World of Warcraft’s subscription model is destroying the game


World of Warcraft’s subscription model is destroying the game

Since its launch in 2004, Blizzard Entertainment has charged a monthly $15 fee to play World of Warcraft. But with an expansion launching every two years, staying subscribed each month might not appear necessary. After all, you could just buy 30 days of game time at an expansion’s launch and complete everything it has to offer before unsubscribing.To get more news about Buy WoW WLK Classic Gold, you can visit official website.

Blizzard’s solution (which is commonplace for an MMO) is to launch patches throughout an expansion's lifetime. These often include storylines told throughout new areas, dungeons and raids. However, due to the infrequency of these updates, it’s not enough to keep players invested.
Shadowlands Patch 9.2 (which introduces the Zereth Mortis area and Sepulcher of the First Ones raid) launched eight months after Patch 9.1, meaning players spent close to a year without any new content. This is commonly referred to as a “content drought” in the community, and considering Shadowlands only had two major patches before the end of its story, players had an ample excuse to unsubscribe.

Unfortunately, Blizzard Entertainment has found many ways to implement “hooks” over the years, each of which seem expertly designed to keep the company’s cash-siphoning claws lodged within millions of consumers. In Shadowlands, these patches don’t just introduce new areas, but they’re intertwined with a foundation that relies on grinding and time-gated progress.

The upkeep for a World of Warcraft subscription is exorbitant. My mom and I have been playing on three accounts intermittently since 2008, and over the course of 14 years we have spent around $5,000. This is the equivalent of 83 full-priced video games, and since each new expansion still costs $40 (for each account), that adds around $1,000 to the cost over the course of eight expansions. We’ve also purchased more expensive versions of some of these expansions, so the money spent continues to skyrocket. World of Warcraft is one of my favorite games ever, but it’s hard to deny that the money I spend to stay up to date is frustrating.

When I bought Minecraft in 2010, I spent around $15. This is a game I revisit yearly and with the inclusion of incredible community mods, the experience could last a lifetime. The same can be said for Dark Souls, another one of my favorite games ever. I purchased it once for $60, and if I want to revisit it, I can just jump back in. Jumping back into World of Warcraft is nowhere near as simple, as it’s always coupled with the $180 I spend yearly on my account.

Those who want to avoid this subscription can engage with a free trial up to level 20 or purchase the Epic Edition of Shadowlands for $80, which provides 30 days of game time. But outside of putting it off for a short while, there’s no reasonable way to bypass this cost. You could grind anywhere between 150,000-200,000 of in-game gold to acquire a month’s worth of play time, but this is as arduous as it is time-consuming. Yet after having spent so much money, it doesn’t feel like I’m engaging with a premium product. Instead, World of Warcraft’s business model seeps into the quality of the game itself. Blizzard Entertainment needs to keep players invested enough to retain a steady flow of monthly subscriptions. Shadowland’s time-gated endgame, repetitive daily quests, and grindy currencies can all be attributed to this business model. If the success of World of Warcraft wasn’t intrinsically linked to mechanics that trap the player, the developers would have no reason to structure the game’s foundation around a grind.

Daily and weekly quests time-gate players to prevent them from making too much progress at once. It’s to ensure they log back in every once in a while to claim their rewards, and when the structure ensures they only get the best gear after doing this for months, Blizzard guarantees more monthly subscription time from those addicted.Covenants were introduced in Shadowlands, each of which offer unique abilities to those who join. And through a Renown currency, rewards are unlocked as players deepen their connection with them. However, these unlockables aren’t just cosmetic items. Each Covenant has a series of quests that push the narrative forward, but progression through them is locked behind this system. This wouldn’t be too bad if Renown was easily attainable, but players have to wait for weekly quests to be refreshed to gain more of the currency.

Admittedly, the way I engage with World of Warcraft is not ordinary: I do the newest expansion with one character, complete all the quests available, explore the new areas, do each dungeon and raid at least once, and then stop playing the game until it receives new content. Expansions have always been intertwined with grindy systems, but I’ve managed to avoid them, as the rewards (cosmetics and stronger gear) were never worth selling my soul (and time).


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