Do we need a cross-realm Auction House?

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|02.15.13

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Do we need a cross-realm Auction House?
Do we need a crossrealm Auction House
I live on a dying server. It's not quite dead, but it's slowly withering away. I'm not sure what happened, exactly, but I have an idea of when -- at the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King, Dalaran was packed. By the end of the expansion, there were far fewer people running around. Orgrimmar in Cataclysm was a quiet place to be, and in Mists, the Horde shrine is populated by a few handful of players. As I said, I don't know what happened, but for some reason the masses that were on my server when I rolled there in Burning Crusade have all but evaporated.

On the one hand, it makes Pandaria a pretty quiet, idyllic place to be. There's hardly any competition for rare spawns, and you don't really have to compete with anyone for quest mobs or ore nodes or herbs, either. There's hardly any drama on the server, by and large because there really aren't enough people around to generate it. Sure, there are a few jerks, but it seems like everyone on the realm is generally relaxed and well-behaved -- as long as you stay out of Trade Chat.

On the other hand, it makes trying to buy or sell anything on the auction house an absolute nightmare.

Do we need a crossrealm Auction House
Here's the problem -- there really isn't anything for sale. More importantly, there isn't really anyone interested in buying. Transmogrification gear choices are pitifully small, and while there are people selling flasks, potions, and the materials to make them, they really aren't selling all that well. Why would they, when people can simply gather their own ingredients via their farm? There's the usual collection of ore and gems, but even the gems aren't really selling at high prices.

The fact is, with a population as small as ours appears to be, everyone has what they need. Ordinarily a population this low might signal the death of a server, but ours is quietly hanging on and continuing to putter along. Cross-realm instances and raids have quite possibly saved our server from near extinction, because despite the tiny population, people can still find groups to run content. They still have things to do, and a reason to play, and they enjoy a quiet atmosphere on top of it all.

But what they don't and can't enjoy is a thriving server economy. While everything else in the game seems to have progressed to this shared pool of battlegroups and beyond, the auction house is the lone, sole survivor to escape any kind of server-crossing integration. What this means is that there are a small handful of people that run the auction house, those that know how to play it well. And the rest of the server is either purchasing goods directly from those people, or not purchasing at all -- which leaves the auction house with little purpose.

Do we need a crossrealm Auction House
Perhaps the farm is partially to blame for this -- after all, I have not had a reason to purchase any kind of consumables since I maxed out my farm plots and started planting my own herbs. But I think the overwhelming majority of the problem is simply lack of supply, and lack of demand, both due to a low population.

Redditor aHesketh brought up a question on r/wow/ that has reared its head more than once in the past year -- what would be the result of cross-realm auction houses? While the discussion in the comments brings up some valid concerns, I have to say that the answer for my low-population server would be a boom in activity. I've visited other realms, and there have been plenty of occasions where I would peer at their auction house and all the goodies contained therein, sighing wistfully and wishing that kind of variety could be found on my main's realm.

For low-population realms, I can't really see cross-realm auction houses being anything but a savior for a dying economy. I wish I knew what kind of effect it'd have on high-population realms, but I don't currently reside on one. I can't fathom what it would be like to log into a Shrine that was suddenly full of players, and I definitely can't fathom what it would be like to see more than two pages worth of gear listed under any given category on the auction house.

While aHesketh's post didn't bring up a lot of comments on Reddit, it still made me want to re-visit the topic again, and see what everyone else thinks. Are you on a high-population server, or low? What's your server economy like? Do you think a cross-realm auction house would be a shot in the arm for your server economy, or would it start the slow path to extinction? Do you think a cross-realm auction house would be a benefit for the game as a whole, or something that should be avoided -- and why? Let's hear it.

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