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WoWAug 30, 2021 6:00 pm CT

Transmog is free this week with the Trial of Style, but why not always?

It’s no secret that I like transmog, and so it should come as no surprise that I’m always excited when the Trial of Style comes around, as it is from August 31 to September 4 — that’s this week.

But Trial of Style coming around has me thinking about the whole concept, and how transmog could be improved. And my answer is: it could be improved by making one of the major benefits of the Trial of Style permanent. That is to say Blizzard could remove the gold cost for transmog, not only during Trial of Style, but all the time.

For people who don’t care about transmog, the gold cost on it just doesn’t matter. It could be expensive, it could be cheap, it could be free — they’re not likely to participate more this week than they had done in previous weeks, because it’s simply not important to them.

So the only people that are affected by the Trial of Style discount are the people who love transmog. The people who hunt for just the right piece of gear, the people who spend hours assembling new looks, the people who end up shelling out thousands of gold to look exactly the way they want to.

Transmog is just plain fun — and why should fun cost so much?

We talk a lot about Blizzard not liking fun, and usually it’s pretty hyperbolic. But let me be clear here — there is no game benefit to transmog.

There is nothing but the fun of curating a look, creating your own spin on specific pieces of gear. Transmog is a way to customize your character — whether you like to stick to old classics, or you’re all about making your own looks, it’s literally only fun. If it isn’t fun for you, you don’t have to do it — but if it is fun for you, then suddenly you have a giant gold sink on your hands.

And I’ll be honest — it’s a gold sink I have thrown a lot of gold into over the years. So yes, I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who would frankly love to be able to transmog without spending another 500g (or more) every single time. I have a lot of looks I’d like to work on and parade around in. That’s a real part of the fun of World of Warcraft for me, and I don’t get why I should ever be in a position, on any of my characters, where I’m too broke to do it.

Frankly this is one of the reasons I don’t enjoy the Trial of Style as much as I otherwise could.

Let’s open up transmog to all players, even the broke ones

Trial of Style is a reminder of all the transmogs I would be using if only it wouldn’t bankrupt me in a week. You could certainly make the argument that I should be getting out there and grinding up the gold — hitting the AH, doing all the content, etc etc — and I would understand why you’d make that argument.

But World of Warcraft is a game. I’m happy to play it, but I don’t want to be spending literal hours of my time doing the things I would enjoy more if I looked the way I wanted to just to be able to do that after I’d spent that time. It’s not that I don’t understand in-game economics — although clearly I don’t understand them as well as some players — and more that I would enjoy all those aspects of the game more if I felt free to look however I wanted while doing them.

Now, I am not a purist when it comes to transmog. Some of my looks are wholly curated, with pieces mixed and matched from various sets or even non-set looks like green quality armor from old vanilla WoW. One of my favorite sets is a set of quest reward greens from Legion. I like matching sets, I like making my own, I like cobbling together a theme look. It’s all fun for me. And I would be doing it nigh constantly if I could.

Yes, it is exactly just playing dress up with our characters

Maybe that’s what would make the Trial of Style even better — if it unlocked the real potential of transmog to make the game more fun by letting us really decide, even more effectively than options like new hairstyles and new cosmetic options, how we presented ourselves to the world.

The transmog system has made great strides over the years: we’ve gotten the ability to customize our shoulders separately, turn off individual pieces (save pants, can’t go pantsless), and put weapons like polearms and staves over axes, swords, and hammers to name just a few. The Wardrobe is a huge improvement. But in all that time, the gold sink aspect of transmog has continued. And that really just stifles fun and creativity for a system that is wholly optional and has no game power effect at all, which I think is really lamentable.

I think the game can, and should, do better. Making transmog no longer tied to the gold sink would make it a much more purely creative endeavor — one that players could be freely partaking in without worrying that it will put some future game necessity like potions or flasks or BOE gear out of reach.

Being able to customize your character from moment to moment with transmog is purely fun, entirely because it provides nothing else — it’s completely skippable. But making it cost gold forces players who might otherwise wildly enjoy the system to skip it so that the gold they have can go to more tangible benefits, and I think that’s a real shame.

Transmog should be free because punching things with screaming bear fists should be free

I know some players don’t care and others will automatically, almost reflexively reject the idea of making a system that once cost gold no longer do so. I had to pay all that gold, why should they get to keep theirs?

But think not of the gold you’ve already spent, but of all the gold you won’t have to spend in the future. I mean, I probably could have bought an AH mount with the gold I dropped on mogs in Battle for Azeroth, but that doesn’t mean I want everyone to have to spend that much.

This is a change that would enhance the fun of a system that is entirely about fun, and it’s one I think should be implemented sooner rather than later.

You know I wouldn’t let an entire post about transmog go without at least one Ashkandi pic.

So come on, Blizzard. Let’s make transmog free, so the joy of playing dress-up with our WoW characters all the time is accessible (and easy) for everyone.

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