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New WoW ‘free trial’ So Restricted It May Doom New Sales @blizzardcs

(Addendum: If you’re a Blizzard customer service rep reading this, as I’m unsure if you guys DO read public relations issues like you should given that you’re a faceless American corporation where consumer rights are considered a mamby pamby thought experiment like communism, I wish to inform you my reader demographic broke 9 million yesterday, with 100k cascading viewers across all social networks. Keep this in mind when realising what a PR kick to the balls this issue is from my keyboard to my viewers eyes alone. So seriously, pick your fucking game up guys.)

Below is an article from Fairfax outlining the changes to WoW’s 14 day free trial becoming unlimited. I was chatting to a journalist about it, when we discovered the restrictions on accounts was … well, patently absurd.

The 14 day free trial restrictions were moronic, as you REALLY couldn’t experience anything that most of us consider main reasons to play as it was.

The new system, while it sounds good (unlimited free play) has the most absurd restrictions I’ve ever imagined could be imposed. You can’t even /tell, or participate in general chat, or /say apparently. You can’t join a guild, or parties unless they’re lowbier than you. You can’t do much of anything.

The reason this is so bothersome I’m posting about it is, WoW needs new blood. EVERY expansion their membership growth rate has HALVED, and player retention is unspectacular.

I run an extremely large guild (follow us @malleusvindicta or take a peek at our website and ask for an add if you play on US-Moon Guard), I’m an objective play by numbers kind of guy. I’ve seen more people leave the game of age and lifestyle enough to fund ongoing play than join which means one eternal thing.

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is bleeding both cash and players.

What does this mean to players? It likely means they’ll find ways to make the game more of a grind, so everything takes longer. They’ll likely break a demographic class beyond repair for a few months causing you to rage and roll a new character (ie: hunters broken during every expansion to date, druids … well, always crap) to escape the horrors.

As it is you grind to end game, grind all your faction rep up, grab that gear to grind a charity tier, use that to grind a full tier, then bam, new tier, grind grind grind grind bloody grind. It’s like a twisted Skinner box experiment without cheese as a reward.

My recommendation to Blizzard is, pick up your game, let them experience WoW properly, perhaps limit trading and partying with people too high a level above. For the instigating article, read below.

Ps: It’d be nice if you allowed us to PURCHASE level 85 status with in game stuff or even bloody cash, I don’t have the time to level a new 85 every time you ruin my classes in question, and you can kill the power-leveling industry you so seem to hate (even though it causes longer player duration, and gold sales balance your very VERY poor concept of an economy) and will allow us to not have to spend several months of the year just grinding through the same boring crap grinds.

 

THAT impenetrable fortress of online gaming, World of Warcraft, has made a concession to the free-to-play hordes that gather in an effort to chip away at the empire – it’s also free.

At least, WoW‘s new Starter Edition is free.

Replacing a more customary 14-day trial and scrubbing its time limit, the Starter Edition nonetheless carries over the trial’s restrictions.

In place of a time limit is instead a cap that halts character progression at level 20 out of a possible 85.

Coincidentally, it takes about two weeks playing a couple of hours each day to reach level 20, but on the other hand, those with the Starter Edition can grind out as many sub-20 characters as they like.

So what can’t they do? Well, the social experience is significantly diminished: there’s no voice or public chat, no guilds, no item trading (a key part of WoW‘s internal economy), and Starter users are prevented from creating or joining parties that contain members over the level 20 threshold.

Oh, and there’s a wealth limit of 10 gold – but that’s actually a decent amount in WoW terms.

For now at least, WoW remains steadfastly focused on converting new players into paid subscribers, bundling in the Burning Crusade expansion for those that pony up.

Other massively multiplayer games (MMOs) that become free-to-play – Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online, and (soon) LEGO Universe and City of Heroesmake money by means of an in-game shop that offers extra items and quests, with optional premium memberships taking the place of a subscription tier.

Some, like Allods Online and Vindictus, launch as free-to-play from the off.

Guild Wars 2 will require a one-time retail purchase only; and then there are the brave few, such as RIFT, that pursue a fully fledged subscription model in an effort to beat the 12-million subscriber WoW at its own game.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gaming/world-of-warcraft-finally-hitcches-a-ride-on-the-free-to-play-bandwagon/story-e6frfrt9-1226084867336#ixzz1QjtHYUde
Posted: June 30th, 2011
Categories: game reviews, games, rant, reviews, warcraft economics, world of warcraft
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