What happens in DDO, tends to happens in LOTRO. It’s not a rule set in tablets of stone but it’s a fairly safe bet. Turbine try out changes to DDO first and then apply them to LOTRO if they have proved viable. DDO went F2P first and acquired an extra virtual currency prior to LOTRO. DDO recently announced changes to their localisation policy. We await to see if LOTRO follows suit.
So bearing this in mind, I was interested to read of a new service that is currently being trialled on DDO’s test server Lamannia (Thank’s very much Grumpy for bringing this to my attention). It’s called The Shard Exchange. Astral Shards are DDO’s games second virtual currency and equivalent to the LOTRO’s recently introduced Mithril Coins. It would appear that The Shard Exchange is to allow the trading of the following items:
Unbound and Bound-to-Character-on-Equip items can be traded. Equipped Bound-on-Equip items can be sold even after they are bound, but become immediately bound to the buyer.
This is quite a radical proposal. Not only because of trading in previously bound items but the fact the transaction are made with the Astral Shard currency. This is a currency purchased with Turbine Points, which are in turn purchased with real money. It should also be noted that as well as posting fees, The Shard Exchange also take a percentage cut of successful sales (which are quite substantial).
The Shard Exchange will take a 30% cut (on top of the posting fee) when unbound items are successfully sold, and a 40% cut (on top of the posting fee) for bound items.
Now the traditional auction house in both DDO and LOTRO has posting fees and sales taxes but this is paid for by in-game gold which has no external value. However, it can be argued that Astral Shards in DDO have a tangible value. Ultimately real money is used to sell and purchase gear. Furthermore, the unique aspect of this system, which I have not seen in any other MMO (please leave a comment if you know to the contrary), is that it now opens an entirely new market in the reselling of previously equipped items.
There are restrictions and it is important to note the difference in equipment status. Pure bind to character items cannot be auctioned. So no raid items can be sold. Yet irrespective of these criteria this is an important change. Now you can auction a piece of gear that you deem obsolete instead of vendoring it. More importantly, spending real money buys you Turbine Points that you can then change to Astral Shards and buy gear with.
Although only in beta, The Shard Exchange has provoked a strong debate on the Official DDO Forums. Concerns have been raised about how this will affect item availability on the traditional auction house, as well as traditional pay to win arguments. It all depends on your personal point of view. Some may find this service a real asset where others may consider it a deal breaker. In the meantime, it is logical to ask is this service coming to LOTRO? Can we expect to see a Mithril Coin Exchange NPC in every auction house in Middle-earth?
Here are some points for consideration:
- Why do Turbine always create unnecessarily complex systems?
- Is there any alternative justifications for the percentage cuts that Turbine intend charge?
- Why don’t Turbine simply take a leaf out ArenaNet and Cryptic’s book with regards micro-transactions.