Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cataclysm Currency Calamity

Blizzard previously announced plans to reset honor upon launch of the expansion in order to prevent people from stockpiling enough honor to buy level 80 gear the moment they dinged 80. I commented at the time that this was a major PR Failure, in part because they inexplicably failed to have the new honor award info ready until a day later, but also because of an issue of consumer confidence; wiping out previously earned honor implies disrespect for the time spent obtaining said honor.

Well, now Blizzard has reversed the decision, saying that they will, instead, jack up prices for level 80 stuff. This, of course, is what they should have done in the first place. I am staggered to think that they didn't imagine there would be outcry and only thought to react to it after the news broke.
- Me, back in September 2008
When you've been writing an MMO blog for long enough, you start to get the feeling that you're writing a post that you've written before.   Case in point, it's late September before a WoW expansion and Blizzard has once again announced last minute plans to mess with existing currencies even though they once again do not have the answers to obvious questions.

Honor 3.0
Honor points, currently capped at an arbitrary 75,000, will be scaled into a new form of honor points that cap at an even more arbitrary 4,000 (with a grace period between the conversion and Cataclysm to spend down excess points before they're turned into relatively trivial amounts of gold). 

A variety of miscellaneous PVP currencies - but possibly not all of them, such as Outland world PVP tokens - will also be removed and converted into the new honor points. MMO-Champion implemented a calculator that can be used to calculate what your current stuff is worth.  (At the moment, you will obtain more honor from converting battleground marks into honor points than from holding them, exchange rates may change.)  Wintergrasp heirlooms will now be purchased using the new honor points, and may or may end up being more expensive - personally, I'm redeeming all of my Stone Keeper Shards for heirlooms ASAP. 

An obvious and unanswered question is what will happen to the Wintergrasp Commendation, an account bound item that currently allows players to turn their Wintergrasp rewards into honor points on future alts.  Cashing these out immediately would hugely decrease their value.  However, players have been banking these items because they can also be used to store excess honor, defeating the honor cap. 

Dungeon emblems
Legacy badges and emblems will immediately be cashed out into gold, which, again, is relatively useless to most players who have enough emblems to care.  I plan to convert my old valor and conquest emblems into heirlooms ASAP.

Meanwhile, existing Triumph and Frost emblems will be turned into the new "points of justice" at an equal exchange rate, even though Frost emblems are substantially more difficult to obtain.  At current PTR exchange rates, both currencies stand to lose some purchasing power (i.e. you won't get enough points of justice for 60 emblems to buy something that currently costs 60 emblems).  On the other hand, points from Triumph emblems will be spendable on things that currently require Frost emblems - if you even want to purchase any of these things a month before they're replaced in the new expansion instead of saving the points for free dungeon loot at level 85. 

Why not just replace the currency?
The thing that boggles my mind about this change is that it was completely unnecessary.   Blizzard could have left existing currencies in place for existing content and introduced NEW currencies for the new content, as they have done in every gear reset that the game has had to date.  Instead, they are now allowing us to bank points now for use in the not-yet-released expansion.  In the interim, there's a mess of how to balance exchange rates and pricing on existing items that are only a month or two from irrelevancy anyway. 

At the end of the day, I think I might have liked Wrath's approach to dungeon currency better than Cataclysm's.  Under Wrath's rules, you might as well spend your rewards as you earn them, since saving the tokens won't actually get you anything better in the next patch.  Now the goal will always be to stay as close to the cap as possible before each new patch allows you to spend your existing points on better items than you can obtain today. 

In any case, I'm a bit surprised and disappointed that Blizzard seems to have learned so little from the failed honor reset two years ago.  Would it really have killed them to have the answers to obvious FAQ's in hand before rolling out the announcement? 


Anonymous said...

The reason they're going through with this is now they'll have a system where there will only ever be two PvE "badges" and two PvP "badges."

Consider that if they didn't wipe out Wrath currencies, you'd have four different Wrath Emblems that would just be sitting in your Currency tab forever.

Indy said...

As someone (I forget which blogger...) mentioned, this seems to be a database cleanup... by converting the old currency items into the new points, the servers have less data entries to handle. Not much, but leveraged over eleven million players or so... (plus all the players who aren't playing currently).

The new honor cap is an arbitrary number, to be sure. But if they keep the announced honor conversion rate, Blizz is essentially more than doubling the cap. If pvp gear costs are scaled the same, and they don't increase the price of level 85 gear TOO much, should be good.

I think I'll just hang on to my stuff, though I may need to buy something to get under the soft cap after the patch. I'm not going to buy more heritage gear now, but that's mainly as I don't really have a new alt in mind that I want to start playing.

darkeye said...

A clean out of junk is nice and streamlines the game for new players if there is a common reward for alot of different activities.

I'm not sure players will be able to stockpile highest tier currencies because when they announced this, they said there'd be a reset with each new content/season. The higher tier of points get converted into the lower tier.

You could stockpile points of justice now by running wrath heroics but these would probably only earn cataclysm entry level gear for heroics that could be earned by normal mode dungeons I'm guessing, doubt they allow a big advantage right off the bat.

Xaxziminrax II said...

Bah, came to address some of your concerns and see that everyone else already said what I was gonna.

At least I can say that it was Larisa over at the PPI that mentioned the database cleanup.

And keep in mind during the first conversion of all your old currencies, you can go over the cap.

Personally I think it's a bad move to convert all the current currencies into future currencies. I have always been in favor of a total currency reset, but the more I think about it, you would have to reset gold as well, while in actuality gold just loses value naturally as there becomes more trading hands. So I guess it's okay to deliberately reduce the value of currencies while upgrading them to be able to purchase current content.

Plus having only four total currencies much simplifies things from a user perspective. I wish they would do something similar to reps.

chronic said...

I really liked the line "an even more arbitrary 4,000"

I'd be surprised if they didn't do something along the lines of the Wrath honor inflation with the PvE points; getting to the cap might buy you several items now but probably only one or two at 85, and you'll be able to grind them an order of magnitude more efficiently if you wait.

yuripup said...

I would say its not really a database cleanup--but a player items cleanup.

Converting current triumph into badges of heroism is a completely pain in the ass and stupid. Simplifying the player experience--in this case, as there are no interesting decisions--is a great idea.

The fact that there are probably 15+ currencies in the game is a bit overwhelming and quite silly.