World of Warcraft will be dropping the $15/£13 charge to change your character's gender in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion.
Despite being able to change pretty much every other aspect of your physical appearance at the barbershop for a small amount of in-game currency relative to your character's level, the only way to change your character's gender is to pay $15/£13 through Battle.net. If you change your mind later on, you have to pay the full price once again.
That's set to change in Shadowlands though, as executive producer John Hight told Eurogamer (opens in new tab) that requiring players to pay to change their gender was "not the right message" Blizzard wanted to put out. Especially when you can change everything from skin colour to facial features in-game already. Instead, gender will become another feature you can adjust in the barbershop.
The news comes after players discovered an NPC in Shadowlands called Pelagos, who many consider to be the first canonically transgender character in World of Warcraft. The character was spotted after Blizzard put out a statement (opens in new tab) explaining why his in-game pronouns were changing to he/his from they/them, following feedback that argued the use of neutral pronouns for a trans man character felt noncommittal to a vital piece of representation.
MMOs have always been ways for people to explore their identities in a safe way, so offering this feature for free is a great way of encouraging that further. Blizzard still has a very long way (opens in new tab) to go with LGBTQ+ representation (opens in new tab), but this is a nice step in the right direction.
Shadowlands is set to launch later this year, although an open beta (opens in new tab) is set to start next week. The beta is said to be "feature complete" and will let you level all the way up to the cap, although Hight suggests the ability to change gender will come slightly later on. For an overhead view of where MMOs are in 2020, check out our updated list of the best MMOs (opens in new tab).