Blizzard's Paul Sams and Lee Sparks have shed light on the paid character customisation that will come to World of Warcraft in the future.
At yesterday's Wrath of the Lich King launch event, they told Eurogamer that it will allow players to go back and reverse decisions made in the character creation process. They added that the charge was intended as a "deterrent" to stop players using the feature all the time, similar to the existing name change and server transfer services.
The move caused a stir when it was revealed at BlizzCon last month. Character customisation is a common revenue stream for free-to-play MMOs, and some feared that Blizzard were attempting to add it as a money-spinner on top of subscription fees. Sams explained that wasn't the case.
"That feature, although it's not the exact same, is kind of like some of the other value-added features that we've created with paid character transfer or paid character name change," Blizzard's operational boss said.
"When you create your character, often times you wish you'd done things differently. You wish you were on a different realm, you wish you'd had a different name or you wish you'd chosen a different look and feel to your character.
"This is a way for [players] to be able to do that, but it's something that's taking a lot of time and energy for us to be able to put in place. We also think that it's important to have some consistency in the game, we don't want people changing their look and feel every day," Sams said.
Wrath of the Lich King allows players to change characters' hairstyles, jewellery and other superficial details in barbershops for a small in-game currency charge. It seems that the new feature will allow more fundamental changes - facial features, skin colour, perhaps even gender or race - although Sams and Sparks didn't discuss specific options.
We asked whether the feature was more about making changes to decisions made in the past than adding additional options, and associate producer Lee Sparks said that it was.
"Yeah, and I think the reason for the monetary expense is more of a barrier so that people don't do it every day," Sparks said.
"We want to give you the ability to do this, but we don't want you to do it all the time time. The same thing goes for paid character transfer, we don't want people bouncing back and forth.
"It serves as a tool for people to do it, but also as a deterrent to not do it too much, and also allows us to have the staff to be able to continually manage the population," said Sams of the charges for character services.
He also reassured players that character customisation wouldn't be too expensive. "I think it is good value for customers, it's not like we're going to go about pricing it in such a way that it's unfair or inappropriate," he said.
Second WOW expansion Wrath of the Lich King is out today for PC and Mac. Head over to the latest screenshot gallery for some brand new shots to celebrate.