Revisit Azeroth With Old Toons Thanks To ‘Veteran Edition’

Word has sneaked out that Blizzard are introducing a new trial account type provisionally dubbed ‘Veteran Edition’ in World of Warcraft‘s update 6.1. MMO Champion turned up patch notes mentioning the Veteran Edition, leading folks to speculate away and some to start doomsaying about a free-to-play shift. Relax, it’s all fine. Blizzard stepped in to explain it’ll simply be a trial open to lapsed subscribers too.

Blizzard community manager Bashiok explained:

“We’ve always had this kind of weird limitation where if you’ve never played WoW we let you play as much as you want, albeit in a very restricted Starter Edition account. However, if you have ever had a subscription–but don’t currently have one–we don’t even let you log in. In 6.1 we’ll effectively revert lapsed accounts into a Starter Edition “mode”, with all of the same restrictions. The one difference being that your sub-level 20 characters will be able to join a guild if any of your other characters are still in that guild.”

Bashiok also noted that ‘Veteran Edition’ might not be a name that stuck as it was largely intended for internal use, but now that it’s made it out into the wider world who knows?

Lapsed World of Warcraft players may be heartened or horrified by this development. For those who would love to revisit their old characters and play tourist in Azeroth once more, it’s doubtless wonderful news. Those who escaped WoW addictions may be less than overjoyed to hear that there’s a new gateway drug inviting them back in.

There’s a little more information gathered over on this WoWhead news post which includes various datastrings. The 6.1 update is live now in Public Test Realms, so it shouldn’t be long until Warcraft veterans can revisit their old toons – for better or worse.

(Sorry about the lack of jokes, readers, but you’ve probably already heard every Warcraft gag there is to make.)


  1. Dawngreeter says:

    I just have to express my annoyance with the usage of the term toon for a player character. It’s the “hardcore” MMO crowd’s exultation of having absolutely no attachments to the character they are playing. As if there is something good about pointing out that your character is just a vehicle to allow efficient grinding, farming, loot collecting and what have you. Yeah, I know, you’re too cool to enjoy what you’re doing. Heaven forbid someone assumes your 10,000 hours spent farming raids has been done for anything other than rolling on drop tables.

    Clearly, it’s fine that someone feels that way. I just don’t like it and would like to not like it in public.

    • Rizlar says:

      Funny, I have never interpreted the phrase in that way. It always annoyed me a bit cos it sounded like an abbreviation of ‘cartoon’ (a la Roger Rabbit) which (although it’s a great film) implies that they are cartoon characters, which doesn’t sound quite right to me.

      When I played WoW on EU servers it was more common to call them ‘chars’, ‘main char’ and ‘alts’ etc. Basically it seems that there is a need to abbreviate due to all the typing that goes on about these things. I have no idea why ‘toon’ is supposed to be a celebration of indifference, while ‘alt’ and ‘char’ just seem like shorthand.

      • Zelos says:

        It actually IS an abbreviation of cartoon.

        The MMO usage originated in Toontown Online.

        • Rizlar says:

          Interesting! And still mildly irritating, though not for the reasons the OP suggests.

    • quarpec says:

      who gives a fuck

      • LionsPhil says:

        The Web: getting mad about terminology since 1992.


      • Dawngreeter says:

        Clearly I do.

      • Steve Catens says:

        Well, it seems like a term deliberately intended to mock the amount of personal investment some people place in their game characters by referring to them with a word that implies something frivolous and shallow. If you don’t agree that it does, try looking your friend who is really into comics in the eye, and referring to his collection as cartoons (not even the diminutive “toon”). If you watch close enough, you can actually see the flicker in their eyes where they consider murdering you.

        Whether or not you choose to employ it depends on what kind of person you see yourself as. As an example, there is not much legal or societal taboo against my referring to someone as a “retard”. I choose not to employ that term for no reason other than I’m aware it bothers some people, and it costs me nothing to avoid. I don’t believe that every term anyone might conceivably employ should or could be scrubbed from the popular language because it bothers someone, somewhere.

