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Posts with tag money

New add-on policy makes selling add-ons against the rules


There is a new UI add-on development policy that has been recently released by Blizzard (we think today, however there is no time-stamp on the document). The policy lists a few standard things we'd expect from add-ons, such as not containing offensive material, not negatively impacting World of Warcraft realms or other players, and requiring add-ons to abide by the WoW Terms of Use and EULA. However there's more.

According to the policy, add-ons must be free of charge, may not solicit donations, and their code must be completely visible.

This means some leveling mods that charge for their use are now against the rules. Essentially if you develop a mod it has to be released and distributed for free – no charge is acceptable. And for those thinking "well, the developer could just charge for the download service then." Not true.

The complete statement after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Economy, Add-Ons

Worlds.com aims to sue over the virtual world of Warcraft


Business Insider (no relation) is reporting that Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin is intending to sue anyone who will not license their virtual worlds product through him, and since Kidrin claims they hold the patent to virtual worlds, everyone has to get a license. Since this is a legal issue I'll lay this out in a few easy to read steps:
    1. Thom calls up Blizzard, Linden Lab, etc...
    2. Thom says "Hey, I invented virtual worlds! Pay me money since you're making money off the concept."
    3. Blizzard and Linden Lab laugh and hang up, assuming it's a prank call.
    4. Thom goes to court.
That's the gist of it. Kidrin plans on going after a few other companies before knocking on Blizzard's door: notably, Worlds.com has already filed suit against NCsoft, which publishes City of Heroes and Guild Wars.

How did Worlds.com wind up with the patent to the idea of a scalable virtual world with thousands of users? Kidrin has said that they invented the virtual worlds with a product for sick kids called Starbright World back in 1997. (Though apparently the concept was thought up back in 1995.)

However, let's take a look at the definition of Cyberspace. It was first used in William Gibson's 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and again used in a few of his books, with "Neuromancer" being the most popular. Gibson's definition for Cyberspace reads:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

How to avoid automatic subscription renewal


As most of us know, WoW credit card subscription plans in the US and Europe are auto-renewing. If I sign up for one month at $14.99, as soon as that month is up, Blizzard immediately re-bills my credit card and signs me up for another month. This is problematic for some people, who may want to switch to a game card at the end of the month, or who simply might not want their cards to be automatically billed.

Fortunately, there's an easy solution: cancel your account. Yep, just push that big red button (well, actually, it's a smallish grey button, but you get the idea). You'll still get to play until the time you've paid for runs out. And since Blizzard retains your character and account info indefinitely, you don't have to worry about your characters getting deleted. At the end of the time you've paid for, when you try to log in, you'll get a notice that your pre-paid time has been used up, at which point you can go on the web site and add whatever payment method you like.

I've used this method many times myself. It's only a few extra clicks, and if you want to have more control over how you get billed, it's definitely worth considering, even if it does make the peons cry.

Filed under: Tricks, Blizzard

The state of the Azerothian economy

Thermalnoise over on the WoW LJ thought of a great poll, and the results are interesting. He asked readers there what the average amount of gold they had on their characters was, and I thought the amounts were relatively high: between 2,000 and 10,000g for about 40% of those polled. The other big chunk is between 200 and 2,000g (a little under 30% of respondents), which is where I'd expect most of the player base to be, but no: apparently Blizzard's bigger rewards in Wrath of the Lich King (not to mention the higher gold sinks, requiring us to try and raise more gold if we want to fly around or ride a mammoth) have made us richer as a whole.

Thermalnoise also asked how much your savings of gold fluctuates, and for most people it apparently stays pretty much the same, or generally increases (probably as they run professions, do quests, or sell off drops and pay repairs). I'd imagine Blizzard is keeping a pretty close eye on just how our gold moves around, and that "steadily increase" is what they'd want all of our money to do, just to keep the game's economy moving around.

In fact, though I'm probably repeating myself here, it'd be nice to have them give us some insight on just what's happening with the ingame economy. We've gotten a few hints at what sells and doesn't on the realms, but it would be interesting to see some official numbers about the average amount of money that players have and keep at the various levels of the game. and exactly where it all goes when we spend it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Leveling, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Legal action between ZAM and Curse results in dismissal


So remember when Curse introduced their database last year called WoWDB, and we pointed out that it bore a strong resemblance to that other popular WoW database, Wowhead? Turns out ZAM, the owners of Wowhead after the acquisition a little while ago, agreed: completely under the radar last May, they filed a lawsuit for copyright infringment to the tune of no less than $1.5 million. ZAM says in the suit, copies of which we've obtained, that they've "expended substantial resources to maintain, update, and promote use of the WOWHEAD website so that it would become... one of the most recognized, and utilized websites designed to attract individuals" who play World of Warcraft. They claimed that WoWDB stole their look and layout purposely to create confusion among customers. This story wasn't reported in the WoW community at the time -- we hadn't heard about it at all until now.

