Guardian Cubs are not pure RMT

Cute and cuddly purchasing power

People are up in arms about Blizzard’s decision to allow their Guardian Cub to be purchased from their store (with real cash) and traded to other players in-game.  The issue here is whether or not this is considered “endorsed RMT.”  First, we need to get something straight.  RMT is not the same thing as microtransactions (usually found within a free to play game).  I sell my Sword for real money to other players — that’s RMT.  I buy a sword from the game company itself — that’s a microtransaction.  I’m seeing too many people mix those up.

Is this a full endorsement of RMT from Blizzard?  No, this is not.  A full endorsement of RMT is the Diablo 3 auction house where players list the items they found up for real money, all facilitated in-game.  This situation isn’t even pure RMT.  This is a sideways allowance of trade to cleverly increase the sales of Guardian Cubs.  Once the Guardian Cub is purchased by a player, real money leaves the equation.  It becomes an in-game item for in-game item trade.

Trading a Guardian Cub in-game for in-game gold or an item is no different than buying a Krol Blade with gold back in 2004 .  Krol Blades were simply awesome.  Krols were epic swords, looked sexy, and provided a very powerful boost to DPS for entry-level raiders back in those days.   As the goblins say, “Time is money, friend!”  When a player sells an item, aren’t they selling their time or their luck?  Time is often far more valuable than a couple of dollars and luck can be worth a whole lot more.

Guardian cubs are, at most, cute and harmless tools for players to leverage against others in the marketplace.  Bobby may have the time or luck to find a Krol Blade, but he may not have the means to get that Guardian cub from the store.   Allowing Billy to trade his means for Bobby’s is of zero consequence to me.  Everyone — mostly Blizzard — wins.

  • These are cosmetic so if someone wants to waste money buying one, or even waste more money buying them for others so be it.

    Blizzard found ways to suck extra money out of people years ago with pets and mounts but as all remain cosmetic all remain entirely voluntary on the part of the player.

    I don’t see what the fuss is about with this.

    And yeah I got stung out of a Krol Blade back in Scarlet something-or-other. After rolling “Need” and not using it he admitted he “Needed cash”. Damn Human Paladins!

  • I’m a bit unclear on your stance here Keen; are you saying that you don’t mind people buying raid-level WoW gear with real money, as long as the gear itself enters the world through normal gameplay and the purchasing is facilitated through the creation of intermediary goods with in-game value, like pets?

    In this specific example, the cosmetic pets are of limited long-term appeal as a way to transfer currency since nobody ever needs more than one of them (unless players agree to use these pets as currency units with their own value, like SoJ in Diablo II). That means that this is a temporary and probably fairly inefficient way to transfer dollars into gold. I do think this indicates a willingness on Blizzard’s part to introduce more items like this, which would allow players to “buy gold” in a fully sanctioned (albeit roundabout) manner.

    This is not as good as PLEX, which have a fairly consistent demand and are constantly consumed, but a new “flavor of the month” vanity pet still allows for large volumes of Dollar -> Gold conversion. A player with money will be able to buy the in-game items that they desire for real world currency, even though the in-game items will be created through the normal gameplay mechanics and not directly as part of the initial transaction.

  • This is the game company in effect selling you gold (something that can be traded for gold at an uncertain rate technically). D3 AH is allowing players to trade items between each other for either ingame currency or real money, but crucially Blizzard itself does not sell any items – everything bought and sold is between players. I find it far less objectionable then this.

    Now the good thing about this move is that it’s just cosmetic, and as such arguably doesn’t “really” matter, but it’s still a bad idea.

  • @JeremyT: I’m saying, under these circumstances, buying a vanity pet and trading it in-game is not a pure form of RMT nor is it any cause for uproar. Stepping out of this example may alter my stance.

    Bind on Use vanity pets being traded in-game are of absolutely no consequence to anyone, despite the fact that those vanity pets cost $10. That $10 should not even be considered since it is only under consideration at the time the player buys said vanity pet from Blizzard. I’ve never taken issue with buying vanity pets. I would, however, take issue with buying raid gear.

    @Coriolis: Blizzard is not selling gold. They are selling pets. That pet happens to provide opportunity for TRADE with another player for gold, item, or service. At no time does Blizzard introduce gold to the economy nor does Blizzard sell items which, in any way, facilitate players to generate gold, power, or service.

  • I’m simply curious about what the gold value of these cubs will settle at…

    Beyond that, WoW remains one of just a couple subscription based games out there. They continue to have my support.

    I would rather see a dev profit from business models like this than the pay to win model that has swept through the mmog landscape like fire through a tinder box factory.

  • Yeah, the first pets for money were for charity.

    This is an experiment and a precedent. You’ll be seeing more. A year from now you will probably be able to buy raiding starter kits of the obsolete tier gear.

  • What this all comes down to is that the money is only ONE-WAY. Bliz gets cash, you get gold. RTM is essentially someone else making money off of a companies product. Say I give you gold for USD. That would be RTM. FTP models live on this one way transaction. Give me money and I will give you something in-game. Should Blizz be giving essentially gold to players? Probably not, but it’s their product to do what they will with it so all you can do is just not worry about it. Beside the pet isn’t selling worth crap on my server anyways. Wanna spend 3 of these pets on one raid weapon…by all means go ahead.

  • @Toxic: That, I would have a problem with.

    @G-Man: No. Bliz gets cash, you get A PET. I see what you’re trying to say, though, and it’s mostly a valid sentiment.

  • It’s Bind on Equip (use). If you get gold, that’s one option. They are not selling pets for you to then liquidate them to gold. They are selling pets that are BoE — what you do with it is up to you; all Blizzard has said is that it’s intentional that the pets are BoE.

    It’s buy and resell. You’re simply reselling an item you bought with RL money for in-game money someone spent real time earning. Essentially, time is money and it’s all real life value.

    This is factual: Blizzard is not selling gold. Blizzard is selling pets.

  • I have no problem with this, personally. I think it’ll hurt the gold sellers polluting trade chat more than anything else. If it was more along the lines of what they plan to do in D3, that would raise more red flags. If players were able to pay cash for what is now BoP gear, that would be crossing a line. I’m not so concerned about essentially buy gold for crafted gear, BoEs, mounts, et cetera.

  • It won’t do anything about Gold sellers. So after a couple of weeks and the price of the pet settles down, ie: 10k gold, the Gold sellers will just undercut it, offer 20k gold for the same amount of RL money that the pet costs. Lots of other games sell legit gold and they are still loaded with Gold Farmers, the only thing that will stop gold farming or gold farming spam is actual vigilance by the MMO companies (seriously Google Street View have imagining software that that can detect and blur out car licence plates, but someone in Blizzard cant write code to auto-ban a gold spammer who writes ‘go to [Link removed by Keen] for bestest prices’)

  • “This is factual: Blizzard is not selling gold. Blizzard is selling pets.”

    You’re splitting hairs. The fact is, there are people that will be using this as a safe method of buying gold. You can try to say it really isn’t intended for that, but that’s really quite irrelevant at this point. It’s going to happen.

    Also, I would like to point out that this is merely a test. Do you really think Blizzard will stop there? Someone further up suggested “starter raid sets of obsolete tier gear” as a possible future candidate for the Blizzard store. That’s not terribly unlikely, given how there are enough people like you arguing for Blizzard’s right to do something like this. If they think they can get away with it and it will generate revenue, they will do it. That’s why it’s important for those of us that disagree with moves of this nature to be vocal about it. PR still does mean something to Blizzard (see: Real-ID backpedal last year)