How the Annual Pass Could Save WoW or Doom It.

After several quarters of dropping subscriber numbers, Blizzard is back on the World of Warcraft offensive by offering the perk-loaded WoW Annual Pass.

The idea is simple: in exchange for a year’s worth of WoW subs, Blizzard will give us, the players, a full copy of Diablo III and an amazing mount straight out of Sanctuary’s lore: Tyrael’s Charger.

If you lay down money every month/quarter/year on a regular basis, it’s a pretty sweet deal. The economic depression means there can sometimes be a choice between paying for WoW and investing in a new game so this is a nice way of rewarding people who play. However it will also ensuring more people try Blizzard’s next must-play title and, if they must play several titles, at least this should keep them in the Blizzard fold rather than wandering elsewhere and playing games on the Xbox, Steam, PS3, Origin, or OnLive.

The pricing itself is pretty competitive too. Especially when you add. Xerin did the math and, paying $14.99 a month you end up with 12 months costing $179.88. Take out the guesstimated cost of D3 ($59.99) and you're now paying $119.89 for an entire year of WoW (or $9.99 a month). It gets to be even cheaper the longer you renew your account for. What's not to love?

Even better, if you buy the Diablo III collector's edition, you'll get four months of WoW free to offset the base retail price ($59.96 in value). So there isn't even a risk if you decide to upgrade.

WoW Diablo III Annual Pass

Who doesn't love angelic sparkle ponies?

The addition of an exclusive mount - which ticks almost everyone’s boxes - not only separates the geeks from the fanboys/girls by allowing them to have an awesome in-game sign of their loyalty regardless of whether you’re a Diablo fan, a mount collector or just looking for something cooler than the Winged Lion. Who doesn’t want to fly around Stormwind or Orgrimmar on a horse belonging to the Angel of Justice. Actually, let’s just be honest here, who doesn’t like angelic sparkle ponies? Team TenTonHammer certainly does, especially when it will compliment Mini Tyrael so perfectly!

It’s a pretty cunning ploy but, like all things, it could easily be a double-edged sword. People who sign contracts - which is what this is - expect more than just people who subscribe. At least with game cards you can walk away once your time expires and choose not to renewal. With the WoW Annual Pass, you’re committed for twelve months. You can use the game card with the annual pass though, but you'll have to have a credit card subscription to stay on the plan (even if it isn't billed).

With the levels of expectation raised, the sword of Damocles is going to hover above Blizzard’s collective head. This year, the playerbase has been VERY vocal about what’s wrong with the game, quitting in droves. That’s essentially the power we, as players have, it we don’t like it, we vote with our feet. If Blizzard don’t work hard, if they ignore the players, those who purchase the WoW Annual Pass might not be able to walk but their shouts will become a deafening roar that cannot be ignored.

So this is it, Blizzard has showed their hand and taken back control. They’ve realised Cataclysm was … problematic and want to ensure they have some control over the all-important subscriber numbers. And, in return for our loyalty, they’re certainly compensating us handsomely. The WoW Annual Pass is exciting, especially as it’s easy to see how it could be changed each year, with new mounts and games which will ensure people keep on paying to play. But what do you think? Are you going to sign up? Let us know in the comments box below.

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