Blizzard Working on In-Game Store for World of Warcraft

Blizzard's community manager Bashiok confirmed on Tuesday that the company is indeed working on an in-game store for World of Warcraft. Right now the project is in the exploration process, and will initially be tested with new items Blizzard plans to introduce in the Asian regions.

The move makes sense given that it would be quicker and more convenient for players to purchase in-game items while still within Blizzard's virtual realm. The act of jumping out and making purchases through the website may be a turn-off for some potential customers. Still, Blizzard will need to make careful decisions about what this store will supply paying customers so that it doesn't disrupt the entire playing field.

"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," Bashiok said. "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."

As previously stated, Blizzard will test this new in-game store with items it plans to introduce in the Asian regions. These items include an experience buff to assist with the leveling process, and an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. Blizzard will be seeking feedback on these specific items and about what the company will ultimately stock on the in-game store's shelves.

"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," Bashiok added.

Right now it's too early in the development process to make any final decisions about permanently setting up shop within World of Warcraft and what it will eventually sell. But players are encouraged to browse its virtual goods anyway which for now resides on the Public Test Realm (PTR).

The explanation arrives after community manager Zarhym said last week that an in-game store was on the way. Many subscribers expressed concerns over the items that Blizzard was testing including "convenience-based" goods like buffs that aid leveling up characters, as Bashiok confirmed in Tuesday's post. One of them is confirmed to be the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom which increases experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests by 100 percent. Many players fear that on-hand items like these will give others a paid advantage over those not willing to shell out the extra money.

"We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game," Zarhym said. "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."

Does an in-game store in World of Warcraft mean that Blizzard may eventually embrace free-to-play? That's hard to say given that the MMORPG still has a solid subscriber base. But the company may eventually be forced to take on the free-to-play business model if it continues to bleed subscribers.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • Murissokah
    Because that worked so well for Diablo.
  • amoralman
    Smells like F2P on the way... finally!
  • nevilence
    as long as it is not pay to win, its a fair idea, especially if it pushed the game to free2play, that is about the only thing that would have me return to the game
  • brettms71
    Has worked really well in The Secret World MMO. No buy to win Items, so as long as they stick to that it will work out well. I buy items all the time that add to my experience. I don't mind some boosts even XP. Most are no different than the ones i could farm or buy on the ingame auction. But i just don't enjoy the crafting side, and making enugh money to buy with ingame cash. So paying real money is a great option. Although the secret world gives bonus in game money each month to people who subscribe (As it's F2P), so since i pay a subscription, it's kind of free. haha.
  • mjcpoquiz
    Blizzard just became too greedy.

    I just wanted to play game to enjoy - but maybe not Blizzard games anymore.
  • jdlobb
    "Blizzard just became too greedy.

    I just wanted to play game to enjoy - but maybe not Blizzard games anymore. "

    If greedy means trying to run a successful business, then sure.

    Blizzard is just trying to maintain a proven business model. The fact is that $15 a month isn't really that steep, especially considering what some people shell out for services like XBox Gold and PS Plus anyways. Additional purchasable content is a welcome addition for many player, and can be a solid enhancement to play. Things like pets, mounts, and experience buffs don't affect the gameplay of other players, so why not make some cash off of it. There's nothing you'd have to pay for that you HAVE to have in order to play the game, and a player with a large real world bankroll isn't going to have any leg up over players who just go with the basic subscription. I would be more concerned if Blizz went to a fully F2P model, because then it would be far more likely that they would start charging for content that is either required to play or gives you an advantage over other players. A major example I see would be if Blizz started selling gold for cash, which I think is an absolute inevitability if WoW goes F2P. This would wreck the in-game economy and I would jump ship almost immediately.
  • memadmax
    Final nail in the WoW coffin.
  • cats_Paw
    Somehow, i doubt anyone is surprised by that.
    I never liked WoW myself as it felt like playing with toys rather than with real characters (i went the guild wars way when WoW and GW first started out), but this is clearly a way to get some extra cash before closing down WoW when people start leaving the game.

    Lucky me that Starcraft Broodwar was done before all this crap and i can still play it on LAN and on private servers, so that i actually own what i paid for.
  • Marcus52
    It is a step down that slippery slope to pay-to-win, and one more reason for me to leave the game for good. And, I'm not the only one, there's a thread on the WoW forums talking about an experience buff potion that would sell through the in-game store that was 129 pages long last I looked at it - most of those people expressed similar sentiments.

    Experience buff potion. Like being able to level to cap in less than a week isn't fast enough already. Just freakin quit the pretense and give everyone level-capped characters already.

    They are apparently never going to get it; millions of people have quit because the game has become too simplified, and they are still trying to make it easier for the "casual" player. Fine, if you are going to choose "casual" (and never has a word been more corrupted in its meaning) over me, I'll just choose "Everquest Next" over you. EQ has the in-game store crap, but at least the game isn't a pure snooze to level up to begin with.

    I'm getting the distinct impression that my days playing MMOGs are numbered, I don't even have that much hope for EQN. It's supposed to be "more sandox-like" than EQII, but it's also supposed to be F2P (depending on who you believe), and F2P players don't care for sandbox MMOGs (generally speaking of course).
  • fimbulvinter
    More like Blizzard working on tanking what little of their good reputation was left.