What Can a Guardian Cub Buy You?

Now that the 24-hour cooldowns have passed and the Guardian Cubs have started popping up on auction houses all around Azeroth, ranging from $9500-$20,000 G, I have to ask: does this RMT transaction really amount to much given the current state of the WoW economy? What can you actually *buy* for 10k-20k G anyhow? In my opinion, not much that matters.

Sure, you can upgrade to the fastest flying speed, or buy epic flying for another alt, or finally build yourself a mechanohog. But other than a few bits and bobs in the forms of random raid BOEs, there really isn’t a whole heck of a lot you can purchase with G in game that matters.

When I asked on twitter last night what those folks who’d purchased the cub for resale planned to do with their profits, no one replied with any big plans. Perhaps some were going to sell a couple of cubs to save up for something like the Spire of Scarlet Pain, or perhaps others might intend to blow their proceeds on purchasing other vanity pets for their pet collectors, but I suspect that many folks were just going to stash the cash away in their WoW bank accounts, and use it for the more mundane every day expenses that eat through your saving (i.e. repairs and enchants and gems etc.)

To me at least, it feels like the Real Money Transactions (RMT) tree fell in the Azeroth woods but no one heard it fall.

Kitten for Sale! Turns US$ into WoW Gold!

Guardian-Cub

Awwww look at the cute widdle kitten. Isn’t he adorable? It’s hard to believe something so tiny and so cute could have caused such a ruckus this week, but this little guy sure did when he was announced as a new Blizzard pet store pet. The reason? Because this little guy, who sells for $10, is unlike his BOA predecessors that you buy for yourself or share a code with a friend via email. He’s a BOE that can be sold on the auction house.

Q: How does the Guardian Cub pet work? How is it different from other Pet Store pets?

Unlike the other Pet Store companions, the Guardian Cub is a tradable, one-time-use pet that permanently binds to a single character upon use. When you purchase the Guardian Cub from the online store, the character you designate will receive a bind-on-use item to carry in his or her inventory. You can either use the item yourself to permanently add the pet to your character’s collection (consuming the item in the process), or — after a brief initial cooldown period — you can trade the item to another player so he or she can add it to one of their character’s collections.

As you might expect, the WoW community has reacted with a number of tweets and blog posts, many of which characterised this as a “trial balloon” to test the level of acceptance (and revenue) such an item would generate. The announcement FAQ tackled the “Isn’t this a way for players to pretty much legally buy gold from you” with this Q&A:

Q: Could I put the Guardian Cub up on the auction house to try to make some gold if I wanted to?

While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services. However, please keep in mind that there’s never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they’ll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. (You can read more about our stance here.) While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling “black market” and account theft.

Personally, I have two serious pet collectors in game — one Horde-side and one Alliance-side. As such, I’m a huge fan of the BOA pets. Buy once, and see it on all your toons. I’d like to see this guy available in a BOA version in addition to this 1-time-use BOE version, but I doubt I’ll see that happen. This feels akin to the WoW TCG loot items, which I have agonized over more than once (who should get the spectral tiger cub??? OK, Candy got the cub, so Anexxia gets the Blazing Hippogryph), but in a more accessible format, and one that will put the cash back into Blizzard/Activision’s bottom line rather than in that of the third party sellers.

Will we see more BOE items for sale from Blizzard directly? Only time– and the proceeds from this little guy– will tell.