World of Warcraft is one of the few high profile MMOs that still successfully sports a monthly subscription. When a curious item was discovered on the World of Warcraft Public Test Realm that hinted at an in-game store, Blizzard’s community manager confirmed that microtransactions might be in game’s future as another avenue for boosting revenue.
The item in question is an elixir that grants the player a 100% XP buff for killing monsters and finishing quests – a potentially useful item for newcomers wanting to progress quickly through the game or players leveling alts. But the most interesting part was the item’s description, which notes that it is obtained through the “In Game Store.” Since none exists at this time, it left players a tad befuddled. It was off to the forums to get some answers.
The item post got the usual trolling treatment before Blizzard Community Manager Zarhym finally chimed in with this response:
“We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game. As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the PTR. We’ll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses.”
There are two important details to take from this statement. The first is that this system would only be available in certain regions, which means some players may never see it. The other is that these purchases will be made in-game, which makes it different from the Blizzard Store. Late yesterday evening, fellow CM Bashiok posted the following clarification:
Thanks for all the feedback so far, everyone. We’re still pretty early in the exploration process, but we did want to go into more detail about our rationale for introducing an in-game store, as well as provide some insight into what you might ultimately see available there.
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.
First, we’ll be testing the in-game store with some new kinds of items we’re looking into introducing (in Asian regions, at the outset) based on player feedback: specifically, an experience buff to assist with the leveling process, as well as an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. We’ve had a lot of requests from players in different regions for convenience-oriented items such as these, and as with other new ideas we’ve introduced as WoW has evolved–including Pet Store pets, mounts, and more–your feedback plays a hugely important part in determining what we add to the game.
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.
The Blizzard Store is currently only available to certain regions as well, specifically those players in the US, Europe and South Korea. These purchases are currently limited to pets and mounts, but not experience buffs or other special items. This leads some to believe these regions won’t get the microtransaction system – though this hasn’t been confirmed.
Blizzard has been largely targeting the Chinese market, as seen in their most recent, Asian theme expansion and partnership with NetEase to release their card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in China. This could indicate that China may be one of the “certain regions” Zarhym mentions above.
World of Warcraft has seen a decline in subscribers lately, reporting a drop of 14% since March. Microtransactions might be one possible strategy to stimulate their playerbase or at least make money from them. Could it eventually lead to WoW switching to a free-to-play model if subscribers continue on the downward trend?
Let us know your thoughts on World of Warcraft microtransactions in the comments below. Would this be a welcomed addition or would it actually deter people from playing? Stay tuned to Game Rant for more on this story as it develops.
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