Friday, October 23, 2009

Tickled Pink: Blizzard's New Account Services

Over the course of the past year Blizzard has implemented a series of changes to Account Services that allow the player to change server (PVE to PVP), faction, and soon race. These changes are controversial to some who thought that these are things Blizzard would never do. Are you Tickled Pink about these changes and have you utilized any of the services yourself.


Normally, I've all for expanding opportunities and enhancing freedom; these changes do that. Yet I also understand why people who have invested a lot of time and energy creating an identity for their character are upset. Until recently I would even have said the complainers were correct. A recent experience has made me rethink my attitude.

I have a human mage alt that is now level 70. I didn't intend to create this character as a full fledged alt; initially he was my bank alt. When 3.0 rolled out last year I leveled him up to level 20 so I could take advantage of the new inscription profession released with Wrath. Then he sat for almost four months. When I learned about dual spec in 3.1 I decided to level him up again to level 52 so I could once again take advantage of the inscription profession on the Auction House. Then he sat for another three months. Over the summer I decided to level him to 65 so I could max both his inscription and enchanting profession. Now I want to get him to level 74 so he has all the portals.

What I have realized over time is that I actually don't like playing a mage. I didn't level him because I wanted to play a mage yet now he's so close to 80 I feel like I should just finish the job. I love playing a hybrid class and doing nothing but frostbolt spam and the occasional water elemental as my dps bores me. I want my cat rotation. I would love to try out the Paladin class and if Blizzard gave me the opportunity to pay to switch my class I would jump on it.

Of course, class changes are not a paid service Blizzard offers; maybe they never will. Yet my feelings about class changes has helped me to see why some people were dying to change their race or their faction. Frankly, race and faction don't mean as much to me as class. Yet I can see how having the wrong race or faction could cause as much angst for some people as being in the wrong class has for me.

I still won't say I'm tickled pink about the changes but I'm no longer an blustery red either. Even though I don't have any plans to utilize the paid services available, I now get why they were implemented.


I love freedom of choice as a principle. Maybe it’s an effect of growing up during the cold war in the relative neighbourhood of the socialist regimes, which not only oppressed their own citizens, but also filled the surrounding countries with fear. I suspect many of the readers of the PPI aren’t old enough to remember words like Glasnost and Perestroika. But believe me, if you lived in Europe in that period, they meant something. People literally tore down the wall dividing Berlin with their very hands, stone by stone, and I shiver this very moment when I think back at it.

Even though I’m quite far from the political standpoint of Gevlon, I’m basically a fan of giving as much freedom as possible to the individual - for good and for bad. Making our own choices isn’t always fun or anything we wish for, but it’s a part of being human.

The last few years we’ve seen a smaller revolution in Sweden, which has parallels to what’s going on in Blizzards account services. I’m no longer stuck with the government power supply, telephony service, school or healthcare. I’m free to pick whichever I want. This doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily switch. In most cases, I stick to the government alternative, as I’ve always done. They’re doing their job well and I’m rather lazy about checking up the alternatives. But the possibility is there, if I want to.

For me, the new account services in WoW are exactly like this. I can switch server, I can switch faction and soon even race. New opportunities are opening up almost every month. The choice is mine, not some random rules set in stone when they first came up with the idea about WoW. But will I use this service? Not very likely!

I’m a main hugger you see. In a world of altoholics, I’m a mainaholic. I may play a little on some alts now and then to get an idea about other aspects of the game. It gives me variation and some giggles as I’m enjoying the druid shape shifting. But Larísa is and will remain my first love in Azeroth. She’s much more than just a vehicle through which I can consume content, questing and raiding. She’s an extension of the real me, and that’s why I can’t imagine waking up one morning, seeing Larísa turned into a blood elf or a human.

On the other hand – I can’t see any reason to deny other players to switch around as much as they want. After all, people make sex change operations in real life, why not in WoW? If someone who was unfortunate enough to pick a blood elf instead of a gnome at the creation screen, why would I demand that they re-roll and start their gnome career from level 1? Their choices don’t affect me.

