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Posts with tag microtransactions

The Lawbringer: Real money transactions and some eBay history

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

eBay and massively multiplayer online role playing games have a deep, rich and occasionally sordid past. As social beings, we've been bartering, trading and selling our time and goods for the entirety of human history. The internet just made things even easier. Hell, buying some gold or an item off of eBay isn't the first time you've probably spent money for a work-around in a game. Ever heard of Game Genie? We paid money for that at one point in our lives.

This week, The Lawbringer delves into the past, remembering the good ol' days when the internet came in three varieties: 28.8k, 33.6k and 56k v.90. Also, 14.4k, but only losers had such weak baud. Please don't make me go back further in time. You're probably making modem sounds right now, pretending to go ksshhhh ksshhhh bee doo be dooo wha wha wha wha wha wha wha beeboobeeboobeebeeboobeep, so we should probably start this up.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Daily Quest: Starpony edition

Here at WoW.com we're on a Daily Quest (which we try to do every day, honest) to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere. Is there a story out there we ought to link or a blog we should be following? Just leave us a comment and you may see it here tomorrow! Take a look at the links below, and be sure to check out our WoW Resources Guide for more WoW related sites.

TDQ's back from an unplanned Cataclysm-news-overload hiatus! And what better topic to come back to than the epic debate currently raging over Blizzard's new starpony spacepony sparklepony My Little Algalon Pony Celestial Steed?

Filed under: The Daily Quest

Win a pony from WoW.com

Is $25 too steep a price for you to pay for a pony made of stars? $10 too much for a train-smashing vanity pet? No worries, because we're giving away two of each right here, right now on WoW.com.

To enter, leave a comment on this post between now and the same time tomorrow. To be specific, the contest ends on April 16th at 5:00 PM EDT. Winners must be legal residents of the United States or Canada (except Quebec). You may only enter once, and winners must be 18 years of age or older. Four winners will be chosen at random. The prizes up for grabs are:
  • Two Celestial Steeds worth $25 each
  • Two Lil' XTs worth $10 each
Click here for complete official rules.

Filed under: Contests

WoW.com's top ten stories of 2009

What a year it's been for the World of Warcraft. We've had three big content patches, a BlizzCon, an expansion announcement, and perhaps out of all of the five years this game has been running, this was the year with the most surprises. A few things players thought would never happen (including faction changes) finally did, and we saw quite a few new tricks from Blizzard, both in terms of game features and in the way they run the game at large. 2009 was also a year of expectation: we thrilled to leaks and rumors about Cataclysm, and all year long, we looked forward to the villian that has been set up for us ever since 2008's Wrath release: the Lich King himself.

As we've done for the past couple of years, let's take a look back at the most popular stories of 2009 here on WoW.com. We'll start first with number 10, which also came as a surprise to many players, right after the break.

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Filed under: Patches, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Leveling, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Rumors of WoW TCG's demise greatly exaggerated

Rumors have been swirling around the Internet this weekend, reporting that the WoW Trading Card Game was ending this year after the release of the upcoming Scourgewar expansion set due to mishandling of marketing by the Upper Deck team. The rumor apparently started at Rawrcast, where it was attributed to a "reliable source".

Apparently not that reliable! Catching wind of the rumor, Upper Deck responded through its Senior Director, Scott Gaeta, saying that not only was the TCG not "over," but that it was steaming along right on schedule. Said Gaeta:
"Plans for future sets have been moving along as normal and we even announced a good chunk of the 2010 product schedule a week ago. Just recently the Upper Deck team was at Blizzard to discuss plans for 2011 and just today we were at Blizzard to get a sneak peak of Icecrown Citadel, to help in the development of the 2010 Raid Deck and Treasure Packs. We have lots of great plans for 2010 and beyond and look forward to another great year for the WOW TCG. Thanks for your enthusiasm and support! "
Good enough for me. Interneterati who heard the rumor attributed the TCG's purported demise to a myriad of culprits, including Blizzard's new microtransactional Pet Store, Activision grand poobah and laser-precise IP exploiter Bobby Kotick, or even the iron tabletop gaming fist of Magic: The Gathering. Of course, none of those ended up being the case.

Me, I'm glad to see that the TCG isn't going away, but let's start seeing some of those cool vanity loot card items attainable through other means, yeah? And the rocket mount an Engineering item.

Filed under: Fan stuff, News items, Rumors

Pandaren pet "sold out" on Blizzard store [Updated]

In an unexpected and strange twist in Blizzard's latest microtransaction saga, the Pandaren Monk vanity pet has apparently sold out on the Blizzard pet store. A mere week after the in-game pets were announced for sale on Blizzard's new pet store, the Pandaren Monk can no longer be purchased on US realms (as of this writing, it is still available on the Blizzard EU and Blizzard KR stores).

