World of Warcraft still requires a subscription, but that hasn’t stopped Activision Blizzard from further monetizing the game. The latest such move is a $60 boost to level 90.
If you’re someone who plays an MMO for the end-content, and can’t be bothered with the laborious grind, you can get your character boosted (legally) for $60 in an instant, in move released in anticipation for the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
The move was applied in the latest patch after down-time, and was added as a service for subscribers of the MMO. It should be noted that one free boost to 90 will be available for those who purchase the expansion.
World of Warcraft has seen a sometimes steep, sometimes steady decline in players since its 12 million peak in 2010. Now, the figure sits around 7.8 as of December 2013. It has seen major gameplay changes since its Vanilla years, with many accessibility features added through its long life. These are seen to have both made the game easier for new players, and alienated veteran players.
So far, no other MMO has been able to knock World of Warcraft from its place at the top, and Blizzards foray into China has strengthened the games numbers substantially.
MMO creators have been chasing different solutions to ‘how do we make the grind less boring?’ for years now. I am almost convinced the problem is not that the grind is boring, so much as that the grind is not for everyone. It is a necessary part of this genre of MMO, and it seems to me that by trying to alleviate some of that pain, Blizzard have largely alienated the demographic.
It’s of course fine to say “I don’t object to this because it’s optional,” but I personally find that kind of pressure uncomfortable. World of Warcraft is an RPG. The grind from 1-90 is daunting, but in my 6 year stint I have incredible memories of that journey. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve gotten from 1-85 (my max), each time offered visceral, meaningful and wonderful videogame memories. The sad thing is, if someone said “you can skip all that if you want”, I would. Is it not at least a little upsetting to see something so adventure-rich devalued to a literal monetary value.
I no longer have time for MMOs, but I would never ask a developer to change the game in order to accommodate my needs. They should be left for people dedicated to them, instead of ruined chasing those who aren’t.