Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Did it For the Money

Well, well, well...

It used to be a standing joke, back in the days of Vanilla.

A cursory /who Maraudon on any given day would reveal a number of oddly-named Hunters (always this class, the #1 Choice for Chinese Gold Farmers) who seemed to spend their lives inside the instance where, unsurprisingly, they would farm. A LOT. Regardless of the stigma, it has long been the preserve of a certain type of player to run instances like this for their contents: whether it be for reputation, cloth for Tailoring, items to DE for Enchanting or raw materials to gather in dungeons like Underbog or Slave Pens. The removal of chests from TBC dungeons some time ago was an acknowledgement that farming these places remained a lucrative source of cash for those for whom botting (automated programmes) is still and effective form of gold creation. However, this statement above from WatcherDev yesterday (in response to a poster who noted the utter absence of item drops below Rare quality when farming the Black Temple) shows that Blizzard's finally taking an interest in how much cash old instances will generate: we're not just simply considering the gold from bosses any more, either.

It is a reminder that everything has a value for someone in Warcraft.

Not that kind of farming...

It is perhaps not unsurprising, considering Blizzard are actively encouraging L90's to farm classic instances like Molten Core for items, that there would be some thought given to the net gains away from Transmog and rare drops. Whatever the 'fix' is that is now in place, one genuinely wonders how it will be able to distinguish the difference between a legitimate player and a bot. One assumes that the number of times one enters an instance will come into play, but there will be those people who are taking advantage in the relaxation of entry restrictions (one can now enter the same instance ten times in an hour as opposed to five) to legitimately 'farm' items such as mounts (which is entirely possible in Cataclysm normal instances such as the Stonecore where a mount drops from either normal or heroic from the second boss.) So, does this mean in future expansions we'll see less trash generally in instances or simply a reassessment of what drops from mobs and its relative value?

The thing is, as Blizzard have clearly learnt with the Timeless Isle, people love rewards, and are prepared to go to fairly extreme lengths to obtain them.

The bane of many people's existence. FACT.

The Monstrous Spineclaw's a classic example of how the Timeless Isle's spawn mechanics will keep people coming back again and again if it's not about a guaranteed return every time. The pet that drops is rarer than hen's teeth, but vital for one achievement and essential for anyone collecting Battle Pets. That means there's a pretty strong chance you'll find people farming the Isle long into the L100's and beyond if only for the chance of these items which will (presumably) maintain a sale price on the AH long after their actual content has lost all relevance. You only have to look at the Argent Tournament to understand how the battle pets sold there continue to have a long-term worth. What is less clear however is the relative value of the items when offset against the actual time farming them. This, in the end, is the key. Given a choice between farming Instance A ten times in an hour or waiting for Spawn B and only the *chance* of a drop, the smart goldmaker's going to take the easy option every time, because there will ALWAYS be some residual value from the stuff nobody wants and that is simply handed to a vendor.

It is therefore not really surprising Blizzard's beginning to investigate ways to curtail this form of cash generation.

What is perhaps more concerning, at least in terms of a company which prides itself in transparency and communication, is that this was a 'stealth nerf' which is now only coming to light because someone complained on the Forums. In retrospect it is probably not a surprise, but it does indicate that expecting to be told when something changes in game is never a given, especially if related to areas of gameplay which could have financial implications in the Real World. It should also be a salutary warning to those who like to make their money with simple repetition, whether legitimately or otherwise.

Blizzard are watching you.


Andy Farrell said...

I had the uneasy feeling the other day that my behaviour looked suspiciously like botting when I was running Zul'Farrak for a cloak that dropped of a rare spawn in there – I'd run in, head directly to the fountain, see if he was there, then run out and reset if he wasn't. Repeat several times. (luckily the cloak I wanted dropped the first time the rare actually spawned :D )

I reckon you're right though that it might be tricky to differentiate between legit and exploit, especially via automated means, and possibly even with a human observer.

Kimmo said...

They coped to it and reverted the change:

marathalbt said...

I know during Cata a member of the guild use to run Black Temple once a week for a rare drop, I went with one time to help get past one boss that was causing issues. Between the 2 of us with gold off bosses and the vendored stuff with only 50% clear I personally had over 1500g and several stacks of cloth.

More recently running someone as a full clear I might have cleared a few hundred, still tons of cloth. I have noticed the cloth drop was nerfed and green items when I did Kara last week.

Raymond Hafner II said...

Another decision by Watcher and just another reason to lose respect for him.

His decisions continue to harm the vast majority of players when it comes to instanced content and his desire to remove rewards from it, from current to the oldest and easiest.

If bots were that much of a problem, something would have been done years ago. No, this smells like Watcher wanting to be sure that only current content has anything worthwhile about it.