And then, in January of this year, the case was dismissed completely by a judge. We've also seen a copy of the order for dismissal, and from what it says, both sides wanted out: "Pursuant to the parties' stipulation for dismissal, the court hereby dismisses the above-captioned action without prejudice." We don't have any information, however, why the case was suddenly dismissed, but there may have been an agreement made between the two parties -- either money changed hands or WoWDB offered to change its look (as you can see, there's still many similarities between the two sites). Or, as a third option, ZAM just decided it wasn't worth fighting -- according to the comments and activity on both sites, WoWDB doesn't seem to be a serious threat to Wowhead.

We've contacted both sides for comment, and we'll let you know if we hear anything from either one. On the front of it, this looks like ZAM was merely covering themselves -- they filed suit just in case, but never found cause to follow through. But there may be some other agreement between these two companies that lead to the case's dismissal.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Economy

DC shows off Series 5 figures


DC has officially announced their latest series of World of Warcraft action figures, and while there are only four figures shown off so far, they look awesome. These are the same figures we saw in the coverage of the New York Comic Con -- there's Lo'gosh (better known as Varian Wrynn, the new King of Stormwind), Hunter Alathea Moonbreeze and her pet Sorna, a demon form Illidan (hot!), and Rottingham, a Ghoul. We've got pictures of all the new figures in our gallery below.

Unfortunately, we aren't going to see this for sale for a long, long time -- DC has the date of release set as October 28, 2009. That doesn't really seem right to us (they only want to release four figures this year?), but that's what they say, so we'll go with it. Still, that Illidan figure looks awesome. The Hunter would be cute, and Lo'gosh would be nice to have if you're a fan of the comic book series, but Illidan is definitely the standout so far. Also check out all of our other DC figure galleries after the break.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Undead, Hunter, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Lore, Classes, NPCs, Comics

Activision loses money, Blizzard to release one marquee game per year

Activision-Blizzard held a conference call for the press yesterday, and so there's all kinds of financial and release news floating around out there. The biggest news isn't necessarily Blizzard-related, but it does mean that our game's company is finally feeling the crunch a bit: Activision-Blizzard reported a loss of $72 million in the last quarter, and their outlook for the coming year fell short of analysts' expectations. Even though that sounds bad, it doesn't mean things are necessarily bad, though: Blizzard themselves added nearly a billion dollars to the total, so while A-B might not be doing so well, B is doing just fine.

Blizzard CEO Paul Sams also announced during the call that the company is now aiming for "one 'frontline' title per year," though not necessarily World of Warcraft related. That likely means that we'll see the first Starcraft 2 this year -- our friends at Joystiq have a quick report on the beta appearing soon, as well as the Battle.net revamp we've been waiting for. And it also means that (unless Blizzard is really rolling on Diablo III, which I doubt, given its condition when we played it at last year's BlizzCon), that we'll be looking at mid/late 2010 for the release of the next WoW expansion.

Besides the loss of the $72 million (it's always in the last place you look), things seem to be hopping at Blizzard and their parent company. Should be a pretty busy 2009 for them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW sits atop the list of money making MMOs of 2008

DFC Intelligence announced a "comprehensive study" in which they took a look at the top money making MMOs. And who sits at the top? Why our very own World of Warcraft, of course.

According to the report, which was brought to our attention by Shawn Schuster of our sister site Massively, WoW earned over $500 million in 2008. We know that there's a substantial divide between WoW and the rest of the MMO market, and to drive the point home: WoW is the only game in the $500 million+ category.

DFC Intelligence will be releasing a more detailed analysis of the top MMOs on February 16th. Be sure to keep an eye out on Massively for coverage of the other games on the list, and we'll bring you the WoW information when it comes up.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy

WoW generates half of Acti-Blizz earnings

The folks over at CVG picked up an interesting note on our Activision-Blizzard overlords' 2008 fiscals. According to Arvind Bhatia, World of Warcraft probably generated 30 cents out of each 60 cents per share of earnings. Put another way, that's about $400 million for shares at the end of the fiscal year ending this past December.

Now, this is kind of the best guess of Mr. Bhatia, who works under the firm Sterne Agee. (And they certainly have a reputation that says we could probably believe them.) But even without Sterne Agee's reputation, a little back-of-the-envelope math shows that his analysis probably bears fruit. We already know that WoW has 11.5 million subscribers. At $15 dollars a pop per month, you're already looking at $172 million each month. But we know that a lot of folks have discount plans, and the charge isn't the same across the globe. I can easily believe a $400 million yearly earning from subscriptions, and am actually surprised it's not higher.

Of course, Bhatia has recently lowered some of his other estimates for ATVI, and warns that the consensus estimates predicting $5.2 billion in revenue are probably too high. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, this does say that World of Warcraft is doing just fine. We can feel free to threaten to quit over the latest nerf, the lights're going to stay on while we're out the door.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

YouPlayorWePay claims to offer downtime insurance

I think this is a wild idea (even if it is something I wouldn't actually put my money in). We got tipped about a new site called "You Play or We Pay" and from the looks of it, these guys are offering none other than downtime insurance. That is: you pay a fee to them regularly, and then they "compensate" you for any downtime that your server has. They call it "third-party compensation," but that sounds like insurance to me.

