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7-03-2009 @ 4:15AM
Many other ways would probably be "cooler," but the developers' motivation here is not "cool"; it's a means to achieving several ends:1. Cash flow: No doubt whatever it costs, it will show some kind of profit even after amortizing the cost of R&D, staff, maintenance, etc.2. Rebalancing faction: Some realms have 3- or 4-to-1 ratios of Horde to Alliance or Alliance to Horde. Allowing players to move leveled characters across the faction line provides a nice path to making the balance more reasonable. I suspect this was one of the goals of inter-realm transfers, but the goal wasn't reached that way well enough. Much of the current QQ involves the announcement that changing race *within* faction will *not* be allowed, even by doing a double switch across the faction line and back. That restriction itself points to this motivation—allowing race change within faction does nothing to help the balance.3. Rebalancing levels: The higher the level cap goes, the less anyone really wants to re-roll another toon starting at 1. Why does *everyone* have a Death Knight? Yes, they're cool and new, but starting at level 55 with a full set of blues and a free epic land mount were powerful incentives. Now people with four top-level alts on one faction and none on the other will probably move one or two across the line so they can experience the other side without the pain of re-rolling (I will certainly be one of them).4. Player requests: Yes, believe it or not, Blizzard does listen to us, and if the requests are frequent enough and deemed reasonable by the staff, they will actually give them to us. This is just another case where the investment and returns balance came out well enough in their analysis that they decided to give us a "yes." If no one had been asking for cross-faction change, it wouldn't be coming.As for doing anything other than making it a plain old paid service, like the gender and name changes are currently, well, there's just no reason for it. Developing long quest strings or events is only reasonable to the developers if the majority of players can experience the outcome. It's the difference between designing a 2.1 million dollar Bugatti sports car and a 20 thousand dollar Mazda Miata—if you're going to put the resources into a project, it needs to have a wide market so your per-person investment is reasonable. And any long quest string or event setup would be contrived at best, in any case, and so they'd get slammed for creating some big to-do as an excuse for dipping into your wallet again. Better to just make it $X per change, add the various rules we know will be there, and be done with it.
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