Blizzard: World of Warcraft is not going to become pay-to-win

Creative director Alex Afrasiabi says the pay-to-win model breaks player trust, and Blizzard has no intention of doing that.

World of Warcraft has more in-game microtransactions today than ever before (and it sounds like more are on the way), but the game is not bearing down a path toward becoming pay-to-win, creative director Alex Afrasiabi says.

"That is not a direction we're even comfortable taking WoW," Afrasiabi told GameSpot today during a preview event for upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor.

Pay-to-win models break player trust, and Blizzard has no intention of doing that, Afrasiabi said.

"Game design, half of it is about trust. And I think that our playerbase trusts us implicitly and you never want to break trust between the player and developer. And I think pay-to-win does that. And I think that is really our stance; we are not about pay-to-win in World of Warcraft. That is not gonna happen."

Earlier this week, it was revealed--but not confirmed--that soon World of Warcraft players might be able to pay $60 to auto-level a character to the current cap of 90. Previously, players had to spend dozens of hours or more to reach that level. Some fans saw this as an indication that the integrity of the game experience was falling away.

Players can also spend real-world money on virtual items like in-game pets and mounts. All of these microtransactions are on top of World of Warcraft's existing $15/month subscription. It appears microtransactions are going to play a major role in Blizzard's future as well, as the studio recently established a "Microtransaction Strategy" business unit.

The uptick in virtual items for sale in World of Warcraft does not appear to have driven players away. In fact, World of Warcraft ended 2013 with 7.8 million subscribers, which is up 200,000 from the quarter prior. Of course, this is down from a record high of 12 million subscribers following the launch of Wrath of the Lich King in 2010. But growth more than 9 years into a product's lifecycle--especially a paid MMO--is nothing short of impressive.

How do you feel about the current state of World of Warcraft as it relates to microtransactions? Let us know in the comments below.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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411 comments
cargunka
cargunka

I have been playing wow for many years now when i first started playing it blew my mind - i felt like I was playing the game, but increasingly over the years i have grown cynical with the direction of the game feel more and more like it is ME that is being played! I have spent hours and hours lvling many characters to 90 only to see people who can afford buy a lvl 90 - also i spend hours lvling pets to 25 only to keep getting beat in pet battles by people who have bought their pets from blizz store (because if they did not sell stronger/better pets in the blizz store then why would anyone buy them? proof of P2W right there), i also collect mounts with 219 to date only to see extra mounts the store again which i can not get unless i buy them! also the new BMAH full of great items but when you try to bid for something make sure you have a million or so gold with you first or you do not stand a chance the gold sellers must be loving it another example of P2W but not to blizz  - i can understand all this from one point of view esp with the new kids they are trying enroll it will keep them busy but i can not help feeling like i have been taken granted and used which is not nice - i used to value my account much more years ago even though i did not have much in the way of items ect than i do now. Wow is still the best online game out there by a long stretch but i would like to see more random stuff in game somehow and to get back that special feel and uniqueness.

In answer to the question ofc it is a P2W game now - saying it is not is a bunch of baloney! i still play but it is not the same. Remember we only lease our accounts from Blizz they own it outright which is another gripe of mine if i am paying for my account with my characters and my unique journey through wow i should be able to own it - i should only be paying for content maintenance and the future development. 

billzihang
billzihang

It IS. You can PAY to get to 90, therefore skipping 90 levels of work-- that by VERY DEFINITION is pay to win.

keiran1337
keiran1337

"Pay-to-Win" has no true definition, but if I had to give one it would be: "when a player gets an advantage over an other player with real money". Nowadays developpers try to get away from this "P2W" accusations by proposing cosmetic advantages to players, which are, even if they won't admit it, still an unfair advantage.

However Blizzard is taking it to the next level, pretending that offering a direct boost to level 90 for 60$, is not P2W? Even free-to-play games don't propose that and yet World of Warcraft has a monthly fee and the box fee! That, the 'cosmetic' shop they are adding, plus the direct boost to level 90 for 60$.

Saying that World of Warcraft isn't P2W is just... hilarous. I haven't played that game in a while, and I don't think I'll be playing it again. R.I.P, World of Warcraft, which was the king of MMOs before taking the wrong direction. Of course, you still have those 7 millions subscribers, probably more than half from Asia, but trust me you'll lose it all.

littler807
littler807

Ive been playin WoW since 06 and i like this.  My account has been turned off for a few months now, but im waitin on xpac.  I may play again now.  This saves me about a month and a half, maybe even longer, of hard work. Thank you blizz, I have always wanted a druid.  I have a mage, priest, shaman, dk, and warr.  Now i can have my cake and eat it too  ^.^  As long as You keep it so that the best pvp and pve gear you have to work for, everything will be fine by me.

