Blizzard has been the king of the MMORPG world for about a decade. World of Warcraft, its flagship product, was released in 2004. Since then, the popular game has risen to a height of around 15 million users, fallen, and finally plateaued at around 7 to 8 million users.
But a decision by Microsoft in the upcoming expansion pack has left many in an uproar. That upcoming expansion pack is Warlords of Draenor, and Blizzard recently announced that players can pay $60 to instantly level their characters to 90.
Here’s how it works:
-Warlords of Draenor increases the level cap from 90 to 100
-After buying the expansion pack, players have the option to boost one character to level 90 immediately free of charge, which lets them play on a more level field (this has been done with previous expansion packs as well)
-The major change with this expansion pack is that players can level 2nd, 3rd, and 4th characters to level 90 for $60 per character.
Blizzard has largely resisted the “pay to win” model adopted by other major MMORPGs – something that existing players undoubtedly appreciate. However, this latest change is seen by many as a “cash grab” for Blizzard.
Blizzard has defended itself and stated that the $60 charge is meant to do two things:
-Avoid the awkwardness of telling someone to buy two copies of the expansion pack just to level a second character to 90
-Avoid taking anything away from the value of leveling
Apparently, Blizzard only settled on the price point after much deliberation. Pricing the instant level up at $10 would have been too cheap, for example, and nobody would bother to level any more. $60, Blizzard feels, is the right amount.
Still, hardcore fans of the game are freaking out over this change and accusing Blizzard of milking its user base for money. Others see this as the first sign of the “F2P switch”, where World of Warcraft would go Free 2 Play.
What do you think? Is Blizzard wrecking the entire leveling experience by charging players to instantly hit level 90? Or are you the kind of person who enjoys paying a few bucks to skip hundreds of hours of leveling?
I’m just a little worried that, one year from now, we’re going to see $99 Legendary items available for purchase on the official Blizzard store.