Currently, the famous multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft offers several options for free character customization. Players can visit barbershops scattered throughout the world to alter your face shape and features, hairstyle, and hair color. However, to change your character's gender, a player must purchase an "Appearance Change" - which costs $15 - from the Blizzard Store.
However, executive producer John Hight revealed in an interview with Eurogamer that this fee would be eliminated with the launch of the upcoming expansion, entitled Shadowlands. Instead, characters will be able to visit barbershops and alter their gender completely free, along with making other desired physical changes.
"We felt like that's not the right message," Hight told Eurogamer, acknowledging that this fee might have been harmful to some fans and players. He explained that, previously, all appearance changes had been part of a paid service, but more and more elements were made free via the barbershop game mechanic. Hight also apologized that World of Warcraft's developers were unable to "hotfix" the issue now, but instead had to wait until the release of Shadowlands to make the change feasible.
Shadowlands does seem like a rather apropos location to implement this new change. It features a non-player character (NPC) named Pelagos. They possessed a feminine body during his time in the mortal world but chose to adopt the form of a man in the Shadowlands, expressing that this body best represented his true self. Transgender fans of World of Warcraft strongly relate to Pelagos, empathize with the character's struggle, and feel the joy that such visible trans representation is finally appearing in an internationally popular game.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is currently scheduled to release sometime this fall. Its release will be preceded by a beta period, which will begin next week.