WoW Discussion

Blizzard and the Rise of Premium Features


Lately its been all about premium features, from the mobile auction house to mobile guild chat.  Recently Blizzard identified another premium feature, Real ID-cross realm dungeon finder.  Many other games have implemented a premium feature system in the past, basically offering you to play the game for free, but for access to premium content like instances, gear, areas, you would have to pay a small fee.  However it doesn’t appear Blizzard is going the free to play route anytime soon, but instead opting for “add-on” services.

Is this the new status quo?  What does this mean for the game?  Are we going to see more of these premium features, and if so what will we see?

Well lets take a quick look at what Blizzard is currently offering as “premium” service:

World of Warcraft Remote

World of Warcraft remote includes the Mobile Auction House and Mobile Guild Chat.  This is a subscription based service that lets you have real time access to the auction house on your server letting you bid, buy and create auctions on the go.  To create auctions you get access to your bags, mailbox and bank.  What normally takes an add-on, you can quickly gather all gold from sold auctions.  And of course the mobile guild chat, which lets you talk in guild chat, officer chat and whispers to your guildies all from the convenience of your mobile device (iPhone or Android phone).  Currently the Mobile Auction House is also available on the web, while Mobile Guild Chat is only available on our iPhone or Android.

So how much does this convenient feature add to your monthly subscription?  $2.99 a month.

The next premium feature Blizzard sounds like they want to offer is:

Cross Realm Dungeon Finder

This service will provide a way to group up with real-life friends who play on other realms to run instances. This feature will work with Real ID friends of the same faction only to queue for 5 man and heroic 5 man dungeons.

Cost of this service?  Currently unknown, I would assume to expect between the $1.99-$2.99 a month range.

Future of Premium?

But as you see your standard subscription rate rise with the addition of these premium services, one can only wonder what other premium services will Blizzard be offering, will there be a special priced premium subscription that will include access to all the features?  What about access to in-game customization?  This is something Blizzard has said they would like to add, more in-game customizations.  What about adding in a certain amount of race changes for a premium subscription, maybe a yearly pet or mount to be included each time you renew your premium subscription?

Then of course we get into the touchy subject of instances or battleground content only available to premium subscribers.  Would Blizzard create a 5 man dungeon that only premium subscribers could access?  You may say no, but honestly others games have been doing this, and has proven profitable.  With Blizzard recently losing 600K subscribers, they may be looking to how to gain more revenue out of the existing player base.

The game that will be played is how many add-on services can we provide and what price points can we sell them for that people will sign up for them?  What premium content would the existing player base pay for?

If there was a premium subscription that gave you:

  1. 12 months of access to World of Warcraft ($155.98)
  2. Access to the Mobile Auction House & Mobile Guild Chat ($35.88)
  3. 2 Race Changes included ($50.00)
  4. Free Premium Mount ($25.00 based on mounts sold on Blizzard Store)
  5. Free Premium Vanity Pet ($10.00 based on pets sold on Blizzard Store)

Total Cost if you paid for all of this separately: $276.86 a year

Would paying $250 make you want something along this way?  What about $225?  What would you pay if in addition to those 5 features, Blizzard threw in access to a premium only instance that had loot that scaled to be not at, but just below the current tier of raid gear, similar to how ZG/ZA are at 353, where Tier 11 is at 359 item level.  This dungeon would scale in loot offered, maybe also with difficulty, or adding a new boss similar to Tol Barad or Wintergrasp did as each new tier opens.  Would a premium only dungeon make you pay $250, maybe even $300 with all of the above?  What if there was also an a la carte model where you could pick and choose what you wanted, but if you took all of them in the a la carte it would be more than a combined premium subscription?

What about potential premium services not yet implemented?

  • Improved Character Customization – more customization options on the character creation, even re-skin your current gear
  • Access to the Dance Studio – create your own dances.  Yes I know this is supposed to be a built in feature, but what if Blizzard provided it instead as a premium feature.
  • Access to level crafting remotely – use mobile devices to use items in your inventory to level your crafting skills
  • Web and Mobile mini games to level and use secondary professions like fishing, cooking, archaeology

Basically what premium content would you pay for?  What wouldn’t you pay for?  If some services were bundled together would you pay for a package?  These are all things I guarantee you that Blizzard’s marketing and product development departments are thinking of right this moment, which is why we should as well, so we can express via social media, Blizzard forums what premium content we actually want to see and more importantly what we would actually pay for.

7 Comments on Blizzard and the Rise of Premium Features

  1. None of it.
    I like knowing that the price of WoW is the sub, nothing less nothing more. I’m not paying for any “additional features”. It’s pure rhetorics, we used to get all of those “additional features, super posh and premium” in the past for the sub, and I would like to keep it that way.

    Why are people so utterly willing to pay more? I want the best and cheapest price I can get for WoW (all of WoW), who doesn’t?
    Ironyca´s last blog post ..False Consciousness and the Acceptance of Premium Fees

    • Ceraphus

      No I agree, I would love nothing more than to keep the base sub as the base sub, but what if they raised the base sub to provide more features? or provided 2 tiers of subscription, other businesses do this, with all these additional new features I can’t help but wonder if the marketing and finance folks at Blizz aren’t trying to setup a tiered subscription model in the future

  2. Good post. I really hope it doesn’t happen though.. the reason I came back to WoW when I decided to give Rift a rest was because of its’ affordability. I wouldn’t pay for premium features, and I would feel crap that everybody else had these awesome premium features when I couldn’t afford them. That isn’t what WoW is about to me.. It reminds me of the argument for school uniforms. Without school uniforms, there was a difference in who were the rich kids, and whose families clearly didn’t make much money, and it showed in what you wore. I’ve already seen people denouncing people on benefits as sponges (which is a real sore spot for me) and I’d hate to see that get worse. If it did, I would stop playing again. Not because of the game, but because I wouldn’t be willing to put up with the inevitable cyber bullying that you would see springing up.
    Jaedia´s last blog post ..Vashj’ir Highlights

    • Ceraphus

      Those are some good points I didn’t consider the discrimination that could come out of implementing premium in game content that could be game changing. Even though other games do this under a “free-mium” model where the game is free to play but for specific content in game you have to pay to unlock it, having that in Warcraft’s model would potentially make a rich get richer scenario, and those who can pay move ahead.

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  4. Cryoclasm

    The Remote AH would be of little use to me — usually when I have a chance to go online from my phone, I’m either at home or at school and have my computer with me as well. (Even if I could afford a cell data plan, it wouldn’t be of much use to me. I commute by bicycle.) The in-game UI is way faster to use than the mobile UI (which I used once during the trial period), plus it lets me use add-ons to help set prices.

    As for the cross-realm dungeon finder, even once I met another WoW player, there’d be too much that could come between us. Maybe they’re still leveling. Maybe they play Alliance. Maybe they’re on an EU server. Maybe they’re pure PvP. Maybe one of us is doing guild runs for the rep. If they offered cross-realm guilds with shared raids, BGs, arenas, chat and achievements, for maybe $10 per month for the whole guild, it’d be worth considering.

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