Updates - This month has turned out to be a bit more challenging than I expected. I am writing this from my wife’s computer. The hard drive on mine failed and now ...
Strong Evidence of Rampant Item Duplication in WoW
We've heard plenty of circumstantial evidence of rampant "duping" (duplication) of items in recent months. We've heard accounts of cheap Reins of the Crimson Death Charger, Queen's Garnets and Sands of Time from readers, livestream viewers and other bloggers.
The Undermine Journal recently added new "global" item pages that provide some pretty damning evidence that item duplication is indeed happening. Read on past the jump for my thoughts on item duping and how we can react to it.
What Is "Duping"?
In it's most simplist form item duplication (often called "duping") is the act of taking one item in World of Warcraft and using illicit means such as hacks, glitches and/or bugs to create a copy of that item.
How this duping is actually accomplished is of very little interest to me. I have never, and will never, "dupe" an item. I've worked too hard on my account over the last 7 years to risk doing anything that is against Blizzard's Terms of Service and risk getting my account banned.
This sentiment is likely not shared by individuals who duplicate items. What I am about to say is speculation and should be taken as such but my guess is that the vast majority of individuals duplicating items in the game are those most able to make a real-world profit from doing so namely gold sellers and gold selling services.
The fact that the item duplication is happening is less important than our reaction to it. Item duplication has real in-game economic repercussions.
Is "Duping" Real?
As stated in the introduction, most evidence of item duplication has been circumstantial. Something you hear from one person. An extremely cheap rare mount you see advertised in trade chat. That crafted mount that shows up on the auction house and undercuts yours below vendor material cost.
With The Undermine Journal's new global item pages we can now watch the effects that these types of events have on the in-game economy. In almost all cases the effects are bad for gold-makers.
|Increased Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger availability.|
In the image above (click for larger view) you can see the "Price and Availability" for the US and EU on The Undermine Journal's Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger global item page. The US chart is quite eye-opening.
As stated by The Undermine Journal on an alert for the new global item feature the chart for the US availability of the Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger were pretty much rock-solid at right around 100 items or so across all US servers until July 13, 2012.
Since July 14, 2012 the number of Deathchargers available ballooned to 1014 as of this writing. That is a 10 times increase in less than one month. If that isn't damning evidence of rampant item duplication I don't know what is.
Pre-July 13, 2012 the average price for the Deathcharger was holding steady right around the 130-150k range. Post July 13, 2012 the price has steadily declined to 69k a decrease of almost 50%.
Think about that for a second. The value for a Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger on US servers have decreased by half in less than a month. I doubt that value will be recovered any time soon especially if the duping continues. In fact, if the trends continue the price will only get lower.
How Do We React?
How one reacts to the existence of item dupers, hackers, bots and all other manner of "cheating" in the World of Warcraft economy has been a special area of interest for me.
As I've been paying attention to the in-game economy and players who enjoy it over the last year and a half the reaction to these types of things has varied from "Report them!" to "Get in while the getting is good!"
While I can't tell anyone how to react, I can tell you how I choose to react to these types of situations. I don't participate in anyway that I feel would knowingly benefit anyone who chooses to adversely affect the in-game economy.
This means I do not own a "cheap" Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger and may never. With nine out of every ten Deathchargers being duplicates the likelyhood of a Deathcharger I would buy not being duplicated is very low (which is sad).
The rampant evidence of duplicating Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger has a real impact on the in-game economy. If I was someone who had worked hard to earn 200k to purchase a Deathcharger in late Wrath of the Lich King or early Cataclysm in hopes of holding onto it and selling is at a profit later I will likely never be able to recover their initial investment due to the duping.
If I were a player who was working on making a good amount of gold selling Queen's Garnets and my market was all of a sudden flooded with tons of cheap "duped" gems the value of my inventory could drop by thousands of gold over night.
How should we react to dupers? By not buying their items and by reporting them to Blizzard via in-game tickets. If Blizzard determines they are duplicating items hopefully they will be banned. If they aren't duplicating items then they won't get banned. No harm done.
While it is nice to have some solid evidence we can point to and say "Look! They are duplicating items!" it doesn't really change the situation. It doesn't instantly restore our economies back to "pre-duping" price levels.
It is really up to Blizzard to figure out how to best deal with the banning of the actual individuals duplicating these items. All we can do is report bad actors and not purchase items from those we suspect may either be dupers or someone connected with dupers.
Unfortunately I feel for many of these items their value is most likely permanently damaged by this duplication. The market simply can't absorb the massive, cheap (free in this case) increase in goods with out the price dropping.
If you are like me and want to see your economy stay (relatively) stable please follow my lead and if you feel the item you are considering purchasing is far too cheap (especially items mentioned in this post) please don't buy it. While it may seem cliche supporting dupers only encourages them to continue duping and further harming your server's economy.
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