That the Pandaren Monk would sell out comes as a surprise because, well, it's a virtual item. It's like Agent Smith. It never runs out. Unless, of course, Blizzard designed it that way, in which case there must have been a massive failure of communication somewhere down the line because it doesn't say anything about the Pandaren Monk being a limited item anywhere. It's also notable that Blizzard had committed to donating 50% of all proceeds from Pandaren Monk sales to the Make-a-Wish Foundation all the way through December 31. If the Pandaren Monk were to disappear, it should at least be expected to last until the end of 2009, right?

We think this is an inventory error, where some number had to be inserted into the Blizzard Store's inventory management system, like some number "over 9000". Likely this will be easily corrected, and when it is, we'll update this post accordingly.

UPDATE 11:30am ET: Blizzard is looking into the matter, which should assuage most people's fears that the item is indeed sold out.

UPDATE 2:00pm ET: The Pandaren Monk is now back in stock and available for purchase! It was just a glitch in the Matrix, people. Nothing to see here.

Thanks to Papa Shok for the tip.

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Economy

Blizzard pet store now regional

In a short (but not necessarily sweet) announcement, Zarhym announced on the official forums that the recently opened Blizzard pet store are now regional. This means that pets purchased from, say, the European store can only be redeemed on European World of Warcraft accounts. He doesn't go into detail other than to say that pets that have already been purchased from one region and redeemed in another region are not affected by this change.

While it's a curious move on the surface, it effectively restricts players from Europe purchasing their Pandaren Monk and Lil' K.T. from the US store where the pets are cheaper at $10 compared to €10 or £10 in the EU (roughly $15). Interestingly enough, the pets are priced at ₩12,000 in the Korean version of the store, which is about the same price as in the US ($10.3). It's unclear why the European version of the pets -- along with a few other Blizzard store items -- are more expensive, a fact that makes Turpster huff and puff and blow Azerothian houses down.

Obvious business reasons aside, it also creates a minor inconvenience for people who would like to give the pets as gifts to players in other regions. However, considering that many vanity pet codes have been regional in the past, such as those given away during Blizzard special events, it's not a surprising move. Then again, this whole foray into microtransactions was a bit of a surprise, so we've learned to never underestimate those folks from Irvine.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Europe

Breakfast Topic: How far would you let WoW microtransactions go?

One of the hottest topics in the past week was Blizzard's foray into the microtransactions game. By announcing the Blizzard pet store, World of Warcraft had officially come on par with other MMOs and online games that sold in-game items for real world money. Our informal survey showed that views on the move were officially split... a good third of our readers would buy the pet, another third didn't plan to, while another full third thought that our world was coming to an end. Well, the World of Warcraft, at least.

At any rate, it looks like the Pet Store is here to stay. Besides, Blizzard has already been hawking in-game services for real money, so it's not as if these vanity pets are any different. I personally don't find anything wrong with these pets, and seeing the number of diminutive liches and kung fu pandas showing up all over Azeroth, it really seems like a lot of other people don't, either.

Blizzard states that these items, similar to the TCG loot cards, are "purely cosmetic and just for fun." They say that they'd be loathe to introduce things that are "detrimental to the game and (detracts) from the gameplay experience for players who choose not to use the service." So that probably means no epic weapons or anything of the sort.

How far does that go, though? Are heirloom items considered detrimental to the game? How about buying levels? Premades? I personally wouldn't mind paying a fair price to skip the painful leveling process (an attitude that might admittedly change during the Cataclysm). What's do you think is next for Blizzard? Armor dyes, perhaps? Vanity outfits such as the complete Brewfest set or gag items such as those found on the TCG? Titles? Now that the microtransactions gate has been opened, how far do you think Blizzard will go?

Filed under: Items, Blizzard, Economy, Breakfast Topics

A WoW player's guide to microtransactions

Well Blizzard has finally done it. After charging only for out-of-game services like faction changes and character customization, with the release of in-game pets on the Blizzard store, they've finally moved on to selling virtual items for real money. And there's a word, dirty in the mouths of some, that's floating around that some of you may not have heard or understood before: microtransactions. We wouldn't blame you -- some of our own staff didn't even know what they were just a little while ago. But with the decision to sell in-game items for straight cash, Blizzard has entered the fascinating and treacherous world of microtransactions. And if you're going to follow them off into this world, you might as well at least know what they're all about.

