The Guardian Cub’s release in November of 2011 was met with mixed reception – a pet that you could buy on the Blizzard Store with real world currency and sell to other players in-game for gold provided a unique opportunity for players. Forums and comment threads were ablaze: was it the gateway to real-money trade in WoW? Could it combat security concerns by decreasing black market gold buying? Would it change the pet store forever?
The answer to these questions seems to be “probably not”.
The experiment of the Guardian Cub was straightforward – Blizzard released the pet to test the water. Would players actually buy the pet in order to sell it for gold in game? Would this, in turn, decrease black market activity for gold buying and, by extension, security issues and botting?
While players don’t have access to the numbers, there doesn’t seem to be any fewer botters. If anything, the increased popularity of the game brought on by the expansion has heralded new waves of bots: people flying in Pandaria before level 90 while gathering, paladins farming Halls of Lightning, and persistent PvP bots. As for black market gold trade and security threats, there are plenty of spammers in trade chat still phishing for people to buy TCG mounts outside of the game and shady websites where you can buy gold.