Okay, guys, I just read the headlines 10 minutes ago. I know we already talked about this but apparently somebody didn’t get the memo (little wonder, we aren’t exactly Gamasutra over here.)
Who else read the latest WoW news? Blizzard announced the price of the instant 90 today. Anyone else see the headlines? 60 bloody dollars. 60 dollars! You can buy a fresh account and all of the expansions for that much money! Seriously? Seriously.
Okay, usually I am not one for rants, this isn’t even going to be part of my scheduled releases. 60 bloody dollars. Yes, I’m checking my figures right now. Yes. Each expansion costs 20 dollars. So… 100 bucks to get a new account. Plus 60 bucks for a 90. So, if I recruit my mother to WoW and want her to be able to dive straight into the good bits its $150. What in the name of Banshee Queen is this?
I usually attempt to avoid knee-jerking and aim to avoid being topical for this very reason. No microtransaction in the world is worth 60 dollars. So, now that the rage has subsided, lets see if we can find a way for Blizzard to dig themselves out of this one.
Firstly, 60 bucks is… actually, now that I’ve cooled a bit I think I can see the price point of 60 dollars being acceptable but only under certain conditions. Right now the 60 USD price point comes with a level 90 and 483 gear. This is not acceptable. Lets try fluffing that a bit. I mean, everyone who isn’t insanely rich will get chafed by $60 for leveling. Lets put that in perspective. For 60 bucks you can buy 4 months of game time or 2 cash shop mounts (which is also rediculous).
Now, if that came with a set of >540 gear then that would be a step up. Still not worth 60 dollars but still a little closer to the worth of the transaction. Keep in mind, this is not a flat number, the 90 should have a set of gear that would let them get straight into 10 mans of the most recent raid. These instant 90s exist so that people dont have to spend forever getting ready. It isn’t fair to tell your players “pay us 60 dollars and we will put you a mere 2 months away from raiding with your friends”. Keep in mind, nobody who buys this instant 90 will be doing it on their first character ever. The only people who will do that are the people who are only signing up to play with their friends and I’m sorry to break it to you but leveling is the quick part of becoming raid ready. You can get a 90 in 5 days/played or less. Your once-a-week raid reset makes it so that getting current takes at least a month. Charging someone 60 bucks to shave 2 weeks off of the 2 month process of getting raid competent isn’t going to work. If you’re going to do this the 90 has to come with contemporary gear. Even in Warlords of Draenor that 90 should come pre-packaged with whatever gear will get them into 10 man (and not flex) version of the latest raid, even if they can’t equip the gear yet. Even with this the 90 is worth 20 or 30 bucks (it would be 10 or 15 if you didn’t already have the biggest game of all time)
So lets try adding an exclusive flying mount. You shouldn’t be able to get this mount via any process other than buying a 90 from Blizzard. Make sure its a good one, it can’t just be a different colored griffon. It should be as flashy as the Firelands mount (if not flashier). Excuse my language, Activision, but people fill out their 90 roster for 1 reason and 1 reason only. That reason is penis size. If you want to charge 60 bucks for your 90 rush it should come with a super flashy mount and the fastest flight speed available (even if you won’t allow flying in Cybus Industries Draenor). I’m not a graphic designer so don’t ask me what your fans want for a flying mount. Maybe some techno-dragon that uses Diablo’s lightning snake whenever you enter /bow. I don’t know, I’m just The Author. So long as you put as much love into designing it as you do with those beautiful pets on your cash shop it will be worth the price of admission. What if someone already paid for a 90? each additional 90 you buy should unlock a random BoE from the cash shop (feel free to give dupes so long as the player can choose to auction it). This deal, including the rare mount and the contemporary gear would make your 90 rush worth 30-45 dollars (it would be 15-25 if you didn’t have the biggest game in the world).
Thirdly. Once you get to max level you still have to worry about professions. The level rush should come packaged with professions leveled to the beginning of whatever expansion the character should be in. For example, if you are selling a level 90 during MoP then professions should be 475 (max level for Cataclysm). If you are selling a 90 during Warlords of Draenor then professions should come auto leveled to 525 (max for Pandaria). I know I said this before but everyone who buys your level rush will be doing it in the hopes of getting straight to the same point as their buddies. If you dont include this then you will have people saying “You mean I have to pay 60 bucks and spend 2 weeks farming mats? My friend’s raiding guild won’t even look at my resume if I don’t have max primaries and max cooking” and resolve to just rough it out. Now, if you are doing that thing that you did with Halfhill in Pandaria and make a place in the game where every profession can be rushed then this perk will become a moot point. This deal (combined with the rest stated above) would be worth 40-50 bucks (20-30 if you weren’t the biggest horse at the rodeo).
Finally, lets talk cash. Even with all the above perks a level 90 rush isn’t worth 60 bucks. So how would you finish balancing out the price with the worth of the product? You could throw in an experience vial that works for 10 levels (since 90 won’t be the max level in a few months. Give people a bigger leg up for paying such a ridiculous sum). You could throw in 10K gold (chants and gems are expensive, after all). Really, any little perk would fill out your last 10 dollars to match the massive price of a 90.
So, what if you don’t want to go to all of the work of re-skinning the dragon frame for the people fanatic enough about your game to pay almost double retail? What if you don’t want to let them skip the repetitive slog that is heroics? What if you just want to stick with level 90 with quest greens? Well, first of all, your game is good enough on it’s own merit to get people hooked without putting them through 2 months of hell. Second of all, with the difficulty level you put on LFR nobody will really want to have to deal with getting raid competent on top of that titanic bill. All that being said. If you’re just selling the 90 with quest greens, no professions and make them farm the gold to buy their own mount then your 90 rush is worth about 10 bucks. You could probably squeeze 20 bucks out of your players if you really wanted to let them know you feel nothing but contempt for them, but 10 bucks is a realistic price point. This is especially true if you want to continue charging 15 a month just to play the sodding thing.
Anyways, thank you, readers, for dealing with my rant. Don’t worry, this isn’t my weekly post. I just got a memo 30 minutes ago and felt that the issue needed to be voiced immediately. If you liked this then drop a line in the comments or to my bosses (SomethingWickedGamers@gmail.com) and I will try to publish more rants in addition to my weekly 10 page essay. Just make sure the words “To The Author” are in the headline of the email so Jesse knows who to forward it to, make the first line “please discuss” if you want a 10 page essay or “please rant” if you want one of these quick posts followed by the topic you want discussed (or ranted) and I will start on it right away. Really, my only job for this firm is writing so don’t be afraid to send me a mind-bender. Just make sure it’s at least tangentially related to video games. I’m not going to answer things like “show me your wife’s tits” or “what is the maximum flight speed of an unladen swallow”. I am here to teach and be taught through intelligent debate. So if you feel I’m wrong on a subject or just want to discuss something I would love to be taught. See you next week.