The inevitable has happened. Blizzard has introduced micro-transactions to World of Warcraft. While the team explains it’s “still pretty early in the exploration process”, the new feature was added to the Public Test Realm as part of the v5.4 update.
The update is also packed with other good stuff: Flexible raid difficulty, a new siege and a redesigned arena system among them.
Predictably though, all eyes are on the new in-game store, which is still finding its feet. Blizzard has been overwhelmed by feedback ever since the first rumours started surfacing, something Community Manager Bashiok is grateful for.
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. 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.
Bashiok explains that the first stage of testing will see “some new kinds of items” introduced into Asian regions only, based on player feedback (and, presumably, gaining a lot more). Early on, you’ll be able to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune, or purchase an experience buff that will “assist with the leveling process”. Different regions will be seeing the introduction of these convenience-oriented items as the game evolves.
The question now, of course, is whether this is the beginning of the end of the World of Warcraft subscription model. Bashiok remains coy on the topic.
Ultimately it’s still too early in the process to make any final determinations about our plans, but in the meantime, we hope you’ll check out the in-game store once it’s implemented on the PTR and let us know what you think.
This may just be a way for Blizzard to supplement income – and if they simply do not take off, then micro-transactions may well be removed again from World of Warcraft. At this stage though, we’re guessing they’ll be around for a while at least – and if this is the first step towards the world’s largest MMO going free-to-play, we’ll embrace the change.