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Blizzard’s New Strategy on Level 90 Character Boosts

/ Jan 17th, 2014 No Comments

In a blog post on the Blizzard Entertainment website entitled “Warlords of Draenor—Scouting Report,” Blizzard outlined some updates on the upcoming beta along with some changes to how they will handle the level 90 character boost and the in-game vanity items from the Digital Deluxe Edition. The beta info is just basic reminders to make sure to opt-in and update computer specs and a link to the in-depth FAQ. Blizzard has not given a date yet for the start of the beta or info on when they will open up presales.

The big news comes after the brief mention of the beta. As soon as players preorder Warlords of Draenor, they will not only have access to the (currently undisclosed) pet and mount if they pre-purchased the Digital Deluxe Edition, they will also get to immediately jump a character to level 90. This change is explicitly different from what Blizzard said at BlizzCon. Blizzard’s stated reason suggests that they were responding purely to player feedback from people that wanted more time to play their characters at 90 before the expansion hits, so they can learn the class ahead of time and have an opportunity to do the legendary cloak quest before Warlords of Draenor hits. Furthermore, Blizzard is going ahead with plans to test out offering additional jumps to level 90 for fees.
 

Talador - A New Zone in Warlords of Draenor

Talador – A New Zone in Warlords of Draenor

Our Take

From a business standpoint, this strategy of incentivizing presales makes perfect sense. Game companies have increasingly relied on presales to gauge the success of a product for investors, and Activision-Blizzard is a publicly-traded company. After leveling half-a-dozen characters, many players might see the convenience and time value of buying level 90 characters. However, this practice brings Blizzard one step closer to the “pay-to-win” strategies prominent in many other MMOs. In the best-case scenario for players, this move is a one-off and will not lead to any further pay-to-win elements. Few companies as large as Activision-Blizzard shift their model without some kind of long-term strategy, this move could be part of a strategy to transition to a free-to-play microtransaction model. In the worst-case scenario, Blizzard will try to have it’s cake and eat it to by continuing to extract $15/month while adding more pay-to-win elements. If Warlords of Draenor manages to turn around the bleeding subscriptions on World of Warcraft, players might not have to worry, though.

Warlords of Draenor Trailer


 

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith

A perpetual over-thinker, Ethan Smith spends all of his free time playing video games like an English professor reads books, writing a secret novel, and trying to actually finish a game of Medieval II: Total War.
Ethan Smith

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