Argument: People would change their race to gain a gameplay edge.
Ignoring the fact that races are "supposed" to be balanced and how if everyone changes to X race, Blizz will nerf X's racial, I think this argument underestimates the amount of people who just want to look cool.
Whether you're in the "I want to be the ugliest $%#@er ever" or the "CUTE CHARACTER SQUEE!!!" camp, most players do care about what they look like.
The racial is, quite simply, the only thing that changes. If you have the same spells, the same class details, the same achievements and mounts and pets, then what's a racial to emo(te) over? You can get the same results by the much less satisfactory /reroll -- which Blizzard's changes (faster leveling through +xp, mounts, heirlooms, etc) imply that Blizz doesn't want people with high levels to have to slave over leveling extra characters, and a /reroll for a race seems like the most stupid waste of time anyone should ever have to endure.
Argument: People would change their race to the newest fad.
My sister-in-law changes her elf's hair constantly. Is this a bad thing? No. Is it confusing? Yes. Does it mean she'll change her race constantly if she has the option? No. She has a thing for elves.
It would be a greater setback to the game, specifically the sanctity of the Achievements system as a way to track a player's progress, to not let a player change his or her race on an existing character when new races are introduced in expansions. It might be just me, but I think the Burning Crusade expansion crushed some really great old characters just because people wanted to play the new races.
By allowing race changes, you allow people to try new things without having to reroll every time something new comes out. Race changes not only prevent the game's entire population from resetting their achievement scores on the reroll (I've heard lots of desire for goblins, so don't tell me it wouldn't happen) but also gives Blizzard the freedom to introduce new races regularly and even en masse without bumping everyone back to the starting zones (aside from wanting to see the starting zones).
Theory: The Wild and Crazy Masks
After the goblin and worgen masks were data-mined (worgen females look awesome, btw), mmo-champion's Boubouille said:
Even if the Goblin texture would make sense as an addition to the game, adding Worgens texture out of nowhere is definitely a sign that the 2 new races of the expansion will be the Worgens (most likely for the Alliance) and the Goblins. ... [I]t usually takes a lot to make me post something on the front page and I don't think I've ever been wrong everytime I did. Hopefully Blizzard will react fast enough and add tons of new masks in the next build just to pretend that it was intended. (Suggestion: Pandarens please).Then, holy crap, they did.
Jump with me to this next thought because it's a bit of a leap. If Blizzard implemented race changes... what would stop them from implementing all of those races from the masks? Other than the obvious amount of work and needing starting zones and having to fix the lame-o skins (those naga = ew).
You'll notice that none of those races is in any way affiliated with Alliance or Horde at the moment. I liked this reply by Wertigo to Boubouille's original post:
One idea of the next expansion's "gimmick" (see: Dranaei, Blood Elves, Death Knight) might indeed be these two new races, but the gimmick being the ability to choose side, as both races are somewhat neutral in nature. For example, before you leave the starting zone of said races, you get the ability to choose either Horde or Alliance as your faction. You cannot leave the zone until you've decided, nor join any guild or be teleported out until you've chosen. Through a questchain for example.Essentially, people have been asking for a while for races that can pick Alliance or Horde and therefore are available to both. While I'm not sure Blizzard will go for it, all of those masks are certainly neutral races and would fit into this diabolical plan. Bwahahahahaha...
I love the worgen. I realize many people want goblin, so I'm rooting for them too.
Race changes = good. Arguments against it have been thwarted by faction changes (essentially a limited race change), character re-creation (for mere aesthetic value and player comfort), and even achievements (what's the point of getting awesome achievements if you can't keep them?). If Blizz is willing to implement those things, there can be no real reason not to do same-faction race changes.
New skins for old races = good. Many players would love to see fresh new, improved faces and skins for our old beloved models. (Note I'm not asking for the defaults to be replaced, just for new ones to be made available for character creation and paid re-creation. Some people really love their old looks.) This might even keep players who would otherwise leave tried-and-true races for the fresh, sexy new worgen look.
New races = great. And when I say new races, I mean more than two. Two are good. Four are awesome. The number and spiffiness ratio increase exponentially from there.