WoW players will be able to change character gender without paying real-life money in Shadowlands

"That's not the right message."

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft executive producer John Hight told Eurogamer yesterday that Blizzard is adjusting the way players change their characters’ genders in the upcoming expansion, Shadowlands.

For a long time, anyone looking to make significant changes to their character’s appearance, name, race, or faction has been required to pay real-life money ranging from $10 to $30. But, recently, there have been changes to the way that players can use in-game currency to alter some basic things, like hairstyles.

With the breadth of the in-game “barber shop” expanding in Shadowlands, Hight said his team realized that they also needed to take a look at the gender changes as well. 

“A long time ago, we had the ability for players to go in – it was actually a paid service – and change their character. Much of that is now in the barber shop in the game,” he told Eurogamer. “And as we were adding things up in Shadowlands, we realized, ‘Gosh the only way you can change your gender in World of Warcraft is to go through this paid service.’ And we felt like that’s not the right message.”

Hight said this is something that will change in the fall when Shadowlands is released, adding that a change to the current system in Battle for Azeroth isn’t something that Blizzard can “easily hotfix.”

Hight’s comments come just one week after Blizzard community manager Kaivax posted on the WoW forums disclosing that a new Shadowlands non-player character, Pelagos, is receiving a pronoun change.

The lore behind Pelagos is that he was a woman in his mortal life, but chose to be a man in the Shadowlands. After initially using they/them pronouns to refer to Pelagos, Blizzard said it’s changing them to he/him following feedback from fans who thought it’d be “more respectful of the character’s wishes.”

This approach from Blizzard regarding gender changes has been matched during Shadowlands’ development by a progressive attitude toward player skin color options. While previously many in-game races had limited skin color options, Shadowlands is poised to give more players the opportunity to make their characters’ skin color similar to their real-life skin color.