WoW to open for-pay character transfers soon?

Transfer-per-pay may be coming to World of Warcraft in the near future.

While trying to get into phone support for WoW, came across an odd recorded message saying something to the effect that character transfers are not yet available, and to keep watching worldofwarcraft.com for information on when this would be made available. (Subsequent attempts to call back in and transcribe the message exactly did not elicit the message again.)

After getting through to a service rep and dealing with my problem, I asked about that message and he said that they hope to have it ready “in the near future”, but that they want to make sure that it’s bullet-proof before it’s made widely available. It will be pay-for-transfer. Gold and goods should transfer with the character, but they’ve been having difficulty maintaining in-progress quest kills in the transfers. Also, I was surprised to hear that honor will be preserved, although the hidden honor “value” associated with each character will map to a possibly different honor rank on another server.


Comments on WoW to open for-pay character transfers soon?:

Rivan says:

Oh please let this be true...

Posted Mar 27, 2006 1:04:33 PM | link

phunktify says:

According to a friend Blizzard has been saying this since the beginning. Most likely they still are struggling with the technical issues involved.

Posted Mar 27, 2006 1:25:30 PM | link

Kathygnome says:

I'm not holding my breath. I reupped my account when they announced pay transfers and I've cancelled and reupped since then.

Posted Mar 27, 2006 1:31:53 PM | link

Thomas Malaby says:

Really hoping this comes true--thanks Eric.

If part of the technical problem is the in-progress quest kill transfer, why not just require (at least in the first rollout of this) that to-be-transferred characters have an empty quest log? I know I wouldn't mind running around a bit on the new server if it meant I was able to get there in the first place.

Posted Mar 27, 2006 1:57:36 PM | link

Eric Nickell says:

I'm pretty sure they're using the same code for the current realm transfers, so it seems to me that if it's working well enough for that...

Posted Mar 27, 2006 2:39:00 PM | link

Dmitri Williams says:

Wouldn't the real obstacle be the ensuing social chaos that transfers would start? Server loads swap all of sudden, and that's probably not a lot of fun, but what about servers whose population shrinks or skyrockets? What about game disatisfaction as whole guilds dissolve and reform willy-nilly?

I'd think it'd need to be phased in or priced out of the average player's immediate grasp, no?

Posted Mar 27, 2006 2:48:27 PM | link

Riley says:

I also wonder why they offer transfers for high pop to low pop servers for free, while not having a pay service as well. Seems like the technical issues are mostly worked out and all they should need to do is tie it to the billing.

If I remember right, EQ transfers were at around $75 or so. Definitley not something you would do on a whim. You also would probably want to protect newer servers for a time so they didn't get overrun. As long as the price point is high enough though, I doubt it will cause major swings in population.

Posted Mar 27, 2006 4:27:24 PM | link

Thomas Malaby says:

And there are probably all sorts of other things you could do to avoid rapid and large fluctuations in server population, in addition to the price point; i.e., a transfer "cool-down" after transfer, a limited list of realms open to transfer (old and new), etc.

Posted Mar 27, 2006 5:03:45 PM | link

Tim Rittmann says:

The same ole' song! I heard a similar statement when I asked for this kind of character transfer six months ago. Sadly I lost my faith in ever transferring my girlfriends char from mine to her account. Don't trust the hype :(

Posted Mar 28, 2006 5:58:51 AM | link

Edward Castronova says:

Similar to RMT as a business strategy. What a tempting source of revenue yet, as Dmitri points out, it affects the global atmosphere. Reputation mechanisms are an important source of quality in the entertainment being provided, and they are built and maintained at zero cost to the devs. Server transfers eat into reputation effects, though. So at what point is character transfer a net loser? For profit maximization, the price placed on character transfer ought to be the cost that an additional transfer imposes on the quality of play. For the first few, minimal. But it rises, so that if everyone is transferring willy-nilly, each new transfer should be expensive. The same pricing scheme (though unworkable) would be a good approach to RMT: impose a zero tax on RMT transactions so long as they are uncommon. If/when they become more common, tax them more and more heavily.

There are many things that pollute the game's overall atmosphere of play in the name of individual player convenience (OOC chat, RMT, flights and teleports, character transfer). In these cases, the devs should balance the demands of individual players for conveniences, agains the overall quality of the product. Some players leave because they find the game inconvenient, but if you focus too much on making everything convenient, the place loses its immersive fantasy appeal, and you'll lose people for that reason. Yet the players will only talk about the former, not the latter. It's a shame, but it's human nature, that players will not recognize their own self-interest in maintaining the quality of commons goods. Humans overfish the seas, overgraze the meadows, overpollute the air, and overdrive the highways. They also demand easy character transfer, RMT, and all the rest. Devs need to keep on eye on the game quality, though. Not because they are rabid RPers (though I hope they are), but to preserve the bottom line.

Posted Mar 28, 2006 11:57:03 AM | link

Matt Lawless says:

A thought about the practical problem of character transfer: Might there not be some issue related to names? That is, are character names duplicative across realms?

You have my apologies in advance if this is a newbie point/question.

