Blog Archives

WoW PLEX

One of the more interesting blue posts to come out of a WoW lately has been Blizzard’s flirting with a PLEX-like subscription option:

New Ways to Play
We’re exploring the possibility of giving players a way to buy tradable game-time tokens for the purpose of exchanging them in-game with other players for gold. Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system. A few other online games offer a similar option, and players have suggested that they’d be interested in seeing something along those lines in WoW. We agree it could be a good fit for the game, and we look forward to any feedback you have as we continue to look into this feature.

Reaction seems to run the gambit from “OMG P2W!!1” to “that’s not going to work.” Wilhelm has an exceptional review on the overall topic on TAGN. As someone who rather enjoys the economic side of MMOs, you might assume that I would be excited about this news myself. And you would be correct, in a sense. You would also be correct in saying that this both increases the chances I play WoW again and the chances that I do not.

To be clear, I think the argument that adding PLEX to WoW is somehow turning it into Pay-2-Win is ridiculous. People have been able to sell the TCG loot cards for ages, and I would argue that the ability to have multiple accounts (let alone the more recent instant-90 purchases) would qualify as P2W under similar definitions. This thesis is also being forwarded by Gevlon, whom believes EVE isn’t P2W, despite the advantages being demonstratively better in that game.

Because even if you bought full, top-tier raiding suit of gear in WoW, what then? What have you won? The personal advantage is immaterial unless you are also grouped with the best players anyway. And even then, the advantage is one that is easily met by anyone who has played WoW in the last ten years (i.e. anyone with alts). Or anyone who has taken advantage of Recruit-A-Friend. Or anyone who has a friend chain-run dungeons with them. Or, let’s be serious, anyone who has a friend, period.

Bhagpuss and Others may bandy about the whole “you’re getting paid less than minimum wage if you farm for gold” canard, but that’s completely irrelevant IMO. One derives a “virtual wage” from any form of entertainment, which is the reason you’re playing videogames and not working 18 hours every day. Indeed, every single day that you forgo the possibility of overtime work is a day in which that one or more hour of free-time gained is worth 1.5x your rate of pay. And if you think $0.18/hour or whatever is bad, think about the $0.00 you get from a single-player game!

No, the way that PLEX-like systems kill my enjoyment of a given game is by the transitive property of in-game currency. You are no longer spending 100,000g on that fun mammoth mount with the repair vendor, you are spending $45 or however many PLEXes you could have purchased with that 100k. I had this same issue in Wildstar, as you might recall:

Or, hey, maybe you just want to dye your clothes. Hopefully you enjoy pastel colors, because otherwise you are looking at 9.26 platinum (926g) to dye your clothes red, and a similar amount with the ever-suspiciously-rare black dye. That is quite literally $80. For one channel, out of three.

Or maybe you just want to unlock the AMP that is responsible for 20% of your class’s theoretical DPS. Sorry, it’s an ultra-rare world drop. Current price? 12p on the AH. Or $100.

Isn’t it wonderful what RMT does to one’s perspective?

And further back in Diablo 3:

…but today all of this has changed for me [when gold was directly purchasable on D3 AH].

That 722,500g is no longer a means of purchasing a better weapon with more Life on Hit for progression… it’s $2.24. Nor is the 900+ DPS 1H weapon I snagged for a 1.5 million gold bid (a true steal) actually 1.5 million gold – it’s a somewhat ludicrous $4.65 cash shop transaction. That I did not whip out my credit card is irrelevant; like most AH goblins, I have preached the opportunity cost hymn too much to ever look at such things differently. Given that I could use the weapon to help clear Act 3 and then resell it for 3 million, perhaps it is more like a loan. Or a Vegas gamble at the nickle slots.

Once I see the dollar sign in my gameplay, I cannot unsee it. The AH is no longer the fun little diversion that keeps me engaged for months, and instead becomes a subscription energy meter. Repair costs go from a figurative to a literal nickel-and-diming penalty. I start second-guessing my in-game purchases just as I second-guess my everyday IRL purchases. “Do I really need that BiS trinket, considering it costs $9.37?” The answer is always No.