BertisAU
BertisAU

It's not pay-to-win because no one wins when they play WoW

cyberelitesg
cyberelitesg

So purchasing a instant level 90 is not pay to win? Why don't we look at these scenarios


scenario 1.


So lets say I have a group of friends who all starts at level 1. Then we decide to have a contest whereby whoever gets the most gold, gear, mounts in a month will win a prize. Everyone grinds from level 1 and I purchased the instant level $90 from day 1. 


Who do you think will win?


scenario 2.


Me an my colleague decides to create a level 1 character for PVP to see who will achieve the bloodthirsty title first. He starts at level 1 and I paid for a instant lvl 90 character.  As instant level 90, I can easily gank lower level characters which considerably gives me advantage over my colleague.


Even a 5 year old kid will know that having an instant level 90 is a considerable advantage over lower level characters in some aspects.



By reading most of the comments here saying that 90 is just the start of the game, then why don't you tell us when is the end of the game? Knowing that WOW is open ended, Im sure you cannot explain this therefore invalidating your logic.


My point is, WOW is an open ended game and the term "winning in game" is a variable. So that's why paying for an instant level 90 is considered as Pay to Win. Because when you decide to buy such a service, you are gaining advantage over those who started playing at the same time you started who opted to grind from level 1.


About myself: I have 11 level 90s, cleared current heroic raid content (heroic SOO) and also managed to get 18k+ achievements

gaeandilth
gaeandilth

"Pay-to-win models break player trust, and Blizzard has no intention of doing that, Afrasiabi said"


Wait so this guy is admitting that blizzard breaks player trust in diablo 3 and hearthstone? You can not get more pay 2 win then d3 was and hearthstone is pay 2 win before its even out of beta.

nigelholden
nigelholden

My old man keeps wanting me to pick up WoW again. He's 65 and I'm glad he's enjoying it. But I gave it up after burning through it one night in the whiskey wake of a bad break up. I never could fully get back into it. Either bad memories or just that I thought Cataclysm kind of sucked. He insists that I should just start at 60 and pay for a lvl 90 if it happens so I can run endgame content. But honestly, that would feel like being placed somewhere I didn't belong. Uncomfortable and dirty.


But I have been digging on the FF14 beta, so all hope isn't lost for my relations to MMORPGs.

devilzzz2014
devilzzz2014

Communities for many mmorpgs hate questing and beg for new end game all the time even though they haven't cleared all of it or haven't cleared all of it unnerfed or on the highest mode (heroic or whatever).  This is what is ruining mmorpgs.  What happened to playing in the actual world these guys created?  Why haven't people demanded more challenging questing which needs a group most of the time?  Why do people not ask for unnerfed servers for people who want a challenge?  Why?  Cuz mmorpg communities stink and hopefully off in the near or distant future that will change.  These games will only get better when we have players who want to be challenged more once again.

What is more funny is people complain about WOW and yet at least it has real raiding whereas games like TESO which hasn't even come out yet doesn't even mention raiding and yet they want a sub. LOL

StealthHimself
StealthHimself

Blizzard says they aren't pay to win so they must not be pay to win. Only gullible people would continue to pay this company to play this 'game'.

-"A fool and their money are soon parted"

AZN_style
AZN_style

After what blizzard did with D3, i will never trust them again... they can say all they want about making games which are not pay to win, but lets be honest, even allowing people to reach that supposed level 90 cap by paying $60, sounds pretty close to pay to win for me... Not to mention, whatever happened to actually playing through the games we buy now a days... it seems a lot of people just want to buy a game and jump straight to the ending to see what happens without knowing anything about the story itself...

FrKnPuertoRican
FrKnPuertoRican

Drop the 15 dollar subscription fee and I would happily start playing again and even spending a few dollars here and there.  I just can't justify spending 180 dollars a year to just play a game I only play a few times a month. I'd much rather spend that money and at least have some cool in game gear to show for it. Knowing these greedy bastards, though, they will want to charge 50 bucks for some video game armor when I can buy a few really good games in their entirety for that price in the bargain bin.

