It’s no secret that the new World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, has had its share of teething problems. The developers were even forced, very recently, into holding an AMA on reddit to directly address players concerns with the community, including topics such as class balance issues, lack of endgame content and time gating, expedition rewards, warfront issues, Azerite armour and mythic rewards and many more. You can find the full summary here.
Even though Blizzard no longer report their active subs total, it is obvious, by sentiment on the forums and reddit, that subs are dropping. That, on its own, isn’t unusual, a few months after the launch of an expansion, as people do get bored and unsub until the next major patch. Cue this new mount and 180 days game time bundle, clearly geared at keeping subs up during the content drought which was added to the store last week, along with a new pet. Rewarding loyalty for subs isn’t unusual and has been done by many MMORPGs before. However, this is normally done by giving subscribers free cosmetic items in return for staying subbed for a certain period of time. For example, thank you for staying subbed over the last year and here is a new mount. The controversy with this deal, is that it is demanding that players commit in advance and is only available to those paying on one of the three different subscription methods, 6 monthly and not on monthly or yearly.
So is this bundle a good deal? Well, that depends on the player. I certainly don’t agree with the principle of the bundle. I, personally, feel that loyal customers should be rewarded, however they choose to purchase their game time and that this forced purchase of 6 months at once, may hit those players on tight budgets hard, particularly teenagers and students. For a player who is enjoying the current content and would likely stay subbed the full period anyway, and who can afford the 6 months upfront then this is a decent deal as it would save you £7.80 over the 6 months and get you a free mount. However, you do need to think it through first because half price tickets to a rose garden may seem good at face value but if it is in December then all that will be available to see is sticks and bare earth which may not be good value for money even at half price.
After the previous issue of time gating content and nerfing levelling speed, neither of which has yet been addressed, this does seem to be yet another cash grab from Blizzard. I feel that if they are going to reward players who commit to 6 months of subs then this should be available to all, whether subbed monthly, 6 monthly or yearly. After all, why should a player subbed monthly and already being hit with a premium of £7.80 lose out if they still sub for the six-month period? This is clearly a deal designed to invoke an impulse purchase response rather than to reward loyalty, which is a sad but not unprecedented change of direction from Blizzard.
So, will I be investing in this bundle? Certainly not. The way Blizzard are going now, I likely won’t be subbed in six months, and so the saving that this would give me, if I did, is irrelevant. Loyalty should be rewarded and not forced, which is something that Blizzard seems to have forgotten over the years. I think they need to take a long, hard look at their marketing strategy before they lose what little good will they have left from their loyal player base. They are certainly scrapping the bottom of the barrel with mine.