World of Warcraft will remove the current $15 fee to change a character’s gender when the Shadowlands expansion is released in the fall of 2020.
World of Warcraft players will no longer have to pay to change their character’s gender once the Shadowlands expansion drops. Currently, a one-time gender change for any character can be purchased through Battle.net for $15.
Once the undisputed king of the MMO world, World of Warcraft now faces stiff competition from the likes of Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, and any number of other MMOs vying for the throne. On top of that, WoW’s most recent expansions have been rocky ones for retaining veteran players. There were so many players longing for the good old days, in fact, that World of Warcraft’s active player base more than doubled after the throwback WoW Classic launched in 2019.
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With WoW Classic keeping old-school players happy with its authentic recreation of all the game’s early eccentricities, World of Warcraft’s expansions are free to focus on the future of the MMO. With Shadowlands, Blizzard is looking to add new dimensions to World of Warcraft and fix some problems that perhaps shouldn’t have been there in the first place. WoW currently lets players change almost any aspect of their character’s appearance for free at an in-game barber, but changing gender still costs $15 at a cash shop. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, WoW executive producer John Hight said that restricting gender changes to those who can afford it is “not the right message.” Blizzard will fix that in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion, adding gender changes to the menu of options at World of Warcraft’s multi-skilled barbers.
Of course, that’s not the only big change coming when Shadowlands hits the shelves. For instance, a new endgame activity in Shadowlands will put a semi-roguelike spin on the high-level grind, giving players a once-per-day dungeon to fight through while being afflicted with stacking debuffs. Blizzard says that Shadowlands is still on track for a release by the end of 2020, when all of the changes it makes to the familiar gameplay of World of Warcraft will be revealed.
MMO expansions can be an opportunity for developers to refine their games, updating them to add new surprises for players and better fit modern game design sensibilities. It’s heartening to see Blizzard taking that beyond mechanics with World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. While not everyone will take advantage of the free gender change option, having it in the game will certainly mean a lot to some people and it shows that the developers are considering players’ needs that involve more than just new enemies and updated gear.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is set to release in fall 2020 for PC and Mac.
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