December 17, 2008

World of Warcraft's rules for RMT

There's been a discussion going on at our sister-site WoW Insider regarding RMT (real-money trading) and their favorite MMO, World of Warcraft. Now wait a minute, you might say, WoW doesn't have RMT! While it's true that you can't just cough up real money to get that epic piece of loot you've been dreaming about, Blizzard has its own version of RMT with name changes, server transfers, and the new character re-customizations. They aren't alone in the industry with these for-cash perks -- plenty of other subscription-model MMOs do exactly the same.

The main reason that this has been brought up now is due to a recent thread on the official WoW forums, where a Blizzard poster actually detailed some of the company's rules (over a number of different pages) for adding the existing and any future premium services. They won't start charging for something that used to be free, and the pay features should be superficial conveniences and not 'integral to the game', ruling out item sales. Another very simple reason that they charge for certain things is to stop players from doing them too often -- no quickie gender-changes to beg on the Orgrimmar mailbox for a half-hour.

This seems to be the right way to go about things for a subscription-based MMO, or at least it has been so far. Leaving aside the debate about the future of the subscription model, would you pay monthly for a game that offered gameplay advantages to those that paid just that little bit more?

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