Boost to 90 Pricing Insanity
Right from the start when the next expansion was announced, we found out that a boost to 90 would be part of the basic Warlords of Draenor expansion package. Blizzard objective with this was to provide a way so that everyone that gets the new expansion would be able to immediately jump into the game and be part of the action.
This was initially met with some mixed reviews from the community. Some felt that it allowed people to skip too much content, while others liked the fact that they would be able to either get into the game at the same point as their friends that have played for years.
Then shortly after the announcement questions started to be raised about how the whole thing would work. Especially how it would work with account transfers since people could if motivated enough, purchase extra Warlords of Draenor packages and then transfer the boosted characters to their accounts. This led Blizzard to announce that they would be making the Boost to 90 available as a paid service, rather than force people to shenanigans.
Well, this past week with the announcement of the pre-order for Warlords of Draenor I noticed a curious little note on the pre-order add. That note said “$60 Value” next to the boost to 90 point.
Upon seeing this I got curious, surely Blizzard was not trying to say that the boost to 90 was going to be a $60 fee, where they? So, to find out I clicked the link and went looking for more information.
Well as a mater of fact, yes, they are serious, they want $60 for the boost to 90 as an in-game purchasable upgrade.
All I can say is WOW! I know that more and more games are going to a micro-transaction based commerce , but there is nothing micro about $60US! That is also on top of already having to own the World of Warcraft game and the expansions so that you can play. That is also on top of Blizzard already raising the cost of the expansion from all the previous expansions $39 price tag to a new higher $49 price tag.
While I can understand that some players may want more than one new level 90 character to play with, and that some will actually be willing to pay the $60 price tag, I am not sure I can understand Blizzard logic at the price.
Let me be very open about this, I was initially strongly against any option for players to boost to level 90, paid or otherwise. However, after talking to several friends that have always wanted to give WoW a shot, but never have because they missed the opening round and felt that it would take forever to catch up, I started to see it from their point of view.
I came to the view that the old content is just that, old. Very few players will be going through any of it once Warlords of Draenor is released, and therefore forcing new players to go through it, doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to keep them from joining into the game. So I came to the view that letting them skip it was ok, as it gave us all more people to play with.
Once I came to this frame of mind, I started looking at the whole “pay to boost” conversation that was going on at the time, as this was before the actual price was announced. Just a few of the pros and cons being discussed were:
- Pro: Allows players to jump to valid content with any class they choose, rather than replay content that they have likely already done. This will mean that there will be more players in end game content and make it easier to find groups.
- Con: There will be more players in groups that don’t have a clue how to play their class, meaning there will be even more wipes than before.
- Pro: You can finally play some of the classes you always wanted to play but never got around to grinding through.
- Con: While you could get that character anyway, it would cost real world money to take advantage of this feature.
- Pro: Raid and Arena players can focus on raiding or PVP at the end game level while still being able to have secondary characters to fill roles.
- Con: High end raiding or PVP groups may expect players to have all possible classes at max level thereby forcing prospective members to spend a large sum of money.
- Pro: If you don't like the previous content, or have gone through it more times than you can count, but still want a new character, you don't need to redo all the old stuff.
- Con: No real con to skipping content you have already done previously.
After listening to the arguments for and against offering additional boost to 90 upgrades to players in any way, I started to like the idea to boost characters for a small fee. All of the pro’s made sense, while none of the con’s seemed to change things for most players in any significant way.
I also found out that while this is new to World of Warcraft, it isn't new to MMO's. Turns out that Everquest2 did this a little while ago. Not being a EQ2 player, I had never even learned about it. Turns out though, it was implimented without too much of an impact and works well. Sardu even posted his thoughts on it here: EQIIs Heroic Characters Why Dont All MMOs Have This Feature?
So, now that I am sold on the idea of allowing people to skip the old content and jump to the new content, onto a huge sticking point for me. The price.
The price announced is indeed what is hinted at on the Warlords of Draenor pre-order banner, SIXTY bucks! REALLY!!!
Really though it is more than that, since you need to own the game and the expansion, and then you also have to shell out the cost of a full normal video game, just to skip content that you paid for?
While I can understand a small fee so that not everyone just automatically skips to 90 with every character. I can also understand not making it a dollar or two, so that the same thing doesn’t happen, or so that not everyone just pays it to move on. However, I think the $60 price tag is more than a bit excessive. As mentioned, $60 is the price of most games.
This essentially means that you need to shell out MORE than the expansion costs that includes a free boost to 90 with it. How on earth does that make any logical sense to anyone?
I personally think that a far more reasonable fee would be about $20 for a boost to 90. That places it into the “do I really want to pay for it” realm and out of the micro transaction realm. It also leaves it in the “it doesn’t cost as much as a game” or “it doesn’t cost more than the expansion that contains a boost to 90 anyway” realm.
What's more, EQ2 who has the same feature charges roughly HALF of what Blizzard is expecting players to pay for the same service. While not exactly 1/2 it's pretty close at 3500 station credits, which will cost you about $35, less if you buy in bulk. That means I am not that far out of line with my thoughts on the cost. If SONY (famous for charging more for a product simply because they have a good reputation and can charge it) is only charging $35, then Blizzard has missed the mark massively. If Sony charges a price, pretty much everyone else should be less than them.
That’s the Messiah’s take on this whole issue, where do you stand? Has Blizzard put in place a blatant overcharge for a service they know people will want to use? Or is it a sure fire way to make sure that while available, most people will not use more than the upgrade they get with the expansion, which may be what Blizzard wants anyway.