Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/11/d447674118/htdocs/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 293

«

»

Screw the Pony, Think of Your Sub.

Like a lot of other players, I was a little taken aback today when I read about Blizzard’s latest addition to their cash shop: a $25 flying horse. Unlike the pets, this is the first truly functional additional to the cash shop we’ve seen and marks a transition out of the sphere of vanity items.

Some people love it and some people hate it, but the undeniable fact is that we’ve entered into the Age of the Microtransaction. The publishing companies supporting our favorite MMOs have found out that there is a market tolerance for paid “extras” outside of our subscriptions. Actually, if the queue tells us anything, I’d say there’s more than a tolerance, there’s market enthusiasm for these upgrades. Kind of flies in the face of the public outcry we heard a couple years ago over these same things.

Seventy-one thousand people can’t be wrong, right? Or, in business speak, $1,775,000 like the horsey.

Except, here’s the thing: it’s not about the horse. It’s not about the vanity pets. It’s not about anything you’re walking away from that cash shop with in-hand.

It’s about the cost and the message it sends.

As Syp so rightfully pointed out, that one pet costs half of a full blown expansion. Let that sink in. Shiny blue horse-thing vs. 60%+ of WotLK. Kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? It seems a little outrageous when you compare the realities of what you’re getting per dollar.

But let us consider, for a moment, that the actual content is irrelevant.

Paying this much for a fancy mount or special pet sends a message that the MMO industry has underestimated how much we’re willing to pay.

Yep, that's 71 THOUSAND, waiting in line

If the queue for this mount tells us anything, it’s that tens of thousands of people are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money for small bits of content. It tells us that the value vs. content ratio has been skewed in our favor.

Did I mention I bought a $15 Mr. Goodbar today? White chocolate and almonds.

Think like Bobby Kotick for a minute. When you’re done imagining yourself rolling around in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck, ask

Scrooge McDuck: Gold Seller Extraordinaire?

yourself, what would you do with this new information?

Why, supply customer demand of course. It’s the only patriotic thing to do.

If people are literally waiting in line to throw their money at Acti-Blizzard for something this small, what do you suppose they’ll do when Blizzard unleashes its next MMO? $60 box, maybe?

I’d be willing to bet, though, here and now, that the subscription cost will hit $19.99 a month. It’s an inevitability. We’ve sat for too long at our current price point. When all the rest of the world becomes more expensive, and horses now cost as much as DSL for a month, we find ourselves safe from inflation for only so long.

After all, we’re enthusiastic about our games, aren’t we? We might guffaw at high prices but, I mean, come on. Does that really matter? If you bitch about the price of a car, then still be the car smiling on your way out, does it really matter how you got there?

Ask yourself, would the extra few dollars really stop you from paying if it seemed cool enough?

The horse says no. I mean really, when we can justify it by all the things we’re not spending our money on instead (movies, dinner, cat food), that negative logic starts to make a lot of sense.

A penny saved is a penny earned toward 1/100th of an XP potion.

So, to be clear, the horse is cool. I don’t care about it, or the pets, or any of that really, because, at the end of the day, they don’t hurt anyone. The precedent we set by paying for it is a different matter.

The fact that I feel like the price point on this particular item is too high is irrelevant. The raising of what we, and, more importantly, MMO publishers, see as an acceptable price point is another matter entirely. It affects all of us, whether we’re for this or not. I, for one, don’t want to see my sub cost go up next year, or later, because no one acknowledged what’s really going on behind economic curtain here.

Like analysts have said about the latest upgrade to the behemoth console title Modern Warfare 2, it was already priced high, but, hey, people lined up anyhow, so why not charge a little more next time around?

Gamer exploitation is like boiling a frog and we should all feel a little warmer.

Or maybe Bobby Kotick really has altruism in mind as he leads Blizzard into the next generation of depression climate MMO gaming. The hair makes me trust him.

8 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. We Fly Spitfires

    If you’re cynical you could suggest that Blizzard were pretty cunning by introducing pets for $10 as it numbed us to the $25 price tag of the mount.

  2. Mojeaux

    “So, to be clear, the horse is cool. I don’t care about it, or the pets, or any of that really, because, at the end of the day, they don’t hurt anyone. The precedent we set by paying for it is a different matter.”

    “Gamer exploitation is like boiling a frog and we should all feel a little warmer.”

    Exactly the points that a lot of the fanboi’s aren’t getting.

  3. Drew

    … or you could argue that they’re simply exploiting a market made possible by the success of Facebook games like FarmVille. By getting the vainest of the vain (the Vanity Tax, if you will) among gamers to foot the bill, they can save on the PR drama of raising subscription prices. Which, in turn, hurts the other games competing against WoW because with fewer subscriptions common sense tells us that their price point probably needs to be higher to make up the difference. But can you imagine any game trying to drop more than a $15 price tag per month right now? Wasn’t there much hub-bub when Mythic hinted at that prior to WAR’s release?

    This is absolute brilliance by Blizzard, and as far as I’m concerned, more likely to keep wiser gamers paying less, rather than more.

  4. Tomasz

    I disagree with labeling the pony as a non-vanity item. It doesn’t really have any functionality, since its movement speed is capped according to the player’s riding skill.

  5. Mojeaux

    “I’d be willing to bet, though, here and now, that the subscription cost will hit $19.99 a month. It’s an inevitability. We’ve sat for too long at our current price point. When all the rest of the world becomes more expensive, and horses now cost as much as DSL for a month, we find ourselves safe from inflation for only so long. ”

    Yep, $19.99. I mean, they have to pay the artists for the creating the pretty pony and all of the future items they’ll be creating.

    So in essence, because of the item costing more than the monthly subscription, can it be said that WoW has now successfully merged the F2P model with the Subscription model and made it one?

  6. Mark

    At least one of the blogs I read gets why this move is a bad precedence.

  7. KalibreOnline -Games, Life and Ent

    This applies to movie studios as well. New increased movie prizes, not including the premiums you have to pay for the 3D experience, will keep happening. Movie theaters are pushing the Digital “Theater Evolution” and with that will come higher prices.

  8. Tesh

    *shrug*

    I still think the sub itself is idiotic. I’ll stick with Guild Wars, thanks. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge