Why such the fuss? I feel like 9/11 has hit all over again. Ok, so it’s not nearly that bad, but lets face it, Blizzard really seems to want us to buy their Authenticator. In fact, according to WoWInsider.Com executives at Blizzard are mulling over the idea of making them Mandatory. Yes Kids, that’s right, soon you may have to have a cheap plastic key-chain just to play the World of Warcraft. The cost of this? Just a one time payment of $6.00 nothing too horrendous. The real cost comes later when the battery dies, or some other unforeseen mishap occurs and your authenticator goes on the fritz.
Blizzard even offers an alternate form of Authenticating on Mobile devices if you don’t want to shell out the cash for a hardware authenticator. World of Warcraft players can now download a mobile authenticator for their cell phone. That’s right. You don’t even need to buy the hardware to exercise account safety, except sadly for Android that users might have to pay a small fee to get their version of the application from the Android store. The Mobile Authenticator application for your phone work’s exactly the same way as the original Authenticator hardware solution except for you use your Cell Phone as your receiver rather then the Blizzard hardware authenticator. Blizzard will send your device an 8 digit code, that will work for one use. You use that code to login to the game. Once you use that code to login, it will no longer be valid and you will need to get another code to login again. I am not a big fan of the whole Authenticator system. I don’t see a need for super security on these accounts, i mean it’s just a game right? A simple, secure login and password are enough to protect me from the dirty hackers who aim to pillage my gold.
Considering that Blizzard has made it apparently clear that the game accounts, and in-game items have no real world cash value why are they pushing us so hard to upgrade to their new security system? I thought that it might be a way to turn a quick profit. Make everyone buy a $6.00 trinket to login, but would Blizzard really risk alienating their core subscription base with such an audacious maneuver? They must have other motivations. Perhaps they are engaged in a war with Hackers who steal accounts, strip them of their gold, then sell the Gold on the Black Market? Ask any long time gamer, and I’m sure that they will have a grip of stories about players that have had their accounts looted blind, and transferred to another server. We then see spam-bots selling the “Cheapest WoW US Gold, Totally secure, 1k for 3$US” Or some other line guaranteed to assure us that we are not dealing with anyone with any moral standards.
But why do these people exist? Why are they here, hacking our accounts by installing Keyloggers? Why are they constantly trying to farm hundreds of thousands of gold? They do it because there is a market for it. Yes folks, there are gamers out there who would actually like to buy in-game items for cash, and there are players who would like to sell it to them. Demand drives supply. Another contributing factor in the motivation for hackers to steal your WoW Gold is Blizzard’s equipment replacement policy. Blizzard takes hacking of accounts very seriously, so seriously in fact that they replace any gear lost from a hacked account, whether it was your fault that the account got hacked or not. This Blizzard policy whittles away at the annual budget of the World of Warcraft support staff, by constantly keeping them investigating cyber-theft, and replicating stolen items. This policy has a negative adverse affect on the economy of each server because it allows massive amounts of gold to be replicated and then imported to a new server. Imagine the effect on the economy if the FDIC just cloned up new money to replace money stolen? Despite it all, we have to acknowledge that there are a number of players who would like to see some kinds of legitimate Player to Player sales system put into place.
What? “Blasphemy!” you say! Nobody should ever be allowed to buy an in-game item for cash! Well, that’s not entirely true. For a while now Blizzard has been enjoy the benefits of having a monopoly on the in-game item sales. All of the item’s in the World of Warcraft don’t exist as more then a number somewhere in a database that Blizzard owns, Blizzard can (and does) claim that they hold no real world value. However, their actions speak against their mantra on this one. Blizzard has several in-game items that can only be purchased from the Blizzard Store. These items show Blizzard’s drive to get players to engage in Micro-transactions that garner a nice little profit for game operators. To date these items are Vanity items, that garner no advantage to the player other then having a special piece of virtual swag however that could change at any time should Blizzard change their stance and decide to facilitate player to player sales of items rather then prohibit it. I think Blizzard would be wise to change their stance and setup a fair in-game system for players to trade items for cash. They could even call it an In-game service and take a cut for the Micro transaction like E-bay and PayPal do. This would allow players that want to buy to connect with players that want to sell and give Blizzard the middle-man’s cut on the transaction. I wish something like this would become a reality, but I doubt that I will even see it implemented in an MMO in my lifetime. It’s truly saddening that Blizzard won’t facilitate these kinds of transactions, and prohibits others from doing so as well else we might see a thriving market of virtual item sales.