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Posts with tag Microtransactions

Microtransactions: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Iron Skyreaver Mount on Store
News surfaced last week, thanks to the Blizzard Jobs Directory, that the company is seeking microtransaction specialists. While it's highly likely that these potential new recruits will not be set to work exclusively on Blizzard's only sub game, it seems only logical that they will examine the current offerings. As Sarah Pine mentioned, while WoW is currently running from a sub-based model, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

Over the weekend, I played a good number of hours of a game called Warframe. The movement was great, combat was fluid, it's one of the only games I've played lately that has that instantaneous feel you get from WoW. But the microtransaction and grinding methods that upgrades were behind were pretty sub-optimal. Yes, you could go into this largely PvE-based game and grind out the materials to get an upgrade. But the quantities required to achieve even a low-level upgrade seemed huge, let alone those required to unlock high-end ones, or other classes to play outside the basic three. And it's inspired me to think about WoW, and its transactions. What's bad, what's good, and where does WoW's current system fall in the grand scheme of microtransactions?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard looking to expand microtransactions?

Purchasable transmog helm
An article over at Gamespot has recently brought to attention the fact that Blizzard is seeking both a manager and a director for a new unit within the company: "Microtransaction Strategy". For those of you paying attention to ongoing trends in the video game industry, this in particular might pique your interest. As we all well know, 2013 was a landmark year in terms of new titles for Blizzard with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and their announced MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. Both of these games are going to be free-to-play, which means that they'll be relying on microtransactions to generate cash flow.

With World of Warcraft being one of the few remaining MMOs that still charges a monthly subscription fee, I think it's fair to say that Blizzard hasn't been at the forefront of microtransaction-driven financing, despite the existence (and success) of WoW's purchasable pets, mounts, and transmog gear. However, the establishment of both the Microtransaction Strategy team and job openings therein point to some development along that front. It will be interesting to see what other types of microtransaction offers become available in Blizzard games in the future.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Community Blog Topic Results: The in-game store

Our latest Community Blog Topic is about the in-game store. What would you buy from it? As expected, many people said they wouldn't buy anything, but there were also plenty of people with nifty shopping ideas.

Ideas for the store

Tyledres at Frost and Claws would like to see shapechanging items.
I love being able to change what my toon looks like temporary. Dartol's Rod of Transformation,Iron-boot flask, the orb of the Sin'dorei, love them all. If there was an item that was from the Blizzard store only but would affect what a character looked like for say half an hour and had an hour cooldown or something I would want it. I'm not sure what it would turn you into. I don't have a specific item in mind. I just like to occasionally look different.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Community Blog Topic: What would you buy from the in-game store?

Gold
It's official: Blizzard is testing an in-game store for implementation in Asia and then possibly other regions. Included in this store will be a 100% experience buff, Lesser Charms of Good Fortune, as well as mounts and pets. The reactions have ranged from cautious optimism to "The sky is falling!" The question for this week's Community Blog Topic isn't about whether or not you like the idea of the store -- let's just assume we're getting one. What we want to know is, what would you buy from the store, if anything?

I've bought pets and mounts before, so I think having those in an in-game store just makes sense and I'd like to see more of them. And I have no problem with the other items -- though I doubt I would ever buy any. But there are a couple other things I'd like to see available.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: Will microtransactions be the end of WoW?

Since datamined information from patch 5.4 have pointed to an in-game store selling XP buffs, the WoW community has been in a tizzy over it. Is an in-game store a sign that WoW may be moving to a free-to-play system, supported by microtransactions? Or that Blizzard is just trying to milk every dime from their dwindling playerbase? Or, more importantly, with as fast as leveling is these days, who really needs a 100% XP buff anyway? (After all, you can get this same effect for free by doing daily quests as a monk.)

Of course, as with all datamined information, all we're working with is speculation: we've yet to hear a peep from Blizzard on what their plans are and this may turn out to be a lot of fuss over nothing at all. But while we wait for Blizzard's official take, we can't help but wonder. So tell us what you think, readers! Will more microtransactions drive you off... or would a potential free-to-play transition bring you back into the game?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Are you a sucker for in-game pets and mounts?

