A controversial bit of information slipped out last week when Blizzard accidentally let the “boost to level 90” option show up in the in-game store at one point during patch day. The error was quickly fixed, but the word was out. WoW Insider had a screen shot indicating that Blizzard was not only officially on-board with insta-levels as a paid character service, but that the price to get to level 90 appeared to be $60.
There were discussions on various sites as to whether that price was right or not and whether it was too much or not enough. Lots of theories were put up that seemed most based on who the assumed audience was for such a service really was.
My gut feeling on the price previously was that it had to be more than any current individual character service… so greater than $25… but less than the cost of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. After all, if you made it more than the price of the expansion, which comes with an insta-90 character boost, why wouldn’t I just buy multiple copies of the expansion to boost multiple characters if the expansion costs less? Since I assumed that the expansion would be the usual $40, I pegged the level boost at $35.
Over in the comment thread at Herding Cats I added in two additional thoughts:
Conspiracy theory: It will be $60 for exactly that reason, to push more WoD boxes to set an expansion sales record.
Fear: This is actually a signal that the expansion will be $60.
Today however, Blizzard has been over talking to EuroGamer about the price point, defending $60 for the insta-level 90 in terms of maintaining the value of leveling up yourself, and one of the first items put out there in the article is that the expansion itself will be $60. [Addendum: As noted in the comments below, EuroGamer has since deleted that from the article without any notice of a correction. Because EuroGamer.]
And my initial response was, “Really? We’re going $60… the defacto price of a new AAA game… for an expansion now?”
The sad part is that I will pay the price anyway. Heck, I was already toying with the idea of the collector’s edition and I never buy the collector’s edition. But with past CE’s being double the price of the standard ($40/$80) I have to wonder if Blizzard is now going to go all the way to $120 for the CE, or just cap it at $99.99 to stay within the realm of sanity. (Said the guy who bought the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition.)
$60 for an expansion.
On the one hand, you can always argue that I will get at least as much entertainment value out of the expansion as I will from any new AAA game you care mention. On the other hand, I am also paying that subscription fee every month to play, so it isn’t like I am not supporting Blizzard enough as it is.
You charge what you think the market will bear. Of course, into the mix is the fact that expansions aren’t holding their price point nearly as long. Burning Crusade was still $40 a year after it shipped. Mists of Pandaria was on sale at half price a few months after it launched. As I have been trained by Steam sales on this sort of thing, I now have to ask myself if I need the expansion on day one, or if I can wait… as I did with MoP… until the price comes down.
I don’t actually need a level 90. I will easily have three by the time the expansion hits. Maybe they will throw something else in with the pre-order to sweeten the deal a bit. Or maybe I can just think of it as buying the expansion and getting two-thirds off of my first insta-90. ($40 + $20)
What do you think? $60 for an expansion? Even with a level 90 boost?
As for selling the insta-level 90 for $60, I am somewhat indifferent. It isn’t a service I expect to use… I cannot even decide what to do with the one I will get with WoD… and I find any argument about it being too expensive to be more foot stomping than anything else. How much should a level 90 character cost? It is a luxury item after all. And anybody returning to the game who wants a level 90 will likely buy WoD to get one along with the new content.
And what happens when the price of the expansion comes down, as it inevitably will? Eventually Warlords of Draenor will be $40 or $20 on sale and then will end up as part of the World of Warcraft Battle Chest. What happens to insta-90s then? Will Blizz remove the option from the expansion at some point?
I suppose we shall see how this plays out.
Addendum: I like where Ars Technica says “Only 67 cents a level” in their Economic Reality post.