This post is a contribution to Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival. Each month he poses a topic, and a variety of bloggers write about it on their own blogs. Cold lists off those articles on his site. It’s a great way to get a variety of viewpoints in one spot!
This month’s topic: What’s your opinion on Cross-Realm Auction Houses?
I’m perhaps the only person whom I’ve talked to (or read on forums and blogs) that regularly plays the AH game and who is not hellbent against Cross-Realm Auction Houses.
Maybe it’s because I can see both sides of the coin. I see how Cross-Realm Auction Houses *could* ruin the market. However, I also see that low-population realms desperately need more access to materials and items. When I say access, I don’t mean lower-priced materials than what they currently have. I simply mean actually having that item available on the AH, even if it’s for a premium price. There are items posted regularly on high-pop realms that may only be seen once a year on a low-pop realm, if ever. There are crafters on high-pop realms with patterns that no longer exist in-game, while on the low-pop realm there are no crafters at all with that pattern.
I also see it from a larger perspective. When you say that Cross-Realm Auction Houses would be the end of gold-making, what you’re saying is that large markets don’t work, or they don’t leave room for the single person wanting to make some coin. That’s simply not true. If it were, eBay would have failed within six months. It’s also not true that introducing an additional global market in addition to the current local market would kill the local market. There are still local auction houses (and sellers using them) making plenty of money on estate sales and random items, even though eBay is available. I could host a yard sale next week and make a thousand dollars, even though eBay and Amazon exist and people could get the same items sent right to their door. There are still local hardware stores in your town, even though Home Depot moved in a couple miles away. Kids can still make money mowing grass, even though there are big companies available with entire teams who swarm a person’s yard and get it done in five minutes. Local farmer’s markets still exist, even though Wal-Mart sells cut-rate tomatoes mass-produced in Brazil right down the road.
The whole idea of a Cross-Realm Auction House being a success or a catastrophe depends on how Blizzard implements it. With some creativity, it could be a huge boon to us AH goblins. Who doesn’t want a bigger market to sell goods to?
With that in mind, here are some ideas on how Cross-Realm Auction Houses could be implemented:
- Make one CRAH in a remote location, like the BMAH, (possibly instanced?) accessible only by max-level toons with flying. (And I’m not talking somewhere “safe” that you could summon a lvl 1 alt to and then leave them there. How about we get rid of the ability to teleport/summon lower levels into level-restricted zones, while we’re at it? You cannot cross into Outlands until you’re level 58. We shouldn’t be able to port/summon lower levels there. You cannot travel to Pandaria until you’re level 85. We shouldn’t be able to port/summon lower levels there.)
- Make the CRAH an offline-only feature; like the Remote Auction House.
- Make the CRAH a time-limited feature; say, it’s at the Darkmoon Faire and is only accessible when the Faire is open.
- Implement CRAH into the Neutral AH, with all associated sky-high fees. (The Neutral AHs would still work as such, there’d just be Cross-Realm stuff posted there as well.)
- With the CRAH as a separate entitity from the normal AH, limit the amount of a SINGLE item that can be posted on the CRAH per Battle.net account. For example, you can only post 10 auctions of Silk Cloth. Doesn’t matter if they’re full stacks or single pieces; you can only have 10 auctions of “Silk Cloth” across your entire Battle.net account. You could then also have 10 auctions of “Bolts of Silk Cloth”, however, and another 10 auctions of “Mageweave Cloth”.
- Instead of a Cross-Realm Auction House, implement shared Battle.net account banks. My toon on Madoran really wants that rare Felsteel Longblade pattern (I’m making this up as an example), but it’s been 6 months since it’s been seen on the Madoran AH. It’s available frequently on Illidan’s AH, though. Enable me to roll a toon on Illidan and earn enough gold there to buy it, and drop it into my cross-realm account bank. My toon on Madoran then goes to the cross-realm account bank, pulls out the pattern, and learns it. It would work the same way for trade goods. Prices on Madoran are sky-high for embersilk cloth, while over on Dunemaul the embersilk is going for a song? No problem – just roll a toon on Dunemaul and earn enough money to buy the low-priced embersilk, then drop it into your bank. The toon on Madoran can then pull it out and use it or sell it. In this way, you still have the ability to access items cross-realm, but you actually have to put some effort into having toons on both realms. There’s no one on your realm that can make the uber-sexy Enchanted Thorium set? I can… let me make a set, drop it into my bank, roll a toon on your realm and post it for sale. (Yes, I realize the botters would have a field day with this. Blizzard needs to seriously address botting – make it one of their top 3 priorities, in my opinion. That’s another article entirely.)
- Don’t make the CRAH worldwide; keep it somewhat separated. Limit it to a battlegroup. Limit it so that only PvE realms share a CRAH, and PvP realms have their own separate CRAH. This would discourage PvPers from “carebear” (their term, not mine) gathering on PvE realms and ruining the opportunity for low-level ganking by asshats with nothing better to do or no ability to fight someone their own level on PvP realms.
- Or, my favorite:
Introduce the CRAH as a “Buyer’s Market” AH. A buyer goes to the CRAH and posts a 15 gold bid for a Staff of the Righteous Random Stat. A seller takes his Staff of the Righteous Random Staff to the CRAH and checks to see if anyone wants it. He sees the 15 gold bid; but he wants 250 gold for it, so he takes his staff over to the normal AH to sell it. JoeBob the DK doesn’t want to pay 3 gold per windwool cloth on the normal AH, so he puts a bid in at the CRAH for 10 silver per windwool cloth. His bid sits there waiting for a seller willing to sell it for that price; or until the bid runs out. (Normal 12/24/48 hr time.) When the buyer types in the item he wants to buy, he sees a list of the other bids that are up for that item. This helps him (encourages him?) to raise his bid. In this way, you don’t have 3,000 botters posting ghost iron ore at rock-bottom prices and undercutting each other by exorbitant amounts; instead, you’ve got buyers fighting with each other and *raising* the price depending on how badly they want/need the item.
With any solution to one AH being glutted while another is bare, you’re going to have challenges. Most of my goblin friends are focusing only on the negative aspect: there will be more stupid kobolds to deal with, ruining the market with their undercutting. However, there are positives, such as: there will be a lot more buyers available for your goods. Who doesn’t want a bigger market of hungry buyers?
Also, the gold-making goblins won’t be the only ones to suffer from an influx of stupid kobolds. The kobolds themselves would suffer. With enough of them posting items at vendor cost, it won’t take long for a large portion of them to decide it’s not worth their time and simply drop out of the market. Any market will eventually self-correct and stabilize when exposed to a huge upheaval like the introduction of a glut of goods, a drought of goods, or a new player able to make something more efficiently.
In any implementation of a cross-realm auction house, however, two things need to be taken care of first: Botters and Gold-Sellers. I haven’t seen any significant effort on Blizz’s part to address either of these very serious problems – they need to be top priority. Multiple teams hired specifically to track down and combat botters and gold-sellers (aka account hackers). Your account CAN be hacked by a gold-seller if you have an authenticator installed and working… my husband’s was. The prompt and trouble-free restoration of everything that was taken does not negate the fact that this shouldn’t be happening in the first place. That, also, is another post in itself, so I’ll leave it at that.
No matter how a Cross-Realm Auction House is introduced though, I believe the intelligent goblins will prevail. We will adapt and overcome. Look at how truly horrible the current AH system is; and yet we still find ways to make gold. Lots of gold, if you invest any effort and make use of the tools available to you. I think the key is that the Cross-Realm Auction House needs to be a separate entity from the current Auction House. As long as that is the case, everyone will find a way to turn it into a win/win situation.