Tuesday, 17 December 2013
World of Warcraft and the In-Game Store
A couple of days ago I commented on a post talking about the new In-Game Store in World of Warcraft. As my opinion wildly differed from that of what seem majority on the site, there was a challenge shot at me. Commenter JackRobb wanted me to try harder. Knowing that trying harder at the spot would leave me with writing too many words to fit the comment box, I opted to write it here, and then link JackRobb to this post. Maybe then it will be hard enough for him. If he ever reads it.
For this to make any sense, let us start where we should start. Differentiating between the business models of the games. In its essence, we have three models. Those are Buy-to-play, Pay-to-play, and Free-to-play. All of those have their quirks, pros, and cons. Buy-to-play would be any regular title, that is not MMO, because at least to my knowledge, only MMO games have monthly subscription. I will leave the DLC and similar practises out of this, as I wildly disagree with them. DLC in my opinion, means that the developer could not finish the said feature on time, and so opted to push it after the release, and charge extra for something that should be in the game form the very beginning.
Now, we already established Buy-to-play. Pay-to-play are essentially games for which you pay monthly subscription after you already purchased the game. Free-to-play is in its essence totaly free game, that anyone can play free of charge. Why would anyone design a free-to-play game is beyond me, but they probably try to compensate the loss with the profits from the in-game store.
And this is where all problems start. Free-to-play games are the ones notorious for their In-Game Stores. Even games like Guild Wars II. What In-Game Store does best is breed resentment among the playerbase. Those that can afford to purchase whatever they need, and the rest that are forced to grind their way to oblivion. But at the end, I understand why a Free-to-play game needs store, it is their only way of getting some revenue.
This is not the case with Pay-to-play game like World of Warcraft. I pay monthly subscription for that game. And it does not matter if I play it, or not in the time of my subscription. I essentially am paying for regular content, for equal access for everyone to everything, and that the developers do not have to look for other ways to earn some additional money.
So when I see, my monthly subscription is being spent on them implementing In-Game Store, where they intend to earn even more money with it, this is just bad, wrong, and leaves horrible taste in my mouth. Now, most of the things in the store are cosmetic some would say, if you want it you can buy it, if not, nobody will hold it against you. This is the popular argument here. But when you have a subscription to a magazine, would you be willing to pay extra for an additional article, or would you consider it a scam and something preposterous.
I could understand when Blizzard sold those mounts for charity. Yes, it was a waste of my subscription in that case as well. But it was for a good cause. Now, they are filling their own pockets. This is pure greed. There is no excuse for this. There is no place for In-Game store in a monthly subscription based MMO. Never. You can either do one or the other. And it saddens me greatly that Blizzard would stoop so low. I expect better of them.
I expect of Blizzard to lead. To show others the way. To set an example of how to run things. Not to follow like a mindless sheep in footsteps of Guild Wars II. Timeless Isle was a disaster enough already. They tell us there will be no daily quests in next expansion. And now, they implement the In-Game store.
Now, what can I do about this. Will my voice even be heard over the masses that want to spend their money on well overpriced mounts and pets? Probably not. Would boycotting World of Warcraft help? Probably not, as I intend to play in next expansion as well. They say that dog that barks does not bite. As I cannot really bite, I will continue to bark, until something is changed. Sure, some would say this is only a teardrop into sea, but if I want to preach to others what is wrong, I need to set an example. And maybe, a highly unlikely maybe, Blizzard removes this shameful excuse for this horrible moneygrab.
In-Game Stores are something for Free-to-play games in order to keep afloat. Not something for a behemoth like Blizzard. Not something for a leviathan like World of Warcraft. Those two do not struggle to keep afloat. And even with so many players gone in last couple of years, it still remains the MMO with largest playerbase. This does not give an excuse to abuse our trust.
This is not an opportunity for them to just say Mea Culpa and then move on. Everybody makes mistakes. But this is a well calculated mistake where they obviously considered reactions of the players for some time. Blizzard should realise by now, that their success is not based on their games, but on the number of players that play their games and trust them to deliver quality. To compromise this quality on the account of greed is unforgivable.