Glasnost has arrived at Azeroth. And it was about time.


Adgamorix said...

I think class changes would be a bit much - but who knows? As far as Faction/Race change goes - I became a belfadin the day the switch was offered. Our whole guild jumped ship. Yes - we could have re-rolled as a guild, leveled to 80, ground out the gear...but this let us become Horde and be productive at what we love (raiding) right off the bat.

I love it.

Hinenuitepo said...

Great topic!

I say, if people want it, why not?

I look forward to transforming a yet-to-be named toon into a Worgen eventually!

TristanPEJ said...


Sygor said...

I agree with much that have been said. I even consider using the race change to get better racials for my Warrior.

But I can see where some people might disagree with those services.

From a roleplaying perspective, nothing of it much make sense. Or at least you'd need a fancy background of magical transformation to make the pill swallowable.

Any serious roleplayer is very likely to ignore these services for these puposes.

Not to say that a serious roleplayer most likely also chose his class/race combo very carefully to start with, so it kind of negate the need of such service.

Sygor said...

@ Hinenuitepo:

Keep in mind that race change might not be available for new races as soon as the expansion will come out. You might have to wait a few or several months before its available.

Blizzard will surely want people creating a Worgen to see the new content they made.

Just as they don't transfering a Death Knight before he has reached level 60, I believe you won't be able to change your race to Worgen as soon as the XP come out.

Kromus said...

My view is similar to both of your interpretations.

I love freee choice- and even though I will very rarely use the barber shop, never mind the faction change- knowing its there makes me feel in control.

Makes me feel like theres always a safety net if I change my mind about having pink hair.

I wish there was a barber shop wow thing in real life. I'll need it when I dye my hair pink for next year's charity event. Lmao.

I'm also very obsessive of the little choices.

I'm very obsessive about my name, so why they've implemented these changes makes perfect sense for those who may be sensitive in that area like I am towards names.

Ophelie said...

I never really understood what was controversial about Faction/Race change, but to me those traits are more cosmetic than anything else. If you have a lot of money to waste and you want to play the opposite faction or a different race, go for it. From an RP point of view, it's a bit different but I imagine RPers who are attached to their characters just wouldn't be using the service.

Class change would be a bit much though. While it wouldn't be too different from powerlevelling a new character and switching mains, the thought of people suddenly switching their classes makes me uneasy.

Fish said...

I don't think blizzard would ever allow class changes, and I agree with this. Race and appearance are window dressing, they don't have any effect on functional game mechanics at all. However, all classes play a fair amount differently, and most of the leveling process (apart from making sure you're paying your $$) is about learning how to use/manage your class's abilities. Leveling to 80 as say a hunter and switching to say a druid should never be possible. Leveling to 80 as a hunter doesn't prepare you for what it takes to play as a level 80 druid (or some would say hunter, but that's another discussion).

Elnia said...

I'm actually quite surprised at the negativity towards class changes expressed here. I don't buy the preparation argument simply because the way most classes play @ 80 are different than the way they play @ 20 and 40 anyway.

I think the biggest stumbling block would be that it would be a step too close to selling pre-made level 80s. But then I am on the record as supporting that development too. At some point in time the leveling process just get too long and something has to be done about it.

Larísa said...

@all: yeah, I'm all for the faction/race switch for people who are up for it. Class switch though... Nah. That's too much of glasnost for me. I hope that day won't come. I think you need some levelling to get to know your toon. Although you could argue that more than just DKs should be able to start at 55. Possibly.
I'm not a fan of premade 80s though. Unlike Elnia. But that's what tickled pink is good for, right? Different perspectives from the innkeeper and the bartender.

Tesh said...

I've long been a fan of "complete respecs", all the way down to race, gender and class. In my mind, locking a player to a choice made at the start of the game is bad game design. This is especially true when grinding up a new character literally costs money, since you're paying for the time you play the game.

It's abusive in my mind, and long past its "sell by" date.