Recently Blizzard introduced the first microtransactions into WoW in the form of purchasable vanity pets (a panda monk + Lil’KT).  This caused a variety of reactions from the blogging community.  Some were unhappy, others were unfazed.  In my experience the in-game community barely noticed.

So what’s the big deal about microtransactions?  A number of other games already use them to varying effect.  Blizzard is just continuing its course of re-using good/accepted ideas from other games and building them into WoW.

Currently you can use real money to buy vanity pets, which have no real in-game effect.  In future there is no reason to expect Blizzard would not offer other ‘upgrades’ as microtransactions.  It would make sense for Blizzard to offer the purchase of high end gear as micro transactions, instant level gains and of course more vanity pets and mounts.  This would mean more money for Blizzard and happier players (at least happier individual players).

Perhaps the only commodity I can see issue with is using real money transactions to buy gold.  Not for any higher moral ground type reasons but for the simple reason that it encourages in-game inflation.  Blizzard would have to design new and better ways of removing money from the game (money-sinks) to combat this.  I can already see the QQ as prices spiral and those who cannot, or will not, purchase gold from Blizzard complaining.

Pets and mounts are easy targets.  Other than keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ there isn’t any reason to own these items.  Players who have these items have no real advantage, other than perhaps bragging rights, over players without them.

Purchasing high-end gear or instant levels might be more controversal, but they both seem valid and likely in my opinion.  Blizzard is already trivialising the leveling process to a significant degree with the introduction of Recruit-a-friend and experience bonus heirloom items.  This might be the jaded view of a player with three maximum level toons already, but if Blizzard was offering instant 80’s i’d be interested.

Purchasing high-end gear sounds bad when you first read it, but it appears to fit with the current design philosophy.  The ‘bad-old-days’ of The Burning Crusade, when the elite, high end, raiders could parade in their exclusive gear are long gone.  At the end of Wrath of the Lich King, as has been written about to death, gearing is very much non-exclusive.  Pretty much any player with a decent amount of time and skill on their hands can get pretty much all the loot in the game.  There are a few hard to obtain items, but aside from a couple of exceptions such as the legendary weapons, they have low-visibility to the general WoW populace.

So, in my opinion, we’ll see more microtransactions in WoW in the new future.  The recent vanity pets tested the water, so-to-speak, and I think its more a case of Blizzard taking their time determining how to best take advantage of this revenue bonanza, rather than them debating the value of doing it.

Gobble gobble.


8 Responses to Microtransactions

  1. Abi says:

    As long as they keep it to purchasing things for real currancy that have no effect to the game (like vanity pets, mounts, new haircut options, whatever) then I see no problem with it at all. It’s our money and if players don’t mind dropping $10 for a pet that ice tombs critters and cackles at them, more power to them.

    If they start selling gear, weapons, or anything of that nature, that’s when it’ll start to get under my skin a bit, but I don’t think we’ll see that at all.

    Well.. now that I think about it, I COULD see them charging for BoA gear *shady eyes*.

  2. Percy says:

    No way they’ll ever implement purchasing high-end gear. That would be completely asinine and mark a severe dark turning point for MMOs as a genre. Vanity pets and mounts though are completely fine since they are just fluff items that don’t really do… anything. Same with any of the other junk that you could ‘win’ from the WoW TCG, those kind of things could easily be viable microtransactions.

    Patch on December 15th btw! /imo

  3. Shaggyd says:

    If they were to introduce micropayments, I would not mind paying for access to create new lvl 55 characters, similar fashion to the Death Knights. This would save me loads of time to join everyone in raids with multiple of different characters to play with, especially if you have not got the time to level-up from scratch (like me).

  4. nuclayer says:

    Titles are the new “Epic Gear” that can be paraded around. Many of the hard modes in raids offer real challenges that all the gear in the world will not fix.

  5. Dahk says:

    You can already buy gold with money, gold can buy drop BoE’s and craftables. It might not be sanctioned by Blizz, but don’t think it doesn’t happen. Why did blizz make all these BoE’s anyway…. hmmm

    I really think WoW is at a critical tipping point for serious players. Blizz is probably confident because there really isn’t a good alternative at the moment. They seem to time things like micro trans when they are sure other MMO’s like WarHammer and Aion are failing. They are smart people, but in the MMO biz, you can never be sure that your customers will be there tomorrow.

  6. squiggly says:

    I have to agree with the above comments. I highly doubt they will ever offer high end raiding gear. As much as players do not like to admit it, one of the largest drawing points to consistent raiding is gearing up players. Blizzard would lose a lot of players if they allowed this. I’m not even referring to disgruntled elitists, though a few of those would likely hit the road as well. A lot of the player base would quickly get bored with the game, if they could simply buy the best gear. There are a lot of fun fights, but since MUDs back in the day, improving your character has always been what keeps people coming back to MMO’s. Obviously there are other factors… cool people, and fun fights, but that addictive edge comes from character improvement.

  7. BobTurkey says:

    Yeah my Nov 24th guess for 3.3 was obviously completely wrong. 🙂

    I thought the same about high end raiding gear, but the gear normalisation (or soft reset as some are calling ToC) has me thinking Blizzard a really aiming to trivialise gear from a bragging rights perspective.

    My main has raided ToC 10/25 heroic and normal since its release (a few months) is all ilvl 245 (more or less). My warrior alt has only ever done VoA 10/25 raidwise, but following the release of 3.3 he will be fully ilvl 232 geared in a week.

    I don’t see it as being that great a leap to move from this sort of easy gearing, to just allowing players to buy gear for real money. Perhaps at whatever the current normal 10 man raiding item level.

    Anyway that’s my opinion. I have no idea what they will actually do.

    Gobble gobble.

  8. Kyle says:

    I encourage Blizz to do more like they did with the panda monk – donating half to charity. I would not have purchased one otherwise.

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