The Grouchy Gamer

Yeah, I'm cranky. That's kinda the point...

It’s Official. Blizzard is The Debbil.

Cha ChingIf there was any doubt that greed rules the day over in Irvine, or that the who…, er, executives there have round heels and a flat back, that doubt was removed today when this story hit on videogaming247.  Basically the gist of it is that someone was poking around in Lich King’s data files found a graphic for a button that said; “Paid Character Customization.”

Looks like the Billion-dollar-baby isn’t satisfying the execs at Actiblizzard, so they have been directed to exploit, er, take advantage, I don’t know what to call it, other than get still more cash out of their golden goose franchise.   Here is the heart of the article;

When asked to expand upon a button found by sifting through the Lich King beta’s data files named “Paid Character Customization,” Brack initially hesitated to give any answer at all. Several questions later, he went back to the matter, saying that he could, in fact, confirm that World of Warcraft would eventually have some form of paid character customization, though they themselves hadn’t yet worked out any details.

Now, this is their cash printing machine, and they are welcome to do whatever they want.  Again, it shows the value of fandom to a company, and how they can monetize that fandom.  For me, it’s a bridge too far.  I’m now more sure than ever I don’t want to have anything more to do with WoW.  I don’t have the nostalgia for it that I do for EQ or even SWG at this point.  Some of us can only eat so much before we throw up.

Me, I’m full.

11 Comments

  1. One more wafer-thin mint? :D

    I do agree. But I think it’s the tide and our middle name is Canute.

  2. The only thing I wonder about is how they took so long ;-)

  3. So.. they’re cutting out the middleman and directly selling the fluff that’s currently included with the card game?

  4. I don’t think this is much different than the paid name change feature they implemented a while back. Pay $10 for a name change, pay $5 to give your toon a new face. I don’t see what the big deal is. My guess is that most players won’t bother to take advantage of it (or be taken advantage of, as you see it).

  5. It seems like this was a long time coming. I honestly expected the barbershop to be RMT based when I first heard about it. Still as long as development for the RMT portion of the game never detracts from the regular content creation I’m okay with it.

  6. I think the phrase “paid character customization” could mean anything. Assuming the worst case scenario wherein they want to charge $10 for you to change your hair color, I’m tempted to say “big deal.” In fact, I probably would have encouraged some sort of penalty so that people don’t spend all day in the barbershop trying one hair dye after another. You likewise wouldn’t want to open a retail store in a mall, have teens try on clothes all day, and not buy anything.

    If this was the harbringer of a trend wherein Blizzard nickel and dimes us for everything, I’m still ambivalent. As I understand it, most games in China already do this. Blizzard has apparently resisted the temptation and it’s possible they’ll decide to enable it for the Chinese version but omit it in the “Western” version.

    It’s too soon to be offended.

  7. Just for the record, it’s never too soon to be offended. :D

  8. The axiom of big business is that if you are not growing… revenue, customers, whatever… you are dying. So sayeth Wall Street, and we all know how wise they are in the ways of the world. *cough*

    WoW has made enough money to get the attention of the street. It is big business. When your cash cow is pouring out milk like a fire hose, the focus suddenly becomes maintaining that.

    Now the pressure is on Blizzard to keep growing. Yet, unless WoW breaks the mold on this as well, we know there is a life cycle for MMOs. Subscriptions will hit a cap and then begin the slow decline. Revenue will follow. Vivendi will be taken to task for this unless they can create another WoW-like success. Lightning is unlikely to strike twice however.

    So Blizzard has orders to forestall the inevitable. They are looking for places on planet earth where people don’t play WoW yet, giving us Russian and Latin American Spanish game clients to bolster the total accounts.

    Meanwhile, they are looking at how to further monetize the game so, when subscriptions do eventually dip, they can pull out other success metrics based on revenue.

    The scary part is that WoW has set the benchmark for success at Blizzard. How popular will StarCraft II or Diablo III have to get to be anything but minor blips in the Blizz financials? And if they are only minor blips, how soon before somebody else is running Blizzard because the execs there have “lost their touch?”

    Still, that might be good on the whole. I’d like to see the Blizzard execs start from scratch again and build something new… and maybe break the Garriot/McQuaid curse.

  9. If I had to play WoW for even one more day, I’d smash my computer and eat it, bit by bit.

  10. NOW they offer Custom Guild T-Shirts…they want every dollar they can find…

    http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm?loadNews=12038

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