World of Warcraft. Even if you’re not interested in gaming, consider that it’s roughly six million people, paying a minimum of 12 dollars a month to play the game, and climbing. There’s estimates that it’s fifty percent of the Massive market. Blizzard actually will give their players a free month if they get someone else to sign up.
But have they gone a step too far?
The game has had technical issues since launch, in part because they grossly underestimated how many players they’d get. Fair enough — everyone did. One of those issues has related to servers being under- or over-loaded, with extremely limited character transfer services. Now, players can pay to move their characters from one server to another. It’s a microtransaction model that Blizzard has been talking about for some time. But…
They haven’t really fixed the problems with their free, limited transfers. The list of servers you can go to is still very, very limited. And, the biggie issue, is that it’s a 25 dollar fee.
Forget about any other fears about microtransactions, or people paying ten bucks to get a cooler sword. 25 bucks — per character transfer, not for access to the ability to transfer — is the better part of a whole ‘nother video game, a DVD and some coffee, or a pretty decent lunch in downtown SF. With Blizzard putting forward this relationship between fee and service, they’re setting a standard — a gold standard — that will only accelerate the cost of games for a consumer base that’s already tired of coughing up blood trying to find the cash to upgrade their systems, pay for the games, and finding the time to play.
In other words, it’s a great time for one of the MMO second-stringers to step up and simply by offering their service at a nominally reasonable price, look better than WoW.