“Maybe you’ve heard of a terrible place”: The Black Market

Maybe you’ve heard of a terrible place
Where the soundrels of Paris
Collect in a lair

When I first read about the forthcoming “Black Market”, my initial gut instinct was “Nooooooo!” but as I thought about it, my opinion shifted.

To explain why, I want to start by talking about what might end up being for sale on this new AH. As we can see from the screenshots on MMO Champion there are a variety of categories encompassing gear, mounts, pets and junk. So potential items could include the following:

  • Tier 3 – i.e. the tier set from the original Naxxramas. That would mean for example that Matty could get her Warlock and Priest sets. We can pretty much guarantee the intention to include these as they are in the screenshots.
  • Benediction/Rhok’ledar  – like tier 3, these are no longer available in-game and could make a return. Personally I’m of the opinion that you can’t call yourself a Priest without a confetti trailing staff so I really hope these turn up at some point.
  • Crystal Webbed Robe – the same colour/design as the Chan’s Imperial Robes which also seem to have vanished from the game. This might also see a return of the other non set items from the original Naxx which haven’t been reused like the fabulous Plague Bearer.
  • Staff of Rampant Growth and all the other bits and pieces which dropped from the Nature Dragons and weren’t reused when the Dragons were removed from the game.
  • Plans for the Thorium Breastplate, along with any other hard to obtain or removed plans.
  • All the rare mounts and pets, potentially those from the Blizzard store too. I also find myself wondering if removed mounts like the original War bear from Zul’aman and the two from Zul’gurub could make a comeback this way. I have to admit, I’d definitely love to see the ZG ones. I’ve lost count of all the times I ran that instance, being exalted on I think three characters (two of which were exalted by the end of vanilla) and yet I’ve never ever seen either of the mounts drop.
  • The addition of the Paper Flying Machine Kit is also an interesting touch as it’s a TCG item. I wonder if any of  the other “junk” items available through the TCG might end up on the Black Market.

Just like the real world which it mirrors in so many ways, Azeroth has changed considerably over the last seven years. Plenty of unique and iconic items have bitten the dust along the way and resurrecting those items would add to the game in my opinion. We (who have these items) do not lose anything by others having them too. Our mounts don’t gain a layer of tarnish for each other person on the server who has what we have. Neither does our character shrink and shrivel slightly because we’re no longer unique and special snowflakes. There is no distinction between the person who got their tier 3 at level 60 and those who got towards the end of the Burning Crusade so it’s not as if tier 3 is proof of being an awesome player. Actually given some of the muppets we carried through Naxxramas when it was cutting edge, even if you could prove when someone got it, having it originally isn’t always a sign of stay out of the fire ability either. It’s not even proof of being a part of the tiny percentage of the player base who experienced vanilla Naxx.

I got my Benediction in 2005 when Majordomo presented a real challenge to guilds but my staff was in no way diminished by all the Priests who got theirs years later. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the Ashes of A’lar being available but in the months in which we raided Tempest Keep every week without fail my guild got four. For us at least it dropped more often than the War Glaives and they’re not exactly rare either. Certainly in the case of the phoenix, there will be loads of people farming Tempest Keep every week in search of the Ashes and I would imagine that more players will obtain it that way, than ever will through buying it off the Black Market.

What is important about these items is the memories they hold. When I quit WoW, I won’t have a plastic Benediction to take away with me but I will have those memories. The people who passed on the Eye of Divinity for me and the people who spent five hours farming demons in Winterspring for the Eye of Shadow along side me. The people who hung out in the Plaguelands whilst I danced about fighting invisible shades, cheer-leading for me, that’s what is so important about my Benediction. Take Spike, my Iron-bound protodrake and favoured mount of Erinys. I got him when Ulduar was hard and every day I see people in trade chat making PuGs to go and do the achievements but that doesn’t take away from my experiences. When I think of that mount, I remember my guild yelling “In the mountains” every time we pulled Thorim and how bad we were at frying dwarves. I remember our melee’s inability to stay on trains and not fall into gaping chasms. It’s the silliness, the yelling and the laughter which stays when all else fades. It’s the people you play with who make the game so amazing, not the pretty pixels we pick up along the way.

I think having gold sinks is good for the server economy. In order to make the sort of money required to buy some of the tasty items offered for sale on the Black Market people will have to farm. Hopefully that will encourage people to get out into the world regardless of the point in the expansion’s life cycle and make sure that the normal AH is full at all times.  Right now, once you’ve bought the basic gold sinks like the Traveller’s Tundra Mammoth in Wrath and Vial of the Sands in Cataclysm, there isn’t much to pour your money into and that has a knock on effect on the entire server.

Of course making desirable items available through in-game gold carries the risk of making gold selling more attractive to the masses but I think the player base is already fairly divided on that front. The people who think that buying gold is cheating, reprehensible and on the other side of the equation, the scum who think it’s fine even though more often than not it comes from hacking accounts. The latter will always find things to buy with their pieces of silver and Blizzard shouldn’t be limiting the game around them. Yes, people around the middle might find themselves swayed towards the tide mark because of this but that would happen regardless of what gold sinks Blizzard chose to introduce.

After careful consideration, the Black Market is definitely something I’m going to be looking forward to. I’m also going to be working on increasing my capital some what  considerably in the run up to Mists just in case something takes my fancy. When it comes to the scope of what’s offered, I’d like to see a huge variety of items ranging from the currently impossible to obtain to things which rely on those fickle Gods of RNG. I think this is probably a case of the more the merrier.