In-game purchases? In World of Warcraft? Could happen, says a Blizzard community manager. Earlier this week, World of Warcraft players on the game's public test server discovered an item called the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom. The item description: "Experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests increased by 100%."
In other words, it makes grinding twice as fast. This isn't the type of item you'd just buy at a store with in-game currency: it's a purchase-with-real-money, "pay-to-win" feature that represents a lot of what people hate about microtransactions in online games. And although World of Warcraft already sells virtual pets and mounts for real money, they're mostly aesthetic, and you buy them outside of the game.
The thought of "pay-to-win" buttons freaked out a whole bunch of WoW forum users, and Blizzard community manager Zarhym didn't do much to quell those fears while posting on battle.net yesterday.
"We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game," Zarhym wrote. "As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the [Public Test Realm]. We’ll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses."
World of Warcraft is still gigantic, but it's regularly losing subscribers: is Blizzard going to try to milk more from their longrunning cash cow? Is the next move to make WoW free-to-play? We reached out to Blizzard this morning for comment, and we'll update should they have any updates for us.