By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the new mount that Blizzard’s selling for World of Warcraft that’s not bind on acquire. Therefore, players can buy the mount, for $10, and then sell it in-game on the auction house. This is causing an uproar in some circles, who claim that Blizzard has effectively entered the gold-selling market on its own, allowing players to spend real money to increase their in-game funds.
First, while true, this is nothing new. Loot cards (including mounts) from the WoW TCG have been unbound for years. You could go on eBay right now, spend money to acquire a mount loot card/code, and then put that mount up for sale on the auction house. So there’s that. Maybe the uproar is more about Blizzard taking a direct hand in gold-selling, rather than individual consumers, corporate greed and all that.
But here’s my question: Why buy gold in the first place?
I’m not a high-level WoW player, so I won’t claim to have advanced knowledge of what the endgame economy is like. My most significant experience is in The Lord of the Rings Online, though I also dabbled in Rift‘s endgame. In both of those games, in-game cash, whether gold, platinum, silver, copper, etc., is rarely used except for a few basic purchases, which aren’t much of a drain on your funds: skills, repairs, the occasional utility item or components, etc. Even without doing anything remarkable to upgrade your funds, my characters have never had any problem with money. Most games give you plenty of money to work with, and gear as you advance so you rarely need to spend it. Once you have a decent stash of gold, which pretty much any character will have by the time he/she reaches the level cap just from quest rewards and vendor trash-selling, what else do you need?
And the best gear is pretty much never purchasable with anything as mundane as “gold.” It requires tokens or shards or fragments or some other form of barter currency that the gold-sellers can’t get to you because that stuff is all bind on acquire. (I feel it should be bind on account, but that’s another matter.) So you can buy that specially crafted piece of armor on the auction house that’s 2% better than what you’ve got now and is on par with/worse than what you’ll get in a dungeon or craft yourself? For that, you’re going to spend $10 on a mount or give your credit-card info to people who hack accounts to steal gold from other players? Whatever.
I’m not totally against some people wanting to expedite their advancement via real-money transactions, but if I’m going to do that, I’m sure as heck not going to spend my cash to get something as useless as gold.