Blizzcon: Pay-for-Customisation in WoW confirmed

By Kieron Gillen on October 13th, 2008 at 9:41 am.

Man, I’m totally stealing this story from videogaming247. Hell, I’ve even stole the image from videogaming247. But at least I’ve given a working link back Warcry, who covered the press conference where the following was revealed

When asked to expand upon a button found by sifting through the Lich King beta’s data files named “Paid Character Customization,” Brack initially hesitated to give any answer at all. Several questions later, he went back to the matter, saying that he could, in fact, confirm that World of Warcraft would eventually have some form of paid character customization, though they themselves hadn’t yet worked out any details.

C’mon Pat! It’s Monday morning, but us parasitisic linkbloggers must have standards, goddammit.

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91 Comments »

  1. Lukasz says:

    awesome! they can suck off more monies from poor losers!

  2. hey says:

    awesome! they can suck off more monies from poor losers!
    what lol
    poor people have no money.

  3. Lukasz says:

    In English poor means many things. Not only people who have no money.

    In my context, ‘poor’ characterizes a person who is in bad situation, because he or she is addicted to WoW.

  4. Ian says:

    Are we talking in-game monies or real monies?

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Ian: I suspect real monies. Paid for character customisation with in-game money is… well, they have that already. It’s called “clothes”.

    KG

  6. Ian says:

    Well yeah but I thought I’d read about things such as them introducing barbers and the like and I wondered whether there were more unannounced things in that area.

  7. marko2te says:

    Next step, paying real money for fixing items ingame.

  8. Mike says:

    Well that guy with 36 WoW accounts will be hit right in the cheque book! and he’ll probably love it

  9. Ryx says:

    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

    My friend is gonna be pissed.

  10. Sören Höglund says:

    Man, Blizzard are really monetizing the hell out of their games lately. Starcraft 2 as three expandalones, microtransactions in Diablo 3, and now this. You’d think they wouldn’t need to squeeze those extra few drops out of the gargantuan WoW money machine, but apparently they do.

  11. Tuor says:

    The problem with being greedy is that what you have is never enough.

  12. Mike says:

    Did they honestly have a board meeting and say, “Guys, I feel we need to drive up revenue. We’re just not making enough.”

  13. Seniath says:

    In a way, they’ve already been doing this in a manner with the “Loot Cards” available in the TCG. They’re really not doing much to endear themselves to the angry internet men at the moment.

  14. The Hammer says:

    @Seniath,

    Indeed. Though, I would actually like to see the profits that WOW actually makes, when you consider the server costs, GM wages, etc. Mike Morhaine played down claims that it was an eternal money cow, although I see it turning quite a large sum of money, personally.

  15. Ketch says:

    WoW goes Runescape.

    This annoys me because I’m already paying to play, customisation is somethibng I expect to be part of the game I already bought and paid many months of subscription for. Now I have to pay my hard earned cash for a shiny jacket or a ring? Fuck that.

  16. Carra says:

    Ugh, I thought we all agreed already that noone wants to pay 5 dollars to have a pimpier horse.

  17. mrrobsa says:

    None for me, thank you.

  18. James G says:

    @Mike

    The problem is, as a publicly traded company they are legally obliged to act in the best interests of their shareholders, which means that if they see an avenue for making profit, and don’t think that this avenue will hurt their baseline, then they are pretty much obliged to follow it up (assuming of course it is legal). ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder ) Not too fond of the idea myself, but it is pretty central to the whole idea of capitalism and I’m not going to pretend to be knowledgeable enough to tear that system down. (Besides, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of falling down itself at the moment, although again, I won’t pretend to fully understand this.)

  19. Azhrarn says:

    Well “ingame money” customisation will be coming in WotLK with the barber shops, so I suspect they intend to “monetize” more advanced customisation features and probably make all the cool stuff cost real money.

  20. garren says:

    Umm… aren’t people like, paying real money monthly from the game already? WTF. Greed is bad Blizzard, what happened to you?