At any rate, we wouldn't quite recommend jumping in headfirst yet -- they haven't, as far as we can see, revealed any prices, and while you can register your characters, you can't actually get any sort of payout quite yet, as they say they're still working on the system. For all we know the site could be an elaborate scam at this point. But it is an intriguing idea, and if they're really ready to put their money where their FAQ is, these guys may have an actual business plan that depends on Blizzard keeping the servers up. Just like all insurance companies, they must have figured out that the servers stay up more often than not, and that there was money to be made there.

It's quite an interesting plan, and we'll keep an eye on it to see if they ever announce a fee or explain themselves better. The math doesn't quite seem right here, but if somehow their fees are low enough and the payouts are high enough, it's possible that you really could be compensated for downtime by a completely separate company other than Blizzard. Very interesting.

Update: The company has contacted WoW Insider, and we've requested an interview. Stay tuned.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Forum post of the day: Serious business decisions

WoW has changed considerably over the years, often for the better and sometimes for the worse. Better and worse are, of course, a matter of perspective. Slovotsky of Turalyon is getting fed up with people complaining about the easing of raids. He's confident that Blizzard made the choice to lower the difficulty on raids because more of the player base can now have a chance to experience them. He disagrees that casual players have ruined the game. Familiarity may also lead to boredom. Some of the guilds that have progressed through Naxx have already done so either in the Pre-BC era or on the PTR.

As some pointed out, Blizzard is a for-profit business. The company's job is to sell a product, not to rule with a heavy hand or coddle the incompetent. The switch to an inclusive raiding environment was most likely a marketing decision. Caydence of Draka drove this point home, to rebut the argument that players will quit WoW because it's easier. It is simply a better business decision for Blizzard to alienate the "hardcore" players who make up a small minority. She suggested that the subscriber base has grown with each ease in difficulty.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

Blizzard employee raises over $34,000 for LLS

The final total on that charity drive we mentioned last week is in, and it's huge. While Blizzard employee Katherine Allen aimed to collect about $5000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, she ended up picking up a whopping $34,000 (and growing) for the charity. Whether you gave in order to get entered for the drawing (she's giving away a few yearly passes and one lifetime subscription), or just for the charity of it, she is now thanking everyone who gave on the site, and we have to thank you, too: it's events like this that show off just how generous World of Warcraft players can be.

The drawing will be held on January 8th, so if you did give and entered the contest, keep an eye on your email inbox to see if you won. And while the contest itself is over, there's still a few days left to donate to the cause if you missed it the first time around and still want to support the Society.

Sure, we're known for our QQing, we've got untold number of loot ninjas and drama queens in our ranks, and don't you dare nerf our class or we'll whine like nobody's business. But when you ask them to come through and help their fellow human beings, World of Warcraft players are one of the best communities around. Good luck to everyone who entered the contest, and thanks again to everyone who donated to the cause.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Blizzard adds advertising to the official forums


Blizzard has added two advertising bars to their official forum pages, one on the top and one banner along the side. And it's got players concerned -- there's a large forum thread growing even bigger by the minute right now. The main complaints seem to revolve around a few issues: the design breaks the forum layout for some users, the ads are possibly a security risk (they aren't hosted by Blizzard -- more on that in a second), and of course the issue that we're paying every month to be able to look at ads on the forums.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money, Forums, Account Security

Wrath sells 2.8 million in the first 24 hours

We knew it was going to be a lot, but I think the game outsold even our expectations: Blizzard has announced that the game's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, sold 2.8 million copies worldwide in the first 24 hours, and undoubtedly many more in the weekend after that (we're expecting an announcement later this month around five million in the first 30 days). That makes the game the fastest selling PC game of all time, and by far the fastest-selling expansion of all time (remember that this isn't even a complete game that's flying off the shelves). The previous record, of course, was set by the Burning Crusade, which sold 2.4 million copies during launch.

Pretty huge, but when you consider that the game has 11 million subscribers around the world, those numbers are just about right. Looks like Morhaime is on to something -- as long as they have players ready to buy the game in numbers like this, Blizzard will undoubtedly release expansions as long as they can.

Thanks, Doug!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Deals are slim for Wrath of the Lich King at retailers

We've got our first Wrath of the Lich King deal to report, and unfortunately, it's less than impressive. Apparently, if you buy the expansion at Best Buy next week, you'll be able to pick up a strategy guide for the game at 25% off. It's not a great deal, especially since Amazon is offering the guide at 34% off, with or without the game (and since you're a WoW Insider reader, you likely won't need the guide anyway). But it is a deal, and it is for Wrath, so there you go. We'd love to have better deals for you (folks like me who buy Gears of War 2 at Circuit City this week are picking up free gift cards and such), but nothing yet.

There is good news, also, for people who are buying the expansion through Amazon -- apparently they're offering release-day delivery in some places, so even if you picked up the game at the online retailer, you could have it at exactly the same time (well, a few hours later, since there are midnight releases going around and shipped games usually don't show up until midmorning at least) as everybody else. That way, you won't miss a minute of the lag and frustration-inducing camping that will surely ensue just after launch.

If you hear about a deal or a special sale on Wrath next week, let us know. We've all spent way too much money on this game already -- every cent we can save is worth it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

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