[WoW] Thought for the day: What happens when the content fits F2P but the model is subscription?

I read recently that Blizzard have removed the “Scroll of Resurrection” offer on WoW — this was a longstanding deal by which if you had been unsubscribed from the game for a few months, a friend could send you a code to get a couple of weeks free to entice you to return.

One can only speculate whether this is because, now that people can hop into LFR to check out new raid content and gear gets an (easily accessible) update with each patch, that a motivated player could actually check out ALL the recent content within the 7-14 free days and then wander off without resubbing. Or in other words, maybe they found that the resubscription rates in people who used the scroll of resurrection weren’t as high as they’d hoped.

I don’t feel that the motivation to keep playing for months in WoW is the same as it used to be — you can see the new content without having to turn up for your weekly raid group (albeit in easier form) with easy random group finders, you know that any gear you get will be immediately replaced in the next content patch, I don’t know how compelling PvP/arena is these days but I do know that it isn’t a majority pursuit and there are many competing games with PvP. And if the social fabric is disintegrating also then that’s another longterm hook that is disappearing.

I don’t think WoW will ever go free to play while there are so many people happy to pay monthly subs. The justification for changing model has to be that it would make more money and I don’t think it would for WoW. But I do think that the pattern of ‘turn up to play the new stuff and then unsub and go do other things for a few months’ is going to be seen more and more in the coming months, at least from players who didn’t take the annual pass. And funnily enough, this is one of the typical F2P playstyles – I know I drop into LOTRO when there is new single player content, and then wander off again.

I also think that in Pandaria, Blizzard do have a chance to change this. But to do it they need a new type of gameplay that people will want to engage in longterm, because ‘log in just for the weekly raid/s’ won’t cut it in a LFR world. I also think that a pokemon style MMO could be wildly, crazily successful. Ignore the naysayers, pokemon is a solid game with good collection/ card-style-combat that could support large numbers of players. So I wouldn’t bet against Blizz being able to implement a good WoW version of this for their next expansion. In many ways, the game’s future depends on whether they can provide a fun and engaging endgame replacement for raiding, because with LFR the traditional raiding endgame is largely dead. It just hasn’t realised it yet.

6 thoughts on “[WoW] Thought for the day: What happens when the content fits F2P but the model is subscription?

  1. It’s hard to say for certain, but I think a growing number of players are starting to wise up to the fact that the subscription fee model just isn’t worth the money. In the case of World of Warcraft, I’d be paying £108 a year for content that I could get through easily in one £9 month. The question right now is why you’d subscribe longer than the month after the patch, but that question might well become why you’d subscribe longer than the month prior to a new expansion. Guild Wars 2 being free of subscriptions is only going to reinforce this fact, assuming the game does well.

    And the Pokemon will fail utterly. I agree, it’s a wonderful RPG in its own right; but Blizzard want everyone in their raid content and, while that remains the case, no new feature is going to receive anywhere near the required polish to make it worthwhile after an initial “cap” grind.

    Just look at archaeology.

    • If you quit now, one of the possible answers to select for the question why you quit is (from memory):

      There is no way to progress without running dungeons, raids or PvP.

      I’m still positive for Pokewow. Especially since you can also select “I don’t like daily quests”.

  2. I seem to recall that Blizzard is wanting to make their content cycles faster. Sounds like they want to eliminate the “few months” between updates so that it does make sense to stay subscribed. If they put enough resources behind this, it could work. The downside is that more frequent updates make any one update less significant.

    I agree that LFR transforms the raiding endgame for most people. The guilds I see thriving in Pandaria are the anonymous, mega-perks guilds, the HM raiders and the ones with actual friends. In other words, most guilds will atrophy.

  3. The one snag, Tonk, is that they’ve been promising that for years; yet we manage to get seven or eight bosses every six months.

    It’s just not good enough.

    And, yes, I totally agree with your assessment on guilds. They’ll either be mega-perked or they’ll die off. It’s a shame, it really is.

    • They’re going to die off gradually because Mandatory Socialisation Isn’t Fun and if people don’t have to, they’re not going to.

      This has nothing to do with community building and everything to do with people not really wanting to have to hang out with 40/25/10 every thursday.

  4. Pingback: Why Play, Why Pay? « Tish Tosh Tesh

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