Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him.
I had an absolute blast with Mat McCurley, Mike Sacco, and Alex Ziebart at PAX East 2012 this weekend. If you've been living under a rock, the four of us put on a great live panel discussion in front of about 200 to 300 excited fans. We met our fans (you!), gave away a ton of crazy awesome prizes (including immortality as a WoW Trading Card Game card), and had a lot of fun. We also discussed the big news of the day, which was the new Mists of Pandaria beta patch.
There's a lot of news in there for class columnists. But of interest to us as those who make and break the WoW economy, we've unearthed a new mount for jewelcrafters. And another mount for jewelcrafters. And another. And another. And yet a fifth. Yes, you heard me -- there are no fewer than five new JC mounts in the beta files.
If any jewelcrafters in the audience are salivating, they have a right to be. These new mounts could be a veritable bonanza for those who take the time to craft them. And they could wind up saving the World of Warcraft economy at the same time.
It's like friggin Voltron or whatever
Right now on the beta server, jewelcrafters can create four different mounts. The reagents for all four are the same. All require five of Something Expensive, an item with a vendor sell value of 25,000 gold. And that means you get 25,000 gold when you sell Something Expensive to a vendor -- the cost to buy Something Expensive from a vendor could be 10 times higher or even several hundred times higher.
Of course, Something Expensive is the definition of placeholder. When these mounts are put into the game, the gem-themed panthers will likely require a number of yet-to-be-implemented gems. The recipe will change. Something Expensive will turn into Something Different. The costs will be rebalanced. Still, there's no question that if these panthers are going to be the MoP version of the Mekgineer's Chopper or Vial of the Sands, making a panther will be expensive.
But you're not going to want to make just one panther. You're going to be compelled to make all of them. Combining the four different types -- Dawnstone Panther, Emerald Panther, Ruby Panther, and Sapphire Panther -- is the only way to create the stunning new Jeweled Onyx Panther multi-player mount. It's all very Voltron.
Now, a caveat: Beta servers are pretty fast-moving. A concept that's in the game one week might not be in the game the next, and so everything we discuss here today isn't guaranteed to make it into the final version of the game. That said, given that Blizzard put so much effort into designing the art of these mounts, I'm pretty sure we'll see them in the game one way or another.
The new MoP gold sink?
I've been saying that WoW is in desperate need of a gold sink for a long time now, and indeed, this stable of new mounts could be it. After all, if a mount requires 125,000 gold worth of vendor materials to make, that's 125,000 gold that's taken out of the game for good. Four mounts would take 500,000 gold out of the economy, and if you want the full five mounts, you'd need to spend yet another 500,000 to create the Jeweled Onyx Panther. That adds up to a million gold taken out of the game.
Of course, that assumes there's something non-placeholder about Something Expensive's placeholder price of 25,000 gold. Still, there's an argument to be made that these mounts should be that expensive.
An ugly combination of inflation and income inequality is absolutely killing the World of Warcraft economy. A small fraction of people have so much money that prices for high-end goods (like Queen's Garnet) is distorted beyond the reach of the 99%. And at the same time, because these richer players can pay just about any price for goods, they apply upward pressure on all prices. That's right -- rich jerks like Fox Van Allen are ruining things for the rest of you.
To be fair, pricing a collection of mounts at 1,000,000 gold would take most players out of the market. But in a sense, that's OK. In fact, to correct the WoW economy's imbalance, that's what has to happen -- we need a gold sink to end all gold sinks. (The only other option is even less popular: a hard reset on all our bank accounts to zero.) The richest of players will trade their economy-busting gold reserves for a jewel-encrusted status symbol. Rich players will have something to aspire to and a reason to save up money. The rich will have less, and the poor will, by comparison, have more.
One million may seem like a lot now, but considering the sharp jolt of inflation the WoW economy will experience after the launch of Mists of Pandaria, it will seem a much more attainable figure in a year's time. And really, it doesn't need to be exactly 1 million -- even a total cost of 500,000 gold would have a powerful, corrective effect on the economy.
At the end of the day, there is a correct price for these mounts. And that price is the exact value which causes the most money to flow from players hands to the vendors.
A jewelcrafter's dream?
Without a doubt, my inner jewelcrafter is pumped. But not so much because I believe these panthers will be a huge moneymaker for me. I just like the fact that I'll be able to craft this mount without having to pay a fee for someone to do it for me. (I'm cheap like that.)
Historically, these cash sink mounts haven't been gigantic moneymakers for the engineers and alchemists who craft them. Sure, Mechanohogs go for big money, and you can make a profit of 1,000 gold or more on each one sold. But how many can you sell a week? Vials of the Sands score you an even larger profit but sell just as poorly. I predict the Jeweled Onyx Panther will follow this pattern.
That's not to say that you can't make money selling them. You absolutely can and will, if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Ultimately, though, if you want to be able to afford riding your own personal panther one day, you'll need to find a more profitable route to 1 million gold. (Might I suggest inscription, instead?)
Maximize your profits with advice from Gold Capped. Want to know the very best ways to earn 10,000 gold? Top gold making strategies for auctioneers? How about how to reach 1 million gold -- or how one player got there and then gave it all away? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.