One of the big news items everyone is talking about lately is the new Guardian Club pet Blizzard announced they are going to be released soon. For the unaware, Blizzard has decided to release a new pet to their pet store for the standard $10 USD. There are two key differences between this pet and all the others to date which make it such a large news item, first, this pet will only be delivered to one character on the account, like the Refer-A-Fried mounts, and, most importantly, the pet will be BoE, and after a short cool down will be tradable to other players and be able to be posted on the auction house.
What this means is that, in a Blizzard approved transaction, a player can purchase an ingame item for cash, and sell it for gold. Blizzard claims this decision was based on players wanting alternate ways to acquire pets (and mounts) from the store without coughing up real cash for it. What many people claim is that this is an attempt from Blizzard to target the black market gold and item selling. A lot of people are outraged over this “Blizzard approved gold selling”.
But it isn’t. Selling that is. The players supplying the gold are not getting one cent, gold isn’t created, and gold doesn’t leave the server (except through any AH fees, but that’s just splitting hairs). It’s also not straight cash to gold conversion, so it’s highly susceptible to the server’s economy, though it’s a safe bet the item will be fairly harmonized across each region. There’s also one very large flaw in this system for players hoping to throw large sums at cash at their gold problems, the demand for this item will dry up, and dry up fast.
Initially, only pet collectors and money bags looking for status symbols will be buying these items. And since you only ever need one per character, and most will only buy it for one character, the demand will dry up, and dry up fast. Once that happens the price will plummet with lack of serious players wanting the item with the cash to buy it, and the price will plummet. Once that happens the more casual pet collectors will pick up the item, and people will start catching on that the cash to gold rate is terrible, and supply dries up, reaching equilibrium. I don’t see this pet going for more than 3 digits long term, with very few sales, and very few buyers, but no one interested if the price goes to high.
While a system like this works very well in Eve with PLEX, there are key variations which will make a world of difference (For those who don’t know, PLEX is an ingame item redeemable for game time which is initially purchased from the makers of EVE). The big one is that PLEX is a consumable; its effects only last so long before you have to buy more. Another key factor is that it’s relative potential buyer market is huge, everyone in Eve has a use for it, they’re all paying for the game, so they can all use PLEX to extend the time until they have to pay again. Not everyone in World of Warcraft collects pets, or even buys them at all. Percentage wise, it’s a much smaller market. These two differences will make all the difference between what Blizzard is doing and what the makers of Eve did, and why I think it’s unfair to draw direct comparisons.
So what does this mean? Nothing, nothing at all. The game will go on as before, with very little effect on the economy. The exchange rate will be too poor for most people to consider it, and it will most likely move slowly after the initial release. I predict that this will turn out exactly like blizzard plan, a way for players to get pet store pets, without paying for cash, while Blizzard still goes laughing all the way to the bank.