        But I do believe that every word is employed for a reason, subconscious or otherwise, and I do believe that the use of a term like “toon” has a context, and an intent. If Shaun’s actual intent was to be dismissive of the amount of investment some people place in their game characters, then great—he got that point across. If his intent was otherwise, perhaps he should reconsider employing language which everyone is aware that some people object to.

        • stringerdell says:

          people are offended by ‘toon’ to describe a player character? How can such thin skinned people live in this world?

          • Steve Catens says:

            I’m not particularly offended by it, especially in the broader spectrum of things that are much more inherently offensive and damaging to people in society. However, the term does have a context, and it does convey an idea. It’s an irritant. My only point was that if it *wasn’t* your intent to convey those messages, then perhaps it’s a term best avoided.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I’d imagine few people are offended. But I do dislike it a lot. And apparently I’m not the only one.

        • Nevard says:

          It’s not though, it’s literally just a word transplanted from toontown online, a game which existed very early in the inception of MMOs, where your characters literally are cartoons.
          This game has had a bizarrely long-lasting effect on its terminology, but there is no malice behind the phrase nor was there ever any.

          • Steve Catens says:

            Yes, but as is well argued elsewhere, the origins of a word don’t have any bearing on what it actually means in a contemporary context. One culture’s casual phrase is another’s deadly insult. What might be a racial slur in one culture is meaningless in another, and what might be offensive a couple decades ago is meaningless today.

            Which is why my argument is not one of exclusion, but communication and intent. Was it the author’s *intent* to be dismissive of game characters in a certain context? If it was, then great. If it wasn’t, then maybe the language could have been chosen more carefully.

            It really doesn’t matter if you agree that such and such a term is objectionable. It only matters that a significant number of people consider it so. Knowing that some people find something objectionable and choosing to do it anyway conveys an unmistakeable message. The only question is, was it your intent to deliver that message?

        • LionsPhil says:

          Well, it seems like a term deliberately intended to mock

          It isn’t. Stop seeking out offense; it will only make you miserable and act stupid on the Internet.

          • Steve Catens says:

            I’m not really offended by anything here. But I am aware of how the OP could take offense.

            I regret that you consider that “stupid”, but it won’t make me miserable. I’m quite delighted to discuss games and ideas with all the bright people at RPS.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I’d like to point out here that my point was less to do with article’s intent to mock someone (which may or may not be the case… I don’t particularly seek out reasons to be offended as a habit, so I wouldn’t presume anything either way) and more to do with people who use that term themselves, for their own characters.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Your Mom.

        Actually she gave several of them, if you know what I mean.

      • Smashbox says:

        10/10 great comment. You belong here, friendo!

    • Curry the Great says:

      I never got why people called their characters toons at all. It sounds like a really stupid word to use for something where there is a longer, more approriate word that totally fits: “character”. Don’t wanna type it all out? “Char”. Now shut up and never use the word toon again.

      • TheMopeSquad says:

        I believe people call them ‘”Avatars” as well.

      • airmikee says:

        I always thought it was because of a combination of the term from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ to denote a ‘cartoon character’ and the RPG game ‘Toon’ made by Steve Jackson that both predate almost every MMO.

      • Flopper says:

        Ya sound like a fuckin loon.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Geordies are characteristically mercenary, it seems.

    • Shaun Green says:

      Folks: it’s clear to me that there is a lot more complexity to MMO lingo than I was aware, so I’ll take all these criticisms.

      If I may, I’ll explain rather than excuse: it’s a long time since I was active in any MMOs so I’m rather out of the loop (hence not realising that “toon” was a contentious term). I wanted to use a word in the header that encompassed all characters in an account. “Character” was too long, and “alt”, well, excludes your main. So “toon” it was – which, for the record, isn’t something I’d thought of as in any way a pejorative term.

      Obviously, in future I’ll think twice about using the word – the fact that some people evidently find it irritating is reason enough to do so.

