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Will the economic downturn hurt WoW?

GamePolitcs had an interesting news brief about Michael Pachter, a financial analyst with Wedbush-Morgan, who contends that MMOs will not be impacted in the current economic downturn because the majority of people who play them are "addicts."

The full interview with Pachter is available from Reuters.

Besides the negative stereotypes and sweeping generalizations that come with statements like "people who play [MMOs] are addicts," Pachter does make a good point. He notes that "Losing their jobs makes them more likely to play because they have more time to play."

I thought about this for a minute. If I were to lose my job here at WoW Insider, I would no doubt start looking for new employment almost immediately. I would scale back my expenses – probably get rid of cable TV (Hulu is my TV now anyways), I'd eat out less, I'd use the library more and Barnes & Noble less, and I would generally be more frugal with my spending.

But I don't think I would cancel my WoW subscription.
WoW is as much of a social activity as a game for me at this point, and I often find myself logging on to just catch up with people I've been friends with for years. Of course they're on AIM and have my phone number and everything too, but there's nothing like having a sociable time playing a game with them.

Now granted some people might not see it that way, however with that said I don't think I'm alone in this regard.

And when you look at it in terms of dollars spent over time, I play WoW recreationally (over being on it for work related purposes) about 50 hours a month, all for $15. That's $0.15/hr. Now take something like the new Kevin Smith DVD I picked up yesterday at Best Buy for $16. Since I'm a Kevin Smith fanboi, I'll probably get about 12 hours out of that DVD in the end. That's $1.33/hr. WoW is nearly 9 times as economical for me to play over buying a DVD I really like. If I were to buy a DVD I'd just watch twice for $16, getting say 6 hours out of it, WoW becomes nearly 18 times more economical.

In the end I think the above cost analysis is much better than "I don't think (online multiplayer games) get impacted at all, because people who play them are addicts, Losing their jobs makes them more likely to play because they have more time to play."

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

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