Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WoW Auction House: There's an App for that.

Yes, I know this title will be used by a thousand different blogs, but I con't think of a better one.

Back in February Blizzard announced that they were working to integrate the Auction House into the Armory so that players could review the Auction House while they were a way from the game. The the post was short on details but that didn't stop people from predicting doom and gloom or saying this would be a huge advantage for gold sellers and the like.

The details of this new service were announced today, and I am sure we will see a new round of dire predictions about the future of AH PvP. In this post I will give my reaction to this new service.

The Free Services:

  • Browse the Auction House
  • Get real-time notifications when your auctions sell or expire
  • Get real-time notifications when you win auctions or when you are outbid
  • View your characters' current gold
  • View the status of your auctions and search for similar auctions
  • View the items you can sell in your bags, bank, and mailbox
  • View the status of auctions you are bidding on
  • View the items you've sold in the Auction House
  • View your expired auctions
  • View the status of auctions you created
  • View your successful auctions
All cool stuff that I don't think anyone can really be unhappy about. There are many times that I am tied up crafting, raiding, leveling, or something when I have a little extra time and want to check the AH quickly. I may just want to see if something sold or maybe I'm looking for a deal but it will be nice to not have to log on to a bank to see the AH.

The only question I have here is if there is any level requirement to use the Web AH? Toons have to be level 10 or higher to be viewed on the Armory. Since most bank toons are level one or close to that, this could put a big downer on this service. I know it isn't hard to level a toon to 10, but I would rather not spend the time.

The Premium Services:

For $2.99, you can receive the following services for 30 days.
  • Bid on auctions
  • Buy out auctions
  • Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox
  • Collect gold from successful auctions
  • Collect gold from unsuccessful bids
  • Collect all outstanding gold with a single click
  • Cancel your auctions
  • Relist items for sale from your expired auctions
In the FAQ Blizzard answered a very important question.

Is there a limit to the number of transactions (purchases and sales) I can make?
Yes. In order to help prevent abuse of this service, there will be a system in place to limit the total number of Auction House transactions (including bids, buyouts, and creating auctions) that a single World of Warcraft account can perform through World of Warcraft Remote each day. For the purposes of the beta test, the limit is set to 25 transactions per day per World of Warcraft account. When the Remote Auction House beta test ends and the live World of Warcraft Remote service launches, we plan to increase the limit to 200 transactions per day (with a World of Warcraft Remote subscription), though this limit is subject to change. Our goal with this system is to ensure that most players who are using the service will not reach the limit, and we will be continuously monitoring how the service is used and making adjustments to the system as needed.
Mostly it allows you to do what you already can do in game without addons, but it does add three features that I hope make it into the game version.

1. "Collect all outstanding gold with a single click." For big AHers that can be a lot of mail. Basically you would be opening dozens if not hundreds of pieces of mail with a single click. That would save a lot of goblins a lot of time.

2. "Relist items for sale from your expired auctions." Assuming relisted auctions can have a new price, this would effectively eliminate the mailbox from the AH equation. If it doesn't sell, just relist it. If it does sell collect the gold with a single click.

3. "Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox." I currently have 3 alts devoted to selling inscriptions. I have to have 3 because it takes that many to hold all the glyphs in the game in player bags. If I could post auctions from my bank I could consolidate them into one toon.

I'm not entirely sure it would work, but if these three things were added to the ingame version of the AH it would be huge for Goblins.

The Implications:

I think a lot of the doom and gloom predicted 3 months ago was unreasonable, and I doubt these changes will have a major impact on how the AH operates.

No Addons: Most of the doom and gloom I've seen predicted ignores the facts of the current AH game. To really play the AH, you need addons. You need addons to scan the AH and find the market price and current price for items. You need addons to list multiple items with a single push of the button. You need addons to search for deals and purchase them quickly.

I don't know if it is possible to write a program that will perform these tasks outside of the game, but even if it is possible there is the question of legality. Blizzard has long banned third party applications like Glider that automate the game outside of the LUA language. It wouldn't surprise me if Blizzard took the same view for AH automation, and started handing out bans for using such programs.

