I liked your connection points for prestige in an MMO and I agree with you. Black Market AH imo is a really odd thing to put into an MMO, and even though I did and still do believe gold is equal 'effort' per say, it can't and will never deliever on prestige like you discribe so well.
Seems like it is suppose to be a gold sink for the richest of the rich and for those that can camp out the AH for when it finally reviels itself. But I think the key point is how often do these items appear, how much do they cost, and is it perdictiable. I mean if Ashes pops up once a year, for 200k gold, and appears at a completely unknown time then it really doesn't make to much of a difference. But if every Tuesday a new Ashes is up on the black market and its 100k gold then it is suddenly a peice of prestigless junk. At least in my opinion.
Fandral's Flamescythe in firelands and Deathbringer's Will in ICC were rather coveted items, even the Onyxia/Kel'Thuzad/Malygos items that gave you a quest were to some, and I felt getting the fire kitty staff was pretty dam legendary. I definitely see the possibility of a legendary still having an awesome prestige without providing anything stupidly overpowered.
Funnily enough we got way more Dragonwrath staves in FL than fire kitty staffs to drop and it was more exciting to get a fire cat :P
I actually think gold COULD work for a prestigious item, if it was always available. Good example is the vendor mammoth from WotLK (I think there's a new one coming in MoP). The issue with the AH format is you don't really know what you're saving up for (or you do, and you're just hoping it eventually pops up).
While I agree that the concept of prestige is important, especially for an MMO, I would like to emphasize a(n) [opinionated] point:
Prestige should result from when an item was obtained or an achievement accomplished, not that the item/achievement was made unobtainable.
The impression that I get is that you more or less agree with this, stating that you are fine with someone getting a "prestige" item if they put forth personal effort. As an extension of this thought, I do not think rewards should be removed. Despite it being substantially easier to get an Icecrown Citadel Meta Achievement Mount than it was in Wrath of the Lich King, the mount still requires effort to obtain. Given that the top-end players will always have the "new thing" to earn long before most of anyone else does, it doesn't make sense to remove rewards that are more easily obtained than when they were first implemented.
I don't like the BMAH being an alternative way to obtain rare items still in game with a drop rate of 100%; I wouldn't be surprised if people transfer characters with ample gold to dead servers just to reduce competition/prices (especially with everything going account-wide). I like that the BMAH shows Blizzard is willing to reintroduce removed items, but the method is far too limited with a disproportionately-high barrier to entry. The only facet of the BMAH that I like is that it seems it could be an effective gold sink.
In my opinion, Blizzard should try to reattach removed items/rewards to as many of their approximate sources as possible (Naxx60 items dropping in Naxx80, Red Bear Drops in ZA bear runs, classic ZG mounts from ZG, Titles removed from Wrath Raids, etc.*) so that players can put effort into obtaining them, rather than stocking up on gold and buying them; this would also encourage player interaction and people leaving cities ;) to voluntarily experience noncurrent content... expanding the shelf-life of any content with vanity items.
Meta achievement drakes, which actually take effort to earn, are much more common. Does that make them less prestigious? If the relative effort required to obtain them is the measure of an item's prestige, then I'd suggest that they are more prestigious than Ashes, which these days is governed more by RNG than by skill and effort.
Imagine this hypothetical situation: A player has farmed TK every week since the instance opened, but has never been lucky enough to see it drop. If he or she simply gets tired of running it week in and week out, and has the gold to buy it, would it be any less prestigious to do so? Imagine another player who sees it drop, and wins the roll on their first run. Does the relative ease with which he or she acquired it make it more prestigious than for the player who farmed it ad nauseum, but was never lucky enough to win it?
I'd suggest that the acquisition of any item that is entirely RNG dependent isn't prestigious at all.
But then again, prestige is entirely subjective.
I know as a ex GM I used "Prestige" as a motivator for downing content when it mattered as certain titles and mounts you got in BC were removed when WOLTK was released and rightfully so. Players who put plenty effort into downing current content I believe should stand out (like anything in life fair effort/skill vs reward).
