After more than ten years on the market, Blizzard is taking a leaf out of EVE Online‘s book, introducing a token system that means you’ll be able to buy subscription time using in-game funds. It’s a sort of play-to-pay-to-play system, but you can also buy the tokens with real-world cash.
The developer asserts that this is not part of a switch to free-to-play, but it does open up new payment options for fans.
WoW Tokens can be bought with real money and then sold at the WoW auction house for in-game funds, making this a simple way of padding your character’s wallet. Gamers can also buy WoW Tokens from the auction house using in-game gold, and then redeem them for 30 days of game time.
…and if this sounds like yet another player-set exchange rate that someone will find a way to take advantage of, Blizzard is a step ahead of you. Rather than giving gamers the opportunity to set their own in-game gold prices for Tokens, Blizzard has a special formula up its sleeve that will dictate the auction house exchange rate. This will calculate supply and demand, as well as looking at the overall WoW economy.
Once you’ve bought your Token, it’s soulbound to your character and must be redeemed by you – it cannot be resold.
It is, according to Blizzard, a direct response to third-party gold sellers. If you want to spend real money to earn in-game gold, you now have a completely legitimate way to do so.
The studio is currently working out how to let lapsed subscribers log in to buy game time with their stockpiled in-game gold (rather than having to fork out real money for the privilege) – but new players will have to buy at least one bunch of game time to start their account.
For more information, there’s a hefty Q&A about WoW Tokens – but don’t go looking for a release date, nothing’s been confirmed yet.