The excellent MMO Melting pot has links to five bloggers talking about Blizzard's decision to charge a fee for anyone who wants to use the ability to build cross-realm parties.
Count me in with the camp that prefers a monthly subscription to being micro-charged for every little thing in the game. Even worse, naturally, is to both pay a monthly subscription and also to have micro-charges on top of that. I wouldn't mind WoW costing a little more; it's currently very inexpensive given the number of hours I play it. However, I definitely mind having to pick different subsets of the game off a menu.
More fundamentally, I'm still bothered that RealID is based off of email addresses. Even though it's not necessary, cross-realm invites will be based on RealID. I can't see myself using it, anyway, without careful research into whether RealID can be used without, in fact, leaking any personally identifiable information.
Overall, it's saddening to read this sort of thing. In two different ways -- micro-charging and privacy violation -- Warcraft is changing from a game where everything just works right, to a game where I have to be very careful which parts of it I use.
UPDATE: Elunamakata in the comments on World of Matticus has found a quote from a Blizzard designer explainign the idea of a subscription model:
“We chose to go with the subscription-based model instead of that approach. We’ve taken the approach that we want players to feel like it’s a level playing field once they’re in WoW. Outside resources don’t play into it — no gold buying, etc. We take a hard line stance against it. What you get out of microtransactions is kind of the same thing and I think our player base would feel betrayed by it. I think that’s something else you have to decide on up-front instead of implementing later.
–Rob Pardo, Blizzard’s Senior Vice President of Game Design (2/20/2008)”
Quite. I wonder if Rob Pardo is still there, and/or if we are witnessing the marketing department overriding the game designers.