Bashiok recently posted confirming that an in game store coming. This makes me really nervous about the future of WoW. An in game store that sells the same things that are currently for sale on the Web is fine. These things are all cosmetic. However, an experience buff begins to cross the line, and Lesser Charms greatly crosses the line.
I know other people might feel differently, but to me, the experience buff isn’t much of a problem. I wouldn’t purchase it. You normally hit the level cap long before you finish all the zones of the expansion, and I like to quest through them. There’s no reason for me to pay for it. However, I hate having to grind for Lesser Charms. If I could purchase Lesser Charms for real money, I could bypass a part of the game I don’t enjoy. I’d also be paying a monthly subscription to be able to grind for them (among other things, of course) as well as a second fee to skip that part for which I already paid. This encourages Blizzard to design the game in such a way that gameplay is boring and unenjoyable. That’s crazy!
All of these types of in-app purchases are similarly strange. Consider a normal price-model for an offline game. The game is fun and enjoyable, and you want to play it. To play it, you must purchase it. This makes sense. Consider a game that uses a DLC model for everything. The game is free, but each additional level (or levels) has a fee attached. Again, the game is fun, you want to play more levels, so you purchase them. This makes sense. In those two scenarios, you’re paying more money to play the game more because you enjoy it. Now consider the Lesser Charms. If you purchase Lesser Charms, you’re paying money to skip a part of the game. Instead of creating something enjoyable that people want and charging them for it, they’ve created something that people don’t want and then are charging to skip it. Despicable.
The thing that will rope people into this is that they’re not simply paying to skip the part they don’t like. They’re paying to skip to the part they do like. Raiders who don’t want to grind could look at this as a way for getting to the content they do like easier. (I know, they can raid without Lesser Charms. But I’ll consider the “content they do like” as “raiding with as many charms as possible.”)
I enjoy seeing dailies, but I don’t enjoy grinding them endlessly. No, I don’t want to get rid of them, but sure, they seem like a grind, and I’d be happy to avoid some of it. If I pay for Lesser Charms, however, I’m encouraging Blizzard to continue with this idiotic and immoral game design. Yes, it’d be tempting to occasionally offset my dailies by purchasing Lesser Charms, but then Blizzard would be content to continue. If, contrary to purchasing Lesser Charms, no one purchased any and people stopped grinding dailies, I’m sure Blizzard would change their design. People might pull away from dailies, but it feels like too much of an obligation for many raiders, so I don’t expect that to happen.
Bashiok said that they’ll “be testing the in-game store with some new kinds of items [they’re] looking into introducing (in Asian regions, at the outset) based on player feedback…” Maybe they’ll see that player feedback is negative and no go forward with this. Some people are saying that this will only be for Asian regions. That would calm me a little because it wouldn’t be hurting the game I play, but I still think it’s a terrible game design choice. Regardless, all we can do now is wait and see (and give negative feedback).
To anyone reading this, I highly recommend you avoid purchasing such buffs or enhancements in World of Warcraft or any other game!