Paid Faction Change

June 30, 2009 at 11:04 am (WoW General)

So, apparently, that one bit of additional recustomization they would never ever allow will now be allowed.  For what is, no doubt, a modest fee.  I’m going to assume for the rest of this post that this means cross-faction race changes for real-life money – if this is some sort of RP-derived allow-you-t0-betray-your-faction questline, or something, that’s actually kind of awesome.  But I doubt it.

I generally try to restrain my You-Kids-Get-Off-My-Lawn impulses when things change.  And heck, it’s not like I’m actually all that much of an old-timer – I didn’t really experience vanilla WoW, which I regret.  Dropping the Dreadsteed questline, well, I got over it, after a short tip of the hat to an awesome questline.  Times move on, and all that.

Still, this is, I think, the ultimate example of the fact that no we’re-not-planning-that-for-a-lot-of-good-reasons excuses from Blizzard will hold up if money is to be made.  There were a ton of good reasons for the restrictions on PvE to PvP server transfers, and no really good ones, except people wanted to level without getting ganked, so they could then go gank others.  Blizzard reversed themselves, and allowed it (for a modest fee, of course).  Cosmetic character recustomization?   My inner RP nerd was annoyed, but the part of me that rolled my first priest (in the days pre-barber-shop) and ended up deleting him because I wasn’t feeling a human male priest who, with his hair and beard, looked 80 (years, not levels), but had the hybrid bodybuilder-ape physique of the male WoW human, was pleased.  If I had more disposable income, I might very well have employed it by now on my paladin, who I’ve always half-wished I’d made female (it’s my inner Buffy fan, I love tough women as heroes, plus, as I mentioned, male WoW humans look moronic).  But there are no real solid reasons for allowing it, and it’s a pretty major deviation from what a character used to mean (in a way that, say, an in-game haircut isn’t).  But, a modest fee could be charged, so Blizzard allowed it.

My current predictions:  (a) we will, within a year, be able to “buy” level 55 characters of all classes, once we’ve “unlocked” it on our account, (b) we will, within a year, be buying vanity pets and mounts directly from Blizzard for real money, and (c) we will, by the time the life-cycle of the next expansion ends, be able to buy gold directly from Blizzard.  Naturally, no plans exist to do this now.  Naturally, there are all kinds of reasons why this is a bridge too far.  But you see, somebody out there wants it.  And there will be a modest fee involved.  And that will make it all right.


EDITED TO ADD:  Spinks says what I’m thinking, but more coherently.



  1. Sven said,

    I don’t have a problem with your option (a), provided it is done on the same terms as DKs. Can’t see a problem with (b) either – vanity gear has no impact on the game.

    (c), however, I would disapprove of, unless it was on a restricted server of some kind with no transfers off allowed.

    • Kahleena said,

      My problem with (a) is that Death Knights are built (in terms of when you get certain abilities) to take into account that you’re starting at level 55. Other classes are not. A level 55 starting warlock, is going to be crippled in terms of understanding the utility of different spells in different contexts, or for that matter having the slightest idea which spells those little pictures represent. Death Knights, by contrast, are built on the assumption that that’s how everybody starts them (and given how bad so many death knight players are, even then it has problems.)

      Other than the symbolism, I don’t have a huge problem with vanity gear either, except as another step down the road to what appears to be the new MMO business model of making money through microtransactions. And it’s not any bigger a leap from buying vanity gear to buying real gear than it is from recustomizing same-race same-class characters to a cross-faction cross-race jump. And ultimately, Blizzard selling gold could be “sold” as a player benefit – by meeting the demand themselves, in a safe environment, Blizzard eliminates the market for gold sellers, and actually makes all of our accounts a bit safer.

  2. Tamarind said,

    I understand your concerns and I see many of the arguments against it (I read a hilarious post by somebody hilarious – alas, who were you?! – suggesting comedy RP reasons for faction changes) but I think I’m actually broadly in favour. Since the pleasure of playing of WoW comes to such a large extent from those you play it with, I see faction change as a necessary social facility.

    Yes, there’s a “modest fee” involved but it’s not the sort of modest fee that is going to quadruple the fortune stashed in the Blizzard off-shore account. The only reason to do it is to join friends or a guild – someone invited me into their guild on my blog the other day and it sounded great. Except. Different server *and* Alliance. I’m actually not sure I could face the long lonely resource-less levelling haul all over again on a new server. Server transfers and faction transfers at least give me *options*.

    Ultimately, it strikes me that it’s one way for Blizzard to *preserve* and even *validate* the effort you’ve previously put into the game. Instead of leaving some random character on the wrong side or the wrong server halfway levelled and adrift, you can at least bring that character into the fold. That’s not x hours of play wasted.

    From an RP perspective it makes no sense. And actually I’d probably never do it myself because I kind of conceived characters around their race. But for pure social utility? Fair enough, I say.

    • Kahleena said,

      No, you’re not wrong. Those are some decent reasons to want to do it, and the social element is foremost. If I thought for a moment Blizzard would stop there, I’d probably be more accepting of the idea. It’s just that there have been too many we’ll-never-do-that changes to core aspects of the game that Blizzard ended up making (with no actual explanation as to *why* their very legitimate reasons for not doing them before have changed, except “We changed our mind” or “People wanted this”) that suggest to me they’re exploring moving in a microtransactions direction in terms of pricing. Which I think would be bad for WoW.

      It certainly strips away any sense of the unique cultures of the Alliance and Horde, though, which is too bad.

