World of Warcraft isn’t going free-to-play. But you might not have to pay for it anymore, if you know how to do it.
Blizzard is set to introduce WoW Tokens, a new item meant to give the most productive players a way to play for free and to hopefully curb the activity of third party gold sellers.
WoW Tokens will be available at a price set by Blizzard and can be purchased with in-game gold or real world coin. Those purchasing tokens using gold they’ve gained in-game will then be able to buy additional game time, allowing them to keep playing without having to pay a dime. If you’re buying them with real dollars, you can then transform them into in-game gold.
As Polygon notes, this isn’t entirely dissimilar from the PLEX system seen in Eve Online. Eve players who know how to make a fast buck can continue to purchase game time, never having to pay a dime for the privilege of play. WoW Tokens are different from PLEX, though, in that the price will be controlled entirely by Blizzard and the tokens will not be resellable, whether you’re inside the game or out. The tokens are purchased through your character (meaning you need a current subscription to start using them) and the tokens are bound to your character.
Blizzard said they are looking, though, into a way to use this to pull back in lapsed players who may have quit more because of the cost than the time involved, people who might have old characters with lots of gold sitting somewhere on the server.
This isn’t nearly free-to-play, but it does give players a way to get around paying. Whether it will curb the third party gold market remains to be seen. It is, though, a creative solution to a problem that’s been plaguing the game for years.
There’s no pricing or hard release date on when WoW Tokens will go live, but they will appear in all major markets, including North America, Europe, Taiwan, Korea and China.