Blizzard: WoW Tokens are 'harmless' and 'make people happier'

In a new interview with Glixel, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas opened up about the creation and use of WoW Tokens in the Blizzard ecosystem, especially in light of last week's expansion of the tokens' functionality. Hazzikostas said that the demise of Diablo III's RMT auction house paved the path for WoW Tokens.

"One of the original purposes for the token, and something that it’s served very well, is undercutting the illegal gold selling market that exists within the game," he noted. "The way that gold is acquired is by compromising the accounts and using various methods that are harmful to players. Anything we can do to make those things harder is a net gain for us."

Hazzikostas said that only a small segment of World of Warcraft players actually buy or sell tokens: "We were very satisfied with the fact that it was harmless, that it was not having any negative external effects on the economy or the game, and was just making people happier."

Source: Glixel
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57 Comments on "Blizzard: WoW Tokens are 'harmless' and 'make people happier'"

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Whaar Garbl

Just like private servers.

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Totakeke

I don't know why Blizzard is getting a bit of hate with the tokens. Since there's been a few games before their implementation of it that do pretty alright.

tethyss
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tethyss

One reason is, they embrace and encourage the 'illegal' gold market. They could easily ban compromised accounts (if you really believe that's where most of the gold making comes from), but they choose not to.

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Jeremy Barnes

Listen to us, people. You are happy. You love The Token. You can't live without The Token. We did this for you. It's fake news that we realized there was big money in RMT and were upset we weren't getting a piece of the pie and in one fell swoop, now we profit and we introduce this revenue stream to the whole audience of WoW instead of small percentage of players.

No, my friends, this was for you. Activision Blizzard has shown over and over again that The Token, like all endeavors by the corporation, are a labor of love. If there was no profit in The Token then we would still be making them...for you.

There is nothing bad about The Token. There couldn't be. The Token is love. The Token is Life. In fact, you should get a Token. Go ahead, get one right now and we bet that you can't prove that you are not happier after having acquired The Token.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOKEN

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

This is one of your better ones, and it's only February. <3

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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Schlag Sweetleaf

hypmotizing mesmorizing

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Schlag Sweetleaf

I'm under the spell...

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Pedge Jameson

I see what you did there.

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Pedge Jameson

Positive? Keeps those nasty farmer services away.
Negative? Lockbox tokens on the horizon.

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Arktouros

They make me happy because it's one less game people can point to whenever we have a discussion about money buying power and premium goods in games. This is how games are today folks, accept it or move on!

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I'm gonna keep complaining, personally. :P

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Arktouros

I mean we've been doing that for the better part of the last 5-6 years.

It's gotta work sometime...right? Right?!?

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Esoteric Coyote

I knew people who paid gold for their subs. Tokens are a safer method for everyone.

That said, I'm not really sure this helps with illicit gold sales. It's much cheaper to buy gold from a 3rd party than purchase a token. Nor do I think this will help with inflation, which I think is the bigger issue. That said, I'm happy with the token option. I gave blizzard enough money over the years.

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Drainage

according to my launcher, tokens are twice as expensive to purchase via gold before the change

mission accomplished

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Esoteric Coyote

In novemember on my server they were 36k on average. Not worth 20 bucks in my opinion. Checking wow token site, it was 62k before the change, and right now sits at 86k after spiking over 100k so they are going back down again.

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Pedge Jameson

Twice as expensive, but would you wanna risk your account or take a kick in the purse and still get gold?

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Drainage

naw, I'll just play the game and acquire gold the natural way

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Pedge Jameson

Or drink the oil Eli.

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Drainage

πŸ˜€

explorerjed
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explorerjed

The addition of the token is great. Removes the part of the game I don't enjoy (grinding) and lets me spend more time doing the things I do enjoy. There was a time where I enjoyed grinds but as I've gotten older that faded.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Pedge Jameson

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Jack Pipsam

Harmless maybe, but I don't think they make people happy.

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agemyth 😩

Not paying real money for my subscription makes me feel pretty good.