It pissed a lot of players off in my guild when Light of Dawn was still achievable when cataclysm was released with the hours spent working on him.
However it does seem most of the semi to hardcore playerbase is happy just having the timestamp on there achievement to show for there efforts.
Maybe allow SOME prestige for the success at the AH PvP that is required for accumulationg gold to buy stuff on the Black Market AH, but prefix everything with Blackened, or maybe several other prefixes (Trader's, of the Consortium, Broker's) to denote that while the player is worthy of the item through AH efforts, not dungeon work............. Do not put the BIS Epics up on the AH either........
I still like the idea of the legendary buff, title, and weapon skins for the top 5% guilds before the nerf. Then a legendary booby prize (just a 5% discount on repairs, or other such thing, with a "The Social" title) for the bottom 5% that still haven't got progression done when the next teir starts dropping.
I'd be much happier with the BMAH having either unique mounts or perhaps the TCG items, but maybe I'm just bias in regards to the TCG items since I don't collect them - I'm against paying even more RL money for ingame items, but would happily spend gold on it like the blizz store BOE pet.
I also agree on the motivational aspect of seeing someone with a rare item you don't have. Back in TBC I was doing my sunwell dailies when a draenei came riding past on Rivendares Deathcharger. This was back when it was a 0.02% drop chance. I was enraged enough to set out and farm it, I didn't get a drop until after it was buffed up to a 1% drop, but I've never changed land mount since, nor do I intend to despite owning the vast majority of them. Things being rare and hard to get is so much more of a motivation for people to play than just handing them out as freely as blizzard seem to be doing lately.
I really don't see how the non-specific nature of the reward from the BMAH matters. Your goal is to have a bunch of gold and then buy stuff other people don't have - assuming the implemented version of the BMAH retains sufficient rarity for the desired items this will directly mean either outcompeting other AH players or (unfortunately for now) buying the gold from goldsellers. The intermediary goal is having a large amount of gold and that translates into prestigious stuff. Right now there is already a vague sense of prestige from having a lot of gold.
There is a TON more to making large amounts of gold than just downloading a few mods. It might overstate the case a bit, but thats like saying that high end raiding is just downloading appropriate mods including dbm and you win. The mods are definitely a requisite for really playing the AH, but they are by no means the only requisite. It will all depend on the implementation (rate at which the items show up) of course, but if there is only one ashes on the BMAH a month or something its not going to the guy who has a niche market, set up a few auction groups, and somewhat consistently posts and cancels auctions. There are too many people who are going to outcompete the people who don't put a lot of time into it.
Of course none of the issues with prestige/BMAH are significant in comparison to the real problem of people buying out the BMAH with goldfarmer-purchased gold. The whole system is pretty much just ruined in any implementation by the fact that WoW can't get a handle on the goldsellers using either harvester bots or sands of time/queen's garnet duplication schemes.
I have roughly ~500k gold and it took me years of extremely non-trivial AH work to get there. Regardless I don't think I personally could EVER regard an item bought off of an AH as presitigious anymore than I regard the mounts that cost actual currency. It devalues the item to me when it's not something that is directly worked towards. Yeah it's cool if someone has a ton of IRL money they can spend in a game like this, but I don't consider that more special than someone who displays extreme skill and effort to actually get a reward. In the same way I concur with lore that low drop-rate items are also not something I consider all that valuable. I remember semi-arbitrarily handing out mounts in ZG 6 years ago to guild members ... it was not something I considered prestigious at the time ... just lucky ... and it still feels that same way today.
That said I concur with Lore's assessment that prestige IS important in MMOs and video games in general and Blizzard needs to tread carefully how, when, and why they dole it out. Ultimately I would prefer that prestige awards exist in a time-window, and then go away never to return ... but to be replaced by new prestige awards that can be regarded in just as meaningful a way by the population. Distinction is important (Just think about how veterans speak of the wars they were in).
