Earlier today on WoW Insider Anne Stickney asked if we need cross-realm auction house, and it’s an idea that’s been floated around in the last couple of months. The supporters of such a move see it as a way to revive dying servers and their economies. The idea is, much like cross-realm zones, the more the merrier when things start getting deserted.
On low population servers, or low population factions, this could be a huge boon to the players on the realm. Pairing up auction houses could potentially double the activity on the auction house, possibly even more depending on which servers get paired. On low population servers and/or factions this could be a big benefit, small economies tend to stall and aren’t beneficial to either buyer or sellers. When you’re dealing with a server like Anne is apparently dealing with, a larger player base accessing the Auction House can only be a good thing.
Alright so we all pretty much agree that this could be great for neglected economies, but what about larger servers like mine on US-Stormrage? It would be a nightmare. Already the Auction House is so large that TradeSkillMaster crashes when it tries to pull the scan data from the Auction House in-game (it’s not TSM’s fault, it’s the game, every add-on does it), I have to use the TradeSkillMaster desktop application just to get my scan data. Imagine if we now had a second realm tacked on there, it would be a nightmare. Not to mention there would simply be too many players on it, there would be too much competition and the Auction House and it would end up worse than what Anne is facing now.
Admittedly prices would likely be at an all time low, so while some players may see this as a good thing, there would be zero gold making opportunities. While every day items would be driven lower, the mats required to make them would be lowered correspondingly. Essentially, the economy would deflate. With so much gold in the economy already there’s really no telling what kind of havoc this could wreak. My guess the economy would stall, there simply wouldn’t be enough gold circulating and profit margins would be nothing.
Here’s another issue, how would these Auction House be shared? Not from a coding stand point, but from a logistics standpoint. Would it be all the servers in a battlegroup share an Auction House? If so things would go to bad from worse, there’d simply be too many players on the Auction House, and server economies that aren’t currently “ruined” would be. Would every server have to share Auction Houses? That would be doom for server’s like mine that are large enough as it is. Or would Blizzard prioritize so only low populations servers would merge? If so, how would they chose which servers get CRAH? And would these be fluid connections, or would the connections be fairly consistent (i.e. the CRAH are set and never change)? And what would this do to tools like The Undermine Journal?
While historically Blizzard has been very careful about contaminating economies servers, trading items in Looking for Dungeon and the like have always been problematic at best (“No I swear you should be able to trade me that item…”), I have no doubt that Blizzard would have to qualms enacting something like this. We already know Blizzard considers gold making odd behavior and they certainly haven’t seemed to care about gold making before, and so I have no doubt in my mind that Blizzard would trash the economies in the name of accessibility. Honestly, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when Blizzard will roll out Cross Realm Auction Houses.