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3 things the Black Market Auction House needs to succeed

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The Black Market Auction House seems to be a controversial topic. Some players love the idea, while some players utterly detest the idea with every ounce of their being. Regardless, the theory behind the Black Market Auction House is a solid one. Removing gold from the WoW economy is something that is desperately needed in the days of Auction House kings, in order to balance everything out. If the Black Market Auction House works, it'll even out player gold to a reasonable level, keeping items on the regular Auction House at reasonable prices.

And for those who spent the tremendous amount of time it takes to amass their fortunes, it means that they finally have something to spend their reward on, something tangible and -- let's face it -- something pretty cool. In expansions past, we've only had one or two really major gold sinks to speak of, whether crafted mounts, or really useful mounts purchased from a vendor. Once those mounts were purchased or crafted, there was a vast sea of nothing for people to spend that gold on.

But the potential for abuse runs pretty high with this thing. And as I pondered the potential side effects of the Black Market Auction House, I realized there are certain things that really need to be in place to make it work effectively.

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Accessibility

I'm not talking about the Black Market Auction House being accessible here -- I'm talking about the items on it. While it's great to have somewhere to go to get rare items or items no longer in game, that's only a bonus for those that have ridiculous amounts of gold to spend. In order to keep things on an even keel and fair, so to speak, items that are available on the Black Market Auction House should be available elsewhere, too. This doesn't just include rare mounts and pets; this also includes things that have been completely removed from the game.

In the case of tier 3, these items should be available as replica gear at the Darkmoon Faire. We haven't seen them on the Black Market Auction House yet, but in the case that mounts are added that people can no longer get (like the tiger and raptor mounts from the original Zul'Gurub), those should also be added elsewhere. Whether it's a random drop on a rare-spawn mob or something that has a chance to drop from a daily bag like the Oracles or something you have to grind reputation for, they should be placed back in game.

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Why? Because it's a matter of equability. Look -- making enough gold to get by in this game is not particularly difficult, but making the extreme amounts of gold that Auction House players have is. These people don't just wave their magic wand and suddenly have a million gold floating around. It's something that takes time -- a lot of it. But for the people who love playing the Auction House, it's just another part of the game to them, and they don't mind putting in all the effort because the effort is the game. It's a time investment, and it doesn't always pay off.

And for those who don't want to dedicate the time and effort it takes to build up a tidy stash of gold, there should be an alternate way, one that is in its own way as difficult and time-consuming as playing the Auction House. The Ashes of A'lar are a good example -- if they are available on the Black Market Auction House, that's OK. Why? Because we can still farm Kael'thas every week and hope for the drop. It's less time invested, but you're at the mercy of a drop percentage, so the difficulty evens out.

In the case of gear, putting that gear at the Darkmoon Faire means that people can do dailies and earn tickets to purchase it. It's still a time investment, but it's a smaller one. The dailies are only available one week out of the month, so it'll take time before a character has the tickets to grab stuff. But putting in that small amount of time will guarantee you'll get your gear eventually. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping the Darkmoon Faire relevant.

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Availability

The things that are available via the Black Market Auction House should rotate out and only be available for a limited time. In other words, the Ashes of A'lar may appear, but they should only appear maybe twice, maybe three times a year. That way, it's not a guarantee that someone with a giant stockpile of gold is going to get that mount -- it's just a chance. As it stands, people looking to purchase that item are going to have to bid against each other. The bidding is apt to skyrocket on items if they aren't guaranteed to pop up again any time soon.

This means that more gold will be taken out of the economy, but it also means you'll have just as much chance of winning that Ashes of A'lar as someone farming the mount. And it's just as unlikely that it'll pop up again. Keep the percentage chance of things like this popping up on the Black Market Auction House roughly the same as the drop rate off of a boss, and you're golden.

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Accountability

This is the big kicker to the Black Market Auction House: Items on it should not be available for resale. This means that everything won should either be soulbound or bind on account. In the case of mounts, they're going account-wide anyway, so this isn't an issue. In the case of rare gear, it should be bind on account. Why? So that those people that purchase the items can send them to an alt of the appropriate class if they wish. Sure, it's nice to see a piece of tier 3 warrior gear, but if you don't have a warrior with a ton of gold, why would you bid on the item? If, however, you have a shaman with a ton of gold and a warrior alt, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to mail that to the alt and use it for transmogrification.

However, making things bind on account or soulbound means that people cannot purchase items on the Black Market Auction House and resell them to players. Basically, what it boils down to is this: The Black Market Auction House should be a gold sink, yes. It should be a gold sink that removes gold from the economy, and it will do that. But if a player can purchase something from the Black Market Auction House and then attempt to resell it for higher than what he paid, that defeats the purpose of removing gold from the economy.

Making the items soulbound or bind on account means that the gold removed from the economy will stay gone. And it means that the person that purchased the items won't immediately have more gold than he can spend again by virtue of putting it on the regular Auction House. It also means that the Black Market Auction House and the regular Auction House will never cross paths -- and they shouldn't. They're two separate things with two separate functions. The Black Market Auction House is meant to remove gold, not to be a gold-making device.

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These three things should address the legitimate complaints players have about the Black Market Auction House. If implemented correctly, the Black Market Auction House stands a very good chance of succeeding in what it's trying to do, to remove gold from the economy. And that seems to be the hardest thing for players who aren't carrying around crates of gold to understand: This isn't a punishment.

This isn't being put in to demean the accomplishments of those who earned any of these items the hard way over the past several years that WoW has been around. This isn't being put in as a reward to those who successfully played the Auction House. This is being put in to take that gold away and give those who played the Auction House something in return for their time invested. Because right now, they've got nothing but a bunch of virtual gold -- and nothing to do with it all.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

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