It’s Official: World Of Warcraft Adding Microtransactions

So it was discovered by dogged data miners, so shall it be. After dabbling in microtransaction-based cosmetic items but largely buttering its bread with sweet, sweet subscription money, World of Warcraft is finally rolling out an in-game cash shop. Do you have excess moneydollars lining your pockets/sofa/cat? Are these “tough economic times” secretly treating you better than everyone else? Do you (for now) play exclusively on WoW’s Asian test servers? Then you’re in luck. Well, if you like XP boosts, pets, and mounts, anyway.

With WoW patch 5.4 right around the corner, Blizzard decided to go into more detail about what the cash shop will entail. The blue behemoth explained:

“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.”

So for now, it’ll only be available in specific regions, but it sounds like Blizzard plans to set up shop(s) around the world as time goes on.

As for the buyable content itself, it all sounds pretty standard. Well, mostly. Lesser Charms of Good Fortune could become a sticking point, given that they ultimately translate to a better chance of obtaining max-level gear. They are, however, easily obtained in game, so at this point it’s a question of whether or not Blizzard will opt to draw the line at charms or push tangible effects on gameplay even further.

More pressing, then, are potential implications for the future, though I doubt any perceived pay-to-win + subscription nightmare scenarios will come to fruition. Then again, this is the same Blizzard that fatally wounded Diablo III with an extremely misguided auction house, so you never know. It’s way too early to panic and abandon ship, but it’s probably time to start keeping a watchful eye on your purse strings.


  1. newguy2012 says:

    Blizzard starting to show some cracks in their facade. SC 2 in a 3 parter, D3 a mess and now microtransactions in Wow. Bad signs.

    • kael13 says:

      SC2 is a fantastic game, I will not have you spouting such vitriol. About D3 and WoW… Go ahead.

      • newguy2012 says:

        Its a good game sure, but it should have been one game, not 3 for the sake of cash cowing their customers.

        • Senethro says:

          How long was the gap between WoL and HotS? Two and a half years? Is it really cashcowing to release an expansion with a similar quantity of content to a full game (using WoL or the original SC1 as a measure of a full game) every 30 months?

          • MisterFurious says:

            It is when the ‘expansion’ costs as much as a full game.

          • Brun says:

            If the expansion has as much content as the original game, is it really an expansion, or is it a new game?

          • elfbarf says:

            Uhh…wasn’t HotS $40? The original game was originally $60 (or was it 50?), so HotS was definitely not full price.

        • Calneon says:

          Oh god not this again.

          If they waited until they’d completed all three parts of the game before releasing it, we’d still be waiting for it. What the hell is wrong with you? Why do you think that releasing three 20 hour campaigns separately is for some reason ‘cash cowing’?

        • Moraven says:

          $140 for 3 campaigns at full price.

          Call of Duty you pay $120 for the full game and all the map packs.

          BF3 was $110 at its highest for all content (Full game + Premium).

          They could have done 3 10 mission campaigns. Then another 30 for the expansion. They can do a lot more spreading it out and giving more missions for each race.

      • Jenks says:

        It’s strange to me that anyone could have played through SC2’s campaign and thought it was something other than dogshit. I didn’t even bother with the recent one.

        • Senethro says:

          The plot was bad but the campaign had lots of good ways to make mans move about the screen when you pressed buttons. At least, as long as you worked out average players should play on Hard and anyone even slightly competent should play on Brutal.

          • ScubaMonster says:

            I agree with you. The dialogue and story were awful (mostly the dialogue though), but the actual gameplay was fun.

        • tetracycloide says:

          I hope you mean the writing because the two campaigns are really good as far as RTS campaigns in single player go.

        • Carra says:

          The story is crap but the missions themselves are a lot of fun. Very varied and just a pleasure to play.

  2. suibhne says:

    Do you hear that, folks? Blizzard is only doing this because we demanded it! They work hard to keep us happy.

  3. SkittleDiddler says:

    I thought WoW already had microtransactions. What do I know, I don’t play it anyway.

    • Flammablezeus says:

      They did, but they were sold through the Blizzard shop and not in-game. I know, I don’t see much of a difference either, but that’s what people seem to be getting upset over. It’s something that was always there but now the players will be much more likely to run into it.

      Although then again I don’t know if microtransactions is the right word. If I recall correctly, some mounts or pets cost upwards of $25. This is from some time ago though.

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      The big change is from purely cosmetic pets and mounts to stuff which has an effect in-game, I think. Until now Blizzard had avoided the XP boosts etc that have been announced. Incidentally power-levelling services (where people pay to have their characters run up to endgame) still seem to be doing well. It seems that Blizzard want some of that cash.

      • MidoriChaos says:

        People don’t see the character transfers/race change/faction change as having any kind of impact for some reason. It’s saving you from having to start from scratch or even deleting a character you’ve worked on for years, and it’s for real money. There’s also the Recruit a Friend crap, that theoretically is for new players but many use to boost themselves, also using real money. Race changing can give you an advantage in some cases because of the silly racial abilities/passives, it’s not -much- of an edge, depending on the situation, but still one. Faction changing lets you jump ship, same as transfer.

