Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Remote AH Thoughts

Well, it's arrived. The Ability to be Playing WoW When You Aren't Actually Playing WoW™. Blizzard apparently Has An App For That. This is going to get absolutely zero usage from me, mostly because the only thing I use the AH for is to post my once a day transmutes, but it brings up a few interesting topics for discussion.

This is a 'while the coffee is brewing' post, so I'm not going to write an essay. It's mostly just free form rambling here. In no particular order:

1) It's $2.99 per month in addition to the regular subscription. I won't get doom and gloom here (hell, I even bought a sparkly pony) but it's obviously a testing of the waters for "how many people are willing to pay an extra 3 bucks a month for added (but not required!1!) functionality?"... I have this vision in my mind that WoW has basically become the testing ground for that Top Secret Project X that they're working on for when WoW has run its course. They'll pull the cover off TSPX and we'll all orgasm in unison, as will the Accounting Department, because they've used WoW as the PTR for sussing out the public's exact stance on all of these things like sparkly ponies, dual spec, hard modes, added 3 dollar bonus features, starting hero classes at 55+,etc etc etc. When they just out and sell gold at the end of WoW, I won't be shocked. They're saving that as the final 'test'. Honestly, gold buying doesn't bother me, but that's a post for another day.

2) It's an iPhone app (don't get me started on paying $90/month for phone internet on top of another $50/month for computer internet... I don't play that game), in addition to being a web browser app. Honestly, they fact that it's even a 'regular browser' app is silly. It's so obviously designed to be used on your iPhone while waiting for a latte that I'm not sure why they bothered making a 'regular browser' version. If you're in a position where you can open Firefox / Chrome / IE, you can probably just open WoW. I guess you could use it on a netbook that can't run WoW or whatever, but then again, I can probably run WoW on the LCD on the back of my digital camera, sooo... Hm. Maybe it's good for firewall blocked workplaces. You can't WoW, but you can WoWlite. Productivity, woe is you.

2a) Being an iPhone or Browser app, there will likely be no addons(!). Now, call me crazy, but the people this is aimed at are the Inscription guys who run 57 addons just to post auctions, open their mailbox 50 mails at a time, sort their bags alphabetically, and would permanently dual wield iLevel 42 Slide Rules if it would knock the AH cut down by .5%. Opening each auction mail one at a time, and typing in prices manually using your pinky doesn't scream "Gevlon".

3) It occurred to me that since you're paying to use the Auction House from Anywhere ...will you be able to just type /AH in the game and bring up the AH from anywhere? It would be kind of lame if you couldn't since you're paying for it, but then I realized... DUH. You'll never need to manually go to the AH again. In the middle of a raid you can just open a web browser on the 2nd monitor. I guess there's the web browser functionality I was talking about earlier. We'll be essentially playing WoW with two different interfaces simultaneously. I wonder if it will complain that you're logged in elsewhere. I can't imagine that it would... but possibly I guess?

3a) Actually, wait... it is kind of lame, because what about the greens or DE mats you just got from that 5 man? Paying 3 bucks a month extra, and then still having to run to the mailbox manually? ***edit*** Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox ...well that's that, I guess. I mean, this can go as deep as you want it to... why is the Armory free? You can still manually inspect people, but here's a format to do it online from anywhere, and it even has added value options like 'find an upgrade' and 'arena match history'. Why not just sell 'Armory Access' for three bucks a month and include "Online AH" as one tab?

4) Where do we go from here? iPhone apps for leveling? Imagine you have a 1 hour commute every day each direction, but you hate sudoku.

Where's the app that's like:

'Your shaman is level 64, where do you want to level?'
a) Zangarmarsh
b) Nagrand
c) Blade's Edge

Then you just 'get a quest to grind mobs' and kill shit on the train in the morning with some Pokemon style interface where you have "Lightning / Chain Lightning / Heal" buttons. Maybe you get some rare drops, woohoo? How far can they take this?