Transaction Limit: It's also important to take note of the transaction limit. With only 200 transactions a day it would be difficult to do any serious trading with automated transactions. Even on my slowest AH days I listed over 300 items in a day. At my peak, I would probably listing close to 2,000 auctions a day. A 200 transaction limit is pretty high if you are doing everything by hand, but with automation it you could blow by it in minutes. Therefore there is very little incentive to automate anyway.

Who Would Use The Premium Service?

Lets take a look at it from the perspective of several AH user types.

Casual AH Users: I don't know why they would spend the money to get access to the premium services. If money is no concern then they may buy it for the convenience, but most will probably stick with the ingame AH. If they do buy it, then it will help them look for deals, or list things when they can't get to the computer. They would use it purily for the convenience.

Moderate AH Users: People who stick to fairly small markets within the AH could really be helped by the premium services. They aren't listing a ton of auctions so the 200 limit shouldn't be an issue. They are also in few enough markets that it is easy to search for deals by hand. For example if you're in the flask market it is easy for you to search for deals on Lichbloom and Frost Lotus without the help of an addon. Again though I'm not sure why these people would buy the premium service. The extra money they would make would be hardly worth the 3 dollars a month they pay.

AH PvPers: I can see why these people would pay for the service. They play the AH as a game and gold is a way of keeping score. Anything the helps them get a higher score is valuable to them. However, the lack of automation and and transaction limit will limit how useful the the service is for them. I think they will primarily use the service to look for deals. You may not be able to list hundreds of glyphs, but you can look for cheap herbs to buy. Also, the truly dedicated can manually search the AH for deals on high value items in the hope to relist them at a profit.

Gold Sellers: I see Gold Sellers as another form of AH PvPers except that if anyone can automate the web AH it is these guys. That said, I don't see the benefit of doing it. These guys play wow for a living. They don't need to access the AH when they are outside the game because it shouldn't be a problem for them to stay logged into the game and just scan the AH.


I think all of the of the services being made available with the new Web AH sound great. I would love to have access to them all as a player. However, the free services while convenient lack any real power or significance. Yes, I can check the AH from work, but I can't do anything about it without paying for the premium service. Unfortunately, I see little reason to purchase the premium service. I couldn't maintain my wow industry when I'm outside of the game because the web based service lacks addons and the transaction limit prevents be from posting as many actions as i would need to.

Beta Testing: If you would like to test the new web based AH you can find the necessary information here.


Erdluf said...

With "Create auctions from items in your bags," farmers become more efficient.

If I'm farming UBRS, my bags fill up, and my ToC pet is on cooldown, I'll be able to log out, move stuff (even grey junk) to the AH, log back in and continue farming.

Even for the items that I end up canceling and vendoring, I still make more than if I'd just dumped them.

They could do things to prevent that. They could have the Remote AH unavailable until 5 minutes after log off, or even allow Remote AH listing only when your toon is near an AH.

Maestro said...

What about viewing this as a portal for money management within WoW? I feel like this is going to open the door to microtransactions and everything spirals downhill from there.

Mushu said...

I'm surprised that you didn't mention a huge issue-to-be: web hackers. Once Blizz "opens the pipe" to their database, it will only be a short time until someone codes a trojan or virus that gets installed because dumb people STILL use the Internet Exploder browser.

Without having tried the beta, I can still see (as a web developer) how that would work because once you authenticate into your account and begin messing with the AH the trojan has full access to everything you do. It can send http transactions in the background without your knowledge.

Perhaps Blizz will use SSL but that only prevents outsiders from "listening" in, thus providing a false sense of security.

I'm only speculating, but what if the trojan puts up on the AH the most expensive BoE items in your bags/bank for one copper? Could it send an email in the background to the Chinese Farmer (for example)? Yep. Their companion AH scanner could then easily buy out that item immediately and you may not even notice for a long time.

A little thought can come up with even more badness...I'm not trying to be a fear monger or prevent people from using this new feature. I'm only the voice of years of intense web programming experience, and because I "grok" (google it) how the bits and bytes work over the wire I only wish to be a voice of caution in this new territory that Blizz is charting.

Aggrazel said...

