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DiscussionJul 9, 2024 8:00 am CT

File under: Why is this even a thing? What motivates people to price gouge on beta servers?

I don’t understand it. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in multiple alpha and beta cycles for World of Warcraft, I think the first one I got to try and Mists of Pandaria, and I’ve been in many since then. I treat it seriously as an opportunity to try things out and provide feedback on bugs or game loops that don’t feel as good as they could.

One of the things I often try to test and “break” is professions. On retail my main is an alchemist/scribe, which is somewhat masochistic as it’s two crafting professions which also use the same trade goods, and no gathering to support them. Early in alpha Blizzard often gives us access to bulk trade goods from NPCs to allow for rapid testing of crafting loops, but frequently when games move to the beta phase, these NPCs are removed. That means to test professions you have to rely on materials you gather yourself or that are gathered by other players and put up on the auction house.

And that is where everything goes wrong.

For whatever reason, players in beta often post everything at astronomical prices, meaning it’s not feasible to buy herbs or ore to actually test professions. These prices wind up making a single health potion cost a million gold to craft… and then may or may not give you a skill point.

The bit I don’t understand is why? Testers typically have little gold since they only have a short amount of time on beta servers, and you don’t get to take any gold you earn in beta with you. Yes, you could do multiple character copies to multiply your gold based on your wealthiest character on retail — but it’s a lot of effort for no good reason, save to encourage even more price gouging.

If you’ve ever been invited to a World of Warcraft beta, have you bought or sold things on the auction house system? Do you push the price as high as it goes or sell things cheaply? Do you think it’s a reasonable practice or does it also confuse you?

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