Recently there was a small uproar in regards to World of Warcraft’s premium services, like character transfers and the mobile auction house. Some players feel that Blizzard is overstepping their ground by charging more money on top of the monthly subscription fee (which many players feel that they’re already raking in the big cash with). However, Blizzard recently stepped up to the plate to answer the concerns that players were presenting:

These are premium services added to better accommodate the wants and needs of players. They do not factor into what you get for buying the game/expansions and paying monthly for access to the serers. By no means do you need any of these premium services to enjoy World of Warcraft gameplay to the fullest extent. Should you desire to take advantage of some extra services to enhance your enjoyment of the game though, they're certainly there for you... if you feel it's worth the price.

We've made countless quality-of-life improvements to the game in terms of content, UI, data storage, character profiles, etc. We've expanded upon what you get for your monthly subscription by leaps and bounds since the game was first released, but the subscription price has not changed.

Everything we do and every service we add costs more money than you might realize. So, if we do occasionally add some premium services which are purely to give you more options for enjoying the game how you want (changing your realm, faction, race, name, physical appearance, etc.), we need to make sure there is an appropriate value added to those services so we can sustain them, sustain our business, and keep focusing on making this the best game possible. :)

The first two facts that we need to pay attention to are not even located within this post. It’s like a puzzle where the answer isn’t even contained within the directions. We have to understand that Blizzard is a company, first and foremost, and companies are designed to create a profit. Otherwise there would be no point in them existing. Since Blizzard needs to make a profit then they need to monetize their products, which includes World of Warcraft, in any way that they can to generate more income.

Additional services, like character transfers, cost resources to create and maintain. This reduces their profit because money needs to go to pay developers, server maintenance, bandwidth, etc. To counter this, they charge a fee to use these additional services to pay for them and to make more profit.

So, understanding that, we can then understand that this post is 100% accurate. The game itself, from start to finish, is contained within one single monthly fee. If you want to do something unusual - say transfer your character from server to another - then there should be no problem requiring you to pay for it. It is, after all, unnecessary in order to play the game and it has no negative consequence on gameplay for anyone. There also exists in-game alternatives for most services since we could all just level up on a new server instead of bringing out current character over there.

The premium services they offer are not, by any means, a horrible thing that exists to steal our money and bankrupt us all. They are first and foremost optional, which means that we choose to pay for them and there is no need for them as far as the primary game goes.

However, one post caught my eye in that thread:

The only thing I don't agree with is how expensive some of these things are. I'd use them more often if they were cut down a good margin.

Yes, the big issue here is not if Blizzard SHOULD charge for premium services, the big issue is the pricing. Now, let me preface this by saying I believe that Blizzard can charge anything it wants for any of its services. However, I feel that a lot of these services greatly benefit us and our enjoyment of the game. If your server is no longer the fun place it used to be and you want to join your friends elsewhere then you’ll have to pony up $25. If you want to switch your allegiance from say Horde to Alliance that is $30. To rekindle your friendship and to avoid the months of grinding and leveling and getting all of your gear it would cost you $55 if they were on another server on the opposite faction.

What tangible items can $55 buy you? Most new console games are $55, that is also a tank of gas, or a fistful of books. It could get groceries for a week, if you’re frugal, or you could eat out several times (up to 5 if you eat less than $10). Just think of the things that $55 could buy you in real life and compare it to your virtual character being located in a new virtual space.

As you can see, $55 can go a really long way when it comes to real world goods. However, on a virtual game you could easily see your money disappear into the nether with just a few clicks and your virtual character in a slightly different location. That, to me, seems like a lot of money. Not that it doesn’t stop me from sacrificing my money to Blizzard on a regular basis, but it does make me wonder if there would be a way for them to lower prices.

Guild Wars is a free-to-play game that only requires an upfront game purchase in order to gain access to the game. It’s monetized by selling small neat additions to the game that cost various prices. It’s a bit complex to get into without knowing the game, but needless to say everything for sale helps you but doesn’t ruin gameplay. Often the NCSoft store runs sales on these virtual items, discounting them by upwards to 50%. I know that Blizzard has no reason to discount any of their products, after all there are people who will pay the price, but I feel it would be a kind gesture in my idyllic world for them to lower the prices temporarily to make them a bit more accessible.

Of course, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. They are after all optional services and Blizzard could charge millions and remain on the moral high ground since none of us NEED to move our characters or have mobile apps. It’s just the cost of convenience and many of us are willing to pay it. So while we could be bickering and bantering about premium content and services, we much rather should focus our attention on Ragnaros and his impending fiery wrath coming to a server near you.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave your interesting, creative, or zany comments below.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

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Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.