So while it’s nice to see that my gold-hoarding tendencies might have a more useful function in the future, it comes at a… er, heavy cost.

Advertisements

More Gold Strategies in Wildstar

I successfully purchased my first free month of game-time in Wildstar last week with a buy order of 2.25p. In case you’re wondering, there is indeed a fee for putting up a buy order, because sinkception.

Because why not.

Because why not.

Given how my highest character is level 23, you might be wondering how I did this. In no particular order, here are some of my gold-making methods:

1) Sell all the decor. I’ve gone over this before, but you should also get a feel for what’s on the AH in addition to vendor price. For example, one of the things that put me over the top was a 25g sell order for an Ikthian Holding Tank. I have no idea what that is other than the fact(s) that it vendors for 1.83s, I won it from a Housing Challenge, and there were none on the AH. In retrospect, perhaps I should have put it up for 1p and seen what happened.

2) Similar to the above: selling Dyes. Specifically, selling the Dye Collections (e.g. don’t open them) you can get from Housing Challenge rewards. This actually might be on its way out as a strategy on my server; they used to sell for 5g apiece all day long, but are now approaching 1g. That can still be a lot of money, just like with the nerfed-but-still-75s-apiece Challenge rewards I talked about a few weeks ago. The one that seems to still retain its value on my server is the Ikthia Collection, which hovers around 6g.

3) Tradeskill Reagents. In one of those WoW-esque bizarro scenarios in which you sell things to people capable of making it themselves, I was making a HUGE profit margin with Weaponsmithing, specifically making the Condensers (i.e. Titanium Elemental Condenser). Only Weaponsmiths can make this item and only Weaponsmiths can use it, so… the market for them should literally be zero. And yet it’s not. I actually blame Carbine for this, as their crafting interface is a steaming pile of unintelligible garbage, but I’m not above selling things people shouldn’t really have a need to purchase.

4) Abusing Buy/Sell Orders. This isn’t so much “abuse” as it is “profit-extraction,” but it basically entails noticing when a wide gulf exists between Buy and Sell Orders. For example, many AMPs have a Buy Order of 10s (below vendor price even before fees!) and a Sell Order of 2g or whatever. So I come in, create a Buy Order for 15s out of the goodness of my heart, then turn around and sell any that people inexplicably dump on the AH, for less than the best Sell Order. It’s passive, it’s not guaranteed, and it takes up a lot of your ridiculously limited Trade Orders (25 max)… but it works often enough that I’m on the lookout for such opportunities.

Provide no value, get paid.

Provide no value, get paid.

A rather ridiculous non-AMP example I have is with Roan Steaks. I only actually knew about this meat drop because I was trying to figure out if there was any reason to level cooking, and it was one of the requirements in the Tech Tree. At the time, the ~1s buyout price was nothing compared to the money I was making via Challenge decor vendoring, so I put in a 200 item Buy order at like 1.1s. A week later, I noticed that Roan Steaks had a Sell Order of 30s apiece. I sold all of them. To be clear, I turned 2.2g into 57.8g in the equivalent of a penny stock windfall.

Not only is this still occurring, by the way, I’m pretty sure by this point reselling meat has been responsible for half of my total wealth.

5) Vendoring crafted goods. Tobold actually wrote about this several times, but you can occasionally get X profit per cycle crafting and vendoring the product, depending on AH prices. For example, Fine Titanium Cleaver requires 6 Titanium, a Low Viscosity Flux for 5.27 silver, and a Sapphire Power Core. If you use Refined Sapphire Powers Cores, e.g. a blue one, the result is a blue version of the weapon, which vendors for more. In this case, any time the combination of 6 Titanium and Refined Sapphire Power Cores is less than ~55s, you profit the difference.

Even though this is effectively endless profit, I personally feel I can earn more money faster via other means, up to and including just killing mobs in the world. You can usually pack in more profit by creating your own Power Cores, but at some point it might be better to simply sell the Power Cores than adding the extra step.