GIF
GIF

Oh come on. This game is now pay to win because once you introduce microtransactions the playing field which used to be level is obliterated. This kind of thing is happening because its an activision game and now more than ever Blizzard Activision is accountable to the investors. All moves going forward since the merger has been about money, not content and thats a shame.

vadagar1
vadagar1

omg the fanboys make me SICK


this not pay to win because they only give you X Y Z blah blah blah....

listen to yourselves, ITS IS pay to win, you pay and you can skip ALL the leveling up  which is like 90% of the whole game

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

It's pretty obvious why this is happening. It's not Pay to Win, they just give you a mount, or battle pet, and soon a level 90. First the Battle Pets are not even some of the best Battle Pets to use, so not pay to win when there are wild and other obtainable pets that are better, and superior to the ones you can buy. Second the mounts are just like the Helmets you can buy for cash...STRICTLY cosmetic. No Mount or Helmet you buy from the Blizz store gives you ANY sort of advantage over any player who has not bought them, they are only cosmetic. 3rd Buying a pre-leveled 90 doesn't mean pay to win either, you will still have to learn how to use that toon and then in turns use that toon to run all the raids, dungeons, ect the same way any other player does. That level 90 doesn't come with some Uber, donate only gear or abilities to give it an edge over any other character. 


I pay to win model would be Blizzard selling gear for money that has stats better than gear you obtain in raid or dungeons. Making any of said mounts or battle pets have some significant stat, or ability advantage over any other mount or battle pet. This type of be able to buy a level 90 is being implemented to prevent people from buying Power level 90 services which then the person has to give the service their account information and then leaving the player at risk of their account being hacked or infiltrated. Blizzard is doing this to basically put those services out of business so there are fewer accounts are compromised. Will this prevent all accounts from being hacked, no, but it will limit some from people who would rather pay to have a max level toon than do it themselves.

Cybersonix
Cybersonix

90% of people in comments haven't even played the game. And most don't understand the concept of pay-to-win...

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

It will end up being pay to win because they know people will pay the money.  No way they wont pass up that cash.

Hakkology
Hakkology

How do they say "WoW is not P2W" while you can't even enter the game without paying for it ?

What kind of unashamed logic is this ?

I don't understand WoW players and its developers.

shadonja
shadonja

Blizzards faith was sealed when Activision bought them. There is only one way to go for them.

Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

everyone denies their game is pay to win then guess what. it ends up being  pay to win.


just recently upon the release of the 360 version of  world of tanks the devs denied up and down that  wot is pay to win then i played it and saw i could buy special tanks, special overpowered  ammo and special consumables that were double in power of the free versions.


coming out and publicly stating your game is not pay to win is not very encouraging to me.


Bowser05
Bowser05

I am completely ok with being able to buy neat pets and mounts and transmog gear...as long as it doesn't affect the awesome design in the normal content in the game. So far I haven't seen such an issue so so far so good. Pay to 90 I'm mixed about. I mean, I'd love to get other characters up to 90 but frankly speaking I've invested a TON of time into my main and I would rather NOT waste time raising another character. I'm demotivated from raising another character because of the daunting task. It was fun the first time but I can't sit through levelling a second time. I've tried it. At the same time it could discourage newer players from learning and enjoying the game. Perhaps if you could only pay to raise a character to 90 if you have a character at at least 90 already in that faction and realm? That might be a reasonable compromise.


Ultimately, the main thing that keeps me away from WoW is the monthly fee. I don't mind paying for expansions and the game, but I can't justify paying for WoW when I have other AMAZING games I can play without paying (like Star Trek Online, Secret World, Guild Wars 2...to name a few). I've quite WoW for about 6 months as a result. I'd love to play...I love the story, I love the new content and I enjoy it very much...but paying for the game and paying for a monthly fee...it's starting to lose it's attractiveness considering how well supported these games that DON'T require subscriptions are at this point.

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

Not like they would admit to WoW being a pay to win game....

ferna1234
ferna1234

blizzard didn't have to turn wow pay to win to lose my trust.

007nikster5
007nikster5

It is pay-to-win! Cant you play to have a fucking level 90? Morons. That sounds like pay-to-win to me.

Pewbert
Pewbert

It will become pay to win.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

I played the original wow and quit before burning crusade. It was really fun though back then even though it was a huge time sink which is why I am glad I quit, but at the time it was easily one of the best games out there.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

People always hate on wow but really after all these years it still has more content then almost all other games. The gear treadmill is the only interesting way to have an end game, and end game of guild wars 2 is standing around being bored because there is no other point to anything after best stats on your stuff.

Micro transactions are not a big deal if they are not pay to win. Buy them or dont its your choice and you still play the game without them

Gojomez
Gojomez

@nigelholden  Takes a few days to get to level 80, and a few more to get to 90. Its worth the playthrough to level a guy or two on each faction just to check out the world and lore. I did some raidfinder and finished all the new content, the raids are nice and all but its not the same as rolling with a Guild and bidding DKP for T2 gear in BWL.


