Word that Blizzard was considering a tokens-for-time option for World of Warcraft first came to light late last year, when Community Manager Micah "Bashiok" Whipple revealed that the studio was looking at ways to make life more convenient for its players. Today it confirmed that the system is on the way in the form of WoW Tokens, a new in-game item that players can buy and sell for gold or real money, and then exchange for 30 days of World of Warcraft game time.
WoW Tokens will be purchasable through the World of Warcraft in-game shop, and can be sold on a 'Token exchange' in the Auction House. The value in gold will be "determined dynamically based on supply and demand," and there will be no negotiating prices: Token values are quoted when they're put up for sale and locked in once the sale is committed. The same system applies for Token purchases made through the shop.
The system is reminiscent of EVE Online's Plex, but WoW Tokens can be sold for gold only once, after which they become Soulbound and can only be redeemed for game time. Blizzard said the system will give wealthy players something to do with the fortunes they've amassed, but more importantly it will enable players to acquire gold without having to go through third-party gold sellers, which it said are "one of the primary sources of account compromises."
"Buying gold from third-party services negatively impacts the game experience for everyone. The overwhelming majority of the gold these services provide comes from stolen player accounts, halting the victims’ ability to play the game and contribute to their guilds," it wrote. "On top of this, gold selling companies often farm resources using hack programs, sell fake product codes as a scam, and spam entire realms with ads to buy gold, disrupting the game in very real ways."
Each region—Americas (including Australia and New Zealand, for some reason), Europe, Taiwan, Korea, and China—will have its own Token exchange. There will be no deposits required, nor will the Auction House take a cut from sales. Blizzard didn't indicate when WoW Tokens will go live, saying only that they'll be rolled out in an "upcoming patch." More details will be revealed "at a later date," but for now you can learn all there is to know right here.