World of Warcraft’s WoW Classic community has been on fire for the last few days following Blizzard’s announcement that it will port the WoW Token to Wrath Classic. WoW Classic, of course, was sold to players as an authentic throwback experience recreating the good old days of WoW, minus some classic features like LFD, added midway through Wrath’s term but still absent here. The WoW Token, however, was added in 2015 and essentially introduces legal RMT to the game; there’s no good way to characterize it as a “classic” feature, and it enters a version of the game already saddled with unchecked RMT activities.
Now, Blizzard executives behind the call have addressed the uproar. Sorry, did I say Blizzard executives? I meant they sent out a community manager to pitch their position, and then they signed it from “The WoW Classic Team” as if the team made the call.
Poor Randy “Kaivex” Jordan is compelled to admit that porting the WoW Token into the “classic” version of the game is indeed jarring but that it’s in the best interests of the community and the economy, which is currently overrun by bots, 10s of thousands of whom the studio already bans every week in what the team characterizes as an “arms race” with gold farmers. Indeed, the company says it banned almost 250K WoW Classic bots in the last two weeks, with another 73K in Retail.
“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. The concept of bots gets thrown around a lot, but it’s not just ‘bots’ that fuel this, it’s 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. […] 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. 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. Ultimately, it’s taking incremental steps and using a multitude of tools that will reduce how impactful those third parties will be in Wrath Classic and beyond.”
Blizzard also suggests that the introduction of the token won’t impact most players, who generate enough gold during normal Wrath play to sustain themselves. “There’s no friction in that [Wrath] player’s experience that would tempt them to buy a token just to keep themselves afloat.” (Of course, if this were true, there would be little demand for illicit RMT in the first place.)
The dev blog isn’t mollifying players, who fired back that Blizzard makes money from the WoW Token and is headed up by a president who has publicly engaged in GDKP/boosting culture activities that drive the RMT and gold-farming scene.
“[Y]ou are now on record saying that WoW token and gold buying in Classic is not bad for the Classic Experience but a dungeon finder is,” one player summed up.