World of Warcraft opening in-game microtransaction store

Blizzard to sell progress-boosting buffs for MMORPG, will begin testing the idea in Asian regions

The subscription-based World of Warcraft is adding a feature common to its free-to-play counterparts. In a post on the game's forums yesterday, a Blizzard community manager confirmed that the company is introducing an in-game storefront to World of Warcraft.

Blizzard has previously sold in-game items such as player mounts and animal companions, but it has done so through channels outside the game. This initiative will look to not only bring those transactions into the game world, but also add in additional "convenience-oriented items" to facilitate easier progress through the game. Among those offerings will be experience boosts to help players level up quicker, as well as lesser charms of good fortune.

"For players who are already interested in the in-game items we offer, such as Pet Store pets and mounts, the benefits of an in-game store are pretty clear," the community manager said. "We think everyone would appreciate the convenience of being able to make such purchases without having to leave the game, and ultimately that's our long-term goal for the system, though there's quite a bit of work involved in retrofitting those existing items into the new system."

Blizzard will begin testing its in-game store in Asian regions before expanding it to the rest of the world.

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Latest comments (9)

David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
I'm not against this but I think Blizzard still needs to do a far better job of teaching new and inexperienced players (in world) how to play the game, explaining quest objectives, the importance of item levels, how to use the AH tools, etc... You can play the game for months without fully understanding how everything works or what you should and should not be doing.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 8 years ago
Glad this is finally coming. If they continue to tow the "players cannot buy a competitive edge" line (e.g. 5 euro for 3000 vp or cp) then, I welcome any addition of choice like this.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Up front costs, monthly subscription and now micro-transactions.

It's already $175 to play for the first year and now micro-transactions are going to make it even costlier. And we just had an article complaining about the cost of AAA games.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
Don't worry. The public love of microtransactions, in the face of all the hate posts trying to prove the contrary, will soon have them removing all the other payment options. You heard it here first. :)
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Eric, the problem here is that as soon as the 'compulsive' spenders start paying for competitive advantages, the average spender will feel compelled to do so just to keep up while those that rarely or never pay will start to lose interest because the dynamics and balance of the game just shifted in favor of those with more cash (beyond the $175 they spent the first year and $144 each subsequent year).

This is nothing more than a cash grab. A means to make Activivision Blizzard investors happy.

Remember the days when we all paid the same price (currency exchanges notwithstanding) and got the same experience from a game? Now the experience you get is limited by how much you spend. Even after buying the game and paying a monthly fee, some players will simply not get the same experience as others with deeper pockets. I can't think of a single greater reason to not want to play a game than to feel like after several hundred dollars that I'm being asked to pay even more to get a fuller experience or maintain a competitive edge. I really don't think you can slap a gamer in the face any harder than that.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
No, you no longer have to know how to just have to have deeper pockets. But rationalizing micro-transactions that provide a competitive advantage with hackers of old is rather dubious. If the goal was simply to provide everybody with access to the "cheat", why are we charging for it? That means the developers or publishers have essentially become that hacker guy you'd pay to code up a cheat for you. Not sure I'd want that publicly expressed.

And if we're just going to so casually throw ethics out the proverbial window, we should probably follow it on the way down.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
The problem with your analogy is that watch owners are not competing against each other. You don't buy a more expensive watch to obtain a competitive advantage in time keeping. At best the watch equivalent could me analogous to collectors editions. Prestige but usually with no real difference in the effective functionality of the core product.

With regards to WoW itself, the introduction of this dynamic into an already existing ecosystem is really what draws my ire. Say a player has played for 5 years now. That's $177 + $144 + $144 + $144 + $144 ($753). And now they are being asked to pay even more to maintain competitive values. Most people won't buy it because they think, "Wow, great value." They'll buy it begrudgingly because they know if they don't, they'll be at a disadvantage to those that do.

As for game prices, they cost $60 back in the early 90's due to the utilization of cartridges. Optical media and now digital distribution has greatly reduced a lot of cash that went into that MSRP.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
I'm short on time so I can touch back only on the watch analogy for the moment.

You're noting watch making companies that compete among themselves which would equate to game developers competing among themselves for sales. What I am saying is that the various models of Casio (highest end model to lowest end model) do not compete among themselves to keep the best time. But that is what your original watch analogy alluded to. Sure, gamers have the option for MT's just as they have the option for the higher end Casio watch. But there is a very distinct difference in MT's that create a competitive advantage in a competitive game over increased complications (that's what they call extra functionalities in a watch beyond the default time keeping) in various watch models. Gamer A's high end Casio gives him no time keeping advantage over Gamer B's low end Casio. Nor are they competing at such a task to begin with.
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Andreia Quinta Photographer 8 years ago
Well, I personally don't like the way WoW is being directed as a financial aid tool. I've been playing it since beta, and still do, however it is losing it's charm every expansion and it's harder and harder to justify to myself why I'm paying the subscription, and this business practice doesn't really help.

I can understand the sale of cosmetic items like pets and mounts, however people did warn that Blizzard was testing the waters, and they were right. Now they're talking about selling experience buffs of 100% (whereas at the moment the cap is 50% with all possible Heirloom gear + 10% from guild perks), so it's a 160% buff, something that not even some private servers go as far.

But I might not mind too much with this MT 'prodcut', since the reliance on experience as an unfair advantage is debatable, and certainly not as grave as selling gear for real coin, however...

Another item in the talks to be commercially available in game are "Lesser Charms of Good Fortune", and with these Blizzard is treading on very thin ice. If a player racks 50x Lesser Charm of Good Fortune, (bear in mind these are already easily available through questing and killing mobs) they can trade in those 50 for 3 "Mogu Rune of Fate" which is something that can be used as a bonus roll for the chance of winning an additional item from a boss's loot table.

So it's not exactly a direct way of pay2win or selling gear directly to the user using real currency, but you can see how close it is. If someone can afford to buy these charms in racks, then the more chances they have at getting gear they need.

In conclusion, from cosmetic pets and mounts, to (not quite) literally gear. I can see where this is going, and with a subscription fee on top with content updates only every 3 to 4 months (it used to be a lot more often 4 years ago) I'm not so sure why we're paying it. It looks like they are trying to be both subscription and micro-transactions based, and that's hard for its core players to chew on.
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