      • Steve Catens says:

        I feel bad about all of this, especially since I don’t really have a dog in this race. I don’t think there’s any real offense in any of this. My own contribution was motivated primarily by empathy. But I do know that if I had a game character that I had painstakingly crafted a backstory for and carefully selected gear for based on appearance rather than game stats, and someone referred to them as a “toon”, I would be forced to hiss at them.

        They would receive such a hissing.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        Me being the one who started the whining, let me assure you that my objection wasn’t to any possible offense that could be found in your text. I just really, really dislike the term and that’s mostly due to people who use it themselves, for their own characters (as already stated above). The “too cool to appear to enjoy their own game” crowd of hardcore grinders.

      • PsychoWedge says:

        I’ve played different MMOs for years and years and years and I never knew toon has a bad conotiation and/or implication nor did I know where the term originates from. To me it is and always has been just another word for char and main and twink. I never used it because it sounds really silly to me but then again I also never used alt because that sounds just weird.

        So, you know, don’t feel bad or whatever. Not even MMO players know the entire lingo as it were. xD

      • Aetylus says:

        Oh gawd, if you are concerned that one person on the internet found the use of a single word somewhat irritating you must hate being a games journalist.

    • Exxar says:

      To each their own bud. “Toon” was by far the most used term for characters in City of Heroes, an MMO without any real raids or endgame until its final years and a game with probably one of the highest degrees of player attachment to characters ever. Why it came to be that way I have no idea, but it stuck in the community like no other term.

      • Steve Catens says:

        I played CoH. The term irritated plenty of players even back then. Do we really need to discuss how a term can be popular and still be irritating or objectionable to some people? In fact, I’m pretty sure terms are only objectionable *because* they’re popular. Otherwise they would be easily avoided and beneath notice.

        • LionsPhil says:

          How insecure about how you spend your time do you have to be to get offended that people are using a shortening of “cartoon” to refer to characters directly riffing off of comic book superheroes?

          • Steve Catens says:

            I don’t know. Try talking to a friend who is really into comics and referring to their collection as “cartoons” (not even the diminutive “toon”), and see if you can spot the flicker in their eyes when they briefly consider leaving your body in a ditch somewhere. Or your friend who’s really into anime, for that matter. The term has a negative connotation for anyone who chooses to take certain artforms seriously. Whether or not it *should* is completely irrelevant.

            Like I said, it doesn’t matter if you find the term irritating or objectionable. It only matters that you’re aware that it bothers some people, and whether or not you’re willing to use it anyway. If you are, you’re conveying a message.

          • airmikee says:

            RE: Steve

            I’ve referred to game characters as ‘toons’ longer than most people playing video games have been alive. Suddenly people are pissed about it, and now you’re telling me that someone could think I was an insufferable jerk because I use that term?

            Cool. :)

          • Steve Catens says:


            I’m not saying anyone is an insufferable jerk for anything. I know we’re experiencing a tumultuous period of change where many social norms are being challenged, and it seems like every day someone is telling us that something or other we’ve always done is wrong in some fashion. This isn’t remotely like that, or nearly as important as any of those other things. It is just talk about game terminology after all.

            I’m just saying it’s a term that irritates a non-trivial number of people. What you choose to do with that or how much you care about irritating other people is entirely up to you. My point was ever that it was an irritant, and if you don’t deliberately mean to irritate people, you should probably avoid using it. If it *is* your intention to irritate, or to communicate that you don’t care, then godspeed.

          • airmikee says:

            RE: Steve

            I was mostly joking about being cool with being thought of as a jerk, but I’m still not going to alter my vocabulary to satisfy the whims of people I don’t know and/or care about. I’ll use the word ‘toon’ to describe my characters in video games because that’s what I’ve done for decades. This isn’t the *n* word, this isn’t the *c* word, this isn’t even a word about anyone real, it’s a word describing a digital, virtual being. If someone wants to be upset or annoyed about that, I’m sure I could find a tree they can mail their complaints to, because I don’t fucking care. :)

            Looking at the first four definitions of ‘toon’ on urbandictionary, it’s obvious that a non-trivial amount of people are annoyed by the usage of the word. But I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum, and definition #5 on that site backs up what I know of the word, and my usage of it. Roger Rabbit lived in Toon Town, and since video game characters are animated beings, living in their own world, it’s easy enough to see video game characters as cartoons, which easily shortens back to Toon, which brings us full circle back to Roger Rabbit.