I'm not sure i agree with things going away, but maybe if more things where handled lsimilarily to Herald; Maybe instead of getting that tiers meta title/mount after the tiers over, you have to complete the Tier's HC with and equipped ilvl of X, where X is the Normal tier's ilvl, so in order to get the corrupted firebird thingy, you have to complete the meta with an equipped ilvl of 378.
I feel that the BMAH should only sell items that are no longer available in the game only, such as tier 3 and; only on very rare occasions; mounts. Any items that are still available to get should, imo, never be obtained through the BMAH. This really has little to do with the idea of "prestige" with me so much as the fact that there really shouldn't be more than one way to obtain "certain" items that are still available. I just feel that if you have the time and are willing, then go get it. Sure it may take you a year to farm that item before you get it or it may take you an effort to form a group willing to go into an heroic or raid to get the achievement for an item; but, imo, it's worth it. For me it's not about "prestige" so much as sense of accomplishment. I feel that the BMAH making items that are still available in-game doesn't cheapen the item or it's "prestige" so much as it cheapens the effort and accomplishment made in obtaining it. However Blizz shouldn't forget those whom do not spend much time on the game and should have things that would be deemed "prestigious" to them as well so that they do not feel left out. However it should require them to spend some time on it as well, it just should done in such a way as to where they can work on it over a period of time and doesn't necessarily require them to raid or party up with other ppl. Something that they can do on their own time and at their own pace.
As far as legendaries are concerned, I've already made my peace about them. I think my suggestion would allow legendaries to remain relevant and I guess "prestigious" w/o them being overpowered.
I disgree that prestige is important in MMORPG's.
Prestige over virtual items in a computer game is something that only a small percentage of players experience. A small percentage of players feel prestige and it is the same small percentage of people that admire other players with these prestige items.
You see to feel prestige from these items you have to be heavily invested in the game and we know that most players (hate the phrase - "casual" players) are not heavily invested.
The vast majority therefore don't care and some of them no doubt find it kind of odd.
Sure I fully appreciate the importance of prestige to that small group of people but from the business perspective they are just a small niche amongst customers and not even remotely significant in terms of the success of the product.
I remember briefly getting this prestige feeling back in the days when I was playing the game more seriously than I do now, but now that I have moved away from all that I sit here struggling to understand what the heck was going through my mind at the time! I look back at how I deprived myself of sleep and nights out with friends as I wanted to obtain prestige items so badly yet now I look back and see it for the worthless collection of pixels that it all was.
Prestige is certainly an interesting topic and I thoroughly enjoyed this Marmot. I can see how it seems so important if you are part of the niche that feels it but nah it isn't really important to the wider community.
It will be interesting to see what the net effect of the Black Market AH is. It will demotivate the niche "heavily invested" players, the question will be if the benefits (which are questionable and unproven) to the majority outweigh that.
The second point you make is that only a small amount of people CARE about prestige. I think you're wrong. Granted neither of us will ever be "proven right" b/c there's no way to really find out, but in my experience players of all walks of the game can at least respect that you accomplished something difficult. Years later I still get comments about my original amani warbear and grand crusader title. Even rare mounts even if they're still attainable, there's still an amount of respect to achieving those that people at least acknowledge, even if they wouldn't spend the time to do that in the first place. Just like I would personally consider training to be an equestrian a waste of my time, I have no idea why I'd even bother with it, and I would argue that a very small amount of people have the prestige of being a world class equestrian and few people actively care about attaining that prestige, but that doesn't make the prestige irrelevant or ignore the fact that I still have an immense amount of respect for people that are world class equestrians. It's hard work and I respect it.
Furthermore, EVEN IF, you argue that the "heavily invested" is the qualifier for this, the black market still only affects those that are "heavily invested" and would actually care about prestige because it takes a lot of time and effort (and hopefully a bit of luck) to get some of the black market items. People who care about prestige are the exact people that this effects.
