It’s no secret that gamers have to pay for just about everything in World of Warcraft these days. What do you have to pay for? Well…
1. Initial Game Cost
2. Monthly Subscription
3. Server Transfer
4. Race Change
5. Faction Change
6. Additional Content (Expansions)
7. Micro Transactions
8. Login Authenticator
Almost all of these are not required. WoW could still exist as is without any of the above costing money. Does this sound hard to believe? Well, it shouldn’t and here’s why.
Initial Game Cost & Monthly Subscription
In this day and age, many MMORPGs opt to only have consumers pay for monthly subscriptions. Downloading a client and then either playing a limited free version or paying for a full subscription is the norm. Blizzard forces consumers to buy the privilege to play World of Warcraft and then they must set-up a $15 monthly subscription just to play.
ArenaNet, former Blizzard employees and makers of Guild Wars, have openly stated that developers do not need to charge gamers to play MMORPGs each month and that it is nothing more than a cash grab on the part of the developers. Considering how easily ArenaNet could have fallen apart if the original Guild Wars bombed without including monthly subscriptions, it’s not hard to believe what they are saying. Monthly subscriptions, though common, are NOT required.
Account & Character Services
Want to turn your dwarf into a gnome? It’s going to cost you approximately $15 a pop. That’s right, changing your race in World of Warcraft costs as much as it does to play the game for a month. If that isn’t ridiculous, then I don’t know what is…. especially considering that in other MMOs such as APB or Champions Online you are able to completely change every aspect of your character’s appearance without spending even a single cent. Imagine that! WoW’s faction change is not any different and only takes seconds for the game to process. You are being charged a quarter of a hundred dollars for a five second computer process.
Then there are server transfers. Many MMOs do not tie characters to specific servers and you can instead come and go as you please. Other games, like Rift, will plop your character onto servers of your choosing but you are free to transfer them whenever you want for no fee at all. Whoa. In WoW, if you want to move your warlock from Shadowmoon to Hyjal, it’s going to cost you something like $25 to disguise it as something that actually requires effort on Blizzard’s part… But to play with people from either realms in dungeons or battlegrounds is completely free? Where is the logic?
Pretty much all MMOs will charge for this kind of content except games that have adopted free to play mantras (subscriptions become optional). For example, Champions Online is currently working on increasing the level cap from 40 to either 45 or 50 and an entirely new city will be explorable. Sounds pretty substantial! While expansions are allowed to make money and I don’t view selling them as an evil act, they don’t need to cost as much as full retail games.
Micro Transactions & Ingame Stores
Considering everything that Blizzard forces their players to pay money for, it just seems so insanely wrong that they offer ingame mounts for sale at a price of $25. Yes, you can purchase a digital horse for a digital character to ride on for a whopping $25. You can also purchase vanity pets that serve no function at all for about $10 to $15. Wow. You can purchase thorough DLC for other games at a fraction of that price. For the price of one imaginary flying glitter pony to ride on, gamers could purchase several DLC adventures for Dragon Age: Origins or upgrade their Street Fighter 4 copies and obtain several new characters and stages.
While everything Blizzard charges people for is certainly extremely wrong and unnecessary, I suppose one can’t really speak out about it too much. The players are willing to spend money for these ridiculous services, so why should Blizzard stop? In a way, I suppose it is OUR fault that Blizzard earns money for all of these services which shouldn’t even cost money.
Shame on Blizzard for offering these services and shame on us for utilizing them.