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Reht

Pretty much, i leveled 4 characters in Legion and only did the bare minimum world quests to complete the daily quest on 2 of them (not cherry picking gold reward quests) and made enough gold to buy 7 or 8 tokens playing pretty casually for around 4 months - i didn't raid or do many dungeons. Now i can turn the remaining ones into bnet cash to buy the d3 necro expansion when it comes out, that makes me really happy.

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deekay_plus

for nearly 20 years not selling gold: gold sellers ruin our game

suddenly starts selling gold: selling gold is harmless and makes people happy.

mmo developer logic folks!

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Totakeke

SOE's logic for EQ2 was that it would curb out third party gold sellers. Which it did for the most part. Instead of siphoning illicit gold that get's taking out of the server's economy when it get's banned, the gold stays. They figured if anyone was going to sell gold, it would be better if they did it themselves.

I mean, I'm pretty sure Massively covered the whole thing way back when they were still apart of Joystiq.

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Denice J. Cook

C'mon Deekay, you know better than that. Gold sellers are basically part of the Black Hat Hacker Group of human beings that use gold as a lure (do you really think they care about your two dollars for gold? No, they care a lot more about the credit card and bank account numbers used to pay for it, and the key logger they embed into the confirmation email so that they can get your other accounts and social security #, etc.). Let's not kid ourselves here.

The reason hacker sleazeballs target MMO consumers is because A.) account security sucks and B.) kids are freaking dumb and lazy; they don't want to "earn" in-game money, and they don't care/can't comprehend the security risks that they sneakily burden Mommy and Daddy's credit cards/bank account #s with whenever they use them to buy gold.

Then the hackers just hack the accounts of the gold buyers, steal the gold back, and use it to lure in other idiots. And when said idiots petition about it, devs and publishers ban them for encouraging this kind of scum. Not to mention that these very same stolen credit cards are also used by gold farmers to continually open new accounts as *they* get banned, which means charge backs for the devs, so the devs incur bank fees and don't get paid for any of those hackers' game accounts!

Let's stick with reality here. ;) Buying gold through a legitimate source like the dev/publisher is a safe alternative, nothing like buying from gold farmers (which = hacker groups).

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

You know why most goldsellers are hacker groups now, when they (and the account sellers and PLers) weren't all hackers in the early days of the genre? Because studios decided to crack down on it over moral purity, mechanics-design around it until every damn thing in the world is bind-on-pickup or auction-hall-free, and make getting caught buying/selling so punitive that no one but actual criminals were willing to risk it, then as DK notes, the studios cleverly filled the role to make bank themselves.

It's online gaming's drug war. DK isn't wrong.

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Denice J. Cook

Oh c'mon, Bree: Even in the earliest days, they were hackers pulling all the same nonsense with stolen credit cards, key loggers and all the rest. They'd even steal peoples' actual characters, move them to different servers, change the account's password so the owner couldn't log in, then bot gold with macros and/or spam the chat for ages til they were caught. That's been going on since the earliest MMOs launched.

And these hacker groups have been majorly messing with game world economies since the start, too. Artificially driving prices up so kiddies feel more inclined to buy gold to keep up, botting with hundreds of accounts, causing major lag on servers.... That all has to be dealt with by devs and publishers behind the scenes, along with all the bank charge backs they get financially zapped with, and the payments they never receive.

Sorry, but gold farmers (who mainly hail from China, North Korea and Russia) have been the same since the start, and game account security has always sucked. Kids have always been lazy and security-stupid, too.

There was never some "Golden Age of Helping the Lazy While Maintaining Moral Integrity and Account Security" in gold farming, lol. It's always been the wild west. And there has never been a good reason why lazy/time restrained people should get everything they want whenever they want it, if they don't put the work forth to have it. ;) There's no justification for buying that crap, either. It messes up auction houses and economies, is an ongoing cause of lag and chat clogging so you can barely get a team, drives more hackers into credit card and bank account fraud, and keeps these jerks sticking around.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Simply not true. UO, and EQ for that matter, had many good years when hackers didn't control the market, when Ebay still allowed MMO account and item sales, when EA had an actual account brokering system to help people sell their accounts to other people. I know this because I participated in all of it personally, as recently as a few years ago, since UO to this day still tacitly allows such sales. It's only a seedy underbelly once studios make it that way, by definition and design.

