Last night, we discovered what it related to, as the Black Market Auction House popped up. All I can say is... lordy.
The Black Market Auction House allows players to bid on special items that are not normally sold by NPCs. For example, Mei Francis normally sells mounts in Dalaran, but in this case she is auctioning Ashes of Al'ar!
The items for auction vary by server, as other servers are able to bid on Reins of the Blazing Drake, Swift White Hawkstrider, or Riding Turtle.
For a long time, those who watch the Warcraft Economy have bemoaned the lack of decent 'gold sinks' to balance the economy. As Wikipedia explains, this term 'is comparable to timesink, but usually used in reference to game design and balance, commonly to reduce inflation when commodities and wealth are continually fed to players through sources such as quests, looting monsters, or minigames' When I first saw this announcement last night it occurred to me that this could be a front for a Cross-Server Auction House, but it appears that with each beta server currently selling a selection of mounts, this is simply a move forward from the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries that are currently available for tanks and healers with one key difference: if you have the cash, it's yours.
With this function not yet operational, we are left to speculate the way in which the AH actually works. Is it about the highest bid? Could you buy out these items? Is this Auction House likely to be a lag hot spot as many people camp the place in a hope to snipe last minute?
|Can't believe this name wasn't taken. He needs a bigger hat...|
Having slept on this latest revelation, this development makes a lot of sense. Assuming that Blizzard takes care of those who are long time players and who have invested a great deal of time in game, and we don't see anything that can could conceivably give an advantage to a player who can spend the most money, there is a fair bit of potential here. Blizzcon murlocs and bears for instance, the old Naxx recipes that disappeared when the Citadel shifted to Northrend, impossible to find low level recipes and enchants (am thinking Rich Silk Purple Shirt rarity) plus recolours of armour pieces all feature on my list of 'things I'd spend spare cash on.' However the bigger key, and I can't check this to confirm, will be what happens when you've actually won said item.
I REALLY REALLY HOPE that everything you will buy on this AH will be soulbound.
If it is, then I can see a lot of money moving out of the economy, and a move towards more competitive farming to obtain gold. I can also see a distinct increase in AH prices, and a need to farm pre-Expansion for gold as well as raw materials. I haven't checked if I need to have a L85 to get to Pandaria yet, but I will do this afternoon, and if I can ship a L1 alt up to this AH you can guarantee I'll have someone in place as soon as possible (assuming of course that you can access this area at all pre-85)
Needless to say, I'm watching this particular Beta development very closely indeed....