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.