold sellers can charge, though, the WoW Token can contribute to marginal RMT operations going out of business. But, that outcome depends on the actions of WoW players. Will those who wish to purchase gold turn to an approved method, or will they continue dealing with the black market sellers?


  1. At 20k I would have bought 10 on each of my two accounts. is the limit of 10 on buying with gold or buying with dollars? being egocentric I assumed it was with gold.

    at 30k I might buy 3 or 4 and wait for the demand to drop off. gold capped players only need one per account per month. the unwashed masses will want a new BOE or mount weekly.

    Bliz also needs to allow expansions to be buyable with tokens or they wont get returning players coming back to play for free.
    ps someone tell Tobold to allow anonymous commenting ffs.

  2. In Eve it's possible to get the ISK from a PLEX instantly if you sell to an existing buy order. In Guild Wars 2 equivalent system an instant transaction is the only option.

    How long does it take before a player would receive the gold from selling their token in WoW ?

    If it's too long, the other gold sellers might be able to sustain a higher price because they can deliver the gold faster.