I, too, wonder why there is a No Trade restriction on low level items such as Nightshade's Choker (gives 2 Weakness cards, -30% damage from target) and Troll Ear Pendant (gives 2 Guiding Light cards, +40% to next heal spell). I may need some more time to think on it, but for now, my guess is that it prevents newbie players with newly created characters from advancing too easily without the help of someone who has access to Marleybone. Anyone have any other explanations?
When it comes to the question of sharing items between family accounts, however, we must consider the pros and cons; that is, KingsIsle's pros and cons, as it is the Company that is the host, while we are the (paying, yes, I know, I know) guests. But, for the sake of all wizards and witches across the Spiral, we'll begin with the benefits and (if any) the downsides for us, the Customers, of being able to send that beautifully designed Smogger or Krokotopian robe to our alternate accounts.
As Heather explained, with a trading function for those under Master Accounts, family players would be able to help one another out when someone has an item another needs. Conclusively, fewer people are left in the dust to worry about having the best armor of their level tier by the time they reach 20, 25, 30,...etc. Then less time is needed to shop or farm for gold, and the questing can continue for everyone, virtually seamlessly. Everyone is happy, the balloons still have helium in them, and Ditto Wizard gets free rent for the month.
The disadvantage for Customers, when trading equipment to other accounts...well, if someone knows any reasons other than "they won't truly know the hardships of the economy as a low level player," please do share.
Now, time to venture forth into KingsIsle's perspective. Well, on the bright side, I can safely say that if the Company were to implement a Trade feature for family accounts, then the game's Customer Support team, Professor Greyrose (along with any other admin actively staying in touch with the community), and fan sites could be alleviated from the constant barrage of emails and posts ranting and requesting for Wizard101 to take on a type of barter system. Also, a large core of the customer base will be jumping for joy; a great response for any business. But, to quote a recent message that Stephen Spiritcaller from Ravenwood Radio posted on Twitter, "all it takes is one case" before the developers regret jumping on the MMO economic bandwagon.
As with the chat filters, our innovative and sneaky (we'd have to admit it, no matter if we're proud or ashamed of this) community members will eventually find a trick around the Family Account Trading function, and take advantage of it; in other words, someone is bound to abuse the feature.
Let's say one morning, Player A wakes up to find an update made by KingsIsle. The game news reads, "We have now given our players access to trade among family members who are under the same Master Account! Now you can send your hand-me-downs to a cousin, or pass along the Ascendant Staff to your grandma's new character!"
Absolutely wonderful, Player A thinks. He logs onto a forum fan site, sends a private message out to a very trusted friend he met in-game, Player B, exclaiming his excitement for change, and asks her enthusiastically if she still has the Yeva Spiderkeeper helm for his school. Player B acknowledges that the equipment is still in her Bank, but wonders aloud how they would be able to make an exchange. Player A sits for a bit, and replies: "I will make a fake Master Account, and I will give you the password for it so you can add your account to it!"
He rushes off to the Wizard101 site, creates a new account, and selects the "Family Plan," and sets the new account as a Master. He adds his existing account. Then he sends the Master password off to his friend. She adds her account. They do not save credit card information, so both players are still independent of each other. In-game, Player A puts an item Player B asks for in the "Family Bank", and she puts Yeva Spiderkeeper's item in exchange.
How the system would work is of two possible ways:
There is some live display feed for both players, similar to what one sees when trading Treasure Cards, that requires both accounts to be online at the same time so that there is a real-time mutual agreement when they accept the trade simultaneously.
Or, for families with only one computer to share between all players in the household, the "Family Bank" would be accessible by only one player at a time per Master Account. That way, while Mommy and Daddy are sleeping in on Saturday, Little Johnny can scout out the "Family Bank" to see if his parents found anything he needed for his main or his five alternates.
For the sake of the Company's convenience, (and keep in mind, it is KingsIsle's intention for only families to use this feature), we will assume that Family Trading is based on the latter, where one person at a time will have access to the Bank, but at least Little Johnny could leave something (which his parents found) he didn't need for his older sister Melissa who is currently in her morning Chemistry 101 class hundreds of miles away. Then when he goes off to school, and she returns to her dorm at noon, she can move that item to her inventory.
It's obvious to see where malicious abuse could come into play: Player C and Player D are also great friends like A and B, but Player D is actually a two-faced individual. After many, many months of friendship, how could Player C say no to taking advantage of Family Trade? The deal goes down, Player C ships his item into "Family Bank," and--based on the second method of trading mentioned above--waits for Player D.
Player D now has some extremely nasty paths to take: he could go to the website, change the Master password, and forever trap Player C's account under the fake Master. In addition, Player D could change the Parental Controls on his victim, preventing C's attempt to remove the account, use open chat, or access other subscriber features. Or, Player D mercifully would avoid adding insult to injury by following conventional scamming methods of taking the item and disappearing, and leaving Player C's account alone. Either way, Player C loses, and decides to complain to KingsIsle despite the fact that he tried to abuse the system. Then the Company would have to waste Customer Support time to investigate and ban both Player C and D's accounts, and risk losing at least one branch of revenue.
Sure, it may not be much money that they're losing from just two former players, but multiply that case by a hundred. That's at least $2,000 ($10 subscription fee x at least 2 abusive players x 100) in sales. While it may be a great business approach for KI to cut more away from the producer-consumer barrier AND satisfy us by tending to our wishes, Heather (and other readers), the realistic results would only cut the Company back.
Let's drag ourselves out of thinking mode, shall we? One point has been made, but the main response has yet to be completed (hence this being just Part 1). There is another subject that was brought to our community's recent attention, and it is a topic we must explore in depth before I can come to a solid conclusion and provide insight. It involves a type of internal control with customers that KingsIsle is now enforcing with action, and is something I have personal experience with. However, let us save it for another day; anyone who has reached this far deserves a large smack on the back (oops, too hard?) and the knowledge that I wholeheartedly appreciate your time.
P.S. In response to a few requests, I have now opened access for anyone, with or without a Google account, to post their comments here.