I too am concerned about security. Currently, it does not require me to use an authenticator to get into my WoW armory and do things like sign up for raids on the calendar and whatnot, pretty tame stuff. However, if suddenly the iphone app can mess with my inventory and it still doesn't require an authenticator, I'm gonna be kinda sore about that. I like the extra layer of security and hope they don't strip it away for a matter of convenience.

That being said, this may also be a boon to the cross faction auction house because now its just as easy to buy from it as your faction house.

Anonymous said...

i for one wont get the service. this app will interfere with my rl time. there's a time for everything. time to play the game, time to go for a drink with a cpl of friends(generally non-wow users lol!!!) and a time to play wow.

i like to keep those separate. if i get this service all i'll be doing is checking the damn ah and posting stuff which i do 3-5 hrs a day on the game anyways!!!!

thats my 2 cents about this issue!!!

Blimp said...

Glider interacts with the official client in an unauthorized way. As you now can interact with the AH game with a mere browser, I don't see how Blizzard could tell whether you're using IE/Firefox or a program you wrote to check the AH and do your business.

With this new feature, they are allowing AH bots. The only limit is the 200 transactions per day which prevents bots from scanning/cancelling/relisting items for sale 24/7.

Graylo said...


That is kind of a cool use for the Web AH, but I doubt it will be a primary use. I just don't see people paying 3 bucks a month to store stuff on the AH. Big time farmers are likely to oranize their professions around the activity. Therefore they will have engineering for the mailboxes and bots. The are also likely to have the Mammoth mount with the vendors.


I don't see how this helps Blizzard with micro transactions. They already have an interface on battlenet to buy the mounts and pets. They don't need to develope another one.

I read your blog post, on the subject and I think you are really overblowing the issue of micro transactions. If blizzard started to sell gold or items then i would likely quit also, but they are not going to anytime soon because they won't make money doing so.

Despite what all the various fan-boys say WoW is the gold standard of MMOs. People can argue which is the better game based upon personal preference, but nobody can argue that WoW is not the most successful. Selling gold and ingame items would very damaging to the game. Every one knows that. has some great posts on why blizzard will never sell gold. As for selling gear, it doesn't make sense to do so. MMO has the largest subscriber base by a large margin. They're not trying to compete, they are trying to maintain their position and selling gear doesn't help that. Think of all the people it would piss off. They would make money on the transactions, but they would lose it on the subcriptions. So why risk your market standing for a few extra dollars. It won't happen.


I am not a programmer and I still use Internet explorer, and I think you bring up a very valid concern. However, Blizzard is not stupid. It would be unreasonable to think that people wouldn't use IE, therefore I'm blizzard has thought about this and what you suggest probably isn't as easy as you make it sound.

I'm not saying their won't be hacks. I'm sure there will be, but I doubt it will be an epademic.


As I said to Mushu, Blizzard is not stupid. I'm sure they have thought of this, and they have actually said there are measures in place to detect botting.

Blizzard may not be able to tell what program you are using (though I think they might), at the very least they could measure your activity. If you're scanning every auction 24/7, it is pretty easy to tell your a bot. That's overly simplistic, but saying blizzard can't detect bots and such is ignoring the realities of technology. Nothing is completely impossible, and nothing lasts for ever.

Jacemora said...

I tell you one nice thing being left out from the article or comments...

The app is great for people stalking the AH to buy something particular while they are away from the game... like a Battered Hilt lets say back when they were a real hot item... or a Spectral Tiger mount to prance around IF on.

What Blizzard is doing is porting the game outside the game so people can move their Mafia Wars addiction to looking for that Epic they have been waiting to buy... or getting gems for that weapon you just got last night so the minute you log in they will be ready to socket... etc.

I hope security doesn't ruin the ability to port parts of the game outside the confines of the software itself... offline gear changes for theory crafting? Offline crafting?

Anonymous said...

How does this compare to the iphone app that has been around for a bit?

Globies said...

I also see some raid utility here. Oo, yes surprise. Surprise for me, becuase noone mentioned it yet. If you urgently need somthing in a raid, there is no more need to log alts to buy from the AH. You can with your char, buy from the AH and receive it in mail. I'm thinking of flasks, resist pots, gems and armor packs for someone who just achieved a set bonus... no time to waiste ! :D