Public outrage

I know I am late to the party, and I don’t really care. Yes, this is supposed to be post about the new premium feature – grouping with your Real ID friends. The single feature that once again disturbed the whole community, half of it threatened to quit over it, many almost declared war to Blizzard Entertainment and/or set themselves to Blizzard HQ with tar and feathers. I must say, it’s not the daily QQ posts across the boards or the threats of “I will quit” I see on daily basis that make me lose faith in World of Warcraft’s community – it’s the crowd reactions to feature like this. But more on that later on, now angry baby face and brief description of the feature…

Let's rage against things that matter. Like sandcastles!

Real ID grouping

Okay. The event that started the whole fireworks was this short post from the blues:

With the continued popularity of the Dungeon Finder, many players have been asking for a way to group up with real-life friends who play on other realms to take on instances together. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about a new feature currently in development that will allow players to invite Real ID friends of the same faction to a party regardless of the realm they play on, and then queue up for a 5-player regular or Heroic dungeon.

As this is a fairly complex service to develop, we don’t have a release date to share quite yet. It’s important to note that as with some of the other convenience and connectivity-oriented features we offer, certain elements of the cross-realm Real ID party system will be premium-based, though only the player sending the invitations will need to have access to the premium service. We’ll have more details to share with you as development progresses — in the meantime, you may begin to see elements of the feature appear on the World of Warcraft PTR.

I have to admit, the reactions to this post completely surprised me. I was waiting for this feature from the day Real ID was first announced and implemented, I was looking for this update in every patchnotes since. Now it’s coming and I love it. Do I mind it’s a premium feature? Bloody hell, not at all. Why would I? After all, it’s additional service.

The great things about it

There are many, many great things about this new feature. To name a few – you can group with your old friends that are scattered all over the serversphere. You know, these guys that you raided with in your old vanilla guild, who you keep in touch through various internet messengers or even RealID. You can have those people in your party very soon, kicking ass and taking names and catch up with their stories so far. But it’s not only that.

Imagine the possibilities for guild recruitment – you can group with the prospects before they even pay for server transfer (provided they are same faction), and you can run Zul’Aman or Zul’Gurub with them and rest of your guild. Test them under pre-set stress conditions, see what kind of person they really are. Waste of time you say? I’d say it saves you time deciding on person and making sure you are getting perfect match and gives your guild an edge in recruitment – shows that you actually do care about applicants, their time and their real life money, accepting them and making them transfer with more feedback on who are you getting.

All this sounds absolutely awesome, and it is absolutely awesome. It wouldn’t be the spoiled community of World of Warcraft if no one took very strong opposition to this idea; and not this idea per say, but the whole concept of it being “premium”. Why would they feel the entitlement to have this feature for free is beyond me, but let’s elaborate on that.

Subscription, game price and premium services

Apologies beforehand because in this section the train of thought will jump back and forth. Most voiced opinions and reasons why this feature should not be premium were said over and over at all forums possible and anyone without crybaby syndrome must consider them invalid at the first sight. So let’s sum them up:

  1. OMG BLIZZ! I pay high monthly fee and now you are charging me to play with my friends – wrong. You pay your monthly fee to get access to certain service, a basic package if you will. This package is way bigger than in any other MMO and I’d bet my left hand that still offers best price/service ratio on the business. For your monthly fee, you are getting access to any server in your region you like. Freedom to roll any number of characters across these servers and you get this huge world to explore and then some exploration to be done beyond. You get board access, you get in and out of game support, you are getting game updates (and like it or not, Blizzard is actually working on the game continuously). That’s what you get for your money, same package as everyone else. You can play with your friends any day you like without the premium feature.
  2. OMG BLIZZ! Why you charge for everything??? They do not. All of this stuff is optional. You don’t need sparkling mount, you don’t need remote guild chat and you definitely don’t need the RealID grouping to stay competitive in this game and vice versa – having those does not give anyone upper hand over you when it comes to the gameplay balance and equality. Once again, you don’t need to do this. Any and all optional or “premium” features are there to make you enjoy yourself more – be it changing your looks and sex or race when you get tired of your current one, offering you new interesting and fun pets and mounts, allowing you to stay in touch with your e-friends through remote chat – all this is just quality of life stuff, nothing game changing.
  3. OMG BLIZZ! You said you’ll never provide game advantage for real money!!! And they, except for one service, haven’t. And even that service is discutable. And no, it’s not the RealID grouping. The feature I am talking about is Remote AH. Being able to control the AH game any minute of the day, from anywhere in my humble opinion gives extreme advantage over someone who can’t. But looking at it from the other side – even to utilize the remote AH to it’s fullest, you need to either spend on it huge chunks of time (which you probably could’ve spent from your PC anyways) or any access to game in order to earn small fortune on JC green gems for dailies. And more importantly – if you are not skilled/gifted enough to play the AH, not even RemoteAH will help you; the same way, if you indeed are skilled at playing the AH, you will make enough money just by logging into game as usual and earning the gold the old fashioned way.
  4. OMG BLIZZ! WOW is expensive as it is!!! Well, it’s not. I don’t know where you’re living at, but the whole monthly fee for playing World of Wacraft is, to put it in understandable way, 8-10 beers and a tip in our small country pub we visit on weekends. That’s like 2 beers and 2 shots for a couple. So if  I skip out once, I can pay for monthly evening fun. Please don’t jump on me for this one, it’s really simple display of how much the game is worth and in the end it comes down to your own prefference. Would you rather get wasted one more night, or pay your subscription? Would you rather have those two extra beers on one Friday night, or pay for premium?
  5. OMG BLIZZ! It’s like you’re selling gold!!! Probably the most stupid comment I read somewhere. The person was afraid that trade chat will be full of people offering RealID runs for in game money. Not like tanks are selling short queves or anything already. Besides, I’d not feel personally all too comfy about trusting my RealID (and real name) to some total stranger my buddy from server XY just spotted on trade. Not mentioning the logistics of relaying all the information and stuff to set up the RealID connection.

