World of Warcraft 'exploring' in-game purchases
by Alice O'Connor, shacknews.com, Jul 5, 2013 9:00AM PDT
Blizzard has confirmed that it's "exploring" in-game microtransactions for World of Warcraft, after an XP booster mentioning an in-game store was discovered in the latest test patch. It's not yet clear exactly what else it'll sell, and whether this is a global move or simply for regions friendlier to microtransactions.
The 5.4 public test realm patch includes the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom, a buff from an item which doubles XP earned by complete missions and killing monsters--and is tagged with "In Game Store" (via WoW Insider).
Blizzard senior community representative Jonathan 'Zarhym' Brown confirmed in a forum post that the developer is "currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game."
He explained, "As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the PTR. We'll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses."
An XP boost is a fairly innocuous microtransaction item, and certainly not rare for MMORPGs. And given how much Blizzard has accelerated levelling up over the years, it's hardly like boosters would destroy anything sacred. The mention that it's for "certain regions" may suggest it's intended for Asian markets, where such things are more common.
Let's remember that Blizzard does already sell in-game pets and mounts through its web storefront; moving all that in-game only seems sensible.
What will be interesting is discovering what other microtransaction doodads it's experimenting with. A more impetuous commenter would blurt out that it means WoW is going free-to-play soon, but let's not be so rash. While subscriber numbers are steadily falling and Blizzard does cite the rise of F2P MMOs as one cause, 8.3 million 'subscribers' (active players, really: the figure includes players in PC bangs and such who don't pay monthly subscription fees) is still nothing to scoff at.