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Report: Blizzard Looking At Paid Character Customization For  WoW
Report: Blizzard Looking At Paid Character Customization For WoW
October 13, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander

October 13, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Emerging business models for online games like microtransactions and tiered subscriptions have long met with skepticism from the average MMO enthusiast, who's viewed Blizzard and its standard subscription model for World of Warcraft as a bastion against new monetization strategies.

But it seems possible that Blizzard might soon explore the pay-for-goods arena after a press conference at its BlizzCon event -- though specifics are still being ironed out.

According to coverage from MMO news site WarCry, WoW production director J. Allen Brack was asked about a button found in the Wrath of the Lich King beta's data files called "Paid Character Customization."

The report says Brack first balked at addressing the question, and then ultimately confirmed that WoW would eventually incorporate some form of paid character customization, though the company is apparently still working details out.

Blizzard is also reportedly exploring ways to monetize multiplayer games on its service for the upcoming Diablo III; while the details of that monetization strategy are also apparently still being worked out, Brack did confirm that it doesn't involve subscription fees.

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Brice Morrison
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Even though western gamer's won't like the change, I think that the eastern success of a free game + microtransations makes it inevitable. It will just take some getting used to.

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OH PLEASE GOD NO! Microtransaction subscription models, of any kind, always end in the people with the most money out-of-game becoming the most privileged in-game. Sure, WOW would just be starting with "character customization" (which can mean anything from appearance to gear to stats, if you want to be technical), but once they see what money they make from that, they'll come up with all sorts of ways people can pay to get more out of the game - gold merchants already exist; soon they'll say $1 per 1000 exp, or $5 to complete a quest you don't want to bother doing.

Please, please, PLEASE don't become like those damn Korean MMOs. Stay true! You have millions of happy players - don't spoil it!

Heather Decker-Davis
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This is going to take a lot of careful consideration on their part, if that's really what they want to do with their already successful franchise. What works in the East doesn't necessarily work in the West. Looking at my own experiences, I know American gamers that would probably bail on WoW completely, echoing an embitterment towards capitalism determining how awesome you are in the game, rather than personal achievement... especially if things that effect the gameplay can also be purchased. Many see this as unfair, viewing a subscription model as equality: everyone pays the same for the same opportunities.

Joshua McDonald
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This is dangerous territory. Initially, it doesn't sound bad, but profit models will usually influence game design in a way to encourage people to make use of whatever paid service is being offered.

In this case, if you can pay to give your character cool visuals, designers will have a tendency to make everything that doesn't cost money less appealing than they otherwise would.

Wolf Wozniak
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I gave up on Blizzard the day I found out that SC:II was a trilogy.

Farewell, honest developers.

E Zachary Knight
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I don't understand why people hate this idea so much. The microtransaction model is a good model to deal with.

I don't think it would hurt anyone to let people pay real world money for items available in the game's ingame stores. As long as people aren't able to buy quest only items, by xp or levels or use items without gaining the proper level, there should be no problem.

I would like to see the micro transaction model work in the US it is fully capable of doing so.

Teri Thom
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Agreed. Free games with microtransactions as the revenue model in the west are inevitable and subscription based models will one day be a thing of the past. No frugal person with a taste for varied and multiple mmo choices will willingly pay for more than one subscription. The free to play model is the answer to that market.

Andrew Bator
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(Just my personal opinion… take it or leave it)

My friends and I have been game enthusiasts (all kinds) for 30 years but no one I know has the time to invest in a MMO because of jobs, family, etc.

The choice of a time sink to rise in level or pay to get there sounds fine to me. Some of us do not find grinding in any way enjoyable. To be able to log on once a week or once a month with friends and go do whatever quest/campaign we wish is very appealing. The company gets some more money, they increase their membership, and it caters to all kinds of players.

I feel ONLY allowing items through micro-transactions is unfair though. If you have the time I think everything should be available.

As a game gets older I like the idea of the initial areas being free, while you pay for access to newer additions. Again it’s a win-win… a company makes more money, while people can try out a game and see if they like it.

People should stop feeling so betrayed when companies try to increase profits. All companies are in business for one reason- to make money. The old adages also applies- if you don’t like it, build your own better mousetrap.

~Andrew Bator