Breakfast Topic Are you a sucker for ingame pets and mounts
Those cute little in-game pets -- they're not so innocent. Once you allow one of the little buggers to slip past your legs and dash into the house, there's no getting all those muddy little paw prints off the floor (or the couch). Is there anybody out there who can harden their heart after just one? I'm afraid to even dip a toe into those waters, fearful that Lil' Ragnaros will begin bellowing "By PayPal be purged!" as my pet tab ticks inexorably upward. Indeed, I whisked him from my Amazon wish list the morning I realized in horror that should someone ever bestow me with his code, the door would stand wide open to the rest of his irresistible little friends.

So how are you fine, upstanding consumers coping with the pressure? Have you snatched up a brand new Swift Windsteed? Do purchasable pets and mounts hold no interest for you? Do you pick and choose? Collect them all?

What\'s your in-game purchasable pet and mount style?
None. I don't own any purchasable pets or mounts.1214 (28.7%)
I have one or more that I've received as gifts.357 (8.4%)
I bought one or two that were especially irresistible to me.1142 (27.0%)
I own a half dozen or so.486 (11.5%)
I'm a collector -- gotta catch 'em all!1034 (24.4%)


Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Guide to microtransactions in WoW and the Diablo 3 Real-Money Auction House

Piles of gold
Since the advent of gold sellers, players have discussed the ethics of buying gold with real currency, as well as what would if Blizzard started selling gold. Then came the Guardian Cub, and suddenly Blizzard was allowing gold buying and selling via a vanity pet.

Later, Blizzard hit us with the announcement that Diablo III would have an auction house that uses real money. Now that the Real-Money Auction House has been launched, the debates have heated up. This guide is to help you decide, debate, or deliberate about real money in Blizzard games.

Real-money transactions for WoW

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy, Diablo 3

How Blizzard's over-caution saved it from a PR nightmare

Image
Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

The Titanic was the largest cruise ship ever built. It was proclaimed to be unsinkable, defying natural laws to those who did not understand how the behemoth could float. In the end, the Titanic sunk not because she was a weak ship but because the ship tried to turn from an iceberg, causing catastrophic hull damage. If the ship had plowed through the iceberg and not changed course, there is a greater chance it could have avoided catastrophe.

While comparing Blizzard to the Titanic doesn't exactly evoke a positive connotation, it should. The Titanic sunk because of mistakes made. Blizzard's conservative game design attitude and philosophy have served it well -- being open to change and modification while holding on to the core concepts of WoW and trying not to deviate in profound, risky ways. The risk sometimes works -- transmogrification, void storage, Raid Finder, Real ID (and soon Battletags), etc. Sometimes, the risk doesn't exactly lead to the best reward -- the Real ID debacle, the vocal hardcore minority and Cataclysm heroics, and the Dance Studio. Blizzard understands that the juggernaut cannot turn too quickly, or it risks the type of deep, jagged incision that sinks the unsinkable.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Battle.net Balance funds World of Warcraft game time

We already knew that real money would play a role in Diablo III, but we didn't have a great deal of official word. Now, Blizzard has released a FAQ about the Battle.net Balance providing a much deeper look at the upcoming system.

Essentially, you have a Battle.net Balance made up of points. Adding value to your Battle.net Balance is executed through charging up. You can charge up your Battle.net Balance using debit or credit cards, or sales from Diablo III auctions. Be aware, though, that you can't convert Battle.net Balance back into cash; once you put money there, it stays there. (There is an exception in some regions using PayPal, but details are scarce on that right now.)

Some of the Battle.net details are a little fuzzy right now because Blizzard is forced to deal with a lot of regional-specific laws. For example, in some regions, it'll have to empty value from a Battle.net Balance that hasn't been accessed in three years. Which regions? We don't know yet.

The most exciting bit of this news, however, is that you'll be able to purchase World of Warcraft prepaid game time using your Battle.net Balance. So if you're pretty good at the Diablo III Auction House, you might be able to kiss your subscription fee goodbye.