ESO is my end-WoW (I hope)

devilzzz2014
devilzzz2014

@StealthHimself  WOW is not pay to win and at least it has raiding.  ESO, GW2, Tera and many other games out there that are similar are a joke compared to it.

devilzzz2014
devilzzz2014

@FrKnPuertoRican  How much does BF4 cost to play?  Point is $180 per year isn't much to play WOW.  Maybe if people stop spending so much money on games they will never play and have a back log up the wazzzooo then they could afford to play WOW.

StealthHimself
StealthHimself

@GIF Exactly, it is a damn shame the top tier MMORPG of the time has become the next Call of Duty. Money over content, money over their loyal fan-base and everything else. It's a sad sight actually..

vadagar1
vadagar1

seems logic gets little replies from the rabid fans

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Bowser05 Star trek sucks, secret world should not have been release. Only game I can give you thats good is GW2 but even than the equipment/gear sucks, not enough to venture for.

vadagar1
vadagar1

@007nikster5 leave them to thier delusions, they are 25 year old guys with no skill in life but to play wow


90% of the wow fan base would commit suicide if the game went offline tomorrow

normanislost
normanislost

@007nikster5  only an idiot who hasn't played the game would call getting an instant 90 winning.....hitting max level is where the games starts and then in a few few months 90 isn't going to be max level anyway 

Gojomez
Gojomez

@devilzzz2014 @StealthHimself  GW2 is spectacular, the 5 man dungeons are done extremely well, all its missing is actual instanced raids, but the public events are amazing (easily 40+ at a time) and the WvWvW was so good blizzard is "borrowing" it for WoD. Also, ESO is a contender.

Hakkology
Hakkology

@devilzzz2014 @FrKnPuertoRican  You know its not just 180$s. You also pay money for new expansion packs.

They should give WoD for loyal subscribers free just like they did at SWTOR :P .

heinrich_s
heinrich_s

@gameroutlawzz @Cybersonix 

I respectfully disagree.


I've been playing since vanilla beta. Stopped just before Pandaria. 


But WOTLK was the Golden Age of PvE Raiding. It's true WOTLK did screw up PvP with armor expertise being increased so that people who played longer where automatically better.


But in Vanilla Warlocks and Rogues where unbelievably overpowered. BC helped a little. But WOTLK brought in more class balance. 


Cataclysm took out 1/3 of the game's old mechanics and I was able to deal with it. 


Then Pandaria came and stripped most skills from each class(Both a Mages Fire and ice abilities where just combined for the hell of it) and dumbed it down to only cycling a few different actions per second. Hell I tried Pandaria and I didin't even have to fill up half my bottom bar to be effective. Then they destroyed the talent trees altogether.


Honestly I think old WoW IS dead, that I agree with you. But it started with Cataclysm, and got worse with Pandaria.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Cozm1kaos @Bowser05  That's your opinion, not mine. I've found Star Trek and Secret World to be some of the most endearing games I've played in recent memory. Also, I don't know what you mean by 'secret world should not have been released.' Then again, I'm a huge Ragnar Tornquist fan. That being said, my old roommate who is overly critical and hates MMO games and has never played a Ragnar Tornquist game absolutely loves Secret World. So you can hate those games all you want, but that does not mean they are bad games. It just means you don't like them.

007nikster5
007nikster5

@normanislost Stop trying to support this stupid ass game anyways. It sucks. Its not even a game.

crognalsen
crognalsen

@normanislost  

The game starts for who?  I usually don't play past max level as raiding is not enjoyable for me.  To me buying a max level character is pointless as you are paying to play the game and then you are paying again to not play the game.  If you don't enjoy the first part of the game then why bother.  I'm sure there are other games you can play that have raiding style encounters and you don't have to level or the leveling is quicker.

Hakkology
Hakkology

@heinrich_s  Golden Age doesn'T mean it was doing best of its time.

What matters is growth here. True, growth also stopped slowing down significantly after WotlK. Outlawz has a point here.

Also you are right, population growth became so bad with Cataclysm, subs started dropping.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@007nikster5  He didn't support the game, he called out your moronic notion that getting a level 90 is "pay-to-win". It's not, not unless you get a "godlike" buff for paying, it is, after all, pay-to-WIN that you're saying, and where exactly does the "win" come in with having a level 90?

g0nz0j03
g0nz0j03

@crognalsen @normanislost  Because not everyone is a casual scrub who finds challenge and engagement in the mindless, button mashing grind fest of leveling.  I enjoy leveling because I visit the old zones for nostalgias sake, but it's just a distraction now and then, not the focus of the game.  And if you think the only thing to do at max level is raid, then you haven't played in a while.

X-Eli-X
X-Eli-X

@crognalsen @normanislostThe game really doesn't start until max level for each expansion. If you don't play past max level at all, then you are one step below being "a filthy casual" and your opinion of the game doesn't count or matter. ;)