World of Warcraft players have been begging for a free-to-play option since the game was released back in 2004. But Blizzard has repeatedly crushed the dreams of fiscally conservative gamers by persistently billing their credit cards. However, it sounds like the cheapskates will finally get a break.
To be fair, WoW's subscription fees aren't going anywhere. Players can still crack open their real-world piggy banks to pay for their addiction. But Blizzard is introducing the "WoW Token," an in-game item that converts gold into game time.
Here's how Blizzard explained the tokens in a recent blog post:
On the surface, it looks like Blizzard is testing the waters for a legitimate free-to-play system. But according to lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas, nothing could be further from the truth. In an interview with IGN, Hazzikostas explained that WoW Tokens are an attempt to crush the third-party gold trade:
The genius behind this plan is the way it attaches real-world dollars to WoW's in-game currency. The tokens will be tradable on the auction house, so anyone who needs some extra gold can simply purchase a token and sell it. Not only does this mitigate the need for shifty third-party gold sellers, it could add stability to the in-game economy.
Since players can't set their own token prices, the market will ebb and flow based on supply and demand. But because some of the tokens were purchased with real money, it could change the way players think about auction house prices.
Plus, it gives in-game millionaires the chance to catch up on some real-world debt.
Right now, Blizzard is playing coy with the release date and pricing information, but it's probably safe to assume that WoW Tokens will show up in the next patch. Though, given Blizzard's famous disregard for deadlines, who knows when that will be.
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