6) Vendor everything else. Ever complete a Challenge and then get wildly disappointed by randomly getting the Salvaged Loot bag? It’s not actually a disaster: each of the random crap items you receive sells for 5s or more apiece. The last loot bag I opened actually had 45s worth of “vendor trash.” That’s, you know, almost half a gold right there. Also, if you find yourself looking at regular quest rewards and not seeing an upgrade, make sure to pick the one that vendors for more; it’s almost always the Heavy Armor piece. It all adds up eventually.

7) Runes. I only recently discovered this opportunity, and right now it’s both low-demand and low-competition on my server. Basically, Runes are the equivalent of Gems in WoW but, bizarrely, everyone can craft them. All you need are the mats and some idea of which ones are selling high.

$_$

$_$

In the above example, Rune of Finesse has a current price of 20g. There aren’t any Buy Orders, so theoretically the demand is questionable. Regardless, four Rune Fragments, two Signs of Air, and one Major Sign of Air costs barely 3g on my server AH. In other words, the potential margins can be HUGE.

Rune Fragments are the typical bottleneck for this, as the only really reliable source of getting them is via Salvaging, which necessarily requires you to gamble the vendor price of the item. If Rune Fragments are expensive on your server though, they can be their own source of profit; just follow this video by Noxious. So, really, you should be covered on both end of things – either Rune Fragments are cheap and you can craft a bunch to sell, or they are expensive and you make money creating them.

8) Level Up. Although this is clearly not the route I have been taking, gold is easier to come by the closer to the cap you get. At level 50, you earn Elder Points for each full XP bar you earn, up to a certain weekly cap. Beyond that? All extra XP is converted to gold. This is on top of gold from daily quests, mob kills, vendoring level 50 loot, and so on. Worst comes to worst, you could vendor the tier 4/5 mats you get from mining (etc) to the tune of 50s+ per node.

So there you have it. Between this guide and my first one, you should not really have any trouble getting a comfortable level of wealth in Wildstar, even before the level cap.

Goldsinks

It’s all Wildstar, all the time up in this joint, but what is interesting is how many times I’ll encounter something that makes me reexamine more general MMO concepts. For example: goldsinks. Every MMO needs them, and yet Wildstar can sometimes feel like it has sinks within sinks (sinkception).

One example near and dear to my heart are AH fees. Wildstar features a 12% tax on sold goods. Having one at all is pretty standard, although wasn’t the cross-faction goblin cut 15% in WoW? Anyway, there is also a 2% or 5 silver (whichever is higher) fee on purchasing goods. And a listing fee. This can burn you pretty bad if you aren’t paying attention, as a 2s item suddenly costs 7s if you just buy the one, a 350% increase. Purchase 100 of them though, and that fee is just 2.5%.

70 copper purchase balloons into 570 copper.

70 copper purchase balloons into 570 copper.

Not impressed? Okay. I’m just getting started.

A more bizarre goldsink is that of respeccing. WoW has had respeccing fees forever, right? Sure. In Wildstar though, repeccing abilities is free and quick and absolutely painless… EXCEPT when it comes to AMPs. In other words, I can take a minute and go from DPS to healer no problem. I can mix and match anything on my action bar, including moving the “tiered” ability points around. What I can’t do is rearrange all those passive AMP points without getting dinged at an increasingly large rate. At level 50, it costs 50g. At current CREDD prices on my server, that means AMP respecs costs about $4. Every time.

Or, hey, maybe you just want to dye your clothes. Hopefully you enjoy pastel colors, because otherwise you are looking at 9.26 platinum (926g) to dye your clothes red, and a similar amount with the ever-suspiciously-rare black dye. That is quite literally $80. For one channel, out of three.

Or maybe you just want to unlock the AMP that is responsible for 20% of your class’s theoretical DPS. Sorry, it’s an ultra-rare world drop. Current price? 12p on the AH. Or $100.

Isn’t it wonderful what RMT does to one’s perspective?