SOE's crackdown in the early aughts in EQ and SWG changed the tenor dramatically, and by the time of Mark Jacobs and Warhammer, we had reached the absolute height of moral purging and supposedly fair play. Not long after, the studios figured out how to make money off it, and here we are.

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Denice J. Cook

I think, for people who engage in buying illegal gold, it makes them feel better to think that this was at some point the case, that there weren't hackers there from the start too. Sorry, but there were. ;) I suspect we are just going to have to agree to disagree and call it a day on this one, Bree.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Untrue and frankly ad hominem. The whole point is that it wasn't illegal, so I have zero need to make myself feel better since I don't agree with the imposed morality system here. EA flat-out allowed gold/item/account trading on its official and unofficial forums for many, many years, then facilitated account trades formally, and stopped only to avoid liabilities in the lead-up to the Broadsword spin-off just a few years ago.

At no time have I suggested that hackers didn't exist back then (although it's dupers who were and are the bigger problem, not hackers). I said they didn't control or dominate the market, and they didn't. This is simply how markets vs. black markets work. Authorities turned the market black, and now they profit from it.

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Pedge Jameson

It does put a small dent in account thefts and such, if the game is their competition, less account stealing.

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Jason Revell

False equivalency.

kofteburger
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kofteburger

Better than lockboxes for sure.

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Jeremy Barnes

Don't worry. They're coming. You may be able to buy a lockbox that may or may not have tokens then use those tokens to buy other lockboxes that may or may not have bnetcash!

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wild-abyss

Well, it makes Blizzard happy, anyway. I'm super guilty so I can't really say anything against them. This past weekend a GM gave me 2 days sub time just so I could sell a token for 102k gold and I'm not even playing right now. I'd be angry at myself but... I really want to make all the jewelcrafting mounts when I go back. >.>

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Lethality

Making people "happier" by not having to play the game... That carries an objectively detrimental long-term effect to any game. But he's a lawyer, so.... he must know better.

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Bryan Correll

I'm with you in principle. I think a closed economy makes for a healthier in-game economy. But the fact is that some players are going to buy gold and buying it (indirectly) from the publisher is the lesser evil when compared to the black market.

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Manastu Utakata

They're are enjoying the game. You don't have to like it, but they are. And Blizz is quite happy that their bottom line is being padded because of it. As anyone else would reasonably conclude that making players miserable would have the opposite effect. Also see: What happened to WildStar, cupcake!

aethryn
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aethryn

YOU think they make the game SUBJECTIVELY worse, because your OPINION means it is not backed up by credible, empirical, repeatable evidence. Caps words being the telling signs you do not know what objectively means.

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wakkander

The Token isn't the problem if people would rather pay than grind, it can be boiled down to people with more money than time, or the grinding content not being fun.

The former isn't an issue as it lets said people enjoy the game, the latter suggests fundamental issues with the games design of which the token is a symptom/bandaid, not the disease.

Either way, the token means nothing to the longevity or long term viability, it is the reason why people use them that is the real issue. The former are likely to disengage if they cannot keep up with limited time, and so this keeps them playing and serving as a money sink. The latter who are unhappy with the grind aren't likely to stick around if forced into an unsatisfactory experience, so this again serves to keep them engaged when otherwise they may quit.

All while also undercutting gold sellers who do more damage to the economy and put player accounts at risk through shady practices. It also bolsters the games revenue which in theory helps find future content.

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Lethality

How are they "enjoying the game" if they are "skipping the game"?

If they don't want to "play" the game and they just want the benefits of doing so, then they are objectively not having fun and are playing the wrong game.

Games, at their foundation, are one or a series of objectives.

