Blizzard Confirms and Details Warcraft In-Game Store (IGN.com)

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the MMORPG genre the past few years (or have any idea what an Asian MMORPG subscriber model looks like), you’ll have seen this one coming a mile away. Heck, Blizzard has been selling plushies and $25 in-game mounts for quite some time. Seeing a major drop of over a million subscribers in Q1 of this year alone, Blizzard has to find a way to stop the bleeding and put the juggernaut back into growth mode.

Every MMORPG in recent memory that’s gone F2P and included a cash shop has seen a rise in overall earnings, if not a rise in subscriber base. If they really do launch with +XP boosts, it’s only a matter of time for the player base to start seeing WOW as Pay-to-Win. At that point, Blizzard will see the subscriber numbers really hemorrhage.

Note: This article contains the original article plus a sizeable follow-up with newly released information.

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Asian regions to get the brunt of purchasable boosts, to start with anyway.

Update: Blizzard has confirmed an in-game store is on the way to World of Warcraft, and detailed what regions will be getting what first.

Community manager Bashiok explained that, for many, the store will simply offer a more convenient way to purchase items already available from Blizzard’s Cash Shop.

“For players who are already interested in the in-game items we offer, such as Pet Store pets and mounts, the benefits of an in-game store are pretty clear. We think everyone would appreciate the convenience of being able to make such purchases without having to leave the game, and ultimately that’s our long-term goal for the system, though there’s quite a bit of work involved in retrofitting those existing items into the new system.”

He then went on to clarify that the experience boosting items previously uncovered would be offered “in Asian regions, at the outset” before revealing another in-game item that’ll also be available for purchase.

“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.

“Ultimately it’s still too early in the process to make any final determinations about our plans, but in the meantime, we hope you’ll check out the in-game store once it’s implemented on the PTR and let us know what you think.”

The inclusion of Lesser Charms of Good Fortune has caused some consternation among fans of the game, as they can be converted into an item giving players extra chances to attain gear in raids. For many, this could mark the start of a slide into what’s commonly known as “pay-to-win” territory, where your in-game strength isn’t based on skill or time invested, but rather real-world cash spent.

Blizzard has strongly denied these accusations, and the current plan doesn’t make any suggestion about the Charms being offered in the West. It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops; as one of the final MMOs to offer a subscription fee, it seems Blizzard is looking to supplement its income amid falling player numbers.

Original story follows.

Original Story: Blizzard has announced that it’s investigating the possibility of adding microtransactions to World of Warcraft.

In a post on the game’s forums, community manager Zarhym explained that no decisions had been made and the new system would only be available “in certain regions”.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game,” he wrote. “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.”

The post was made in response to a player finding an item on the Public Test Realm for a future patch that grants a “100% XP Buff” from both killing monsters and completing quests and is available through an “In Game Store”.

It’s worth noting that Zarhym’s response suggests only certain regions will be getting the new system, meaning NA and EU may never see it. Seeing as we already have the Blizzard Cash Shop over here and the company has received some serious flack for accusations of double dipping by having both that and a subscription fee, it’s likely the new microtransactions are planned for other countries such as China.

Are you still playing World of Warcraft and would the addition of microtransactions make you stop if so? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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