I am not doubting the necessity of goldsinks¹. But I do agree with the posters on the forums that there is a profound difference between, say, an absurdly priced mount versus something that directly impacts day-to-day gameplay. Repair bills are one thing, as they act as a sort of death tax, encouraging specific behavior. But what does high AMP respecs accomplish? Discouraging people from utilizing their roles, after the deliberate design choice of making every class a hybrid? If it costs to change both AMP and Abilities around, that would at least be consistent. Instead, you have the ability to… be a crappy healer/tank at any time. Gee, thanks.

And then there’s the dye thing, which just seems pointlessly cruel. There are tons of housing sinks – including weekly upkeep on each of your plugs – but this just feels different to me, for some reason. Maybe because you already had to luck into/purchase the rare dye to begin with?

I am very much in favor of goldsinks in the form of WoW-esque 100,000g vendor mounts and other such extravagances. But the reason I am in favor of those things is because they are progressive goldsinks. In other words, these are goldsinks designed to hit players who can actually afford to pay them. Contrast that with, say, respecs. That hits everyone, in an extremely regressive way (nevermind the 70c AH item getting taxed to 5.7s). I feel like repair costs are perhaps the ultimate regressive tax, hitting the poor and inexperienced harder for essentially no good reason. I have always said that failure is its own punishment; you better have a good reason for adding an injury on top of the insult.

There have been a few people mentioning that these sinks will likely become irrelevant in the coming weeks and months as the playerbase matures. “These sinks were designed for the long haul,” they say. So, uh, is that supposed to make them better design choices? Making shit extra harsh in the free month off of release, only to fade into irrelevance as the playerbase thins out? Maybe it’s fair to assume that the negative PR of jacking goldsink rates up later is worth the initial hit now.

Still, I’d much prefer that other players act as the goldsinks (in terms of profit-taking) and not core gameplay mechanics. The latter ends up feeling a bit suspicious when you sell the means to bypass it (i.e. CREDD) in the game store.

¹ If I’m honest, I do kinda want to doubt them. The goldsinks in WoW are extremely minor at basically all levels of play, and easily circumvented with daily quest income. And yet it’s not as though the AH barons with seven-figure stockpiles are locking the average guy out from necessary AH goods.

Street CREDD

Wildstar’s EVE-like CREDD system is currently and unexpectedly active. Current price on my server? About 200g (or 2p, but that doesn’t feel as impressive).

Accurate as of today.

Accurate as of today.

There was a huge Architect nerf the day after I posted my guide, which reduced the vendor price of Decor by 40% (I did update it though). Apparently my bulletproof Challenge strategy was small potatoes compared with people earning +20p by vendoring decor crafted with below-vendor prices of ore/wood dumped by gatherers. On the one hand, I understand the need to not break the economy. On the other hand… 10 CREDD is $150 that I just missed out on.

It is an open question whether I would be playing Wildstar 10 months from now anyway. The truth is that I don’t know. Yesterday, I played it all day. Guys, I can’t even remember the last time I played one game for the entirety of my free time after work. Well, obviously, it was probably WoW, but still! Even though I think I prefer having a few small games that I work on each day, there isn’t much that can beat that feeling of delighting in bodily immersing yourself in a game.

"Challenge complete" is the sound of my addiction.

“Challenge complete” is the sound of my addiction.

And yet I am only level 18. I haven’t bothered with Adventures or even reading up on Dungeons, as I’m getting enough horror stories vicariously from Reddit. My ex-WoW friends haven’t logged on in a few days which, if nothing else, indicates they are not as deep into the game as I am. But am I even in that deep? I’m mining, playing the AH, and doing circuits of housing Challenges every 30 minutes or so. That’s still good, right? I mean, other than the fact that that pretty much describes my pattern of behavior in my twilight WoW months.

My nominal Wildstar goal is to get enough gold to purchase CREDD before having to enter any credit card info. At the current price, I am about 25% of the way there. It is entirely possible that I won’t be able to keep up with the presumed increase in demand as the game nears its 30-day mark. Or maybe my long-shot decor listing at 1p apiece (I was the only person listing the items) will result in a CREDD purchase tomorrow. Or maybe look shiny shiny I wonder if my Challenges have reset?

Err… so yeah. That’s been this whole week.