If you're objective is to get a flying fizzle mount, and you have these choices:
1) Play the game to earn it
2) Pay money to purchase it

In option 2, you cut out the entire meat of the objective (achieving it, where the "fun" in gameplay lies) by buying the mount. So why even be in the game?

It's one thing for players to *think* they're happier with this (they are not) but absolutely disturbing if Blizzard thinks that also. It's short-term satisfaction only.

And I guess maybe that's the business Blizzard is in now... fill the bucket with sand faster than it's leaking out the bottom. Hardly the impetus for good game design.

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Reht

You don't get to determine what other people find fun. I mean there are people out there who find noodling fun. I am not one of them,

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Sebastian Shaw

And what exactly you do when you don't find something fun? You don't do it.

If you don't find fun playing the game, and have to pay to skip playing the game, then why are you playing in the first place? Or, don't come telling me you find fun in paying to skip playing a game, and getting the rewards?

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wakkander

Well let's stop assuming that fun is an objective thing that is the same for everyone. Fun is subjective, and while for some fun is the journey, for others it may be the goal, or the acquisition may be entirely tertiary to their fun.

As a hypothetical let's use me. I have played WoW off and on again over the years as friends of mine have. I have zero interest in WoW outside of the social aspect of playing with my friends. Nothing in the game holds my interest at all and without the social aspect I inevitably quit playing, and even then I am hard pressed to keep at it.

Furthermore I have a job and I am a full time student, time is a premium for me, as is money, but 15-20 bucks a month won't break me like needing to grind for hours will.

If purchasing a token means I can equip my character and help keep up with my friends as they level to 100, or whatever the cap is now, that is a worthwhile investment for me to have fun by socializing with friends and contributing to their progress.

I have profited by bypassing the time grind I quite literally cannot afford, my friends have another fellow to join them on their quests, Blizzard has earned extra income, and the player base has had a tiny slice of hyperinflation stripped away and an additional tank/healer(classes I most often play) added to queues.

How has that made the game worse for you instead of better?

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Vertigo Teaparty

You're assuming there is 1 way to play/enjoy the game. You're assuming that part of the reason people want shiny UberUnicorn is due to the satisfaction of "earning" it. This isn't true for many players. Many just want the UberUnicorn and the method they use to obtain it, wether it's grinding, playing the Auction House, or using RL $ is mostly irrelevant. The joy they get from prancing about in Ogrimmar isn't dulled because they didn't spend 10 hours herb farming or staring at Auctioneer.

Just because you enjoy a game doesn't mean you love every single aspect of it. Many players may like having the cool pet/mount/whatever but don't enjoy things like farming or playing Day Traders of Kalimdor. Just because you use real money to cross that in-game hurdle so that you can get that object you desire doesn't mean they aren't playing the game.

For example, in the Sims (shut up) my main reason to play is to climb the corporate ladder and try to make as much money as I can and slowly get nicer stuff, build a bigger house, etc. Other people I know use a money cheat immediately and spend all their time building and decorating. Neither of us is playing the game wrong; we're just focusing on the aspects that we enjoy.

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deekay_plus

why do gold sellers do damage to economies but stuff like PLEX/CREDD/WOW TOKENS/etc don't?

why does years of minimializing gold usefulness before selling gold themselves only to recant on that and make gold useful again once they begin selling it themselves not damage the economy?

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Totakeke

Gold sellers eventually get banned and thus, all the gold vanishes. It makes the market too volatile.

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Drainage

This is like our governments banning certain drugs to be sold on the street, but are fine with the pharmaceutical version to be dealt and sold by our drug stores/ doctors.

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wakkander

Well gold sellers artificially force inflation, by no means are they the only factor and hyper inflation is a common mmo issue, but they contribute.

WoW tokens do not add gold to the economy, they transfer existing gold, minus a certain percentage. So they actively remove gold from the economy. This helps counter inflation, and is the purpose of gold sinks in games.

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Drainage

The problem, unlike real life, there is basically an infinite amount of game currency to be made.

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abelard

I think the argument is that "unauthorized" gold sellers work by hacking accounts and running bots.

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