-ml

Posted Mar 28, 2006 2:15:24 PM | link

Thomas Malaby says:

Ted wrote:

There are many things that pollute the game's overall atmosphere of play in the name of individual player convenience (OOC chat, RMT, flights and teleports, character transfer).

I agree with your post, Ted, as I share much of the scepticism -- primarily because I think that RMT has an inherent tendency (for several reasons) to take over human communities (boy, I'm sounding like Habermas: "the colonization of the lifeworld" by money and power). But here I think there's a danger in overstatement if we think of these changes as only serving individual convenience. After all, it may often be in or because of existing social groups that transcend realms that people would want to move.

Matt, I think the names are not universally unique, so you're right that this must be an issue. Anyone know how they've handled it for the moves they have allowed?

Posted Mar 28, 2006 2:24:05 PM | link

Scott says:

I assume names would be handled the way they are when you transfer a char to the Test server. You're prompted that the name you've chosen is already taken, please choose another.

If you want YOUR name, I'd suggest making an alt on your (hopefully) future server with the name you want to reserve it. Then, right before you (hopefully) transfer, delete that char.

I can't wait for this myself!

Posted Mar 28, 2006 4:11:46 PM | link

Jesse says:

My concern is less for physical stability of servers or even inter-guild politics, but more of macro politics on the server level. Many servers have delicate, often long standing agreements. A balance of power, even rules to live by, if you will. When server transfers opened up from a high pop server to the server I play on, the status quo was broken, the economy was destroyed and worse off many of the influential members of the community ceased to have that influence. A great example of this is vast change of pickup group loot rules. What once was a Need before Greed system that was based around honour and a "small town feel", changed to a "1 Green 1 Blue" system brought over from the new server. Ninja looting was almost also unheard of, until after the transfers. These sorts of issues crop up when you change the political structure of a server. This is not much unlike the colonization of the "New World". The major difference between this and previous transfers, is that there is no escape from it. The old arguement of 'rolling' on a server unaffected by this no longer applies.

Posted Mar 28, 2006 5:26:42 PM | link

Eric Nickell says:

Hmm.

This brings up the idea of each server setting an immigration policy.

I'm sure that each server could quickly reach agreement as to how many immigrants to accept from various other servers and the mechanisms by which those would be selected from the available applicants. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Posted Mar 28, 2006 6:16:02 PM | link

Jeff S. says:

Honestly you guys are beyond simply nit picking here. Individual character transfers pose very little risk if any risk to the overall community/economy/etc of a particular server. These fears are entirely unfounded.

Posted Mar 28, 2006 10:13:20 PM | link

Dmitri Williams says:

I'm with Jesse. Whole guilds swapping could shift economies, alliances, Horde/Alliance balance, etc.

I've been on a WoW server shift before when focused ones happened about a year back. FYI, names already taken prompt you to choose a new one.

What's different now is that a high % of people are at the endgame and reliant on guilds, many of which maintain a careful balance of numbers, personalities and classes. So I'm also with Ted: Tinker with them and there'd be a shakeout period which would likely decrease satisfaction for many players, at least in the short term.

Posted Mar 28, 2006 11:32:51 PM | link

Allen says:

Quoth Scott: "If you want YOUR name, I'd suggest making an alt on your (hopefully) future server with the name you want to reserve it."

Unfortunately, the same also holds true if you DON'T want "YOUR" name. I copied my character to the test server twice in the just concluded round, and the second time I was allowed/obligated to rename because the first character with my name already existed. The potential for abuse is obvious - a griefer can transfer to a new server with a new name and almost nothing will be able to tie them to their original reputation.

If I recall, Blizzard sent an email survey to a sample of players asking how they'd feel about a $40 price tag (unclear whether that was per character or one fee per mass character exodus). Still, I find it hard to shake the feeling that wherever they price it, a very small proportion of users will have "legitimate" reasons (have friends on a different server, foolishly allowed a friend/child/sig other to roll a character on your account and need to get it off). I have a few level teen alts on other servers, but I simply don't care about them enough to pay even $40 to consolidate them. I also doubt that we're going to see whole guilds paying to move en masse on a large enough scale to affect game society. So we'll be left with the aforementioned griefers, and people who want to RMT a single character, instead of a whole account (with attendent security risks).

Posted Mar 29, 2006 11:18:12 AM | link

RedWolf says:

Technicly it's completely feasable since realm transfers have been happening in WoW for months now in order to solve overpopulation issues. One of the obvious problems that comes up though is the fact that unique names are pretty hard to maintain in an environment where characters come and go.

Posted Mar 31, 2006 5:46:48 AM | link

Starsmore says:

Someone wake me when they allow transfers from one account to another. I've got my almost-60 character on my wife's account, and we've been waiting for her to get a WoW-capable rig before I reactivate my account. So I'd be much more interested in getting the character that I've worked hard on over to my own account, rather then let it stagnant once she starts back in on her characters.

Posted Mar 31, 2006 5:44:25 PM | link

jessie says:

this message has been on their automated service forever now. at least a year.

Posted Apr 8, 2006 11:03:31 PM | link

evron says:

If server loads and stability are your only problems, most of us that would like to transfer and alt off of an account because of wife, kids, girlfriends etc, would most likely transfer to a new account on same server so they could play with us. I don't think you'd see that many people transferring to new servers.

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