Blizzard has introduced a new pet to its World of Warcraft store which can be sold on to other players for in game gold, effectively allowing players to buy credit with real world money.
It's a first for the huge MMO, which has suffered from the predations of gold farming organisations since its earliest days. Whilst Blizzard hasn't overtly advertised the new, purely cosmetic Guardian Cub as a method of buying gold, a post on the company's blog acknowledges that it would be a safe way to do so.
"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," reads the post.
"However, 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. (You can read more about our stance here.)
"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."
Taking ownership of the gold trading might well give Blizzard a greater degree of control over its in-game economy, but it will also deliver shareholders a hefty slice of the profits entailed. Guardian Cubs cost $10 each from Blizzard's Pet Store, although how much in game gold that might convert to remains in the hands of players.