Filed under: News items

Blizzard responds to Guardian Cub controversy

If you were struggling against horrible killer androids yesterday (like I was, thanks to Ziebart the Destroyer) you may have missed the news of the Guardian Cub pet, or as Young Master McCurley likes to call it, gold on the paw. There's been a lot of discussion as to what this pet actually means, if it's opening the door to real money trading in World of Warcraft, whether it (and not Deathwing) is the true harbinger of Cataclysm, etc etc. Now Blizzard comes out swinging (okay, more like comes out with cool rationality) in response to a forum thread.

Bashiok - Re: Blizzard, you've crossed the line
TCG Loot card mounts like the Spectral Tiger have been BoE for a long time now (since patch 3.2), and that was and continues to be well-received, and as far as we've been able to tell hasn't had any adverse impact to the game or economy - despite them selling for sometimes astronomical amounts of gold.

It's potentially worth noting that no new gold is being introduced into the game's economy with those mounts or the new Guardian Cub pet.

Our goal with the Guardian Cub is to provide alternative ways for players who don't want to spend real money to add these pets to their collection. Even though this has been available a while now with the TCG mounts, this is obviously a new kind of way to deliver Pet Store pets, and we're definitely interested to hear your feedback and ultimately see how this will play out.


To be fair, since this is exactly what I said about the Cub on the WoW Insider Show this week, I'm already on record as agreeing with him fully. The only difference between the Guardian Cub and loot cards is that you don't have to spend money hoping you'll get the Cub. You spend ten bucks and you know you have one.

Well, also, the thing is adorable. That's not really germane to the discussion, though. What do you think about our friendly Cub? Cute pet, money for gold, soul-meltingly cute step off of the slippery slope? Tell us.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

The Lawbringer: What WoW can learn from other microtransaction models, part 2

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Two weeks ago, The Lawbringer took a look at the EVE Online currency model, what happens when value is dictated by the players, and the successes and failures that Blizzard can learn from when moving forward the revenue model for WoW or any other secret MMOs in the pipe. This week, part 2 discusses the batch currency model, where players purchase one set of currency and earn another. While WoW is not likely to move to this type of currency in the near future, Diablo 3 has already embraced it with the real-money transaction auction house, which eschews a purchased currency for, well, currency.

The prime example in recent gaming history of the successful batch currency model is Riot Game's wonderful League of Legends. I've been a Defense of the Ancients fan since the early days of the mod, and the fact that such a simple concept has evolved to a genre in and of itself is remarkable. Combined with the fact that there are 15 million accounts, millions playing all over the world, and a ridiculously successful microtransaction model for customization and convenience items, League of Legends has got the world captivated. But why is World of Warcraft not something that could benefit from selling its own currency, or, rather, why would Blizzard never let it happen? Let's find out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

What are the implications of a real-dollar auction house?

It was just revealed that Diablo 3 will feature a dual-currency auction house for in-game gold and for real currency, allowing players to spend real money for Diablo 3 items. Blizzard will not sell those items directly but rather will facilitate auctions between players. Players will receive real currency for their sales, and Blizzard will take a cut off the sales of real-currency items. Blizzard is entering some pretty crazy territory with the Diablo 3 auction house, and the implications may be even more huge for the massively multiplayer market than for the Diablo multiplayer experience.

One of WoW's biggest issues that currently plagues Blizzard (as well as the MMO genre in general) is the existence of a gray market in which companies sell in-game currency to willing buyers against the game's terms of service. Many free-to-play MMOs and online games combat this market by selling their own currencies for use in-game, making the currency non-tradeable, or selling items in a microtransaction marketplace. Blizzard has not yet made a free-to-play MMO where these concepts could come to any kind of fruition, and WoW's virtual goods store is very limited in scope and price point.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy

The Lawbringer: What World of Warcraft can learn from other microtransaction models, part 1

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Microtransactions are here to stay. We were wary and scared in the beginning -- it was a brave new world, having the gall to ask consumers for a couple of bucks for horse armor. DLC (downloadable content) and microtransactions evolved over time to include better customization, new missions and levels, convenience purchases, and more. The industry began to shape itself around the growing need for better revenue models, as well as conforming to the needs and wants of players while remaining (hopefully) pure in motive.

