Up until yesterday, the only way to buy in-game gold in World of Warcraft was to go through shady third party traders and gold farmers (which goes against Blizzard’s terms of service). In order to curb this, Blizzard announced that they would introduce tokens which could be purchased for real currency and sold at the auction house for in-game gold or exchanged for play-time. This feature launched yesterday and although the real-world currency is fixed at $20, the gold price is determined dynamically based on supply and demand.
Blizzard introduced the the tokens to the market at 30 000 gold. The price increased in small increments for a few hours before starting to plummet yesterday evening and within 24 hours of the launch, had dropped in value by almost 30%. As of this writing, the price was sitting at 21094 gold according to WoW token info. This isn’t particularly surprising when taking into account the value of in-game gold according to third-party gold sellers who estimate that $20 of real currency would net you between 10 000 and 15 000 gold, depending on which reseller you choose (buying in bulk will also get better rates). As we’ve often seen in real-world stock market situations, due to Blizzard providing significantly more gold for your cash, many gold buyers flooded the market with tokens, driving down the price substantially. Fortunately, the market can’t be manipulated too much as these tokens can’t be resold once they have been bought at the auction house.
What I also found quite interesting is that Blizzard have indirectly put a value on game-time in terms of gold grinding. A few of the dedicated gold farmers have reported earning between 2000 and 4000 gold per hour which means that a month’s worth of game-time could be farmed in anywhere from 6 to 11 hours.
At the moment, tokens are only available on the US servers and will be released on European servers at a later, yet unspecified, date.