The Black Market Auction House

Black Market Auction HouseIt was all the way back on May 12 that MMO-Champion first mentioned the black market auction house from the Mists of Pandaria beta.  Many blog posts, podcast discussions and forum comments followed — the topic has been well covered.

Anne Stickney at WoW Insider made great points in her article on 3 things the Black Market Auction House needs to succeed.  Her three keys for success are:

  • Accessibility — items available on the BMAH should be available by other means elsewhere, so if you don’t have mega-gold for that sweet mount you can invest mega-time to get it.
  • Availability — the number of each item available on the BMAH should be limited correctly to keep competition for items high and keep their rarity in line with the same item obtained in other ways.  In other words, if it’s nearly impossible to farm an item because the drop rate is ultra-low, it should only be available on the BMAH in ultra-low quantities.
  • Accountability — items from the BMAH should not be able to be resold, therefore they should either be bind on account or bind on pickup.

I like this line of reasoning.  The idea seems to be that the BMAH should take gold out of the game to fight inflation without changing the rarity or prestige of the items it sells.

What I’m not so sure about is that the BMAH should not sell items unavailable by other means.  There are items in the game now that are only obtainable by reaching high levels of a particular type of game play, PvP gear for example.  Why is it unfair to offer high-level gold earners exclusive rewards just like high-level PvPers get?

Traveler's Tundra MammothArguably the traveler’s tundra mammoth is a reward available only to accomplished gold earners.  When it was introduced the price tag was far out of reach for most players.  Was that unfair?  Offering exclusive, high cost items on the BMAH is actually better and more fair than offering them at a fixed price on a vendor.  It means there will be competition to get the item, and the price will keep up with inflation.

Since we first heard about the BMAH there have been adjustments made to the items offered there, and I believe the cap on bids was raised to match the gold cap of 999,999g. I take these changes as a sign that everything is still on the table, as is always the case with functions implemented in a beta.  We may never see the BMAH on live servers — there has been a big outcry by some vocal players that they hate the idea of it.

The black market auction house would kill two birds with one stone for me — it would be a better gold sink than those of the past and it would offer gold earners some recognition of their accomplishments.  So if it is drastically changed, or not introduced, I hope both of these objectives are still achieved somehow.