Update February 6, 2017: The WoW Token feature is now live on Battle.net in the US, meaning WoW gold can now be exchanged for Battle,net balance, which can be spent on games, subscriptions, and in-game items.
A token can be redeemed for $15 of Battle.net balance now, and can be used on WoW pets, Blizzard games and other services.
For everything else happening in WoW patch 7.1.5, have a look at our dedicated post.
Just pop along to the Auction House and buy a WoW token, then swap it for $15 of cold, hard Blizzard cash. Alternatively, you can buy a WoW token with real money from the Blizzard shop and sell it on in the Auction House for WoW gold.
Here’s a list of what you can buy with the Battle.net funds:
- Digital versions of Blizzard games including Digital Deluxe editions – these versions of games have additional goodies like WoW pets.
- Character services like realm and faction transfer.
- World of Warcraft mounts, pets, cosmetic helms from the in-game shop.
- Hearthstone card packs and adventures.
- Heroes of the Storm Heroes, skins, and mounts.
Original Story November 24, 2016: Much like real gold, World of Warcraft’s long-time currency is worth something. Significantly less, perhaps, but it takes time and effort to gain it and it can already be traded for game-time at a rate of thousands to the dollar. That real-world value is about to get a whole lot more tangible as the WoW subscription token will be converted to a Battle.net balance one in an upcoming patch. It means if you’ve a few dozen thousand gold lying around, you can turn it into dollars and cents that are applicable for any Bnet account service – that includes games like Overwatch or microtransactions like loot boxes, Hearthstone card packs and more.
This much was announced at BlizzCon as a future plan, but strings in the latest datamining of patch 7.1.5 indicate it will be coming to the live game very soon. Here’s the list of them from MMO-Champion, first their name in the code followed by how they’re programmed to display in-game. Italics are our comments.
- TOKEN_COMPLETE_BALANCE_DESCRIPTION – %s will be added to your Battle.net Balance. You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
- %s is a common internal formatting for values that will depend on various maths.
- TOKEN_CONFIRM_BALANCE_DESCRIPTION – %s will be added to your Battle.net Balance.
- Likely only one of these will be used and the other is older formatting.
- TOKEN_CONSUMABLE_DESCRIPTION_30_DAYS_BALANCE – Use: Adds 30 days of game time to your World of Warcraft account or %s to your Battle.net Balance.
- TOKEN_REDEEM_BALANCE_BUTTON_LABEL – %s Battle.net Balance
- These are likely store listings for the new items when browsing the in-game shop.
- TOKEN_REDEEM_BALANCE_DESCRIPTION – Add %s to your Battle.net Balance?
- TOKEN_REDEEM_BALANCE_ERROR_CAP_FORMAT – |cffff2020You can’t choose this option because your Battle.net Balance (%s) is near or at the maximum.|r
- TOKEN_REDEEM_BALANCE_FORMAT – Current Balance: |cffffffff%s|r|nNew Balance: |cffffffff%s|r
- These look like on-use error and confirmation messages, as well as tooltips. Again, the garbage text is processing placeholders.
- TOKEN_REDEEM_BALANCE_TITLE – Battle.net Balance
- TUTORIAL_TOKEN_GAME_TIME_STEP_2 – 2. Redeem it for 30 days of game time. Game time.
- TUTORIAL_TOKEN_GAME_TIME_STEP_2_BALANCE – 2. Redeem it for 30 days of game time (or %s of Battle.net Balance).
- These are the two forms of the end of the ‘tutorial’ on how to use gold to add WoW game time or, now, Bnet balance.
It’s an interesting, if inevitable, move. This essentially means anyone who plays a decent amount of WoW will be able to get any Blizzard products they’re after in the future for free, assuming the exchange rate remains reasonable. Currently, that’s $20, €20, £15, 75 CNY, 500 TWD or 22,000 KRW depending on region.
However, it’s also going to highlight and accentuate some problems in the system. If you take a look at token price tracking site WoWToken.info you’ll see that the price of tokens in gold varies massively between region. While the more extreme cases with Korea and China can be partly explained by the different way in which game time functions there, the US and EU servers are practically identical. While exchange rates mean it won’t ever line up perfectly, it being twice the cost over here for the same item is a steep price. It’s already frustrating for those who don’t spend much time in-game making gold that they’ve got a stockpile effectively half the size.
It also means any money-making exploits, like those we detailed as part of covering the artifact power problem earlier this month, are far more serious. If being able to make six million gold in a couple of days via an infinite resources exploit now translates to thousands of Hearthstone cards, or every new skin in an Overwatch update, that’s a rather more serious problem for Blizzard. It’s not as problematic as something similar might be on Steam, as getting money out of Battle.net balance into the real world is impossible beyond selling the account (which is against TOS).
The news that this is happening has already spiked the price in several regions, as you’ll see on the graphs at that site. Seeing what sort of economy takes root once it’s implemented will be fascinating, and hopefully not too damaging.