This Old Garrison

Looking forward to our new "Home" in Azeroth. Regular updates on Saturday.

Buying the farm

microtrans

So while scrambling around madly trying to find something to write about this week, I came across a few articles pointing towards a recent job posting at Blizzard.  This got me thinking about micro-transactions and what kind of things Blizzard could offer to players to buy for their garrison with real world money.

Before we go any further, I feel like I should say this now:  as far as I’ve been able to research, there has been NO MENTION of any garrison related purchases being planned for the Battle.net store.  This is me “thinking out loud” about something that could, maybe, possibly happen at some point without any evidence at all suggesting that it is a one hundred percent certainty that this will happen.  This is a writer opinion piece, not factual reporting.  Anyone that points at this post and says “look, evidence to support my claims” should be laughed at.

Now, looking at what is currently offered in the store, we see that it’s mostly vanity items.  Things that look cool, but don’t necessarily give the player an advantage in game.  And going over what we know about garrisons already, a possible store item popped into my head.  What seems to be the most requested wishlist item for garrisons is race based architecture for buildings.  And I can certainly see why.  I’m sure there are probably some Horde players that would like to not have a heavily Orc influenced appearance to their home away from home given recent events in the game.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a contingent of Draenei players that would want their garrison to look like the long lost home we’re returning to in Warlords.  By offering racial customization options as a micro-transaction, it opens up more possibilities for the player base.  Druids of both factions could choose to buy the night elf architecture package because it reminds them of Moonglade.  A human that role-plays as someone that escaped from Gilneas without being bitten could opt for the Worgen building option.  Depending on how easy it is to change the building appearances, players could even give their garrisons a holiday make over (Forsaken for Hallow’s End anyone?).

Something else that could be purchased would be followers.  Blizzard already sells a number of pets that can be used for pet battles.  Right now, I don’t see much of a difference between buying pets and buying followers.  And it’s something that can be found in other games that have a follower system already.  Star Trek:  Online allows players to purchase officer packs.  Like Hearthstone card packs, they’re five random officers with varying abilities and rarities.  Depending on how followers are picked up in game, having the option to try your luck with a random pack from the store may be nice if you’re having terrible luck finding someone in the world with the proper role or profession type you want.  But this micro-transaction also has the most opportunity to problematic.  Blizzard would have to balance a number of things around this additional source of followers.  Purchased followers would have to be very carefully balanced.  Some of the pet store pets have been nerfed because their abilities were better than some pets found in the wild.  They’d have to make sure that buying a large number of followers doesn’t wreck the time investment that they want players to put into garrisons.  If they want us to have to make a choice about if it would be better to send a follower on a quest or to have that follower working in one of our buildings, they can’t allow us to stock our garrisons with enough followers to have a body for every job available.  And Blizzard would also have to take care not to turn followers into a type of currency.  Some games require you to get rid of lower quality followers in order to build certain features.  In a free to play game, I may not mind buying followers just so I can build something I want; but not in WoW.

The last possible micro-transaction I could think of is also I think the most unlikely to actually happen.  When Blizzard was experimenting with the in game store, there were screenshots of a possible XP boost potion that could be purchased.  Thinking along those same lines, if Blizzard wanted, they could sell limited duration garrison buffs.  Reductions in the time it takes to construct new buildings, speeding up the recovery rate of followers that have returned from quests,  increasing the amount of materials gathered from garrison profession buildings.  But this strikes me as something Blizzard would never actually do.  I think they’ve been very adamant about not wanting players to be able to buy an advantage over other players with real money.  Selling ways to catch up a character to the same level as your friends and guild mates is one thing.  Selling ways to make my home run better than your home feels more like an exploit.

I’m curious to see if there will be garrison related micro-transactions in WoW.  I just hope that if we do get some, that they don’t make my wallet sad.

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