Well, that is a corner turned. Blizzard has followed the rest of the industry and put a cash shop directly in the game.
While they have sold special mounts and pets for World of Warcraft for some time, there was always an out-of-game aspect to them. You might see them advertised on the launcher, but if you wanted to buy one you had to wander over to the Blizzard store. You certainly didn’t see ads or pricing or a store front actually in the game.
It is there now.
Sure, it is just a tiny little button down there between the dungeon journal and the game menu/connection status buttons.
But it opens up a store front.
And there it is, real world money in Azeroth.
I suppose it is something that they did not also introduce an RMT currency as well. Baby steps down that path I guess, because I hardly think they are done on the in-store shopping front. I doubt Blizzard would intend for the store only to sell pets and mounts and then leave a line item like “consumables” in the screen shots for the official store announcement.
Now, the sky isn’t falling, the end of the world is not at hand, and World of Warcraft isn’t going to go free-to-play with the next patch. But you can hardly see something like this happen without wondering where it is going. So I am marking the date when the boundary was crossed, when you could buy things in World of Warcraft for real world cash.
And where do you think this will end up?
Addendum: After a bit of experimentation, I will add the following:
You can turn off the store interface if your account has parental controls applied to it. By default the store appears to be off with parental controls. I happened to have parental controls turned on with my account to ensure that RealID was, and remained, off. When off, the button (which is tiny to start with) is grayed out and informs you that it has been turned off via parental controls.
The store check-out interface makes you enter your password, but then uses what it considers to be the default credit card for your account. For my account, that happened to be an expired card that I probably ought to remove, but never got around to killing off. The transaction stopped there, as there is no way to select an alternate payment method.
The store failing to check out seems capable of messing up the game client. A friend of mine was also trying out the store and reported that she had to eventually exit the client and log back in after a failed transaction. In-game assets… NPCs, critters, and her own mount… started disappearing from the game.