So not to be a cynic, but how is this anything other than Blizzard admitting that they’ve gone as far as they can go. That’s it. WoW has peaked and the next year will solidify its decline into its Golden Years. That is the exact message I take from this.
I mean, think about it. How ludicrous is it that they would be charging extra to connect with your friends? Giving players cross-server instancing is only a good thing for Blizzard; when players play with friends, they have more fun, and probably won’t think twice about re-upping when that subscription comes due. No, this is 100% milking. You have money. You have something you’d like to do. Blizzard is ready to help.
This is how I see it: From now until years after Titan has launched and assumed dominance in the market, WoW will open up more and more paid services. Things we’d never have paid extra for pre-WotLK — I mean, really, why charge for this and not the dungeon finder itself? They’re both convenience services that keep the player happy and do very little more other than throw people into a pre-made group. Guess what? Video games have been doing that for years. It’s MMOs that have been behind the curve, and the long-past-due adoption of letting players play with their friends, despite what any newbie will surely consider an arbitrary decision in server choice, is something we great happily when perhaps we’d better be suited to breathing a sigh of relief. Whew. It’s about time. Different times, folks, different times all in the course of two-and-a-half years.
So WoW will slowly open up more and more “premium” services, and smartphone apps, and cash shop pandas, until it eventually becomes free-to-play and once again kicks everyone’s ass because yet another huge barrier has been removed from the player’s way.
Maybe that just means this whole theory is wrong. WoW hasn’t peaked, it’s just plateued. But then, is a F2P WoW on par with a P2P WoW? Is it even comparable t0 2004 when we saw the game’s birth and some even swore they’d be there until the game’s death? I wonder if they’d have foreseen the future that’s likely to come.