And so, we're here to help. Whether you've never heard of microtransactions before, you're convinced that they're the devil and that Blizzard has grown too greedy for their own good, or you can't wait to open up your wallet and get a Pandaren Monk to follow you around, let's take a second and look at the history of the microtransaction model, what it means that Blizzard made this decision, and what might happen to the game in the future.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money

Blizzard launches real money in-game pet store

In a surprising and stunning move, Blizzard has just launched a real money online in-game pet store. You spend real money, you get an in-game pet. This fully brings Blizzard into the world of microtransactions -- even if the cost of $10 for one of these pets isn't exactly micro.

While these are just vanity items, one has to wonder how far Blizzard can take this microtransaction model with the largest MMORPG game being played today. They already offer (and offer quite successfully) realm transfer, name change, character re-customization, and race and faction change services. This appears to be the next logical step for them to take. Could the next offering being in-game vanity outfits? A valid question that only time will answer.

The first offerings of microtransactionable in-game items include a Pandaren Monk pet and a Lil K'T pet. Half the proceeds from every Pandaren Monk pet (and only the Pandaren Monk) will go towards the Make-a-Wish foundation -- which is a nice gesture to a company Blizzard has previously supported.

The full details of the announcement, along with the images of the pets and an FAQ, after the break.

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Filed under: News items

China's gold farming ban not really a ban

The other day, we reported on China's recent ban on trading real currency for virtual goods, and it was hailed as the end of gold selling in the MMO world. Unfortunately, it may not actually play out that way. While this would put a stop to some gold selling, it won't stop all of it thanks to a convenient little loophole.

That loophole is the fact that their law has no jurisdiction over foreign transactions. While it absolutely can put a stop to these transactions on Chinese soil using Chinese servers and Chinese currency, Chinese goldfarmers can still happily (well, probably not happily) scrounge up gold on American realms and sell it to American players. Most likely, this new law won't have an impact on the gold selling industry whatsoever. The people being impacted are those crafting their games on a model of microtransactions rather than a subscription model. Developers, not gold farmers, will be harmed by this. A game like Free Realms is no longer a feasible option in China.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Economy

WRUP: What are microtransactions? edition


No, no, no -- we haven't heard any rumors that microtransactions are coming to our own World of Warcraft, but when we discovered that some of our staff wasn't aware of this hot MMO topic, we had to start our own education campaign. So some of us seem to be hitting the books this weekend...

Adam Holisky
: I'll be doing one word this weekend: microtransactions.
Alex Ziebart: Trying to get some Heroic groups going on my Protection Paladin, and if that fails I'll either be playing Warhammer or Left 4 Dead. If the PTR goes up tonight or sometime this weekend, everything else gets shelved for that. Also, giving Adam lessons on microtransactions.

Despite the desire for our bloggers to have a well-rounded knowledge of the gaming world, we are hoping that Adam finds something better to do. For the rest of the team -- and your own weekend play plans -- read on!

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Filed under: Odds and ends

Character Re-Customization available for a small fee [UPDATED]

The WoW launcher was updated this morning, and just now what was behind that curtain was revealed: Character Re-Customization. What does that mean? In short, for a fee of $15, you can rebuild your character, with some restrictions. You can change your gender, face, skin, hair, and name, but not your race or class. You can do hair in-game already via the barbershop, so I imagine the ability to do those via this service is just for convenience. The real draw is the gender and face options.

Don't want to play your Female Undead Warlock anymore because they move funny? It's okay, turn them into a way awesome Male Undead Warlock. Sick of looking at your Male Draenei? Try out something more... pleasing to the eyes. This is a feature people have been asking for since WoW launched, so I'm surprised it took so long for it to happen. If you're taking full advantage of the feature, it's really not a bad deal considering a paid name change is $10. For an extra $15, you can more or less have a new character. Well, sort of.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

The Hollywood Reporter on Rob Pardo

Rob PardoI've got to admit, parts of this Hollywood Reporter interview feels like a rehash of Pardo's keynote at the Austin Game Conference back in September. New and interesting tidbits include an officially increased subscription count at 8 million worldwide and an interesting discussion of microtransactions. Pardo tells us that while such microtransactions might work for some games (he uses the possibility of extra songs in Guitar Hero as an example), it doesn't work for MMO's, or at least not World of Warcraft:

What's fun about "WoW' is going into a dungeon and completing a particular quest and then being rewarded with a really cool item that your character can wear to show the other players that you've accomplished something. If you could suddenly buy that item, it would really cheapen that idea of accomplishment.

[Via Joystiq]

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

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