Blizzard confirms WoW microtransactions, community worries that pay-to-win has arrived
Blizzard has been tip-toeing around the idea of implementing microtransactions in World of Warcraft for a long time, particularly with the Battle.net cash shop which has allowed players to buy things like character pets outside of the game and bring them into WoW since 2009.
However, recently an item was discoved on a public test server which offered a 100% experience boost that could be purchased in the “In Game Store,” confirming that an official store is being tested. In response to this, WoW Community Manager Bashiok made an official post on the forums.
“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,” wrote community manager Micah 'Bashiok' Whipple. “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.”
He said that for now, Blizzard is only testing a small number of items and are only looking to introduce them to Asian regions “at the outset.” He didn't confirm whether this feature is planned to debut in the rest of the world at any point.
The two new items that they're looking to introduce will be the aforementioned experience boost as well as “an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune.”
That latter part has some in the WoW community a bit worried. Lesser Charms of Good Fortune are part of a system that allows players to get bonus items from raids. Some are worried that if the system for buying that item is too open then it could lead to players paying to acquire raiding gear faster which would be tantamount to a form of pay-to-win.
“A huge argument in this thread is that this could become a P2W model,” wrote WoW player Notorious in the thread where Bashiok made the announcement. “While the XP buff is harmless given the plethora of ways to do it as of right now, giving players the option to purchase lesser charms is something completely different. Lesser charms translate to major charms which are attained once a week as of right now; however, major charms are used for the extra gear chances in raids. This mirrors P2W in a pretty significant way.”
“As I said elsewhere, WoW does not need a P2W type model (which essentially selling lesser mogu charms basically are,)” agreed player Jujubiju. “Lesser mogu charms are easy to get. They drop like candy off mobs, in pet battles, and from dailies. Selling them in a “store” isn't needed. [Selling] mounts/pets are one thing since they are things that do not effect game play. Mogu runes, however, do effect things in game - it's essentially the same concept as selling VP/raid gear for [real life] cash.”
In the original comment, Bashiok wrote that it's still too early in the process to make any determinations about how the process or work or how it will affect the game, and encouraged people to check out the public test realm and offer their feedback.