As Phase 3 approaches, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic players are up in arms over the sudden addition of the WoW Token to the MMORPG's older version. In an effort to calm spirits, developer Blizzard Entertainment has explained its reasoning behind the controversial decision in a lengthy forum post.
The developers starts by noting that it was "very resistant to the idea of adding WoW Token to any form of Classic in the Western regions (NA and EU)," since its launch.
Blizzard Explains Reasoning Behind Adding WoW Token to WotLK Classic
Aside from feeling "out of place", it also admits that especially in the game's vanilla version (and also Burning Crusade), where gold was scarce and players had to farm quite a bit to maintain their characters ready for activities like dungeons or raids, it would have heavily affected the flow of the game.
"However, what we want to do from a design perspective and what we need to do for the good of the community aren’t always aligned, and this is one of the more difficult things about maintaining a large online game like Wrath Classic," reads the forum post.
"When we really looked at the state of things in Wrath Classic, and how different players approach the game, we saw that we cannot cause the demand for gold to be lower. The impact of illicit RMT is beyond just buying gold; it’s the entire black market that revolves around gold sales."
While bots play a role in this, "compromised accounts, credit card fraud, scams, hacked clients, and the tools that illicit third parties use to fuel the engine that is the RMT trade," are also an "objective reality" that contributed to the WoW Token being added to Wrath of the Lich King Classic.
The developer says that, although it might not be immediately obvious to players, it has "never been better and more effective at identifying and actioning malicious accounts, and our Game Security Operations (GSO) team that handle these actions are iterating and innovating on a nearly daily basis."
Unfortunately, the bad actors are also keeping up the pace and developing new methods of their own, in waht Blizzard calls "an unwinnable war" that very much also affects other online games.
"While we can’t completely “win” the war, what we can do is mitigate the impact it has on the game. Is WoW Token the be-all and end-all to solve this? No, but it is a tool. It’s just one tool, though, among many. There is clearly a demand for gold for certain types of players, and that demand is only increasing," the developer wrote.
"So, we are engaging a tool that we’ve used before to help mitigate the impact that illicit RMT has on the game. The more tools we employ, and the less lucrative we can make it for third parties to do what they do to make a profit, the less likely it is that new malicious actors enter the illicit RMT scene, and the more likely that existing malicious actors will exit the business. "
In addition, it claims that due to Wrath of the Lich King Classic's design, which requires far less farming to maintain characters ready for PvE and PvP activities, the WoW Token is "simply not impactful to the average player who logs in, raids a few days a week with their guild, does a few dungeons and dailies, and then plays other games in between those activities."
Judging by the replies to the forum post, the explanation hasn't proven very convincing among players. Even if Blizzard noted that it's more open to changes early in Wrath Classic's life cycle, the WoW token's addition seems to have crossed a line with many of the MMORPG's fans.
Aside from the token simply not fitting with the expansion (or WoW Classic's) spirit, the outrage also results from how it essentially allows players to purchase gold, impacting the in-game economy.
On the flip side, illciit real money transactions and things like GDKP raids, which allowed players to easily obtain valuable items if they had the gold to spare, already changed how many approached playing the MMORPG.
With two more content phases remaining, WotLK Classic is slowly nearing its end, at which point Blizzard might set its sights on Cataclysm Classic. It will be interesting to follow whether players will stick around or end up jumping ship following the addition of the WoW Token.
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