Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Weight Watchers: Slim your Tauren down to a Gnome
In a completely predictable move, after allowing you to change your name, server, sex, and look, Blizzard is now working on a system that lets you change your race in World of Warcraft, including changing a Horde character into an Alliance one and vice versa. Yes, you somewhat overweight Tauren can now do a diet and slim down in bulk and size until he is a Gnome. Details are still being worked out.
Some commenters accuse Blizzard of this being just another RMT option, as you'll have to pay to change. But I don't think the income of that is really going to have a big impact on the billion dollar annual revenue of World of Warcraft. I'd say the main motivation is to keep people playing after they got bored with one side, but don't want to abandon their old character.
And in WoW, unlike other RPGs, that is easier than it looks. Race has very, very little influence on your character, much less so than in other games. In many other systems a large race like the Tauren would be stronger, while a small race like a Gnome would be more agile or intelligent. In Everquest it was completely possible to gimp yourself by making a sub-optimal race / class combination. Not so in WoW. The Tauren warrior transformed into a Gnome warrior will not suddenly become less strong and more agile. The stats will only change minimally, or not at all.
What made this predictable was that it is just another step in the process of diluting character identity. That is a bad thing, because it weakens social cohesion, which isn't strong in WoW in the first place. Next up: The ability to change you character class.