  21. Butler` says:

    tbh, as an ultra uber hardcore blizz fanboy, this all leaves a real bad taste in my mouth.

  22. Duke Goosington IV says:

    I’m totally unsurprised. Blizzard merge with huge publisher. Blizzard turn into complete di, uh, capitalists. yeah. Who didn’t see this coming?

  23. Anthony Damiani says:

    Man. Coming on the heels of the “Starcraft 2 is now 3 games” thing, they’re going to come off looking like greedy pigdogs here.
    If I’m going to pay a company $180/year (plus $50 for an expansion every other year) to play a game, I’d like to not be nickled-and-dimed on top of it, please. I very much perceive my payment as underwriting new content development, not merely server access.

    Just how serious is the danger of ActiBlizzard coming off as mercenary, corporate and tarnishing Blizzard’s once-golden reputation? Isn’t the latter really their single biggest asset?

  24. Batolemaeus says:

    And then there are companies who don’t even charge you for their expansions.

    I know where my money will go to, and it’s certainly not Blizz.

  25. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i’m more bothered by battle net being ‘monitieSSSSSSSed’

  26. CPY says:

    Looks like Blizzard deserve monopolistic fine, because it clearly abuse its sole position on market.
    And i mean it, yeah there are many other mmos… yeah come on who haven’t returned to wow? I did play Lotro and Conan and still i’m back to wow…
    Not talking about private servers, is blizzard compenzating it’s anger on paying costumers?
    If their precious wow is such concern why don’t they just make realmlist fixed in some datafile or exe file ffs just let us enjoy good company blizz used to be, but isn’t anymore.
    Every company is established to make profit not to entertain or whatever else they are doing, but abusing position by setting monopolistic prices? Come on!
    Lotro have free expansion, where’s my free wow expansion?
    Not to mention screwed up pvp that makes you feel like pve server even on pvp server… cities guarded like fortresses, free portals that anyone can HS and be in any city they want. New content? Once every year new battleground, i ask where is old style hardcore alterac valley? Where are those cool assault on cities where you had hard time defending undercity?
    Most bgs are just bot and afkers show off.
    Blood elves? Paladins in horde? What the heck? Now all kids play horde and sissies.
    Horde used to be 1:3 ratio to alliance but average age around 20-25 my guess. Now? Worse than alliance.
    Ratio is now 1.5:1 and 60% population are blood elves. That pest is everywhere!
    I dont mind monopolistic behaviour and high prices and greed from blizzard as their gameplay ruin plan.
    That game used to be awesome and unique experience, now it is boring and tasteless grind.
    Where are those a**hole ganking guilds that will CC you for 4-5 hours?? No you just walk with your lvl 27 alt and make /lol on few 70s and they will just walk by or kill you and run like hell before you relog your S3 main char to kick their S1 a**es…
    I ask you where is blizzard gone? Not even spending max points in mage talent improved blizzard doesn’t help here.
    And yea im not native speaker so i make a lot of grammar mistakes, but not as much as blizzard is doing lately with wow!

  27. Dexton says:

    @CPY “That game used to be awesome and unique experience, now it is boring and tasteless grind.”

    That is nostalgia talking I am afraid, WOW like other mmos is and always will degrade into a boring grind. It was an awesome and unique experience the first time you played it, obviously it was unique because it was the first time you had played it (and if like me, any mmo).

    If you play the same game long enough it will always turn into some sort of grind. I don’t think it’s blood elves that “ruined” wow, it’s simply the nature of the mmo that after the initial, unique experience starts to fade the users see the grind that remains. Once you see the grind no amount of new content can every really disguise it again. Then the golden memories of how great it used to be start knocking around. I did the 4 hours AV games, the grind to rank 10 and the 40 man MC raids and they are no better and no worse that the gladiator grinds or 25 man raiding that replaced them.

  28. AbyssUK says:

    Next up diablo III pop-up ads, because we know you all love clicking…

  29. CakeAddict says:

    Blizzard is screwing their customers lately, I’m happy I haven’t been one for ages.
    The worst thing is their gonna get away with it.

