WoW and the Gold Machine

US WoW gold token price values are down, down, down.  Attached relevant post on Market Theorycrafting


114K now, down from 215K in June.

What relevance does this have?  Availability and value, which are cornerstones of any market.


WoW gold is similar to the US dollar.  It is the default currency used for everyone that isn’t on a bartering system.  It provides an apples-to-apples comparison of general value, but only in the local context.  e.g. a tangerine is worth way more money in Vancouver than it is Morocco.  In WoW-speak, the local market value is your server.


This is a measure of how easy it is to obtain gold.  It comes from two sources, taps and the general market.  Taps are straightforward enough, these are the mechanics that the game provides to make gold from NPCs.  The largest amount comes from daily quests and mission tables.  WoD is a black mark (for many reasons) around the gold taps found in the Garrisons.  You could make a mint without ever seeing another player.  In BfA, without any tangible efforts, you can make 200-500g from WQ a day.

The general market is different.  This is the gold in people’s pockets and what they are willing to trade for goods.  Start of expansions are notorious for the sheer amount of gold exchanged between people, as hundreds of new items with value are made present.  The duration of this window is relatively short – typically 1 week after the first raid is out.  I sold an i355 staff for 800k.  3 weeks later, i370 items are dropping.  The market then values three things of different value:

  1. Catch up equipment for alts.  In BfA, this is the lowest of values since it rains epics.
  2. Transmog items, this is the highest value but lowest turnover, since the market gradually dries up over the term of the expansion
  3. Consumables.  This spikes for 3 weeks at the launch of every raid (to cover the opening of Mythic)

There are other items that people will trade for, but they are often related to specific events – like the faire, or holiday event.

Long story short, the start of an expansion usually has a 2 month window where there is a pile of gold changing hands.  If the AH had been working, the majority of that gold would have been hit by the AH cut – 15%.  That above mentioned staff would have given me 680k instead of 800k.  That’s millions of gold exchanged per day that never left the market.

In simple terms, the amount of available gold has done nothing but go up since the launch of BfA.


This is what you can do with that gold, and the list here is quite small.

  • Repair costs (tanks get hit hard on this)
  • Flight costs
  • Consumable costs (for raiders and high mythic+)
  • For enchantments/gems (more below)
  • For equipment (more below)
  • For transmogs
  • For alts

Most of these are extremely negligible, and only the first two can be seen as “mandatory” in the sense that they are harder to avoid than to outright pay.

Consumables only really apply to a small selection of players, where that extra 5% boost is required to complete X content.  They will certainly pay for the convenience of the materials, but not the final crafted product.  In that I mean that you are better off selling herbs, than collecting the herbs and making potions.  Not always, but often.

Enchantments and equipment have a value measured against the rate of replacement of the same gear.  It makes little sense to spend money to upgrade something when you know that another upgrade is right around the corner.  When you hit 120, you have an instant i320 back piece ready.  WQs are raining down gear (except weapons), and the Warfront is giving out better gear than raid drops right now.  Why spend 5K to echant something you’re likley to replace in a week?  Unless you are on the bleeding edge, or sitting on piles of money where 5K is like a nickel’s worth…

The last bit is flavor items, and generally peak at the start of an expansion as well.  During my leveling, I opted to transmog once, then 60 minutes later all my gear changed again.  Even now, I find myself going back to the transmog vendor every week.  The gear itself is fun to acquire and aside from my monk’s hat, I am certainly open to any look change on my characters.  Figuring out what the pieces are for that look change… well that’s 90% of the battle.

Alt-expenditures are an odd one.  Aside from flying training, there are VERY minimal costs to an alt.  Nearly all cases you will have the gold on hand from leveling to get what you need to fly – with the exception of Death Knights (250g).  Demon Hunters already come with Artisan (280% speed).  There are gold sinks to NPCs for heirloom gear mind you.  Head, Shoulder, Chest, Legs, and Back will set you back ~2500g but can be re-used on a similar armor class (e.g. all cloth).  Weapon is another 500-750g, but is more class and even spec-specific.  Base heirlooms only get you benefits to level 60.  To get to 110 you need to spend 8000g per armor piece and 6200g per weapon (don’t need weapons for Legion).   That means that a fully kitted alt will require just short of 50,000g for full heirloom gear.  At current market rates, that’s 2 WoW gold tokens.

The Point of All This

The value of the WoW token is at a very low point now because people are spending piles of gold on temporary items.  In a month, when most players are running around in epics, there will be less to spend gold on, people will have larger gold stores, and the value of the token will increase.  So if you’re thinking about getting tokens, now’s a good time.

2 thoughts on “WoW and the Gold Machine

  1. I think a large problem is they let hold run rampant in Draenor and Legion to a point where asking 700,000g for a piece of gear that will be replaced by the second tier. The comments I’ve seen are to the effect, if you want it just buy gold off the shop. And that’s what people are doing. Not enough are paying for subs with gold, so the value is dropping.

    Liked by 2 people

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