I don’t know why microtransactions in World of Warcraft bother me so much when I find them fairly acceptible elsewhere — perhaps it’s just the desire to take a shot at the big kid, but more likely that I have residual loyalty to what WoW once was, and see Blizzard chopping up and parceling off their product to make a quick buck wherever they can, no matter what it does to the quality.
We’ve seen name changes, server changes, authenticator keys, “eSports” servers and the like. But this… this just downright disturbs me:
We wanted to give everyone a very early heads-up that, in response to player requests, we’re developing a new service for World of Warcraft that will allow players to change their faction from Alliance to Horde or Horde to Alliance. There’s still much work to do and many details to iron out, but the basic idea is that players will be able to use the service to transform an existing character into a roughly equivalent character of the opposing faction on the same realm. Players who ended up creating and leveling up characters on the opposite factions from their friends have been asking for this type of functionality for some time, and we’re pleased to be getting closer to being able to deliver it.
As with all of the features and services we offer, we intend to incorporate the faction-change service in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience on the realms, and there will be some rules involved with when and how the service can be used. The number of variables involved increases the complexity of implementing this service, but we plan to take the time needed to ensure that it lives up to expectations before officially rolling it out. We’ll go into much more detail on all of this here at http://www.WorldofWarcraft.com as development progresses. In the meantime, we wanted to let you know that because this type of functionality requires extensive internal testing well in advance of release, you may be seeing bits and pieces of the service in the test builds we use for the public test realms moving forward.
I guess one of my major qualms with WoW is that you never could count on anything lasting — Blizzard has the knack of pulling the rug right out from under you, over and over until nothing could be depended on to be even semi-permanent. One year they are firm that players will never be allowed to transfer from PvE to PvP servers, the next they just go ahead and do it. And the kicker is that no matter how much players might howl, they’re big enough to have earned the right to ignore their hooked, dependant customers.
Seriously, once this change takes effect, how much “war” is left in a world of warcraft? The conflict between Horde and Alliance is a watered-down joke, more akin to neighboring summer camps hooting bravado across a lake than fierce and bloody rivals. Heck, sometimes they end up holding hands and skipping alongside each other against a common enemy. The good guys are misunderstood, the bad guys are misunderstood, cows are more noble than Abraham Lincoln, and tug-o-war matches take place every Saturday afternoon.
So now they’re just going to let players up and change sides, just because? I guess they’re just throwing in the towel of at least making a pretense of competing, warring factions. A couple of bucks, and a Tauran druid becomes a Night Elf (don’t even want to know what that surgery is like) and a Dwarf hunter gets shoe lifts and becomes a Blood Elf.
Oh, and I don’t believe for a minute that this stems from “player requests” so much as “another way to make a quick buck”. If they really capitulated with major changes due to huge forum protests and petitions, well, every class would be simultaneously buffed to invincibility and nerfed to uselessness. Blizzard’s history doesn’t stand up well to player requests; for better or worse, they pick a course internally and stick to it. Don’t try to shove this massive change off on anonymous gamers so that they have a dodge when the complaints come rolling in.