        Ultimately there have been “pay2savetime” things in some form since some point in Classic WoW or BC (I can’t recall when they started offering transfers), but rename it “ingame store” and give it the shape of a microtransaction and suddenly the sky is falling.

        I do wonder if this is just a way to test the waters by filling them with angry piranhas to see if they could ever bring those things out of the Asian market without people going nuts.

  4. Njordsk says:


    The saddest thing is, this will indeed work and then might be generalised.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I don’t think so. If one thing should be clear to prospective MMO-designers is that what works for WoW doesn’t necessarily work for MMO project X. Subscriptions, for instance.

  5. d1a2n says:

    Don’t go down this route Blizzard. Gah, I used to think of Blizzard in the same way that most of us think about Valve but now they’re just another money hungry business that deals with games.

  6. TheWhippetLord says:

    ” though I doubt any perceived pay-to-win + subscription nightmare scenarios will come to fruition.”

    Lesser Charms of Good Fortune translate to a second roll on gear in endgame raids, so we’re already in pay to win territory in my opinion – you’re only allowed one go at each raid per week, so double the rolls means you gear up twice as fast. The tedium of grinding charms is one of the reasons I finally left WoW forever (for the fifth time, lol,) so it would not shock me to learn that this has been planned since they released the Pandas or earlier.

    As an autistic and therefore one of the targets of this kind of crap I’m not happy to see it spread. (There’s anecdotal evidence that the ‘whales’ that microtransaction shops benefit most from tend to be the vulnerable rather than the rich, and that the companies involved know this.) In-game shops and the move to voice comms over text have moved MMOs from disabled-friendly to disabled-hostile in the last decade or so.

    Meh, apologies for my futile grumbling.

    • Moraven says:

      They made Lesser Charms drop like candy over the last two patches. Killing elites, doing pet battles get you Lesser Charms. Also the weekly turn in for tokens was lowered from 90 to 50 Lesser Charms. So you only can use 50 a week. The complaint was people not wanting to do dailies they are done doing to keep getting Lesser Charms, a complete alternate option to obtain gear. Sadly like anything that gives you a shortcut everyone feels like its a requirement to enjoy the game. Players also did not want to farm 90 Charms on every alt every week.

      Not sure who would pay for Lesser Charms really since its so much easier to get 50 a week by just doing stuff. We had gotten a huge stockpile from the start since we did dailies at a high pace early on.

  7. HighlordKiwi says:

    If you charge for the game box… and the expansions… and a subscription then I’d expect ‘convenience-based items’ to be included already.

    Game/expansions/subscriptions/micro-transactions – you shouldn’t be picking more than 2 these days.

    • GameCat says:

      Only two? So devs will stick with subscriptions and micro-transactions. Sorry, no game for you.

      • HighlordKiwi says:

        In that case you then get a free game, but pay to subscribe and micro-transact… basically like Planetside 2 (although the subscription is optional).

  8. JWendin says:

    Looks like they are testing the waters in preparation for Titan. (like they’ve done before)

    • d1a2n says:

      Oh god I hope not. I don’t think they will either, they might be doing this because of falling subs (or rather activision is telling them to) which Titan won’t have.

  9. GameCat says:

    I hope it will eventually kill the game. MMO games have such huge potential ruined constantly by WoW and its wannabe clones.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      The question is whether it matters whether WoW ‘fails’ now. I would argue that the ‘damage’ has already been done.

    • d1a2n says:

      It irritates me when people say things like this. Why would you want a game to “die” (which I guess means lose players when it come to people talking about WoW) so that worse alternatives are the ones people play? Maybe if somebody made an MMO as good as WoW then WoW wouldn’t “crush their potential”.

    • Moraven says:

      WoW continues to push out smaller innovations every expansion and major patch. They are trying different things to change it up for their current players.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      WoW is not responsible for other developers coming up with bad ‘me-too’ products. It’s the developers who come up with the bad ‘me-too’ products who are fully responsible for that.

  10. c-Row says:

    Milking Azeroth till it turns blue at the edges…

  11. cocoleche says:

    I’d like the option to buy (or rent) a top-level character to muck around with. I’d like to try out PvP with some classes I don’t have, but can’t be arsed to go through that leveling “experience” again. Also normalize PvP gear, thanks.

  12. Wubble69 says:

    My concern here is that Charms themselves only hold real value in-game at the moment for what we are told is a small percentage of the WoW Community and that’s the people who step into the Looking For Raid Tier of end game raiding. And even then the numbers you are allowed to keep are limited with the amount of times you can use these charms per week very limited indeed. Charms themselves are a gateway to more loot but they flow very freely indeed and as they are used at the moment I cannot see this being a big thing. As a WoW player my first thought was “Who the hell would need to buy more charms?”

    After reading the article Jim posted on Sunday in the Papers about adding these “neccessary” horrible in-game currencies such as SC points and the Blue Gem things in Neverwinter it’s fairly clear to me that this is what they intend Charms to become.

