Mini-post: The one constant barrier to entry

Short post so I can continue to claim this is an active blog!  Blame college deciding to start up again.

So this little article popped up today on the official WoW site.  Seems Blizzard is running their “get WoW for cheap!” deal again.  $5 each for the Battle Chest and Wrath, and $10 for Cata, meaning you can create an account and upgrade it to Cata for only $20.  Not bad, right?

Well, it is bad, in a different way.  The reason it’s bad?  That this isn’t the normal price.

I still don’t understand why WoW has such a massive financial barrier to entry.  If you want to access the full game, normally, you’ll have to shell out $20 for the Battle Chest, including Classic and BC, plus another $20 for Wrath, and then another $40 for Cata.  True, you could just buy the Battle Chest and get started that way, but nobody wants to limit themselves to old content (unless they’re one of the BC diehards).  They want to play with everyone else, so they’ll shell out the $80 and go for it.  Throw on a $15 sub fee, and WoW starts out expensive and keeps getting more so.

I don’t have a problem with the subscription fee; I’ve played enough free-to-play MMOs to realize that they’re handled poorly in almost every instance.  But asking people for $80 just to start an account and get to max level is…ludicrous, to say the least.  Barring this sale, if you started now, you’d pay $80 for the full game now, then another $40 in a month for Mists!  It’s ridiculous!

So what’s a good solution?  Simple:  always keep the barrier of entry down to $60.  $60 is the cost of a new console game (and, sadly, more and more new PC games), so it makes it easier for consumers to rationalize purchasing WoW over another game.  Sales like the one going on now are nice, but it’s sad that you can’t get up to the previous expansion for $20 all the time.

I believe that Blizzard should handle the expansion model one of two ways.  The first option:

  • The Battle Chest should contain Classic along with every expansion up to the third-most recent.  At the launch of Mists, this would mean up to Wrath.  Sell it for $10, include a month of gametime for free as before.
  • The second-most recent expansion should be $10 to allow players to have at least some choice of how much content they want to buy.  At Mists’ launch, this would be Cata.
  • The latest expansion should be the usual $40.  Naturally, this would be Mists at its launch!

The second option:

  • The Battle Chest should contain every expansion up to the second-most recent, sold for $20, including a free month of gametime.  For Mists’ release, everything up to Cata.
  • The latest expansion should be the usual $40.  Mists, obviously.

Whatever they do, expansions should be rolled back about a month before the next expansion’s launch.  Right about now would be the time to either bundle up to Wrath with the Battle Chest for the first option, or everything current for the second.  This gives people who are interested in starting with the next expansion a chance to get caught up for cheap.

I think that the increasing financial barrier might play a part in WoW’s current subscription decline.  Having to spend $80 on a game to get up-to-date is a serious detriment to new subscribers, and might turn them off from the game.  Lower that barrier, and it might be a shot in the arm to help subscriptions rise again, and stay high following the expansion spike.

—–

In actual personal WoW-related news, I’m happy to say that, following on from the update of my last post, I now possess a full set of 397+ gear, and I can now dress in T13 for as long as I please.  Look at how nice I look now:

Only a month away from my name actually making sense! Pandaren, woooooo

The cool thing about the shoulders is that, similar to T10, the shoulders emit spectral animal heads.  Unlike T10’s shoveltusk heads, T13 makes wolf heads rush out.  The cool thing:  When you /roar, you can make them emit on command, like so:

The best way I can describe the tauren roar sound is RRRAAAAAAAAHHHHGH

I’m happy to finally have it, though sadly my Doom’s Edge/Crul’shorukh combo doesn’t match it very well.  My best bet is to pick up Last Laugh out of Naxx 25; it shares a similar bone and skull motif.  I’m even happier that T13 looks pretty good on a pandaren.  Sneak peek:

For all you shaman engineers out there, here’s a protip: the Parachute Cloak matches T13 pretty well. It’s white with a ragged look, and the fringe is tan-ish, so it makes for a good transmog choice both aesthetically and thematically! There are random green drops with its model if you can’t use it.
soooooooooooon

And that’s it!  Once the patch hits next week, I’ll provide an update post so that you don’t get lost navigating the strange new post-Cata world…just as soon as I figure out what to do.

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