WoW In-Game Store – A Downward Spiral?

Is the in-game store a downward spiral into a universe where you must pay to be relevant in WoW?

alt="Public Test Realm" />

If you have spent any time hanging out
Patch 5.4.2 on the World of Warcraft PTR, you might have noticed that
the menu bar has had a new button installed. This new button leads to
the brand spanking new in-game store. Here players may eventually be
able to purchase a variety of in-game items including mounts, pets,
and potentially even services and consumables.

While many players have learned to
tolerate the current store found on Blizzard's website, this new
in-game version could take things to a level none of us ever
expected. In fact, with what we can see in-game and the information
being data-mined by other players, we find ourselves wondering if
this new in-game store is going to be a blessing or a curse.

In-Game Store Overview

Right now we can see the first
incarnation of the in-game shop on the PTR. Currently, Pets, Mounts,
and Consumables are all available for purchase. A fake money system
(XTS) is in use, at least for the moment, making it totally
impossible to try out the purchasing system. On the current PTR
players have the option to select four subcategories: Featured, Pets,
Mounts, and Consumables. Check out the picture below for a glimpse at
the current in-game store model:

alt="WoW In Game Store" />

Also rumored to be going into the
in-game store is the option to race change, faction change, and
perhaps more unwelcome things.

A Downward Spiral?

Now you may be thinking that almost all
of these things are already available for purchase elsewhere, so what
is the big deal? The big deal lies in the consumables section of the
in-game store. Here players can purchase one item; the Enduring
Elixir of Wisdom. This elixir is an experience potion that allows the
player to gain experience and while it may seem minor, it is perhaps
the first step in a downward spiral.

It starts with just an experience bonus
and then what? Gear, weapons, heirlooms, and more? Where will it
stop? Of course, none of this may eventuate and this may be the only
player enhancement we see available in the in-game store. However,
this is a very slippery slope and it would be very easy for Blizzard
to tip off the edge. Pets, mounts, and other nonessential items are
easy enough to brush off, but if the in-game store starts to sell
items that make your character actually better than others, dark days
are ahead for those poor folks among us.

The Value of Choice

Thus far all items we have been able to
purchase for the game haven't really enhanced our characters. Sure
they may look nicer, ride cooler things, or have neat pets, but
overall the purchases are not essential to the game. This is
something that I think most of us expect in a game we already pay a
subscription fee for, the ability to choose if we want to purchase
something or not. With that being said, the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom
changes things a bit.

Now for the first time, we may feel we
don't have a choice to spend that extra money. Depending on what
eventually shows up in the store we may feel we need to
purchase something to make sure our character is the best possible.
What if that piece of gear we are after is available for cash only or
perhaps that buff that will increase our characters damage or healing
substantially. While we of course still have the option to buy these
things or not, depending on the item, we may feel almost forced into
a purchase to enhance our character and keep competitive.

alt="In-Game Store Consumables" />


One theory that is being thrown around
on forums that may make the in-game store make more sense is that
World of Warcraft will eventually go free to play. Considering that
almost all MMOs on the market end up canceling their subscription
fees, this wouldn't be surprising. Except that, thus far, WoW has had
no problem getting players to keep playing despite the fee. Sure,
subscriptions have been lost, but with several million still playing,
we can't really say the game is hurting all that much.

With that being said, going free to
play would be a classic reason to implement an in-game store. This
would also probably subside some of the rage at the possibility of
heirlooms, gear, and weapons being seen in the shop, if they do
indeed appear. In this writer’s opinion, free to play is probably
not an option we will see anytime in the near future and I believe
that the purchasable items in the store will be something that we
have to pay for on top of our monthly fee. However, there is a way to
combat seeing things that you think will be detrimental to the game.

Supply and Demand

While we can't say for sure what will
come of the in-game store, there is a way to stop the spiral we
talked about in it's tracks. You see, Blizzard is a company. They are
looking to make money and we can't fault them for that. In order to
make that money they will only make thing available for sale that
players are willing to purchase.

This means that if other items pop up
beside the Elixir of Enduring Wisdom and you aren't happy with them,
refuse to purchase them. If Blizzard isn't making money and they
realize that their fan base is really unhappy, they won't offer these
types of things. Of course, if you think these things should be
available for purchase, by all means, purchase away.

Uncertain Future

Of course, all of this is simply
speculation. The in-game store may be exactly what it appears to be
now, noting more than an easier way to buy cosmetic items that don't
really affect the game. However, as mentioned previously, it is a
slippery slope and we will have to wait and see how it ultimately
plays out. I, for one, hope to never see game changing items for sale
in any World of Warcraft store, in-game or otherwise.

What do you think about the new in-game
store? Do you think game changing items such as gear, weapons, and
buffs should be available for purchase here? Share your thoughts with
us in the comment section below

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About The Author

Amunet, also fondly known as Memtron, is an organic life form best known for its ongoing obsession with Blizzard Entertainment's numerous properties. To that end, Amu has authored hundreds (thousands?) of the most popular World of Warcraft guides, editorials, and Top 10 lists on the planet. When not gaming and writing, Amu is busy chasing after her three children in a perpetual loop of ongoing disaster.

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