Self entitlement in the community

For some reason, the self entitlement reaction from the community shocked me. Why on earth would anyone object against this service being “premium”. It’s not like it was there to begin with and as much as we can argue till we are blue in the face that Blizzard does not need our money and we should get it for free, offering it for a fee is perfectly legitimate move from Blizzard and I’d understand a raised eyebrow about why it’s paid and not free, but not this huge shitstorm that it turned into. I’d like to quote Matticus’ post on this one, as I think the same way about it:

The point I’m trying to get to here is would you rather pay a higher monthly cost for included services or have a lower monthly cost along with optional services?

I like the opportunity to pick and choose what additional premium features I want access to. If it costs extra, that’s okay because then I can see what I’m willing to pay. Otherwise, the other alternative option is a higher price with no say in customizable features.

And that is all there is to it. Blizzard is offering us optional / additional features for long time by now and while half of them go unnoticed, some can cause some serious arguments and get out the worst of some people. Blizzard is company and companies in general pursue one goal – to make money. Good companies use some of this money to reinvest back in their product and keep developing to keep their customers happy. Most companies offer “premium” features with their products – would you buy a notebook and insist you must get complete and full life-time warranty and the option to get it replaced every time it as much as seems it’s not working properly just because said company offers this warranty as “premium” for extra money? No, you wouldn’t. It’s this sick and flawed perception of World of Warcraft as something we own and is ours and not something that isn’t ours and we just pay for the privilege to access it (yes, privilege) and we always see Blizzard as the arc-devil and mastermind with no other goal but to ruin our lives. That perception is completely wrong and while Blizzard might be doing some bad moves or some non-popular changes, it’s in their own interest to keep the playerbase happy and hooked to the game.

Do I think this was good move by Blizzard? Yes, I do. Although I believe wording the service/package as “optional” instead of “premium” would be better. Will I buy the premium feature the second it comes out? Hell yes. Do I think it might’ve been for free? Yes, I do. Do I think it should be for free? Yes, I do. Not for the money, I can really afford to fork that much every month, but mostly because it brings the community together and might be far better for new players to get into the game.

Will you buy the premium feature?

About Rahana

Long time player, former hardcore now casual raider. Talks into everything, does not pay attention to exact theorycraft numbers. View all posts by Rahana

3 responses to “Public outrage

  • smws

    Top-notch post! Pretty much sums up my own feelings on the matter.

    And I was appalled to read the responses this feature got on the official forums. At the end of the day, the forums are still just a vocal minority who think they have the right to speak for everyone who plays and pays for this game. They’re not. The average player enjoys the game on a daily basis and doesn’t rant on the forums anyway :)

  • Voltie

    I must agree with you that wow is exceptionally good value for money. In the part of the UK I am in it is the price of about 3 pints and so I think I want to drink in your local for a change :)

  • Krysann

    I compare premium features to another activity I pay yearly for, my family membership to the local zoo. For 50 US dollars I get unlimited access 365 days a year 7am to 6pm. Being a member of a world famous zoo is amazing and enjoyable. The zoo also offers monthly age-focused activities for my toddler, behind the scenes tours with keepers and docents, art classes at the on campus museum all for an additional per service fee. I have two ways of accessing these additional services. I can pay al a cart in a matter similar to WoW each time I would like to take a class or go to a Coati Pups activity, or I can spend 300 dollars a year and always have access to them. Bang for my buck is al’a cart. We may only go to 1 Coati Pup class a year so an additional 16 bucks for me and my child is a bargain. Do I rant that my basic membership doesn’t allow me free access to “premium” services? Of course not. Basic cable doesn’t give one access to premium channels, why should basic service through World of Warcraft or my local zoo include additional services I may or may not ever use?

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