            Language is fluid, and changes over time. Okay came from ‘ok’ which came from ‘oll korrect’ which was the intentionally misspelled version of ‘all correct’ that newspapers used to joke with their readers. Decimate used to mean to reduce by 10%, now it means total destruction. It’s not okay for me to call my cartoony characters ‘toons’ but “yada-yada-yada” is in the dictionary? Give me a fucking break. If people want to pretend that saying ‘toon’ is a big deal worth even having a discussion over about then more power to them, because I’ve run out of fucks to give about their petulance. :)

          • Dawngreeter says:

            One important note here. It’s absolutely ok to call your character whatever you want, including but not limited to toon. This isn’t an Online Spanish Inquisition (although OSI does sound catchy). My one and only point is that I very much dislike it due to reasons.

      • Jonfon says:

        I remember it from CoH too. Never particularly minded it myself but ive never minded referring to my collection of Batmans and the like as comics either. i know some people did/do get annoyed by it though.

    • tungstenHead says:

      I like it, honestly. There’s a bit of wordplay suggesting you’re actually using your character as an instrument. That by changing toons, you’re really just changing tunes. The character ciphers the player’s intents and actions through their particular abilities and aesthetics to create something different.

    • Distec says:

      I don’t care for the term itself, but I have never seen “toon” employed to denigrate another player’s experience. It’s been dropped interchangeably with “char” or other alternatives.

      Seems an awful lot of fuss over nothing.

    • Neurotic says:

      I’ve always interpreted it that way too, and it rubs me the wrong way too. It’s so dismissive and flippant. Annoying because why would one be so dismissive of something one had invested so much time in? It seems to me lol that it’s usually blurted out lol by the annoying ‘kidz’ lol and PvPers lol gods damnit, stop adding lol to every sentence you little wankers. (lol)

    • stampy says:

      I recall characters being called toons way back in MUD days. It predates MMOs and (at least that particular brand of) grinding and efficiency, and in my memory was applied the opposite kind of character — I still remember the pain of losing a con point to seppuku my samurai and lose some experience, lest he hit 41 and become an immortal who want allowed to fight.

      Anyways, yes, you and everyone may have their opinions — but it toes a bit closer to the line when it’s “other people only have this opinion because of [something I made up].”

    • Phasma Felis says:

      I always figured the main thing was that Internet People (a) would rather eat their own mothers than type more than four letters in a row, and (b) having once latched on to a word will absolutely insist on using it for all similar concepts regardless of context. This is why awful caveman words like “mob” and “proc” and “toon” are popular, and why people think that Starcraft special abilities use “mana,” and why some people will always call all MMO servers “shards” even though they haven’t played Ultima Online in 15 years.

      (I recently discovered that “sharding” has actually entered actual real-world database jargon, apparently because of can’t-let-go MMO developers transitioning to regular jobs. It’s on Wikipedia and everything.)

      So, to me, “toon” is less a statement of derision and more a symptom of a strange mental defect that apparently spreads via online games.

      • airmikee says:

        You should study etymology more if you think it’s just a product of online games.

  2. Rizlar says:

    Sounded like ‘Veteran Edition’ might mean vanilla WoW severs. In terms of revisiting old characters it doesn’t seem that this Veteran Edition will really allow for that, most veteran characters being above level 20. Might download it just to see what’s changed anyway, if it’s free!

  3. Oridan says:

    WoD gave me one of the best gaming moments last year: Finding Pepe. I love that bird for some reason.

  4. JD Ogre says:

    Fortunately, when they were giving free weeks just after Cataclysm’s release, I took the opportunity to delete my existing characters (a L70 Rogue and a few in the late 50s, early 60s; never got Wrath) so that I could never be tempted to come back again. [I then used that week to raise a couple of new characters to 20 to see just how bad the instancing had made the game – saw **ONE** person on Exodar server during my 10-20 stint in Silverpine.]

