Cataclysm is now 25 days from release and nearly all of us are going to flock like sheep to get it (or, in some cases have already downloaded it) with relatively zero questions asked. 39.99 for our new hotness, signed sealed and delivered. But what about someone new to the game?
For those of us who have been playing World of Warcraft for some time (at the very least, during or prior to the Lich King), it seems like nothing at this point to kick out forty dollars for the next chapter of Azeroth. New players have a much larger investment, in the range of 100 dollars depending on what kind of a deal you track down. This is because they still have to buy Wrath of the Lich King, Burning Crusade, and of course the original version. The good news is that Vanilla and BC come in a “Battle Chest” that you can get for about the cost of a one month membership (which it conveniently comes with). However, many stores are still charging full price for the Lich King, and while I expect that to change, it might not before the holiday shopping season.
One hundred dollars is arguably a fair bit of money to spend on a game you may or may not like. It’s worse when it’s a game that still requires a monthly fee to play. When the MMO market has a vast number of games that don’t require additional expansions and such, it tends to make WoW less appealing to be honest. Sure, those of us who play it will say “it’s WoW, it has a solid base and great advertising. It’s a known commodity.” This is true, but at the same time Blizzard has stated their biggest problem pre-Cataclysm was getting trial accounts to actually upgrade to a full version of the game. That’s one of the lines they rang off when talking about changing the trees, mechanics, and old world. In part, I believe it to be true. The bigger issue, I think, is that players are hesitant to pay to upgrade their account and then have to get two expansions, soon to be three. Even with the War Chest, there are two expansions you’ll need if you want to play end game -or even just the things that have come in LK and yet to come in Cataclsym (such as 15 levels combined, Death Knights, Worgen and Goblins).
I’m not an economics major, but I’m pretty certain Blizzard has made their money off the inaugural version of World of Warcraft as well as the Burning Crusade. With that in mind, I suggest they keep the cost of Lich King at 39.99. Even with Cataclysm coming out, don’t drop the price. Instead, when you buy Lich King and install it, the previous versions and one month of game play should come with it. Honestly, we all know a battle pack containing the game and the two expansions is coming, but I think this method works better. It allows you to sell the copies of LK that are on the shelf without having to repackage (and waste resources). It also makes people feel like they’re getting something for free (rather than reducing the price of LK), and people always like free.
I’m sure in the end (or probably the new year) Blizzard will create some kind of combo pack or reduce the prices, but even as the leading MMO right now they need to take the next step properly. They’ve made the game more appealing in terms of content, now they need to do the same thing from a player’s financial perspective.