    I log into WoW most everyday and the online sales mechanics we have currently have never impacted me in anyway since being implemented. The pet that was for sale for real cash that you could sell in game for gold seems to have made no impact at server economies at all. Mounts, Pets … no impact.

    I tend to sneer at the people running around claiming that the sky is falling but when you consider we already have items in game you can loot that increase your xp gain by 300% for an hour it’s fair for them to expect one day for Blizzard to start adding “Martin’s Great big Sword of Fury” with 100 charges of Immediate Boss kills.

    I say fair for “them” to expect it. I don’t expect it at all. The sky, after all is not falling.

  13. kael13 says:

    Do the Asian regions have a subscription fee? Pretty sure one of the regions does not pay a sub.

    • Sian says:

      I think I recall them being able/having to pay by the hour or something like that. That’s been years ago, though, so things might have changed or I might misremember.

      • cocoleche says:

        Apparently you buy a time-card to play. Meaning every x min you play gets subtracted from your time card. It’s not a fixed “this will last 24 hours from your first login” if I understood correctly.

  14. Nim says:

    The reason I played WoW for all this time was precisely that it did not have Micro-transactions. Then they added that flying horse, then basing the entire concept of an expansion pack on a joke race. Now all my friends have quit, the realm is under-populated and a lot of good raiders have migrated to other realms. Time to log in one final time to take a couple of pictures then delete the characters forever.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Yep, the other 12 million players are really going to miss your histrionics. THE SERVERS ARE EMPTY! THE SKY IS FALLING! COBWEBS EVERYWHERE!

  15. JD Ogre says:

    “an experience buff to assist with the leveling process”

    I’m sorry, but just how incredibly lazy do you have to be to need or want an XP boost in post-Cataclysm WoW? Does it even take a month now at, say, 3 hours a day (ie, it being your primary entertainment choice, but you aren’t playing it to the exclusion of all else, other than school or your job, in your life) to reach the cap?

    Last time I played (a free week just after Cataclysm), I started a new character and soloed to level 20 (Tirisfal Glades & Silverpine Forest – thanks to phasing, I saw *ONE* other player in my entire time in Silverpine!) in 3 evenings of play…

    • cocoleche says:

      3 hours per day, for me, is a lot of time. If all you wanna do is mess around with a char in random BGs every now and then, why the need to go through all this?

      • Skhalt says:

        But if all you wanna do is mess around with a char in random BGs every now and then, why the need to play WoW? There are games better suited for that.

    • Moraven says:

      And the last patch lowered the 85-90 exp requirement by 33%.

      Really the exp gain is to MUCH, especially for first time players. You start to out level zones and any level balance of questing in them is throw off. First time players should have a slower base exp gain. Any characters lower than your highest should get a passive exp boost.

  16. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I’m still feeling rather depressed after reading about “fun pain” in one of the linked articles in the Sunday Papers.

    I’d love for someone to do an expose on exactly who the people that are funding this business model are. I can understand that there are people with more money than sense, but are there really enough of these people so that it’s viable to milk them in hundreds of different games across dozens of platforms?

  17. InternetBatman says:

    I suppose they want to milk it until it dies.

  18. bleeters says:

    Other concerns aside, an experience boost for faster leveling? Is that a thing anybody genuinely needs? You practically have levelups thrown at you by the dozen as it is.

  19. strangeloup says:

    I almost want to resubscribe to WoW so I can quit in protest.

  20. Brun says:

    Very much doubt this will expand beyond the Asian market which already has very different payment and gameplay models from the US/EU regions, including:

    * Payment by the hour
    * Free play in internet cafes with buffs to damage for playing there
    * Different loot quality in 10 vs 25 man raids
    * For a while they had separate raid lockouts for 10 and 25, and shorter lockout resets. Not sure if this is still the case.

    Blizzard is doing this because they are losing market share in Asia to games that *DO* have microtransactions, which are becoming more and more popular there. Yes, MMOs that we would consider to be trash or “Facebook-quality” games are becoming hugely popular in Asian regions. Most of those lost subs over the past 2-3 years have been from the Asian market, not the US/EU. This is a play to get some of them back.

    It’s always hilarious to see all the wishful thinking from the haters, but Blizzard isn’t going anywhere.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Is anyone writing about developments in Asia? Maybe some pc-centric website should have a look…

      • Brun says:

        This isn’t based on any “official source” per se, it’s based on what Blizzard themselves have said and some firsthand accounts from players in those regions (some posts on fansites regarding these very issues had some responses from players in Asia that explained, for example, the internet cafe stuff).

        It would be nice to see some reporting on it though.

  21. Megazell says:

    Sounds good to me. Hopefully, this will lead to WOW going fully F2P so that everyone can experience all the levels.

  22. xf11 says:

    wow dead

  23. Banana_Republic says:

    “…though I doubt any perceived pay-to-win + subscription nightmare scenarios will come to fruition.”

    No? A cash shop + subscription IS a nightmare scenario. The gameplay effects of the items in the cash shop are irrelevant when people are paying a monthly tithe already. This is a applicable to every game company out there. No reason that Blizzard should get a free pass, especially given their recent monetization debacle with D3.