Trading Talents and Tomes

WoWScrnShot_052916_201246This blog post technically contains Legion spoilers.  However, they pertain to the cost of switching specs, something that will undoubtedly change before the game is officially released.  There are no lore or class change or even artifact spoilers here.  But if you are avoiding everything Legion, read on at your own risk.

A couple weeks ago, Blizzard announced a change about something I had previously dedicated an entire blog post to: the gold cost of changing specs in Legion.  You can read their full post here but the gist of Watcher’s post was that players already considered changing specs to be a significant shift, rendering the gold cost intended to add weight to the decision to switch specs rather redundant.  The gold cost would be removed.  While this argument was different from what I had written, I am still extremely happy that Blizzard reached this decision.  Despite what some naysayers would think, Blizzard is listening to feedback!

The second part of the post was less universally loved.  Watcher went on to talk about how instead of a spec changing barrier, there would instead be a talent changing barrier.  Details were a bit vague but the general idea was that you could only change talents while in a safe area (somewhere where you are in the rested state) or near a scribe-created tome that allows player to re-talent.

I, for one, am 100% behind these changes.

Firstly, this change will help make Inscription an actually valuable profession again.  Retalenting Tomes would be a necessity for any group content and demand for both the Tomes themselves and the scribes who make them would remain constant over the course of the expansion.  Scribes would have a reliable and constant cash flow.  Professions (or at the very least, this one) would matter again.  After the cluster duck that was Warlord’s professions, this would be a nice change of pace.

WoWScrnShot_052916_200957

Soon, screencaps like this will be ancient history

More importantly, this change actually allows for more options.  When you think about it, the actual mechanic of changing talents won’t change.  The name and source of the tome is changing but it is still, in essence, a consumable item that allows you to change your talents.  The gold cost of said tome may increase, this is yet to be seen, but in the base functionality, it is identical.

However, the talent changing mechanic gets a lot more interesting in two ways.  For one, instead of being a personal item that changes talents, the new scribe-made tome would allow all nearby players to swap as many talents as they please for an amount of time.  Personally, I love this change.  In a group environment (where I personally would be using this the most), this means that before a boss pull, you just have to drop one more additional item.  Buffs, feasts, and now, tome.  In a sense, this is actually easier than individuals carrying around Tomes of the Clear Mind.  If one person has a tome then everyone benefits.  And for players who might not be as good about remembering to swap their talents for a specific boss fight (not that this would ever be me, nope!), the tome could serve as a reminder to do so.

The second way this talent changing mechanic gets more interesting is that it now has a time cost as an alternative option to the gold cost.  You could drop some change on scribe tomes, or you could make your way to the nearest rested spot.  So for those just leveling out in the world or swapping talents in the capital cities, well they’ve just saved a good amount of gold.  As someone who is chronically poor in WoW, I am always a fan of adding time costs as another method of doing something.  But I know there are people who have all the gold in the world and not enough time, so by having both options Blizzard can tailor to both types of players.

I really think Blizzard has nailed it with these proposed changes.  I was already ecstatic about the removal of the spec change tax and the talent swapping change is just icing on the cake.  Swapping one consumable tome for another, when the new tome can be used by more than just one person, and gaining a time cost alternative?  They’ve won me over!

What do you guys think about these changes?

No Taxation with Artifaction

I thought the title was pretty clever  /pats self on back

I thought the title was pretty clever /pats self on back

Editor’s Note: This was actually supposed to go live yesterday but as you see, I was a little bit late.  Pretend it’s still Sunday!

This blog post technically contains Legion spoilers.  However, they pertain to the cost of switching specs, something that will undoubtedly change before the game is officially released.  There are no lore or class change or even artifact spoilers here.  But if you are avoiding everything Legion, read on at your own risk.

To start off, this post deals with a feature in the alpha, meaning there is a very high chance it will change before the game is launched.  I realize this.  However, alpha is also the very best time to offer feedback like this because the developers are looking to change the game.  Yes I understand this will change, I’m writing this because I think it will.  And now, without further adieu or preamble, the article!

Currently in the Legion alpha, you can play all of your classes’ specs.  There is no dual spec anymore.  Each class has access to every spec.  However, there is right now a 100 gold tax every time you switch specs.

First of all, this tax is entirely too high.

Lets say you swap your spec 3 times per hour.  Not an entirely unreasonable number, especially if you are raiding (changing per boss), trying out a new spec, or just running dungeons.  You play about 3 hours a night for about 5 days a week, meaning you play for 15 hours a week.  Again, not totally unreasonable. Now if you change your spec 3 times every hour, you change your spec about 45 times in a given week.  Which means, with the 100g cost, you pay about 4,500g gold a week, just to switch specs.

4,500g a week. Over the course of a normal month, that becomes 18,000g.  The course of a year? Almost a quarter of a million.   For some gold moguls, that’s nothing.  For me, that’s all of my gold after a few months.  I don’t think everyone is rolling in the dough, near gold cap.  So for a lot of people, that’s a lot of gold.  And this is isn’t even factoring in all the beginning of expansion gold draining.

The 100g spec change is entirely too high.  Even with all the gold people have amassed from the garrison, the spec change tax  is far too exorbitant.  And the greatest irony of it, a tax such as this would actually act to deter people from switching specs.  The expansion when we finally could play all three (or two or four) specs of our class and many people would opt with just one.

But making the 100g cost lower isn’t the issue.  Lower it a little and the barrier is still there.  Lower it a lot and then why even have the tax in the first place.