  30. Kommissar Nicko says:

    I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here, and say that maybe, must maybe, the level of customization is so amazing that it warrants paying for. As in, take a picture of your own face (or ass) and have them map it on there.
    Or!
    Give your troll/orc/tauren male or undead person better posture. I’m just saying!

  31. Pike says:

    I fail to see how this screws me as a customer. Advanced customization of characters in WoW, beyond the limitied choices in character creation doesn’t exist today. So this is not some old feature suddenly being turned into a pay service. So the publishers add a new feature to the game.

    The feature has no, I assume gameplay impact and it’s therefor cosmetic. This means I won’t be adversly affected by anyone else taking advantage of the feature. As a matter of fact I will probably benefit from it, since a less homogenous looking playerbase should be enjoyable. So if I choose to not pay myself I will still recieve some benefit without any adverse effects. Would the service being free have been nicer? Sure. But it’s still no loss to me if it’s a paid service, since paying is voluntary and optiong out won’t affect me adversely.

  32. Lim-Dul says:

    Yes, we all know Blizzard isn’t a charity AND we all know that shareholders are drooling over all kinds of money making opportunities BUT taking money literally for EVERYTHING is very, very short-sighted. Some day (perhaps today ;-) Blizzard will cross the line and simply scare away most customers.

    No one will pay for a pimped-out character? Oh boy, you haven’t seen much – just look at Guild Wars where there are dozens of “high level” items that have THE SAME stats as items you can get half-way through any campaign and yet people are grinding for in-game money like mad just to look cooler than the rest. If there will be paid character customizations people WILL buy them because otherwise they will start thinking of themselves as “in-game losers” – this will be even more important in WoW where crazy people really mistake their characters for themselves (unlike in other MMORPGs where they are a bit more detached) so if your character isn’t cool YOU are not cool. :-\

    Situations like this one – where a company tries to suck out as much money as it can in a short amount of time without thinking about the consequences – seem to be typical of the American market. Studios make dozens of sequels, one worse than the next, to just ride a franchise to death (remember Star Trek when in the late ’90 there were THREE different settings running parallel – The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space Nine – no wonder Enterprise didn’t take off – people got bored) and ironically even the short-term greed of banks is what’s mainly responsible for the current economy crisis.

    I think it’s time to show Blizzard the finger – remember that as a customer you vote with your wallet and from what I see Blizzard is about to literally rob you for titles that are nice and polished but by no means anything new (and what I saw so far about SC2 and/or Diablo III confirms that theory).

    Don’t support Blizzard, buy World of Goo – it’s even DRM-free! ^^

  33. BarkingDog says:

    I’m quite disappointed by this, because I always saw paid character customization as being a hallmark of all those free-to-play mmos. I heartily approve of it in those situations when it is how they make their money, but Blizz have their millions of subs going for them already, and I’d quite like free shinies too.
    Because, imo, it’s a bit of a slippery slope. You start off paying a quid to give your character… i don’t know, a different face or hair or whatever, and if that makes them a bit of cash but not enough, next thing you know you’ll be able to buy the Sword of a Thousand Truths for 50p.
    Obviously that’s a gross exaggeration, but it feels slightly like they’re dicking around with their fanbase if they’re spending time and sub money on developing new ways to squeeze money out of them rather than new content.
    Summary: >:(

  34. Bobsy says:

    Since we don’t know a) what the customisation involves and b) how much it’ll cost it’s really too early to be denouncing this as the depths of all Blizzard’s moustache-twirling villainy. It sounds bad, and it may well be bad especially considering the addictive nature of WoW.

    But there’s every chance that this will actually be a very small, dull thing. People have been clamouring for race/sex changes in WoW since forever*, and Blizzard have so far refused. It may just be that as a paid-for service.

    *Oh, I know.