    • Person of Interest says:

      As a fellow recovering addict, I hesitate to tell you this, but you should learn of this while you’re strong rather than in a moment of weakness:

      Blizzard now lets you undelete characters free of charge. The grace period depends on the character level, but pretty much any character over level 50 is immortal.

      They are such generous people, those Blizzard folks…

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I think that drug dealers must look at Blizzard and start taking notes on how to keep people coming back.

    • airmikee says:

      I didn’t even bother deleting my toons. I quit the day before Cataclysm released, but went back went a friend sent me the free week thing. I couldn’t play for more than 15 minutes before I was bombarded with the reasons for leaving. So I typed out nonsense in notepad, copy/pasted twice to change my WoW password to the nonsense, and then changed my email address to a new address that I let expire after changing that email address’s password using a different string of nonsense. I found my authenticator a few months ago while rearranging my room. Tossed it in the garbage without a second thought.

      • Fenix says:

        Jesus Christ this is scary shit… when just “stop playing” isnt enough and someone has to do this things enter the creepy realm.

        • airmikee says:

          Changing passwords and creating emails is creepy? That’s a….. strange opinion.

  5. xenothaulus says:

    I wish they would make WoW f2p except for current expansions and raids (and I guess the AH too). I would play again if that were the case.

  6. PsychoWedge says:

    Hm… I always found it kinda reassuring that my account is deactivated when I don’t pay my subs so that there is no danger of it being hacked and all my items, chars and whatever being sold/deleted. Just in case I someday might consider returning for a month or two.

    But if every old account can now be activated just like a starter edition account, than this kinda changes because there is no monetary barrier between hackers and my chars. I don’t know if I like this, to be honest…

    On the other hand, I will probably log into my veteran account just to take a look at all my old characters to see how they look and move now with the new graphics and animations. I might not play WoW anymore (and I don’t plan to ever again) but my characters came from an ensemble of characters I use and have been using in all kinds of RPGs for the last 20 years. And naturally their WoW-incarnations are among the most rememberable.

    • vexis58 says:

      All the same restrictions are in place as the starter accounts, so all they can really do is delete your stuff or sell it to an NPC, there’s no trading or auctioning allowed so they couldn’t get any monetary benefit from it, and they can’t use your account to spam gold ads because starter accounts have severe chat restrictions.

      Hackers who just want to troll you can still be a problem, but goldselling hackers wouldn’t find your account any more useful than a regular starter account they could create themselves.

  7. bleeters says:

    It’s times like this I’m glad I deleted all my characters the last time I played. Your mind tricks won’t work on me, Blizzard.

  8. lomaxgnome says:

    I’ve wanted this for a really long time now, I have no real desire to go back to playing WoW (and definitely don’t have the time or money), but I always wanted to be able to just log in and mess around occasionally. I “miss” my characters more than I miss the game.

  9. cylentstorm says:

    Do what? Where? Oh, right… Hmm–I suppose that would be nice for people who enjoy Blizzards tired old whack-a-mole-online (WAMO) sim. Personally, if I was inclined to pay a subscription fee for a WAMO, it would probably be FFXIV, or possibly even RIFT, since we’re talking about older games here.

    Regarding the subject of personal attachment to virtual avatars, I respect and admire anyone who makes the slightest effort to roleplay, or at least contribute to the enjoyment/immersion of others. Outside of that, the vast majority treat their creations as disposable tools to be used to gain “l33t” status. That’s okay–we’re talking about games here, after all. However, I do often wonder if such abuse of digital personae bleeds into the players’ real-life social interactions and attitudes toward others.

    • airmikee says:

      I knew quite a few people from real life that played WoW, and yes, the ones that were “l33t” seekers in game are the same uppity assholes outside the game.

  10. vexis58 says:

    “For those who would love to revisit their old characters”

    As long as those characters are level 20 or below. They’ve already clarified that you won’t even be able to log in to characters that are higher level than that.

    Though you’ll probably be able to stare longingly at them from the character select screen.