Since the school year began, I really have been too busy with that side of my life to focus too much on my virtual side of life, but I have still gotten some game play in since. Much of it has been focused on PVP with Sedagive, my death knight (DK). On that note, she is fully geared and is building up some arena points, though I am still a bit too old to do well there. But, that is another story.
As most of you probably know, DKs start at level 55, only 30 levels shy from the top of the world. They do start to get good gear quickly, as they were supposed to have been an elite melee class with the release of Wrath of the Lich King. While most of my play has been spent in the background tossing spells and heals, she is so much fun in PVP. But, what concerns me more about the current state of World of Warcraft, is how much the gold has been devalued.By now, you may know that Blizzard is losing subscribers. I figure people are leaving Azeroth for a variety of reasons, but my guess is a good chunk are leaving because it really has developed a stronger appeal to the casual gamer. I realize this because my Sedagive has made over 20k in gold by simply questing and selling items I neither need nor want. Often, I sell them to a merchant when I repair, not through the Auction House, as that is easier and I am pretty lazy. Again, remember the lack of time issue.
When I started playing WoW, 'lo those many years ago, it took so long to raise the gold to buy a mount. I recall several level 60's in the "vanilla" days that didn't have a mount because they couldn't get the needed (ready for this?)... 60g in order to purchase one. I forget how much training cost at the time.
When I wrote about the idea that Azeroth presents a good example of what Adam Smith intended for a free market to look like, I didn't touch the value of in-game currency, which has been so devalued, that any schmuck who plays can get whatever his or her little heart desires simply by running quests. All of my 85's have their fast flying mounts and only one of my characters has almost fully leveled profession: skinning (maxed out) and tailoring (which is not close to being maxed out).
In the language of economics, the people at Blizzard instituted a policy of deflation. In doing so, the market is devalued and flooded with cheap currency (gold), and the goods purchased have little value. This causes investors (players) to leave the market and find more value in other markets. And, as noted, people are leaving Azeroth for brighter days elsewhere. Should Blizzard add stronger value to gold, and in doing so take some out of the market, then perhaps investors (players) will come back. This might make it somewhat more appealing to more serious gamers.
Let's look at recent changes in the economics of the game. In the days of "vanilla," a player got his or her mount at level 40 for 60g plus training. Now, we get our mounts at 20 for a whopping five gold. When you want a faster mount, it comes at level 40, not 60. Flying used to be at 70, now 60, and so on. Dual specialization used to cost 1,000g, now it is a whopping 10g. Want to make a quick couple of hundred gold, do your dailies for 30 minutes and you've got it.
All of this has created a paradise for people who want an easy life. Casual gamers like me have it too easy in Azeroth. I like a challenge in life, as do many players, but when it gets a bit too easy to have it all, investors (players) leave the market.
Recently I decided to level a profession on Sedagive. I decided on herbalism with the second one to be determined — if at all (seeing as there is no real need for a profession in Azeroth). But, and here is the rub, it took a total of about three hours to max out my herbalism. Which begs the question: With the deflation, why get a profession at all?
There are two ways to level a character - actually, there are scores of ways, my mind just goes to a pair specific approaches. The first is slow and easy, enjoying the game and leveling several professions at once. This requires a player to be patient, but this player, once at 85, will have everything he or she wants. What's more, this player more effectively learns the nuances of his or her character, play, and the like. Chances are, once at 85, the player is ready for heroics and will have a cache of honor points for PVP gear. These are patient people and savor more than devour. They spend time reading, actually reading the quests. More often than not, they also enjoy the lore in them too.
The second manner of leveling is quite the opposite: blaze through it. Don't stop for air, hit one dungeon after another, hit the big quests. Don't stop to level a profession. Just create the toon and run. Quickly. This player knows the game, the quests, and the like. This person can run through them very quickly. This player is done with lore; perhaps if he or she has never played this race, that player may enjoy the starting zone. But, that is where it ends.
I play the second style. My first couple of toons, I took my time. Though, I never was good at doing the profession thing. Even in real life, I have always simply gotten by on what I need. I never sought the big bucks. I guess this is where my real life meets my virtual life. In neither life have big bucks ever appealed to me.
Here we find Blizzard and WoW, losing players. Let's face it, every empire must fall, and perhaps Blizzard's time at the top of the MMO food chain is beginning to wane; however, it is not too late. The creators of WoW can institute a few simple changes to keep its position on the top of that food chain. For starters, inflate the prices, make it a challenge to get the shiny objects. Give the currency some value. Make it necessary to get a profession. Give the serious gamers a reason to stay.
What do you think, has Blizzard deflated the prices so much that it is too easy? Did you like it better when life in Azeroth was more expensive?
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