  35. weegosan says:

    why are we making news over an asset that’s clearly just been put in as a future scope requirement when there’s no information about what it means.

    also note, was anyone upset at paying to have their characters name changed? anyone disillusioned with Blizzard over that? I hate to break it to you, but that’s a pay-for customisation. Oh… it doesn’t have a fancy in game button.

  36. Derek K. says:

    This is precisely what it should be. I’m pretty sure Blizz is smart enough not to add purchasable items than non-cosmetic. Do I care if someone wants to pay for different color palettes? Nope. As Pike said, I prefer that. More dev money, better environment, no impact to gameplay. Perfect.

    If they were monitizing instances, I’d join TAIM. As is, good luck Blizz. Also, Blizz has always been a fan of money – was War 2 free? Was the expansion?

    Blizz knows people have money. Look at 130 dollar custom figs….

  37. CPY says:

    @Dexton
    It’s not game anymore!
    And about that used to be fun. I started playing wow after burning crusade kicked in only 1.5 year ago or so, i never played classic one ever!
    All cool raids and stuff i heard from my friend who play it from beginning, so i was really started to enjoy wow but all he told me how horde used to be and how cool bg were, and all i got into is this… and i can tell you this is not what i expected.

  38. eyemessiah says:

    @James G, you can have capitalism without shareholders and incorporation, its just that our economic implementation, which is very much a mixed market, happens to have both. IMHO actually outlawing incorporation, or the act of selling shares in your business is, crazier than just letting people do it.

    RE. Wow.
    If the optional extras are truly optional then I don’t really see anything worth complaining about.

    Just don’t buy the new hats?

    Personally I’d be more interested in buying levels because its the soul destroying boredom of levelling that I consider the real “cost” of playing wow, and other mmporgs – but that’s just me!

  39. Lim-Dul says:

    Guys – you really are a bit delusional about social dynamics in virtual worlds, which, not surprisingly, mimic the ones found in the real world.

    “Woohoo, optional extras not giving any advantages, nothing wrong with that”

    Define “advantage”. They WILL give advantages to the players who buy them because they will look more unique and cooler. There ARE reasons why people spend several grand on something designed by Karl Lagerfeld and not some Chinese t-shirt even though from a functional perspective they “work” the same way.

    The function of these “optional extras” will be buying STATUS and believe it or not, this is an important commodity in a game where you’re only as good or bad as your in-game avatar.

    The ones who claim that this isn’t bad at all because it’s new, optional content forget that Blizzard could just as well give this content away for free. They charge you for the game, they charge you for expansion packs, they charge a subscription fee.

    For God’s sake – enough is enough and I’m not even a World of Warcraft player (luckily).

  40. cyrenic says:

    The downward spiral continues.

  41. Dante says:

    Introducing Blizzards new way to fight back against the competition from WAR… new hats!

  42. Pike says:

    The ones who claim that this isn’t bad at all because it’s new, optional content forget that Blizzard could just as well give this content away for free.

    Bullshit. Blizzard will have to invest time and money into implementing this change. Saying that it is irrelevant to Blizzard if they get paid for that work is brutally ignorant. In the long run it might be better to not charge anything att all and see it as an investment to keep existing customers. However if they believe that they will keep their customers regardless then charging for the work they put in makes sense. It is entirely possible that they wouldn’t have considered it viable att all to introduce cosmetic changes if they couldn’t charge for them. It might not be a trivial feature to implement at all.

    And it’s clear that by advantage I mean a tangiable gameplay advantage. And andvantage that gives the player a better chance of beating others in PvP or preform better in PvE. Social advantages, such as a cool looking character might be valuable in some situations. But the situations that concern me and others that worry about players being able to pay for ingame objects and other favours is if those objects affect gameplay directly.

  43. Junior says:

    I will never pay for anything in a game ever.

    I can only hope I don’t suffer too much for this standpoint in the future.

