Does Warcraft Need a Loyalty Program?
Recently Zarhym, Blizzard Community Manager, kicked off the dust on a topic from the World of Warcraft forums regarding a customer loyalty program. World of Warcraft has never rewarded long time active players of their MMO, but they have rewarded players returning to the game through the use of perks like instant levels and free game time. But it would seem this topic has been brought up before within Blizzard’s walls regarding what this “loyalty program” might look like, but beyond that not much more details were provided.
So what would a loyalty program look like for World of Warcraft? Well many people have asked for “free game time” based on how many years they have played, if the average active player has played an average of 2 years, and Blizzard gave a month of free game time for each year that would net out to be about 225 million dollars in lost revenue for Blizzard assuming 7.5 million players. You may be thinking, oh come on its Blizzard they can afford it. Sure maybe they could, but would 2 months free really satiate you? Now I have been playing 9 years, so that would yield almost an entire year of free WoW, that might be nice, saving me almost $100. But is 9 years worth $100? No I don’t think it is. For long time loyalty I want something that distinguishes me above others who are “Wrath Babies” or “Cata Babies”.
Blizzard most likely won’t give any free game time, they also won’t give away a free pet. Why not provide a pet to long time subscribers? Well because its an item that is used in their new “Pet Battles”. If no one else can get it, it gives some an advantage, even if its just a perceived advantage. You could counter with the fact that Blizzcon attendees get a special pet, well everyone can get that pet if they purchase the digital version. The only pets that are locked in that you cannot acquire anymore are the physical only collector’s editions, before they started offering “digital deluxe” editions.
What about a special long time player mount? This is something that Blizzard could offer, as other than transportation it doesn’t provide any advantage in any facet of the game. Depending on your length of time playing the mount could be more extravagant. A mount is certainly something that could provide a great in-game method of showing how dedicated someone is. But is a mount enough, maybe for 3 years of game play but probably not, there could be more.
Other games like SWOTR offered special titles to those who were day 1 players, Blizzard could provide special titles as well, this is another one of those visual perks that would not inhibit or affect end game. Maybe a title like Sentinel of the Alliance or Guardian of the Horde, something along those lines, the title could be something you earned once you hit say 5 years.
Maybe at 7 years you could earn some special transmog gear sets that could really make your character shine. Transmog once again is something that is purely cosmetic won’t affect end-game raiding or PVP.
So what happens this year when World of Warcraft turns 10 years old and some of the longest standing active players celebrate the same milestone with Blizzard, what do those players get as recognition? Well that’s tough, but seeing as how Warlords of Draenor will be out, perhaps they get special artwork for Garrisons, perhaps even access to a minor glyph that makes the character glow like an aura or something that makes the toon stand out.
In the end, Blizzard going the extra mile to provide cosmetic items and perks to players is probably the only way a Warcraft Loyalty program would make sense to both Blizzard and the players. A tiered approach similar to how companies reward employees for tenure would be the best approach in my opinion.
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