And another point, Blizzard really hasn't "pandered" (no pun intended) to the "casual player" until some things recently... I mean they put the majority of their dev efforts into raiding, which (as you admit) very few people even do. So how did they get 10.2 million players if they've been spending 7 years generating content that the "non-invested player" cares about? How do they hold those subs? Just because it does "affect the majority of players" doesn't mean blizzard shouldn't be implementing it.
I've said the only company that can kill Blizzard is Blizzard itself. If blizz up and decided "you know, raids are too much effort, we're not gonna put out raids any more" I can guarantee you WoW would fold up and die. But why? If only a small portion of people do it, who cares?
Double post because these next comments aren't really relevant to Toypop's post.
So... I really don't think the Black Market Auction House selling things is that big of a deal as long as "prestigious items" really do rarely appear on the AH and they do cost a lot of money. I think it's just as lucky to happen to check the AH to see the item you want as it is to go and try and kill the boss every week when the mount has a < 1% drop rate.
Personally, I could care less about this type of stuff, but it's a part of the game that appeals to some - to each his own. Since it really has no effect on my enjoyment or lack of enjoyment of the game - it's just kind of there - I can't get worked up about the subject.
I don't understand how so many people let themselves feel diminished by anything another person has/does. My main has the pally mount completed through the quest line. Those dungeons were harder then (level appropriate, of course) than they are now. Just because someone can get the mount from the trainer now, or the fact that it would be easier to do the quest IF you still could, none of that takes anything away from what I know I did.
To me, most of the "prestige" stuff I have seen is usually referenced in the context of elitist type arguements that carry no weight with me. I could care less how you got your pony. I'm happy for you. I paid the full price for riding training back in the day for the first half or so of my toons. I don't care if they give it away to you for free. I worked hard for my Kingslayer but I don't care if you can 5 man it now. I don't care if you were in the top XX guild who farmed Ashes while the raid was current and got yours. If mine drops on one of my runs soon, I still have the mount for asthetic reasons that I wanted no matter how easy/hard it was.
The entire point of this game is to always be chasing the new thing. That is how a persistent world, mmo like this survives so long. Be proud of your accomplishments but why do you need someone else to be jealous of them? You are going to be disappointed a lot with that attitude. Almost everything, outside of the current expansion tiers is going to be either trivial or pure luck. Those items lost all "prestige" as soon as the next patch/expansion came out. This has nothing to do with who else has it. Find things you like and appreciate your collection/achievements and stop worrying about other people.
I don't see prestige in terms of jealousy. I think they are opposite sides of the same coin. Jealously implies some malevolency towards someone that got something that you didn't, whereas prestige is more of a respect for someone that did something that you didn't. I'm not jealous of a marathon winner, but I do have great respect for those that do, it's still Prestigeous. Now if my fat ass got a medal for winning a marathon that carried the same clout as the real winner when it took me 2 days to complete the damned thing, I would expect that person to be mad, but this analogy is a little irrelevant because the weight of a marathon doesn't really change.
I can agree with you that you shouldn't let other people getting something after-the-fact drag you down. It never has, especially since blizz has usually diminished guaranteed drop rates or something similar. So someone can still at least put in EFFORT to get it, and I can still respect that and yay you got your asethic mount, everyone is happy.
I think what people are worried about is that the slider is put too far to one side and instead of "OMG I ACTUALLY SAW THE MOUNT ON THE AH AND HAPPENED TO HAVE THE MONEY NOW I HAVE THIS MOUNT!!!" it will end up being like "oh hey look, Ashes is up on the AH for the 5th time today /snooze, look at all these people that have it and only paid 10k for it"
I mean, obviously I'm being a bit extreme, but do you see what I mean? It's one thing to allow alternative methods to still get cool items, it's another to hand them out like candy. As long as there's no candy handing-out-age to lure us into the van, I'm pretty OKAY with the BMAH.