World of Warcraft developers Blizzard have announced that the WoW tokens can now be used for other Blizzard products.
The original rollout for the World of Warcraft tokens was back in 2015, and was a plan to enable more trading between players within the game. Similar to the PLEX concept rolled out by EVE Online years back, players can spend real-world money to purchase a WoW token and sell it in the game for in-game currency. This allows players who have a lot of gold or earn a lot over the course of a month to consistently keep their account subscribed without having to pay a dime.
It also allows players just getting started to have a way of getting more gold, and the method Blizzard has used to control the supply of WoW tokens has kept the economy from being completely overrun with cash-to-currency exchanges.
However, the new rollout earlier this month allowing players to spend those WoW tokens on other Blizzard products has driven up the in-game price of these tokens massively.
Prices in World of Warcraft for the tokens were already modestly high, anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 gold pieces each. After the announcement was released, those numbers skyrocketed to well over 100,000 gp each. Furthermore, the supply of tokens available evaporated within days, as their real-world value suddenly became so much higher.
Blizzard has had a history with cash-to-currency transaction and vice-versa. The ill-fated Diablo 3 real money auction house operated for about two controversy-filled years before Blizzard finally pulled the plug. Part of the issue there was high-level players "cashing out," using their accounts and gear to make significant amounts of money. Many complaints revolved around the necessity of purchasing gear from the RMAH in order to remain relevant within the greater context of the Diablo 3 game.
Glixel interviewed Ion Hazzikostas, WoW's game director, regarding the World of Warcraft tokens and brought up the RMAH.
"The removal of the real money auction house in D3 actually made this possible. We never would have considered token-to-balance conversion if that existed, because it allowed you to cash out of the game. We're not looking to create real wealth here. We're not looking to create real dollars, we're not looking to become a bank. We're just trying to offer a way for players with tons of gold and players without much gold to transact within the game world using things that are valuable to both of them as a medium. That's the key difference."Hazzikostas also pointed out that the implementation of the tokens has been an effective step in combating gold-farming, a banned practice where people sell in-game gold for real money. Gold-farmers are also sometimes believed to be guilty of compromising accounts and using methods harmful to other players in their pursuit of gold.
The WoW token business model is also a great money-maker for Blizzard. The actual tokens cost $20, but when a player credits it to their Battlenet account, the token is only worth $15. Each token ends up being a net profit for Blizzard, regardless as to whether or not it was used for World of Warcraft or another one of Blizzard's lineup, such as Starcraft II or Overwatch
According to wowtoken.info, there are exactly three things that can be done with tokens.
- Buy one with money from the in-game Shop, then sell it in the Auction House for gold.
- Buy one with gold from the Auction House, then use it to add 30 days of game time to your subscription.
- Buy one with gold from the Auction House, then use it to add money to your Battle.net Balance.