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Gold Capped: Pokemon pandas, the economy, and BlizzCon 2011

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or by participating in your city's Fox Van Allen 5K Walk to Support Leg Tension.

Any time a new World of Warcraft expansion is announced, a flurry of information and speculation comes with it. For us auctioneers, the announcement of Mists of Pandaria at BlizzCon 2011 was no different. Pets, professions, and more -- Mists of Pandaria will going to bring plenty of major changes to the game's economy.

To be sure, the Auction House wasn't the most talked-about aspect of WoW at this year's BlizzCon, at least directly. But when you consider how major the announcement of non-combat pet combat was and start considering how these pets will be fully tradeable ...

The big news: WoW meets Pokemon

People love collecting in-game pets in WoW. People love Pokemon. Combining those two similar loves in Mists of Pandaria? It's a brilliant move by Blizzard, giving players something completely new and different to do at level 90 -- a sorely needed minigame.

The mechanics of it all seem super cool. Your existing non-combat pets will be given some simplified stats -- say, attack, defense, and health. You'll also be able to find other non-combat pets out in the world. You can choose to battle them and try to capture them. Or you could instead hang out in Stormwind all day long and just battle other dudes with pets. Or you can head to different cities to battle trainers to become a non-combat pet master. It's not like Pokemon. It is Pokemon.

The big news for us, however, is that players will be able to trade these in-game pets with a few limited exceptions. Players could go farm and sell an adorable Fox Kit (the best pet in the game, though I may be biased). Or they could farm it, level it through the new battle system, and then sell it. They could even buy a level 1 Fox Kit from the Auction House, add value by leveling it, and then resell it.

There are countless implications of this news. First, the Auction House elite -- World of Warcraft's proverbial 1% -- finally have something to do with all their money. And better yet, the 99% has a new way to make money, and a lot of it, not just through lucky drops but through putting in work and leveling a readily available pet.

This is pretty big news. In the past, World of Warcraft has traditionally eschewed allowing people to trade in-game currency for any significant amount of in-game work. Selling your paladin's gear and titles to another player for 500,000 gold? Unthinkable. Selling your server-best level 25 Phoenix Hatchling for 500,000 gold to a fellow competitor? That's the new model.

It's hard to guess how these pets will wind up being priced when patch 5.0 (presumably) brings this new pet Fight Club system, but I'd be damn surprised if prices didn't rise across the board. Rare pets will be in even higher demand than they are now, given that Blizzard doesn't increase their drop rates. Normal pets will see rekindled interest too, and you won't need to wait until 5.0 launches to notice it. Prices should start increasing once the new expansion grows near, provided that "Pokemon Pandas" doesn't go the way of the dance studio.

How am I playing this news? Well, in the short term, I'm going to be working to acquire more pets, both via the Auction House and farming. But that's mostly just because I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them is my real test; to train them is my cause. I gotta catch 'em all. And if most players are like me -- that is, more interested in buying these pets than selling them -- pets are going to be an incredibly robust market.

The other news

Of course, the new pet battle system isn't the only piece of news for us Auction House players.
  • A good profession is getting better. In Mists of Pandaria, wands will be main-hand weapons and craftable by enchanters. Weapons tend to be incredibly strong sellers on the Auction House (because they tend to have higher stats than, say, a glove), so if these wind up being BOE, enchanting promises to be even more profitable in MoP than in Cataclysm.
  • Blizzard developers hinted that jewelcrafters may be getting their own mount in patch 5.0. Though specifics (and even a confirmation) were hard to come by, one hopes that this might act as a gold sink in the same way that Vial of the Sands did in Cataclysm. After all, all those gemstones are supposed to be expensive, right?
  • In response to a complaint about gold farmers (and us legit mass-producing Auction House mavens), Blizzard dismissed the idea of bringing back "perfect cut" gems (where expertly crafted gems would occasionally carry higher stats than usual), suggesting that such an item would invalidate the non-perfect gem market. It's a great point -- almost nobody buys green-quality cut gems, even Perfect Brilliant Carnelians. I'm not sure what perfect cut gems would do to discourage mass production and botters, anyway unless the creation of these new gems was added as a daily cooldown.
  • Blizzard raised the possibility of giving jewelcrafters designs that include the MoP version of Chaos Orbs. This is interesting news on two fronts. First, it suggests that Blizzard really likes Cataclysm's BOP Chaos Orb model and will be perpetuating it in MoP. Secondly, it suggests that jewelcrafters may be getting some epic rings or neckpieces that will actually be worth crafting. It'd be nice to see the profession getting gear that's crafted for purposes other than disenchanting.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped. Do you have questions about selling, reselling, and building your financial empire on the auction house? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at fox@wowinsider.com and basil@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: News items, Economy, Gold Capped, Mists of Pandaria

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