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“Time Tokens” Could Be What World of Warcraft Needed
In the realm of gaming that is MMOs, World of Warcraft has spent a long time being king. Although it has gone through ups and downs, and has had its fan base dwindle and rebound, it has kept millions coming back again and again. The recent announcement of “time tokens” (subscription time that can be purchased with in-game gold), may very well be what this MMO giant needed to hold its place at the top.
The concept here is that through some method that is to be determined, players will be able to acquire in-game “time tokens” with in-game gold. These tokens will be tradable among players, and will perhaps make the burden of a monthly subscription fee a little lighter. Although it is not an original idea, as games like EVE Online have a similar concept that allows players to pay for their subscription with in-game time/currency, it is a solid one.
“Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system … We agree it could be a good fit for the game, and we look forward to any feedback you have as we continue to look into this feature,” wrote Blizzard Community Manager Micah “Bashiok” Whipple on the official WoW forum.
In just the past few years, we’ve seen many games either start free-to-play and die off, or start off with subscriptions and downgrade to free-to-play. Each contender has tried to reinvent a genre that is already being dominated, or simply feed off of the likeness of pre-existing heavy hitters. For a long time, many people have been rooting for WoW to downgrade to a free-to-play model, usually just to spite the subscription fee of about $15 a month that players face.
Removing something like a subscription fee is a big decision, however, and even with a shrinking subscription base, Blizzard has had no real reason to do so. Primarily because the quality of the servers, patches and the game itself depend on a drip-feed of cash, and WoW has built a reputation on being the monument to what MMOs should be.
Time tokens are likely, as it stands, going to be the closest we’ll be getting to free-to-play WoW. Considering that the game has been killing it for the past 10 years, and has set the bar quite high for what people expect from an online game, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least at this rate, however, we will finally get to see some flexibility with what has been one of the biggest turn-offs for many players: the price.