Blizzard has taken a significant step away from subscriptions in World of Warcraft. The company has announced a plan to let players exchange in-game gold for game time, but also real money for gold.
This will work via the “WoW Token” system. Players will be able to purchase tokens via the real money shop. These are then sold at the auction house, where players can spend gold on them. When redeemed, each token is worth one month of game time.
The flip side is that players will be able to receive in-game gold via a real money purchase (via a two-step process). The amount of gold will be set by the WoW economy, which varies by server and time. Players will receive the amount quoted at the time of listing regardless of sale price.
The token system will arrive in an upcoming patch. Pricing details have yet to be announced.
Blizzard says it is implementing the system to provide a secure method for players to purchase gold (something that was previously prohibited). The publisher says that third-party gold purchases are a leading cause of compromised accounts.
This is an enormous change to World of Warcraft, even though it mirrors the PLEX system used in EVE Online. It will be extremely interesting to watch the in-game economy once this goes into effect.