  44. Brian Carnell says:

    “@Mike

    The problem is, as a publicly traded company they are legally obliged to act in the best interests of their shareholders, which means that if they see an avenue for making profit, and don’t think that this avenue will hurt their baseline, then they are pretty much obliged to follow it up (assuming of course it is legal). ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder ) Not too fond of the idea myself, but it is pretty central to the whole idea of capitalism and I’m not going to pretend to be knowledgeable enough to tear that system down. (Besides, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of falling down itself at the moment, although again, I won’t pretend to fully understand this.)”

    Yes, the whole point of a corporation is to maximize its profit, but depending on how it is implemented this is the sort of move that is likely to damage the brand long-term.

    I could see a charge if it is changing sex or race, just like there is a fee for name changes/server transfers. But if it becomes pay-for-uber-looking-gear/hairstyles/whatever, then it will be a huge misstep for Blizzard.

  45. Lim-Dul says:

    Oh yeah, Blizzard have to invest time and money – newsflash – they have LOADS of it and giving away stuff for free is NOT a completely unselfish act for big companies – it’s good publicity. With charging everybody for EVERYTHING you only come across as a greedy asshole and this is NOT good in the long run. In my opinion all the recent news about stuff Blizzard wants to charge you for show how arrogant they have become.

    “We are rich, we are big, we have a huge customer base, we don’t have to do ANYTHING to keep our customers – they’ll buy our shit no matter what.”

    I really hope they will get a slap in the face or better yet a punch to the balls some day like Sony with their PS3-related arrogance. Even if Sony has meanwhile crawled back up from the depths of peril, they have still managed to fall from the top of the world to a meager, albeit still profitable, third position.

    Sadly there are simply too many Blizzard fanboys out there to make that happen. Hell, I used to be one as well – basically until WoW came along and I realized that through sheer marketing and slapping the Blizzard and Warcraft logos onto a box you can take over a market niche with a polished yet unoriginal product like WoW. Now they’re about to do it all over with SC2 and D3. When will it stop?

  46. Duke Goosington IV says:

    Pike: They’re already getting paid for their effort. by ten million people. EVERY MONTH. This is what your subscription PAYS FOR. It’s completely indefensible they can charge for extras when they want paid every month just for the luxury of playing their game.

  47. Joshua says:

    Junior: I hope you like the games you own now, because with that attitude you won’t be buying more moving forward.

    Paid-for content is the way of the future. Let’s be honest! Games today are $60. That is pretty much exactly the same price games were 10 years ago, or if anything they cost less (adjust for inflation, etc.). However the cost of making these games has gone up way faster than inflation.

    So how do you bridge this gap? With paid-for content. It’s the only way I am afraid. If companies were to charge a price which reflected the higher cost to make them, PS3/360 games would be about $100 now. At least. Of course, nobody would buy the games at that price – but people who wouldn’t buy it at $100 will buy it at $60 and buy expansion packs for $10+. It’s how it will go. Get used to it.

  48. RichPowers says:

    $15/mo + expansions + core game = shit ton of money paid to Blizzard already. Charging for in-game customization on top of that is lame.

    In light of all the nitwits who want to charge for horse armor and new maps and new parts for your Spore creature, it’s a pleasant surprise when Valve releases a ton of TF2 updates for free.

  49. Lim-Dul says:

    Exactly, Rich. I read an interview with the lead designer of Team Fortress 2 somewhere and he explained WHY they are releasing all those wonderful content updates for free – it’s NOT charity, this is what keeps the product alive and draws new customers to buy it even months or years after it has been released. Valve has ALWAYS known this and that’s why there are still people who play HL1 mods, why they support mod developers (recent cooperation with some mod teams) etc.

    If WoW was a non-subscription game like e.g. Guild Wars, to draw a similar comparison, I’d be all for additional micro-payments. If they charge SO much money for a game already then what they’re doing is pure greed and harming the company’s image.

    Don’t give me any bullshit about how much they pay for server maintenance and patches – read up some data and you’ll know that saying stuff like this is pure marketing bullshit. In fact not even Blizzard use this excuse, it’s only fanboys trying to justify their favorite company’s despicable strategies.

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