Holding The Price Point

The Sunday supplement to the paper (which now shows up with Saturday’s paper… it wasn’t like that when I was a kid…) is full of the usual ads.  This week all of the stores that sell electronics of any sort have World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade in their ad. 

In the Best Buy ad, a football image is superimposed on all of the TV screens and a Burning Crusade screen shot is superimposed on all the monitors and laptop screens.  Other stores have The Burning Crusade featured prominately as well.

All of the ads have one thing in common: The Burning Crusade is selling at full suggested retail price.

And why not?  The demand is certainly there.

But how long will that price point hold?

The original World of Warcraft release held its price point quite a while.  Until the recent price drop, I saw WoW selling for full retail price quite often.  In fact, discounts were the exception. 

I compare this to EverQuest II, which was selling at discount within weeks of shipping.  I recall going over to Fry’s to pick up WoW in early 2005 and being annoyed that it was full price, while EverQuest II was half suggested retail price with a faded sign that made it clear that this was an ongoing state of affairs.

Echoes of Faydwer went out with discounts and incentives on day one.  Fry’s had it for $10 off while Best Buy offered up an $10 gift card with every purchase.  This for an all-in-one “base product and three expansions” set that was a deal and a half even at full price.

Now that WoW is selling for $19.99, how long will BC stay at $39.99?  Within a year from now I am sure there will be a WoW Battle Chest that will have both products together (just in time to catch the run up to the next WoW expansion), but will they be able to sustain subscription growth with the perception that getting access of all of Azeroth will cost $60?  That seems a bit steep.

Meanwhile Vanguard is going out at $49.99 two weeks after Burning Crusade.  I hate to be overly negative, since there is a lot to like about Vanguard, but I have to wonder how solid that price point is going to be.  You look at $50 for a game that has very little exposure outside the MMO gaming community (and some bad perceptions inside of that community) and which will get lukewarm press and reviews on day one, and suddenly a $10 leap to WoW + BC does not seem so bad.

My guess is that price point will fold on day one and that if I run down to Fry’s on the 30th to pick up a copy, I will pay no more that $35.

We shall see in a little more than two weeks.

6 thoughts on “Holding The Price Point

  1. Deadr

    I, for one, will be purchasing Vanguard. I won’t rush out to the store to be the first, but I will get it, nonetheless. There will be something to be said for a game that is able to compete with WoW for both player base and gameplay, but we’ll have to see if that happens.

    I suppose I should do a write-up for Vanguard someday soon.

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  2. brent

    There was a time not so long ago where starting up in EverQuest and catching up on all the expansions would cost $120. Today it’s maybe $40, but I’m pretty sure I paid that $120… twice. it wasn’t until two years ago that they started releasing those huge bundled packs for $20.

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  3. Adele Caelia

    It will stay that price as long as there is a huge demand for it. Of course they are going to make as much money off of it as they can.

    Sadly enough for me, I thought Vanguard sucked, and I was so hoping for it to be good:( I guess I have a bit of a wait until my next mmo.

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    EverQuest! Now there is a can of worms when one speaks of expansions! I am not so sure that EverQuest is an example other games would do well to follow.

    And are you sure it was only $120?

    Today you can get EverQuest Titanium for $20, which gets you most of the expansions. But that does not include “Prophecy of Ro” or “The Serpent’s Spine,” both of which will run you $30. And now they have announced another expansion, “Pirates of the Buried Sea” or some such, which will be another $30.

    Assuming they relax the price on “Ro” when “Buried Sea” comes out (which they hate to do because they have to give money back on all those units sitting on retailer shelves) you’re probably still at $100 to get all of Norrath on you system.

    I think “Echoes of Faydwer” is a better model for expansions and, as I wrote, you can bet that Blizzard will have a combo pack for the retail shelf once Burning Crusade sales slow down.

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  5. cyanbane

    I guess it is me, but I don’t mind continuing to pay for expansions as long as I feel like I am getting my play value out of them. If I am looking at 50-60 hours of content (and probably a lot more on the long tail) then I don’t mind throwing down the $30 for .50 and hour of playtime. The kicker is when you try to play catch-up as you guys stated above. I played the original EQ1 in beta and quit after Velious, then ended up coming back after LDON but had gave my disks and account to someone else. Ended up being about $100 after Luclin and LDON and Ykeshia digital downloads. Very pricey. But in the end I am sure I got way more than 200 hours worth of play out of it so it wasn’t all that bad. I laid down $50 recently for both Company of Heroes and Star Wars Empire at War when they came out. I probably only got 20 hours out of both games combined. Big Bummer. At least if you don’t like an MMO you can use it as a chatroom with friends if there is nothing else to do ;)

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  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I do not generally make a big deal out of expansions either. I buy the expansions for games I am playing and am usually happy enough. I was just trying to take the view of a new person looking in on an established game. EverQuest would scare me off with all of its expansions.

    (Does anybody know of a nice guide to the expansions? I have a big play gap between Planes of Power and The Serpent’s Spine and I have no idea, for example, what I get from having LDON or where the content is.)

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