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How Blizzard 'sold gold' in  World of Warcraft  without ruining the game

How Blizzard 'sold gold' in World of Warcraft without ruining the game

February 15, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

February 15, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Console/PC, Social/Online

"We're just trying to offer a way for players with tons of gold and players without much gold to transact within the game using the things that are valuable to both of them as a medium."

- World of Warcraft game director Ion Hazzikostas explains how paid in-game currency enhanced the game without creating pay-to-win problems.

In a recent interview with Glixel, the man behind WoW Tokens explained how the company introduced a cash-based currency into World of Warcraft without completely decimating the in-game economy. 

Game developers curious about how Blizzard was able to achieve the balance would do well to hear what the World of Warcraft game director father of the WoW Token Ion Hazzikostas has to say about the system’s creation and purpose.

WoW Tokens primarily have two functions: they can be purchased for $20 and resold on World of Warcraft’s in-game marketplace for a gold, or players with in-game wealth can use gold to pick up a Token and exchange it for $15 cash.

One of the big benefits of WoW Tokens, Hazzikostas told Glixel, is giving players who want to spend cash to get World of Warcraft currency a safe alternative to dubious third-party gold selling websites that often compromise accounts to turn a profit.

As anyone familiar with Diablo 3’s real money auction house will know, introducing cash transactions into a game without also bringing pay-to-win issues into the mix is no simple feat. But, Hazzikostas says that the failure of Diablo 3’s system was one of the reasons Blizzard was able to do just that with WoW Tokens. 

“The removal of the real money auction house in [Diablo 3] actually made this possible. We never would have considered token-to-balance conversion if that existed, because it allowed you to cash out of the game,” said Hazzikostas. “We’re not looking to create real wealth here. We’re not looking to create real dollars, we’re not looking to become a bank.”

Head over to Glixel to read the full interview, which includes Hazzikostas' thoughts on recent changes that let World of Warcraft players indirectly spend gold on other Blizzard titles.

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