The emperor’s new “token”


Blizz's new "token"

Blizz’s new “game time token”

How many of you are going to rush out and buy a 30-day “game time” token from Blizz for $20? Well, yes, I know you can subscribe for a month for $15, but THIS IS A TOKEN! FOR A MONTH OF GAME TIME! See how cool it is? Bet you wish you had this awesome thing, huh? Did I mention it’s only $20?

Yeah, I get it. The whole point of the token is not for people to buy it and use it for game time. It is for people to buy it and pay for other people’s game time. In return, the people they buy the game time for will give them a tip of in-game gold, amount variable and also moderated by Blizz. What could go wrong?

So if you are the original purchaser, this is more of a table bet than an outright gold purchase for you. It goes like this:

You: Ok, here’s my twenty bucks. I definitely need me some in-game gold. How much will I get?

Blizz: Here’s your token. We can’t say for sure how much gold this is worth. You have to log in to see.

You: Um, ok.

At this point, once you log in and check the special auction house tab, there are several alternate scenarios. (Obviously the circumstances of each can be mixed and matched.)

Scenario 1: Going rate is posted at (some high amount of gold) and estimated wait time before sale is a few minutes. You are happy, feel as if your $20 was well spent.

Scenario 2: Going rate is posted at (some mediocre amount of gold) and estimated wait time before sale is a few hours. You are not sure this was the best use for your $20. Could have gotten more gold and faster service through the illicit gold sellers.

Scenario 3: Going rate is posted at (some insultingly low amount of gold) and estimated wait time before sale is, well who cares, you feel ripped off and gullible no matter how fast or slow it sells. Could have gotten even more gold and faster service through the illicit gold sellers.

Scenario 4: You are not allowed to post your token for sale, as there are too many unsold ones still listed. You are advised to wait until this situation has resolved itself, or even better, use your token for game time! At the bargain rate of 33% markup over a regular subscription. You feel ripped off, gullible, and very angry.

Let’s look at it from the other side. Say you are a little short on cash but have a ton of time and want to keep playing this game. You have some gold saved up, not millions, but maybe 50k or so which lets face it is still a lot of gold to most players and not an amount the majority of players have lying around.  You check out the new token sale tab in the auction house.

Scenario 1: Tokens are available, but the lowest one is (some amount that will pretty much wipe out your gold stash). You try and figure out if you can make enough gold in 30 days at this rate to keep playing after this first token runs out. You also try and figure out if you really want this game to turn into one in which you must constantly make gold in order to keep playing. Is that your preferred play style?

Scenario 2:  No tokens are available. The gold price for them dropped so low that token holders do not consider them worth selling.

Scenario 3:  Lots of  tokens are available. Unfortunately the gold price for them is beyond your gold supply. You keep checking back though.

Scenario 4: Tokens are available for what you consider to be a reasonable and sustainable price. You are a happy camper.

Let me point out a couple of things. First, Blizz is happy in all instances because they are now selling 30 days of game time for $20 instead of the usual $15. Second, if you graph the various scenarios above, there is no point at which sellers and buyers will be happy — Scenario 1 for sellers and Scenario 4 for buyers will never intersect.

The going rate — on my server today — for illicit gold is 30k gold for about $23. This is an exchange rate of roughly 1300 gold per dollar. This is a sure thing. You give them $23, you get 30k gold, no waffling. Now maybe Blizz’s tokens will start out for a lot more than that, but of course there is no guarantee. For myself, given all the uncertainties of Blizz’s setup, I can’t see shelling out $20 unless I am certain of getting at least 50k gold in return. Even if there are others who would settle for a lower price, I really am not sure there are many players willing to pay that much gold for a month’s game time. The relative number of potential sellers versus potential buyers would seem not to support this market model. I admit I could be surprised, and this endeavor will be a wild success, but I just don’t see it.

So what it comes down to is, how much real money are you willing to lay out for in-game gold? No, I take that back. What it comes down to is, how much real money are you willing to lay out as a table bet on the chance that you might get an unknown amount of in-game gold? This is not exactly what I would call a sound investment strategy. More like Vegas, where by the way the house always wins.

The only way I see this having a chance of working is:

  • On the Blizz web site, on the page where you buy the tokens, the in-game selling price is posted, along with the scheduled time when the rate will change. That way, you can decide if you think the rate is worth your $20 or not.
  • Blizz offers some of their vanity store items for sale with in-game gold. This will tend to take gold out of the game and help guard against inflation.
  • Blizz posts the daily numbers of tokens listed and sold for each region. That way, you can see if your token will sell in a reasonable amount of time. Conversely, if you are a buyer, you can see if you have a reasonable chance of snagging a token for the amount you are willing to spend.
  • Blizz keeps the token price competitive with that of the illicit gold sellers. (Or maybe other way around, which likely will be a windfall for the illicits if the Blizz rate ends up being a comparatively paltry amount of gold for $20.)
  • To limit speculation and possibly to keep AH queues manageable, Blizz places a cap on the number of $20 tokens an account can buy from the store, say one per week.

How about you? What do you think of Blizz’s new “token”? Will you be speculating in this market?


About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to The emperor’s new “token”

  1. Well, that is very interesting. I’d not imagined the above scenarios and was surprised that the Auction House is the filter for trade, though it makes sense now. In fact, I can see the tab on the AH.
    What I thought would happen and wanted to happen was that I could use my in-game gold to buy a token and simply hand it over to a friend who can barely afford to play.

  2. Fiannor says:

    Blizz has said that once the tokens are bought through the AH tab for gold, they become soulbound. This is to prevent mass speculation. So if you want to buy game time for your friend, you will have to send the gold to your friend and let them buy the token themselves.

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