Friday, April 10, 2015

A Potential Major Issue With The WoW Token

The WoW Token, which effectively allows players to purchase subscription time with gold, was recently implemented and given the swinging prices, the market is pretty active. However, while it is a nice feature much like EVE Online's Plex (NOT like Runescape's Bonds, since Runescape money by nature has a huge power weight attached to it among other issues, but that's another story) and issues, such as the rapidly falling gold price of the token, are being addressed, there's one potential issue that could reduce the effectiveness of the feature. This issue is related to another recently implemented feature: The Veteran Edition, and by extension, the Starter Edition.

At the moment, active players who have enough gold and/or gold income, among others, are most likely to spend gold on WoW Tokens. One specific group of players that could be interested in purchasing WoW Tokens with gold that may or may not belong in the aforementioned is an inactive player sitting on their Veteran Edition account. While Blizzard has accounted for this by allowing Veteran Edition players to purchase a WoW Token on the account, this only works if the player actually has enough gold. This raises a major issue for players who don't have enough gold: "How do I send gold to this account?"

Since some inactive players may have (Battle.net) friends playing WoW, they could potentially ask for a loan or otherwise receive their gold through (hopefully not illegal, but) altruistic means. One possible way could be through the guild bank, since Veteran Edition players can join a guild if one of their characters is already in one. However, regardless of the player's rank or permissions, they cannot access the guild bank at all (could probably be exploited). Another method could be to use the mail system, but a Veteran Edition player cannot send or receive mail, much like a Starter Edition account since they share restrictions.
This is what happens when one tries to access the mail on a Veteran Edition account.
The latter issue in particular presents a major problem on its own, since players can naturally receive mail due to in-game systems, such as the Postmaster, which I mentioned several years ago. Furthermore, there's not too much harm that could be done if a player were allowed to only receive mail since resources are being funneled to either a restricted account or a "paid" account. The issue presented in terms of being able to buy WoW Tokens is far more likely to screw over a legitimate player wanting to return because they would likely need to resubscribe for a month (or wait for a 10-day free trial or the like) to then be able to purchase the WoW Token. A more nefarious player, such as a gold seller, could also do the same, but could use shady methods to acquire subscriptions (chargeback after purchasing a subscription and WoW Token, the latter with gold), not to mention they can potentially use other methods to acquire accounts with an active subscription, such as compromising player security through malware. In addition, being forced to purchase a subscription with real money to then purchase more subscription time with gold seems like an illogical prospect given how Blizzard went out of their way to allow inactive players to purchase the WoW Token.

Ultimately, the point that can be taken from this is that a potential group of players: those interested in returning to World of Warcraft, may end up not returning at all if they don't want to spend real life money to resubscribe due to a lack of gold and an inability to receive any.

On another note, this issue partially shows how the Starter Edition restrictions can be problematic and potentially need addressing in itself (for instance, in my opinion, I've considered said restrictions to be archaic and hinder how much WoW can advertise itself to a new player using the Starter Edition).

Update: It has come to my attention that customer service might give a bit of game time to players interested in coming back in order to buy the WoW Token and the like. This is an excellent way to get players to return, but it would still be nice to address the issues stated above so that customer service can be reallocated to helping players in other ways.

Update 2: Forgot to go over the gold cap since that also exists on Starter/Veteran Accounts. If possible, allow gold acquired from mail to exceed the 10g cap.

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