I dunno. Coffee's ready, and the 2 year old needs my attention, but the point 2a is my biggest "huzzawha" (with point 4 being the biggest "thing that makes you go hmm"). Without the ability to cater to the people that need to have the AH away from the AH, I don't see this as being a big deal. Maybe the Auctioneer people are already hard at work? We'll see soon, I guess.

And how far does this open the gate to separate apps that plug into the main framework that WoW is becoming? How long till WoWOS where you just turn on your computer and WoW is the desktop, but you launch little separate apps to interact with its different subsystems?


Anonymous said...

My biggest question is how exposed will the programming API's and XML be? Can I write code that polls my realm's AH every 5 mins and auto-buys everything I tell it to? And will that be a breach of the TOS for botting?

Ah, Pandora, we hardly knew ye.

I'm not against the app. I just wonder what limitations are in place to regulate so-called "unfair" gameplay. Without those limitations, Blizz has just gone down the slippery slope of paying extra for in-game advantage with a swig of beer and a howl of glee.

Reading the description, it looks very much to me like anyone will be able to browse the AH, but you need to pay the $3/month to be able to buy and sell. Anyone else get that?

Rich said...

Yes, it looks that way:

there's a checklist showing what's free (look) and what's not (participate).


Kiryn said...

I'm interested in checking this out, mainly so that I can have fun with my auctions during my lunch break at work, saving time for actual instancing once I get home. I CAN log on to WoW at work, but my work PC sometimes has a lot of programs on it and I'd rather not add further strain to the system.

You do bring up some interesting points about being able to access the auction house from anywhere -- I didn't think about that. Maybe it'll have some kind of "that character is currently logged in" safeguard.

It just annoys me that it doesn't have more abilities, like being able to craft things using the stuff in your bags. More than half of my auction time is spent crafting glyphs nowadays. At least I could use the time to re-post glyphs that I've already created.

I really do wonder what the UI is going to be like. I'm too spoiled by AuctionLite that automatically searches for similar auctions and undercuts the cheapest one for me, if this new auction interface makes me search for things, write down the prices somewhere, and THEN create the auction, I doubt I'll be using it.

Just waiting for them to open up the beta on my server =/

Sassafras said...

I get the impression that Blizz is going to move towards micro-transactions with their next big thing. It's a model that other gaming companies are using successfully, so perhaps Blizz wants a piece of that pie.

Cap'n John said...

I love the WoWémon screenshot :)

Tesh said...

Take the WoWemon a logical step further, and tie leveling to one of those pace counter beasties.

*You have taken 1500 steps today, gratz on the DING!*

WoW: Getting players off their butt and exercising, all in the name of the almighty DING!

Enterprising players will walk on a treadmill while playing and level an alt while they play.

Really enterprising players will rig the pacecounter to their hamsterwheel or sibling and dual(+) box.

Really enterprising goblin players will save up cash for the impending gold and level capped character sales.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the crafting issues as being a big deal. Just make the products in advance. Nor do I see it being much use for glyphs. Even if you want to list once per day, you could only do 200 different glyphs.

I do not understand the $90+$50. Unlimited internet access is an additional $20. And my brother is using my first generation iPad for mail and internet via wifi, paying zero money to the phone company.

As for regular web ap, the WoW client is big and slow so if I need to check something, my first preference is to use the web, not the large WoW client. This is especially true if you are trying to run more than one client at the same time on the same machine; the smaller, more efficient browser would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

*I meant 1st gen iPhone. Although I do think an iPad would be a great platform for this.

James Warne said...

While I don't have a problem with the functionality offered, I do have a problem charging $2.99 a month for it. If you're going to charge a subscription fee to play the game, shouldn't the development of extra features be included?

If they want to charge $25 for a sparkly pony mount, go for it. It's purely cosmetic and doesn't add or detract from my game play. But this remote armory feature will make it that much easier to make gold. Gold that can be directly used to buy gear, gems, etc. That's an in-game advantage.

