So, an in-game store for World of Warcraft?
An idea that goes too far, some might say.
Or does it go far enough?
In the free to play games I’ve tried so far, there have been in-game stores. Each store has had some version of an item that you can buy with real money (or with tokens you buy with crystals that you get with rep you earned by spending real money on a resource pack, or something something five layers removed shady alert).
Coincidentally enough, in each of those games I played a character I really liked, in an enjoyable series of story driven quests. At least, I did until I reached a point where I had done all the quests available in my level range, and the next range of quests and associated villains were several levels higher than I was, leaving a power gap.
Well, that’s okay. It was certainly an oversight in the quest progression development process, and I’ll do what we did in vanilla WoW… grind the hell out of some mobs until high enough level to move on to Burning Steppes. Just grind that content gap away so I can move on.
Or… well, I was really enjoying that quest chain, it was fun, I’d like to get back to that. Screw it, a couple bucks for a resource pack I can trade for a few gems that are worth credits to use in the store to get +100% XP gained for an hour, that ain’t so bad. Get me past that hump and back into the questing!
Oh. Ooh, you mean the game might have been intentionally set up with gaps in content that encourage you to face the “buy XP boost consumable or grind for hours” dilemma?
Oh bullshit, that’s just cynical and paranoid. Nobody would do that. People create games for us to have fun! They don’t care if they make tons and tons of money. That’s why the game is free! because they love us gamers soooo much.
It’s because we’re so kind on game forums, so patient with bugs and release dates, so considerate and calm when describing our class balance in comparison to others in PvP. The free to play games are our reward for being so nice.
Ah, I crack myself up. Looked at that way, I’m surprised more games aren’t designed to lure you along until you’re five XP from max level, and then delete your character, cancel your account, max out your credit cards, burn down your house and punch your significant other so hard you feel it in your taint.
I guess free to play comes close enough to be allowed by law. But I digress.
Content gaps in your game? How crafty! And here I thought burying your store currency under a hundred different layers to hide how much an item really costs was the limit to shady practices.
But wait, what is this I see before me?
Is it a World of Warcraft game that has been streamlined and buffed to the point that you can damn well outlevel a zone before you finish the starter quests?
I do believe it is!
God forbid you should try to complete a leveling questline while wearing your heirloom gear. You’ll be a raid boss by the time you’re done.
But, I thought this XP boost item for an in-game store was evil and stuff? If World of Warcraft doesn’t have any big dead content gaps, what is going to be the driving force to make people choose the XP potion over grinding miserably for hours?
Oh, shit, that’s right.
NOTHING BUT FREE WILL, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Unless Blizzard does something truly remarkable, such as remove Heirlooms, cancel all of the accumulated accelerated XP gains that have been added over the years, or remove content from the game, this won’t do anything at all.
Nothing except give people another option besides Recruit A Friend for stupid levels of XP gain. Oh yeah, and give us all something to bitch about for the next month.
People will still buy the potions.
Yes, even with the ridiculous XP gain we already have, people will buy the potions.
Depending on how much they cost, I could even see myself buying one. Shit, why not?
No, really, why not? Sometimes, you just want to speed past that zone (Outlands) you’ve completed on 14 previous characters and get to something else, please Elune, anything else.
Sometimes you just want to get a character to 80 in an afternoon so you can lock XP and prepare for a Herald of the Titans run. (Grats on your Herald achievement, DeGei!)
XP Potions? Meaningless in the framework of WoW. They are not a quality of life improvement, they are not a necessity, they aren’t even a gateway to break you into the habit of paying for shit. They are pure luxury, superfluous, an excuse to show off that you can afford to buy shit in game.
As if having every Collector Edition pet didn’t already do that, lol. Or are we supposed to pretend there haven’t been in-game items bought from a store before?
On that subject, am I the only player that wishes we had MORe pets in the Blizzard store that came with plush stuffed buddies for our real life adventures?
I know I for one would like a plush Cinder Kitten. Yes, yes I would. Yes, I know I already bought one for myself, and my son, and my wife. I’m sure I culd find someone in North America that could use the code while I keep the, um I mean give the plush Cinder Kitten to my son to cuddle.
There is one case where I can see this being a shadow of potential concern.
If they were building the store and the XP boost item into WoW now to get the bugs worked out in live just so they can integrate a polished store into their new Titan MMO flawlessly, and if TITAN were to incorporate the level content gaps to ‘encourage’ you to buy XP boost pots to get past a grind… well then. That would be a whole ‘nother kettle of fish entirely.
I’ll worry about a game that is four years from a release cycle some other time. I doubt it will happen, Blizzard hasn’t built their reputation on screwing customers to nickel and dime them on the backend, they prefer to take your money right out of your wallet, swift and painless once a month, regular as clockwork or a guaranteed return on your investment. With quarterly bonuses from new store items like bat mounts. Or Arena passes.
But hell, anything can happen, right?
Let’s move all past that.
Let’s talk about the true possibilities of an in-game store.
XP potions? That does not go nearly far enough, Blizzard. Oh, hell no.
No, this is World of Warcraft we’re talking about. The other MMOs can pussyfoot around the store idea, shuffling in the darkness, hoping to pry a few coppers off the unwary.
It takes Blizzard to pull out the big guns and show everyone who has the guts to make a move.
Tired of RNG in your loot rolls? How about a potion in the store that gives you a +15% chance to loot rolls for an hour? ALL loot rolls? Or +25%?
How about a potion that specifically increases the drop chance of items needed for Legendaries or for rare mounts?
Who among us hasn’t run SOMETHING week after week looking for that rare drop?
Come on, you know you have. Grinding for multiple weeks seeking a special rare drop is a WoW rite of passage, like gunters coding a classic game. Everybody has to do it at least once over a few weeks. Or months or years.
I don’t care if you ran Baron Rivendare timed runs in vanilla until your eyes bled, farmed the Fiery Warhorse in Kara until you developed a twitch, or soloed Kael’thas in the Eye seeking the Ashes of A’lar.
Maybe you got the left bindings of the Windseeker in Molten Core on your very first run, and you’ve been running it every single week for the past 6 years trying to get the other half.
You know you did it, even if only for three weeks before giving up in disgust.
Now you tell me true, and be honest with yourself.
If Blizzard added an item in the store that cost $5, and it would give you a significantly better chance at having that one damn thing drop, tell me.
TELL me you wouldn’t do it at least once on that damn white unicorn you always wanted and never, ever, ever saw drop.
Now ask yourself what if there were items to buy that gave you more bonus rolls on bosses? A consumable that acted as if you had a Mogu Rune of Fate from the weekly quest?
Oh yeah, you see where I’m going with this.
Before you bitch about a measly little XP boost potion, you need to take a step back and ask yourself how deep this rabbit hole could go.
I tell you true, the universe would hear the cries of a million whining players screaming that the game was ruined…
Oh there would be crying, and wailing, and yes even the gnashing of the little teethes, and Blizzard would quietly drag in the chips tossed by 5 million players paying to get that fucking Right Binding to drop. Garr, you little shit.
So let’s play a game, you and I.
Open up that imagination, and let’s see what plausible and yet utterly horrifying items we can come up with for a World of Warcraft in-game store.
Who knows, if we come up with something crazy but brilliant enough, it might make it’s way into the game!