How Blizzard's Guardian Cub pet could change World of Warcraft's economy forever

Owen Hill at

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The official World of Warcraft blog has has just spilled the info on World of Warcraft's new Guardian Cub tradeable pet.

Cute pets in WoW? That's nothing new.

But pets that can be bought for real-life cash and then traded in the in-game Auction House? That sounds like a currency to me. A proxy currency that might provide WoW with the missing link between real-world money and your Azeroth gold. Is WoW going a bit Diablo 3?

There's more to the $10 Guardian Cub pet than first meets the eye. Whereas most WoW pets are classed as BoA items (Bind on Account), the Guardian Cub pet is classed as a BoE (Bind on Equip) item. That means you can buy a set of Guardian Cubs even if you have no intention on activating them for personal use in-game.

After purchasing the furry little bugger, there'll be a brief cooldown period before you can sell it on, but you'll eventually be able to trade them with other players for in-game currency. You're free to pack your inventory with the little critters too, though they will take up one slot each. You'll need a separate cub for each character on your account, unlike old-school pets - who are tied to accounts, not individual characters.

The Guardian Cub will cost $10. But how much will they sell for on the Auction House? Only players can decide.

Blizzard say the main reason for the new, tradable breed of pets is so they can be obtained in-game through trading or friendly gifting among friends. Fair enough.

The devs also list another reason though: "We also hope this change will help reduce the number of incidents of scamming via trading for invalid pet codes."

Yes, the Guardian Cub might be a strokable, wide-eyed beast, but he's actually designed to combat account thieves and bring down the sketchy world of gold-farming. What a cheeky chappie.

Blizzard are honest about the hidden potential: "While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services."

The real-life cost of a Guardian Cub will stick at $10, but the in-game value will fluctuate depending on the state of the auction house. Blizzard stress that the Cub is not a refundable item, or a sure-fire way to recieve gold for cash, but a step towards reducing the negative impact of gold farmers:

"Please keep in mind that there's never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they'll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling black market and account theft."

You could feasibly make a living through Diablo 3's in-game transactions.

Jay Wilson recently confirmed that any cash earned in Diablo 3 will be transferrable to other Blizzard game.

That means you could unlock Diablo 3 items through natural play, before selling them on the in-game auction house. You could then use your earnings to buy a bunch of Guardian Cubs and sell those cubs on the WoW auction house for gold - thus converting Diablo gold into WoW gold like some form of futuristic Blizzard alchemy.

I've got a feeling that the apparently innocent Guardian Cub could end up having a massive effect on Azeroth, a bit like horse armour, or Eve Online's monocle (mentioned by the CCPs CEO in his recent apology).

Oh loot. When did you get so complex? What's your take on the Guardian Cub?