Monday, December 15, 2008

Microtransactions in WoW, because players say they want it.

Just to keep up with current topics across the web, I decided to jot down my own opinion on microstransactions in WoW.

First and foremost I have to ask why?

Why does Blizzard need to have additional cash services along side player's subscriptions? I can actually understand why other games have a need for this. But Blizzard?

World of Warcraft has been live for over four years and is still growing. From year one it was the most-played MMO on the market in spite of it's higher monthly cost than average.

You know what is coming.

Special character features that are not included during character creation, vanity gear that is not included in the game, and other assorted fun stuff.

It is coming. There is not stopping it. The players have spoken and they said they would pay for these things.

What? When? I didn't see a survey or questionnaire!

Players have been speaking with their dollars ever since the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game hit the scene. When people are willing to shell out over $1,000 for a mount, rest assured Blizzard pays attention. The average in-game loot card sells for over $30.

And it does not stop there. People have paid insane amounts of money for convention codes that scalpers sell on Ebay.

Upperdeck, the company that produces the WoW trading cards, offers other in-game items that are purchased via points that are found on code-cards in each pack of cards. The purchase of the items are only the shipping costs, but the accumulation of points requires one to purchase the cards. The Upperdeck tabards have cost you more than you might have thought about.

At $4 or more per pack, with 100 points per pack, and one tabard that requires 2000 points, you will spend approx. $80 for that tabard. Consider that some items cost over 20,000 points.

Yes, Blizzard is paying attention.

Blizzard does not need to do a survey or ask the players what they want. We have already spoken with our money.

I have four Upperdeck tabards, a Picnic Basket, a Gumbo Stew Pot, and a Hyppogryph Hatchling. It seems I've been speaking with my money as well.

1 comment:

Green Armadillo said...

Not-so brief aside: The convention cards are slightly different from the other things you mention, because they come with a highly coveted beta key. I won my Wrath beta key in a website contest, but I don't think I would have regretted paying $100 for the experience of getting to play (and blog) the beta.

I think that cosmetic microtransactions direct from Blizzard are coming - one could argue that they're already here, since that Zebra mount can be yours if you make yourself a second account. EQ2 already has them, and players aren't voting out of that with their feet. I don't know that this is a bad thing. If you're willing to pay, why should Blizzard get your money directly, instead of having to split it with some licensee?

The bigger question is what happens when (I don't say if) they start offering things that affect gameplay. (I've long speculated that we'll see a "pay to start a level 55" fee in 2009, but I'm beginning to wonder that they might make higher starting levels the marquis feature of the next expansion instead.) I have a decent collection of pets and mounts, but it doesn't bother me that there are more that I don't have because I'm not paying extra for them. If paid items actually mean that my character is inferior, that could actually be a dealbreaker. Hopefully Blizzard realizes this, but I guess time will tell.