Blizzard is pushing a new campaign in an attempt to entice players to subscribe to World of Warcraft for a full year at a shot.
Blizzard has been offering special items like mounts, tabards, and cosmetic items to users who subscribe to WoW in six month increments, and that has apparently been such a success that they have moved on to a 12 month offer.
And it is more stuff for more time, including a mount in Wrath Classic, which I am sure will tempt some people to commit to the deal.
A year though, that is a long time. I subscribe in six month increments because… well, I think I am that committed to WoW Classic at the moment and I don’t mind a freebie now and then… but a year brings back memories of the last time Blizzard pushed a year long subscription deal.
The last time Blizzard convinced me to commit to a year of WoW it was back when Cataclysm was dumping millions of players, pandas were still a year away, and they seemed to be in a bit of a panic to lock down some subscribers… so they offered WoW players a free copy of Diablo III if they would just commit for a year.
And while I had problems trying to end my subscription early… I just didn’t want it to auto renew, I had already paid up front for the damn year… I did get my free copy of Diablo III and all that.
In the face of that a couple of mounts seems pretty cheap for a year long commitment… especially when they include the one I am going to get for my six month subscription.
While I am sure that Blizz has learned its lesson and refined its front end so that people won’t be stuck, unable to unsubscribe if they go for the year long ride this time around, the whole thing does make me wonder.
Sure, it is very likely what I said above, that if treats for a six month subscription worked out so well, then why not even more treats for a full year, get the money up front, the bottom line looks good, and even if they stop logging in… well, the MAU has always been a garbage statistic for a company that profits mostly from a subscription required MMORPG. And even their MAU numbers are down every quarter. They can’t even pick a metric that makes them look good.
But I am a suspicious old fart and, as noted, the last time they went for a deal like this, it was very clearly to prop up subscriber numbers, which they were still reporting back then, because Cataclym didn’t have the long term staying power of the game up until then.
And when I look at the situation right now, I see this deal landing the same month that the latest retail WoW expansion, Dragonflight, is set to launch.
Why would you set up a subscription deal before the big expansion launch. No matter what it is going to sell a bunch of boxes and get a load of people back in the game.
Unless, of course, the way Shadowlands played out is still haunting them.
In a world without WoW Classic, Shadowlands would have left the Blizzard side of the house looking pretty weak. Are they fretting about seeing a big dip again and buying some subscriber number insurance up front?
And could that be related to the Microsoft acquisition? Does the Blizz team have some subscription metrics to meet in order to keep up their part of the deal’s valuation?
We saw back in January that Microsoft was willing to lay down nearly $69 billion to buy Activision Blizzard. But anybody who has been paying attention knows that these deals are structured with performance metrics the company needs to meet in order to earn the full amount making the headlines in the press.
For example, people remember that Pearl Abyss said they were going to pay $425 million for CCP back in late 2018.
Those keeping score in the long term will remember that, in the end, CCP dropped the ball and Pearl Abyss only ended up paying $225 million for the company. That was close to a 50% haircut. Not a good look for the management in Iceland… not that they left or got fired or anything. Same people running the show.
Or maybe Blizz just doesn’t have anything else in the tank for WoW in 2023 and wants to lock some people in.
All I know is that companies don’t offer incentives because they have too much business already. That only happens when they have less than they think they should.