Blog Azeroth – Shared Topic for the week of May 30th, 2011
Shared Topic Idea: Premium Services
With the announcement of the “Premium Dungeon Finder” option coming, I wrote up a post last night with my thoughts on this specific issue. What are your thoughts on not only this new feature, but “premium” features being added into the game?
Premium is getting to be a bit of a dirty word in Warcraft. The player base hears about awesome new features coming Soon ™ and get vigorously vocal when those features turn into premium services. The latest new addition is a perfect example of this behavior.
I listened to a very thorough discussion of this topic on the WoW Insider Show podcast which I highly recommend listening to. They pointed out that Blizzard had the right idea to start off with, but got lost a bit on the way. The new feature to allow cross-server real id friend invites for dungeoning meant changes to some of the internals of the WoW code. As a result, the developers knew that industrious data miners, such as those tirelessly working over at MMO-Champion, would find the function strings and start trying to put the pieces together. So, Blizzard released a statement to head off any speculation. Good idea. But.
Instead of just saying that a new feature was in the works, early in development, and long off in the distance, Blizzard also chose to announce that the service would be premium. The initial surge of joy from players at the prospect of playing with real id friends in heroics regardless of server was crushed at the price tag.
My perspective is somewhat muted from all of this. I only heard about the new feature after the firestorm of outrage was well under way. Furthermore, I am not one to get all jumpy about cross-server features as all of my characters save one are on the same server, and I don’t have any cross-server relations with friends. I’m happily ensconced within Drak’Tharon and pleased as punch to stay put.
Yet I understand the outrage, because some of the premium features have at least intrigued me. Having a chat feature that I could access out of game would be cool, especially if my guild were to get rolling on raiding. Being able to game the auction house in my spare time on the bus would be fantastic (if only I had a phone capable of being anything more than a phone).
In the end, though, premium just doesn’t hurt me. If I get really serious about communicating with my guild and get to a place where I want guild chat… I’ll buy it for a few bucks a month. If I were to suddenly get into a workplace with a bunch of cool people that play Warcraft, but happen to be across a variety of servers, I would give the premium dungeon feature a shot and run some content with my fellows.
But, in the long game, if I want to play with friends in one place or another, I’ll roll characters to play with them. If I want to communicate with friends in the game, I’ll find a way that is reliable and accessible. If something else comes up, I’ll work around it. Premium won’t make or break my experience in the game…
So long as Blizzard continues to keep premium in its place as frills and not as basic, bread and butter material. I pay the monthly to play the game. The only thing that would get me off the fence and angrily into the fight would be if the premium services started to influence my gameplay by forcing me to upgrade. The game should be complete when you buy the subscription. Anything else is just… premium.