|How hard would the coding be?. D3 will set the precedent. So, how long…?|
Fox Van Allen, in his latest Gold Capped post at WoW Insider, suggests five ways to fix the Auction House system in Warcraft. For those of us lucky to live on high-population servers there is, of course, not a problem to take issue with at AH sales generally. However, we are an exception and not a rule, and the more I think about it the more I believe Fox’s second suggestion to Globalise the Auction House has some real merit. In fact the more I consider, the more sense this suggestion makes, because it’s consequences would have a direct affect on the game and how it is played for everyone.
This would mean a US Auction House, an EU Auction House and an Asian Auction House (with possibly smaller ones that would be language-standardised). Just think about that for a minute: the people you play with in BG’s and in LFR will be the people you’re selling to or buying from. No more sticking items up at ridiculous prices at an interface that reflects only the needs and desires of the couple of thousand people on Server X (or if you’re unlucky the couple of hundred people of Server Y) Everyone would have access to rare gems and items that might yet not be freely available on their own servers. Rare pets that were surplus to requirements on high-population servers could make their way to the low population who crave them so much… there is the possibility to create a market with a far more realistic value on items that are difficult to find.
There’s also a number of other possibilities that might spring up as a result of this: those with AH savvy might look for low population realms where the competition for materials is less of a clamour and move characters there to set up Gathering Mules, whose sole task is to sell mats at the going rate but that are easier to farm in areas where there is less competition, and therefore that take less time to do so. I suspect far more people than currently do so would become AH ‘speculators’, with the chance to buy from a far larger pool of goods and to make cash from other’s inexperience. I’d also fully expect a massive surge in AH addons and ‘helpers’, tracking prices of current items and helping anyone who decides to ‘go make a bit of cash’ to identify areas that weren’t being currently exploited.
There is one final thought to consider in all this, the one that’s about to become a very real possibility in Diablo 3, that the items you find and sell to others of great value in game not only net you in game gold, but can provide real money to boot. I know this possibility is a development too far for a lot of people, that a real-money AH in Warcraft would spell the End of All Things. It would certainly be a dangerous precedent to set, with a 10 million player base, and would likely see many people signing up not to experience the game content but to set up farming concerns, to become ‘Professional’ AH Speculators and Manufacturers. The fact that this goes on ‘for fun’ right now on my server (and at least two people I know in Guild reading this are making this a daily part of their game routine) makes me think that there’s a fairly thin line right now between what’s entertainment and what could be considered as contribution to an income, should the system have real-world currency inserted into it’s mix.
I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who, for whatever reason, finds themselves trapped on a server where it’s impossible to buy what they want from the AH to help them play. There are solutions to this issue that Blizzard could easily implement to alleviate the situation (server transfers) but, as many like to quote in trade of late, that doesn’t make Blizzard any money. When all is said and done, that’s the bottom line too: this is a game, it’s meant to make money for those who sell it. The gold on the AH is worthless anywhere else (unless you’re a farmer with a website and credit card billing, but we don’t talk about them) and while that remains the case, your loss on a low pop server AH is the high pop server’s gain. Although I think one AH for each region would be a great way to level the field it would, I believe, be the start of a dangerous move towards making this game less about the content and more about the real world concerns of those whose code we use in the first place.
Until it happens, I can support the One Region AH System in principle. If it becomes a reality however, that outlook is very likely to waver.