With the huge success of the free-to-play model in the United States and Europe, a feat which many said was not going to go over too well outside of the Asian markets, paying for your game over time instead of up front has become a staple, an afterthought, to gamers.

World of Warcraft isn't going true free-to-play any time soon, of course. The subscription model works for WoW in a fairly unique way. The number of global subscriptions for WoW make up such a huge, defined income that removing that income from the table in favor of the "5-percenters," the people who presumably pay for items in-game, would be almost criminal in terms of corporate mismanagement -- unless, of course, you could make more money on those 5-percenters than you do on 11.4 million monthly subscriptions, which seems like a hefty move to make.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

WRUP: Foxlight and the fiercest mount, like, ever

Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game, and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

Hello again. Foxlight here. If you don't know me, let me explain -- yours truly is accustomed to stretch limos. Orc chauffeurs. Throngs of worshippers. Glittery ponies. Fabulous accommodations. The best.

Which is why it was so hard on me when my dad cut off my credit card last month. "Frivolous purchases." As if! I needed that 8,000 gold worth of gloves and boots -- do you know how cutthroat the blood elf fashion scene is? And really, 8,000 gold is a bargain when you think about it. It'd have been way more if I'd bought shirts, too. In fact, when you think about it, I did him a favor! Ugh!

Anyhow. I'd been lowered to having to take ... public transportation. It's the worst ever. I mean, I'm not a racist, but ... goblins take public transportation. They smell weird. Like, greasy. I'm not a racist, though. I have a goblin friend. Just saying.

Okay, focus, Foxlight, back on topic. I needed a much more fierce mode of transportation. So I picked up the Silvermoon Pennypincher and found an ad for a barely used flying lion mount. He doesn't have sparkles, but he's still pretty fierce. And man, is he ever flaming. He was pretty expensive, too, but I sold my paladin-ing services in the back rooms of Ragefire Chasm to save up some money. Dirty work, but a blood elf boy's gotta do what a blood elf boy's gotta do. Took me a few weeks, but I put together enough gold to buy that stunning beast.

I must say, he was even more beautiful once I put a collar on him and made him mine. Gotta admit, at first I was worried that I'd have trouble riding him because he was so big. But I just had to relax and there was no problem. He's so gorgeous, oh my God. I rode him until the sun came up over Murder Row. The only problem, though, is that everyone in Silvermoon is now riding one. Foxlight sets the trend, and then all these followers just jump on.

So anyway, not that I even really care, but what are you doing this weekend? (Maybe we should brunch?) And, oh yeah: "Gigantic winged lion. Did you get it? Why or why not?"

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Filed under: Choose My Adventure

PAX East 2011: Will World of Warcraft ever go free-to-play?

It seems that every new MMORPG wants to bill itself as a "WoW killer." From Lord of the Rings Online to Age of Conan to (most recently) RIFT, everyone wants a piece of the most popular subscription-based MMORPG of all time.

To date, World of Warcraft has weathered the competition. Its subscriber numbers have reached an all-time high (now over 12 million), with its latest Cataclysm expansion selling nearly 5 million copies in the first month alone. The game should remain popular and successful for years to come. Still, even Blizzard admits: It can't stay on top forever.

So what happens when the game starts losing a significant amount of its subscriber base? If what happened to Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online is any clue, World of Warcraft might move to a free-to-play model. Since switching to free-to-play, both of Turbine's games added subscribers and increased revenues.

This past weekend, I sat in on the free-to-play MMO panel held at the PAX East 2011 conference in Boston. Afterward, I caught up with Robert Ferrari, VP of Publishing and Business Development for Sanrio Digital (Hello Kitty Online), to discuss WoW. We discussed the free-to-play industry and whether or not World of Warcraft could eventually find a place in it.

"WoW has to be looking at a free-to-play model currently," Ferrari theorized.

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Filed under: News items, Rumors

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