      I will say there is one faction/race change that makes actual RP sense – Human to Forsaken (in point of fact, on another server, I have a Forsaken warlock named Kahleena who is, in my head, the same character as my human warlock Kahleena, who just happened to take a wrong turn in the Eastern Plaguelands on her way back from an assault on Zul’Aman).

  3. Temitope said,

    I don’t think things are as black as you’re painting them. Blizzard’s hardest line has always been against people paying real money for game mechanical advantage, and I seriously don’t think they’ll go back on that because it would be hugely unpopular.

    Everything else strikes me as more mutable. I don’t really see the problem with faction changes, and were they to offer it I don’t think I’d see the issue with race rerolls or even (potentially) class rerolls (although that might screw low-level class balance).

    Paying to start at 55 I don’t think they’d do. Look how angry people got at the mount changes – the idea that somebody else could skip 55 levels of content just by paying a tenner to Blizzard would alienate a huge proportion of the player base.

  4. Salvà said,

    I have to agree with Temitope in that the future is far from bleak. I just can’t conceive a World of Warcraft microtransaction for “Thunderfury”. Cosmetic things like Mounts and or Pets are already in the game. Take a look at TCG and their loot cards it’s the same thing just in a different package, so nothing new here.

    Faction Changes are a godsend to those who started with certain people playing WoW and then find themselves suddenly alone on a underpopulated let’s say Horde server. All the cool kids are Ally. Off you go and have fun finding a Guild or be smart and roll a lvl 1, make some contacts, eye out the guilds available and then do the faction switch.

    Or take my person for example, having run across Tamarind’s blog to discover a wonderfully snarky, silly, and downright WoWcockery World of Warcraft that the min/maxers seem to have either forgotten or never knew. I could change server/change faction and run with the best dressed Priest in Northend standing at the back in his sissy robe. Yes I am a Fan 😀

    • Kahleena said,

      Of course, if you’re on a server with a massive population imbalance, and you can switch between factions, that’s only going to make that imbalance far worse. My guess is we’ll end up (to an even greater degree than is the case now) with realms that are essentially “Alliance Realms”, and ones that are essentially “Horde Realms.” Which is something the poor level 1 newbie, who’s never played WoW before, isn’t going to know about until it’s too late, and he can either be the Last Hordie on Duskwood server, or pay a fee to Blizzard to switch factions and/or servers.

      • Salvà said,

        Well after thinking about it I am all for free faction changes to balance population. Just like server changes are not allowed to servers that are grossly unbalanced you shouldn’t allow faction changes from ally to horde on Magtheridon for example. Who knows maybe on the log on screen they’ll have for certain factions free changes on Server X for a limited time only. Being the last Horde on an all Ally server would just be… morally wrong 😀

        I can get into what your saying and maybe Actiblizzards track record isn’t what it used to be. But pandering to the purists and the elite is not gonna get that manager on lvl 23 of Actiblizzards Highrise promoted…

        I keep reading and hearing about how Actiblizzard is going with the lowest common denominator and keeping the game casual and fast (read dumbing it down). It is to an extent becoming like a console game, I am missing a bit more depth than in TBC or Azeroth.

        I don’t honestly know if Hello Kitty will become the Alliance faction leader but gnomes into crickets? Where do I sign the petition?

        It would be a sad sad sad day if Actiblizzard does go over to the dark side and starts with the microtransactions, buy yourself a lvl 55 Drood, or even RL gold for in game gold, but I’ll betcha their will be others out there who will play and they will like it, cause tbh people are stupid like that.

      • Kahleena said,

        Hello Kitty can’t possibly be a worse faction leader for the Alliance than Varian Wrynn. Makes you want to go back to the “Missing Diplomat” questline and say “Nope, found nothing – can we keep the kid and the dragon as faction leaders?”

  5. Kahleena said,

    Oh, you’re all probably right. To the extent Blizzard stops, more or less, here, I don’t hate the faction-change thing per se. And yeah Salvanus, I’m a fan of Tam and Temi as well, though switching servers/factions to be their pocket facemelter isn’t an option, as I’m not in the EU. 🙂

    I guess I keep asking myself “Why will Blizzard stop here? Why will they understand that X is okay, if pushing it, and Y is a bridge too far?” Is it because of their skillful management of endgame raiding? Uhh… Their breathtaking competence at class balancing? Hmm, not really. Their dedication to a particular vision of what the game is, what a character is, what changes are cosmetic and which aren’t? Well, when they change that as frequently as Blizzard does, it’s hard to have any faith that this one won’t change. And it’s not like PvE-PvP server transfers didn’t royally piss off the people on PvP servers, whose work to level toons in the face of ganking was now rendered irrelevant. Blizz is clearly willing to anger or alienate core parts of their audience in the service of growing (or getting more money from) the rest of their audience. They’re a corporation, so this is not a surprise. It”s not morally blameworthy or anything. But it does feel a bit like the brakes are off. And it’s not like there aren’t loud, non-trivial constituencies (on forums and elsewhere) shouting for, say, starting all characters at level 55 once you’ve leveled through the first time (an idea which, if Blizzard implements, it will be either (a) a massive, massive gold sink, or (b) a fee-per-transaction like recustomization. Plenty of people have suggested Blizzard sell gold. And honestly, there are serious, compelling arguments for why Blizzard *should* sell gold. These aren’t, ultimately, ideas on a par with, say, making Hello Kitty the Alliance faction leader and replacing all gnomes with talking crickets. They do have serious constituencies among the WoW player base – constituencies that don’t see these as game-breaking changes, even as I think many of us would.

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