I advocate for the complete removal of the spec tax.

Not only is the tax expensive, it’s also double dipping.  Blizzard already has a barrier in place to keep people from changing specs willy-nilly and it’s called artifacts.

Artifacts are unique to each spec, meaning you can’t use your Holy Artifact in your Retribution spec.  You can work to upgrade your artifact, but this improvement does not carry over to your artifacts of your other specs.  So you might have a totally maxed out Holy paladin artifact and a basic Ashbringer.  Yes Blizzard has said there will be catch up mechanics, but the weapons won’t just flip for each spec.  We are going to have to invest time (and perhaps money) into each and every artifact.

So we already have a tax in place.  A time sink tax.  The 100g tax is an extra, and I would argue, arbitrary tax.  There is already an effective barrier that makes people think twice about changing specs and I think adding another one is silly.

In addition, this gold price tax would impact hybrid classes more so than pure classes. While both rogues and paladins switch specs, I would argue that a paladin switches specs more.   I go from Holy to Protection to go from Healing to Tanking.  Because I can fill multiple roles, I often switch to do so.  But while rogues might switch from Assassination to Combat (soon to be Outlaw) for a different playstyle, they are still filling the same role of DPS.  So in theory a rogue could stay the same spec all expansion whereas the paladin will have to change to fill different roles.  In essence, a hybrid tax.

I generally think that gold sinks are an important part of maintaining the WoW economy.  But up until this point, gold sinks have been mainly optional.  This proposed tax is a huge and constant gold drain and it is very likely to be mandatory (especially if you do any sort of group content).  Sure, if Blizzard needs some sort of gold investment with the spec system, make it a one time gold cost to unlock.  You could even make it cost something relatively high like 10,000 gold.  Just make it a one time cost.  I would much rather pay that upfront than be charged a little every single time.  Drain me once, don’t keep coming back.

This being alpha, I know everything will change.  The artifact system, the spec tax, everything is still up in the air.  And since everything can change, I’m arguing now as opposed to later to get rid of the 100g.  We already have a time sink barrier.  We don’t need a gold sink barrier as well.  And we don’t want any more hybrid taxes.

The WoW Token: A Two Sided Coin

WoW token 2I’m having one of those weeks where everything seems to be going to pieces, so I apologize in advance for the late blog post.  Hopefully everything is settling down for next week!

The WoW Token fascinates me.  The token can be bought for real money, sold for gold, bought for gold, or used for game time.  It costs $20UDS and generally sells for anywhere from 20k to 25k gold. And when you break it down, its probably one of the most useful ‘currencies’ in game.

Lets start from the view of gold buying.  When you buy a WoW token from Blizzard for the real money cost, you are basically buying gold. No one in their right of mind would use the token they bought with real dollars because it’s gets you a month of game time for $5 dollars more. The only logical course of action is to sell it.

I know other games have done this before, but to me this is brand new and very interesting. Basically, this has put an official dollar conversion to gold. Before 1,000 gold was a disjointed number with no real life value. Now, that 1,000 gold is worth about $1. True, you can’t just buy 1,000 gold for a dollar (and I would not want to see that happen either) but you can buy 20k gold for $20. There’s a conversion rate, and while conversions are limited they are now possible. I’m very interested to see how this plays out.

The WoW token also effectively neuters an age old problem in the game: Gold Farmers. Why would you pay money for gold from an illegal source when you can do so perfectly legally? True, gold farmers can simply make their rates better than the WoW tokens but they’ve just lost a huge portion of their customers. Now that there is a sanctioned method for buying gold, many people who need gold in a pinch can get some without breaking the rules. All the hesitant or uncertain buyers will no longer need to resort to illegal activities. I’m sure there will still be those who choose to buy from gold farmers, but with the advent of the WoW token that number has gone down.
WoW Token 3On the flip side of the token, one can theoretically never have to pay real money for their WoW subscription ever again.  By buying the tokens of the AH for gold, you can get that 30 days of game-time for free.  And if you have enough money, you can buy enough tokens for months, even years in advance.  So for the cash rich, money poor folk there is now an entirely new option for paying the subscription.

The second option of buying your subscription with gold really appeals to me as someone with limited income.  I currently do not have the gold amassed to buy any tokens, but I have started grinding gold out for those tokens.  In a way, the tokens have almost made more content viable because grinding gold can literally save you money now.  There is more motivation to run old raids, play the AH, and max out your garrison.

In essence, there are now two ways to pay for your subscription: Time or Money.  Do you pay the $15 a month or do you grind the gold.  Depending on which is more valuable to you, you might find yourself paying for WoW in an entirely different way.  I honestly think its an awesome idea to have this option. Either way Blizzard is still getting their subscription fees, but the questions is are you paying it or someone else?

And that’s yet another thing to mention; Blizzard is now getting increased revenues from subscriptions.  Not to make them sound like some evil corporation (because they are definitely better than some other corporations), but Blizzard has cleverly ‘tricked’ their customers.  I say tricked in quotes because we customers know exactly what’s going on, but its still very clever.  For every token bought with real money, Blizzard is getting $5 more on someone’s subscription bill.  They’ve given the illusion of saving money when they have actually increased their own profit.  And yes, those who only buy WoW tokens for gold are saving money, but those who buy WoW tokens for money are paying $20 for the other person’s subscription.  Very sneaky!

I’m no economist, but the whole WoW token thing really fascinates me.  There’s now this whole wrinkle of real life money added to the game, in a very non intrusive but still impactful way.  I will be watching quite eagerly to see what becomes of this!