World of Warcraft's upcoming Shadowlands expansion is coming with a number of new cosmetic features for player characters -- including the ability to change a character's gender without spending any real money.
According to Eurogamer, this change came about when Blizzard developers noticed that while they had moved almost all other physical appearance changes away from a paid model and into an in-game barbershop, gender remained the one outlier -- requiring purchase of a $15 "appearance change."
"As we were adding things up in Shadowlands, we realized, 'Gosh the only way you can change your gender in World of Warcraft is to go through this paid service,'" said executive producer John Hight. "And we felt like that's not the right message.
"Unfortunately we can't fix that right now, but it is our intent with Shadowlands to take that out of being a paid service thing and [put it] in the barber shop. But that's not something we can easily hotfix...It is something that we're going to have in Shadowlands itself."
This discussion came about alongside a conversation about the game's first openly transgender NPC -- a character named Pelagos who appears in Shadowlands in a realm where inhabitants can choose a physical form that represents their "true self."
Pelagos is a man who uses he/him pronouns, but in-game is it revealed that he presented as a woman in his former life.
"WoW is a game that doesn't try to emphasise sexual relationships so in that regard, we don't necessarily tell that part of the story other than to hint around it," Hight said. "But we certainly have characters [that have] - or we've always thought of characters as having - different gender identities in the game."