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The Premium Push - Cross-Realm Money Grab

Updated Fri, Jul 22, 2011 by Xerin

The premium debate continues to rage in World of Warcraft and players keep finding themselves with more avenues to spend their cash. Recently, the cross-realm grouping service went live and players can now group with their battle.net friends across multiple servers in order to run dungeons. However, it’s currently in testing and the price, availability, and premium aspect of it is all covered within a misty fog.

Players are, like usual, still raging at the fact that they’re getting accustomed to this amazing service but here shortly they’re going to have to fork up more money each month to be able to try it out. Much like many of Blizzard’s services, the first hit is always free.

Is it fair for Blizzard to charge what they want? Of course it is, it’s always fair for Blizzard to charge what they want as long as they don’t pull a Netflix and begin charging people double for a service that they’re currently using. Let’s look at the two aspects of this argument though, the slippery slope effect (again) and the long-term impact this will have.

Slippery Slope (Again)

Yes, we are sliding down the slippery slope faster than ever before. Players keep giving and giving without much in return. Starcraft 2 still doesn’t have features that made Starcraft amazing such as the ability to watch replays together and WoW is becoming more and more expensive by the month. The pet store is brimming with pets, the mobile app costs to adjust your auctions on the go, and now we’re looking to pay money to hang out with friends on different servers.

A big question if cross-realm grouping becomes pay to use is, are your friends worth the money?

When will it end? Honestly, I don’t see one. Not that it matters, since we’re still in the “optional services” part of the slope, so most of this doesn’t necessarily impact me (since I’m a grown up enough person to say yes or no to spending money for things that didn’t exist in the game beforehand). I’m sure we’ll continue to see more services and more things to buy in the shop.

You know what though? I’m okay with it. I may sound like someone who is going through the five stages of grieving and I’m finding acceptance, but really, honestly, I couldn’t care less if Blizzard started charging $20 for candy bars. As long as I can keep saying no, then the world is right by me.

So it should be for you, if you’re one of those offended by Blizzard’s constant money grabbing schemes. Think of it like this, grocery stores keep adding new products and even keep changing the prices on them, but do we complain? Usually not, and especially if it doesn’t affect us.

With the cross-realm grouping, we’re in a position to at least try it, see if it works, and see if we think it’ll be worth the cost whenever it goes live, assuming there will be a cost (remember, we know nothing now about the pricing). So I say enjoy it while it lasts and when the time comes to pay, decide if it’s worth the cost to you or not.

The Long-Term Impact

Of course, there are still some other lovely premium services Blizzard may have hidden with cross-realm grouping. Think on this one, last year Blizzard started talking about cross-realm raiding and mail during a twitter event. It’s possible this could be testing the water to see if players may be interested in paying a bit more to raid with friends on other servers and, I guarantee you, they would because you could app to a guild on another server and then not bother with server transferring to do a trial.

Then again, thinking about it, isn’t that a good thing to pay a small monthly fee when you need to in order to app to guilds. A lot better than forking out the full $25 in order to transfer and find yourself in a situation where you’re guildless because the guildmaster’s brother decided to take the spot that you were guaranteed.

Then there is the cross-realm heirloom mailing. I’m sure they’ll package that in with the premium package at some point. Why not, it’d be the perfect cherry on top to sell the package to everyone. I’m sure you’d like to make a new character on another server but the heirlooms just aren’t there. Bam, a credit card entry and a few clicks and you now are able to level at lightning fast speeds.

Well, that’s my thoughts on the subject. Why not share yours in our comments section below?

Bliz work on the correct assumption that there is always somebody stupid enough to pay. However all these new services are already paid for by the players and shoud be free.
I believe companies sould offer a good service and be well paid for it which overall Bliz do. However they are making soo much money out of this that they dont "need" to ask for anymore.

Many people quote the slippery slope fallacy as justification for calling people paranoid, to which it has some validity. However, blizzard is a business and as such it is their purpose to make more money. It would be stupid for a company not to. As such, blizzard is going to do everything in their power to not only launch this premium service, but to improve on it. They only question on my mind are, what are they improvements going to be?

The one thing that really bothers me though is that blizzard no longer sees gaining subscribers as an adamant means to gain income. Otherwise they wouldn't be devoting development time into premium services, pet stores, and mount sales. Sure it can be seen as added income, but blizzard is dropping subscribers and developing a new MMO. The real problem is that Blizzard has this mindset that WOW is going to fail in 2-4 years and are going to charge their existing player base all they can until then.

Oh man, I didn't know how angry something like this could make me. I am more than ok with them charging for character transfers and all that stuff and all the digital pets. That really doesn't affect game play too much. But charging for innovation/new features... I feel like I'm about to burst out in a string of cursing. If they do start charging I will actively start searching for a new MMO to get all of my friends onto because I know the only thing they see is voting with my money. In the grand scheme I know my one account doesn't matter... but we can't reward a company for charging for any little change and new feature they add because next thing you know, they will start charging for patches, bug fixes and the like stating that you paid to play the game as it is, you want more, then you gotta pay more.

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