World of Warcraft's fictional in-game currency of gold, silver, and coppers is now worth more than the real life Venezuela's bolívar fuerte.
Last month a Venezuelan WoW player noticed the similarities between the Venezuelan black market exchange rate and #WorldofWarcraft's gold prices. At the time, the #WoW prices had just edged out Venezuela's currency, at ~8385g versus 8493.97 Bs.F per USD. Now the difference is even higher. Earlier this week it was 16,480 Bs.F in Venezuela for each US dollar, while WoW's gold was hovering around 7000g per USD.
The gold prices have stayed more or less the same, ranging between 7038g and 7442g over the course of the past couple days. Venezuela's bolívar fuerte, on the other hand, has been bouncing from 10,000 to 16,000. It's currently at 10,387 Bs.F per USD.
How Is This Possible?
It's a combination of a couple things: a failing economy, a successful MMO with in-game inflation, and the black market exchange rate.
If you look at Google's currency converter, you may notice that it's showing a much lower number for Bs.F per USD, approximately 10. This is from the fixed exchange rate the government put in place. The real exchange, rate, however, lives on the black market and is over 1,000 times that. Most Venezuelans use the black market to exchange their currency — it's much easier and worth more for those who are paid in USD. DolarToday tracks the black market rate on a daily basis. Two years ago the black market exchange was only 408 Bs.F for each US dollar. Falling oil prices and food shortages have contributed to the dropping economy, reducing the worth of the bolívar fuerte even more.
Blizzard's Currency Rises
The #WoWToken rises and falls depending on what Blizzard's games are doing. When the WoW Token was first introduced two years ago, it could only be used to redeem a month of subscription time equal to $15. While gold was hard to come by in WoW's early years, the 12 years it has been out and the game's inflation have made players very wealthy. During the previous expansion it was very easy to make gold and players had a lot just sitting around.
Blizzard's introduction of the WoW Token provided a way to get that gold out of the economy and make #Blizzard a little more money as well. Tokens purchased by players to sell for gold are $20, which are then redeemed by other players for $15 worth of gametime. Blizzard makes an extra $5 for every WoW Token they sell.
Earlier this year, Blizzard added the option to trade the WoW Token for $15 worth of Battle.net balance in addition to the subscription option. The price skyrocketed from 60k gold to 120k gold. The WoW Token has ended up propping up their other games and allowing players to buy cosmetic items with their gold. Players are more likely to spend the gold for skins and mounts, and Blizzard makes more money than if the players bought microtransactions outright. Each game promotion, whether it's the Summer Games in Overwatch, new skins in Heroes of the Storm, or the Necromancer DLC in Diablo 3, makes the gold price increase.
Other Games Don't Compare
Other games have currencies too, but it's much harder to track their worth. Perhaps the most famous, and the one that started it all, is the PLEX system in #EVEOnline. EVE's economy and currency is player-driven and it's famously volatile. Because of the amount of trading and fluctuating going on within the economy, before even factoring in real money, prices can be wildly inflated. At one point the most expensive ship was valued at 120b ISK (EVE Online currency), equal to $7600 USD.
The Currencies May Even Out Again
Unfortunately, given Venezuela's economic turmoil, it's unlikely that the worth of their currency will rise in the near future. WoW, on the other hand, may not stay in the top spot for long. The gold price slowly keeps rising but so far it has been limited to Blizzard games and low-priced cosmetic items. With #Destiny2's inclusion in the Blizzard Launcher, there's going to be a flurry of activity to buy WoW Tokens to pay for the game with Blizzard Balance. At 4 WoW Tokens apiece to buy the game, and with supply limited in the face of a surge in demand, it wouldn't be a surprise to see WoW's gold compete with Venezuela again.
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