Remember when XM satellite radio came out, and they justified the subscription fee because there were no commercials? Then they added commercials anyway but still charged you a subscription fee? Kinda the same thing here. My $15 a month is supposed to not only cover the cost of keeping those servers running and paying the employees, but the continued development of content and features. If you want to switch to a micro-transaction model, fine, but then get rid of the sub cost. Hitting me with both feels greedy and wrong.

Vulpina said...

"*You have taken 1500 steps today, gratz on the DING!*

WoW: Getting players off their butt and exercising, all in the name of the almighty DING!"

If this were available, I would exercise more. No more having to make the hard decision of going to the gym vs levelling an alt! Hey. Don't look at me like that, who actually LIKES going to the gym...

Tesh said...


Yeah, that was offered slightly in jest, but it really could be a good thing. I'd probably put my PokeDruid in a pacecounter. I already play FFXII while pedaling on a stationary bike, why not?

Dwism said...

Maybe its just me and the whole computer thing, and me not being very technical, but:
If GLider can become a bigselling program, that can help you autolevel (or could), how long would it take for some programmers to figure out a program that would handle all the clicking and buying cheap and selling high, untill all servers are run by those people, who will (at a price) give you special deals on items and gold?

Rich said...

@anon: It's a side argument, but I guess i'm just griping about the cost of American cell phone plans in general. 50 (basic phone plan) + 20 (as you say for unlimited internet) is still 70 dollars a month, and that 'unlimited internet' is ONLY for the phone, I can't stop paying my normal internet access at home. I thought iPhone monthly was $89 last time I checked? 90 x 12 = $1080/year. Ridiculous.

I japan I had 10MBit cable for $20/mo at the house, and paid $10/month for Softbank's 'white plan' for my phone.

@Dwism: I know there are apps that jack into the armory (passively, just scanning) for things like progression (wowjutsu) or realm pops (wowcensus). Taking it one step further wouldn't be that hard, I imagine, and there's no Warden loading in your BROWSER to stop botting. hmmm..

@Vulpina & Tesh:


oshin said...

I didnt mind realm transfers, I didnt mind sex changes, I didnt mind faction transfers, race changes, the tcg, pets, sparkly ponys or anything I may have missed. I dont even mind the remote ah, it sounds kind of interesting.

Problem is, at some point all this is going to add up, and I`ll feel that I`m just paying 15 bucks a month to enter a big virtual shop peddling non existent wares, and that my sub is just a first stage payment.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking at your mock app in 4) and thinking I'd like to play that. =p

I've always thought an MMORPG that allows multiple games occurring in the same world would be cool, although WoW just isn't designed for that.

That said I think the monthly price for the mobile AH is just pure unadulterated greed.

I'm going to go there on the whole paying for Internet for your phone thing for two reasons:

1) The way it's heading, voice will be moving into data (Google and Apple are both expected to include default VoIP apps soon) and you will see more data-only plans and devices. Prices for data-only plans are a lot cheaper than $90.

2) Just like the way many people have given up landline phones, once the speed gets faster you will see many give up home-only Internet connections and have their phone provide Wifi to their home network instead of the other way around.

Granted we are not there yet, but it's not science fiction. This is the direction we're headed.

(posted from my phone)

Rich said...


That's the biggest issue I have with it, that there's no "dock" to jack your phone into once you're home. Once one bill can provide 'all the internet I need' then I'm fine with paying it, but having two separate bills for the same service (internet access) feels like double dipping.

The problem is that it isn't one company/service... Comcast gives my computer internet, but Verizon also wants to feed my phone the internet. It feels redundant, like paying for water in the kitchen sink, and then again for the shower.

Rog said...

@Ixobelle: I'm not sure how it's been in the U.S. but here in Canada lately the ISPs have been selling bundles that include TV, Internet, mobile z and home phones. Basically the cable companies got into mobile and the phone companies got into TV so it all overlaps now.

It's not cheap tho, Canada has expensive mobile rates (all this land to cover with cel towers, d'oh!).

Mike ... said...

"Maybe it's good for firewall blocked workplaces."

Any workplace that blocks traffic to the game servers is also going to block the web sites (, etc). I know mine does.