Is Warcraft Worth It?

The Grumpy Elf recently wrote a post where he asked the question “Is Warcraft Worth It?”. For him he said it was, as he played far more than 15 hours a month, so the ratio of dollars spent to hours played, was very favourable. He said that his price point, was that if it was $1/hour, or less, then it was worth it.

I commented on the post, and I think that I probably didn’t make much sense. Basically what I was trying to say is that on a pure numbers basis Warcraft might be worth it, but does it feel worth it? With that in mind, I thought it would make a good basis for my post today. Have to write about something after all.

You don’t get what you pay for
I don’t really want to know how much I’ve spent on Warcraft over the years. I could work it out but that’s information that is best left vague. I never once questioned it as it averaged out to be really cheap entertainment. I would defend the subscription to those who asked, by saying that it was pennies an hour. I don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t go out much, I enjoyed Warcraft and had the money so it made sense. It was unquestionably worth it.

It’s no secret that I unsubbed in March. I’d killed Garrosh on normal, done a few heroic modes but heroic has always been a bonus to me, not a goal. I was fed up. This sounds familiar as go back an expansion, I’d killed Deathwing on normal, done a few heroic modes and then got fed up. However, the difference between the end of Mists and the end of Cata is huge, and not just because Mists will have an even longer gap until the next expansion.

The Cataclysm expansion gets a lot of bad press and true it did have it’s faults. However, in my opinion it did a lot of things right. Now obviously Warcraft’s player base is huge, though it is pretty consistently shrinking over time, but it’s still huge and it’s very diverse. I might love some aspects, another player might hate those very same aspects and vice versa, everyone is different.

However, for me the changes that blizz made between Cata and Mists, wrecked or removed what I’d liked best, and enhanced or replicated what I didn’t like so much. I played through the entire Mists expansion and it was alright but I lost the connection, I lost the enthusiasm and just couldn’t be bothered with so much. Don’t get me wrong Mists brought in a lot of good things too but those good things didn’t outweigh what was otherwise lost.

As I said I quit in March as I was ‘done’ and I saw no point in continuing to pay blizz for nothing. Just providing the same content for over a year and still expecting a subscription seems kinda crazy to me, but then I suppose blizz have got away with it. Subs may have dropped but they are still higher than pretty much any other MMO on the market. Even if they drop a lot lower Warcraft is still a cash cow, so they have no incentive to do better.

These are old arguments
Over a few different posts I think I’ve said probably everything I’m going to say in this one. I know repeating myself is probably boring but I do think it is worth saying. I suppose it’s like The Grumpy Elf says, he might complain a lot but he only complains about the game because he cares about it. I do still like Warcraft as a game, I want it to be better, to do better, to be the game it used to be, to be the game it could be. I see the direction that it’s going in and I don’t like it. I know the game isn’t made for me but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion, I can’t wish that it wasn’t different, that it was more to my liking.

Back to my point – “Does Warcraft feel worth it, as well as being worth it on a by the numbers basis?”, well obviously for me it stopped feeling worth it back in March. The question now is – “Could it feel worth it again?”

Will Warlords be worth it?
Mists of Pandaria had a standard and a deluxe edition, priced at launch for £29.99/£39.99 respectively. Warlords also has a standard and a deluxe edition, priced at £34.99/£49.99 which while just £5 more for standard and £10 more for deluxe, it feels like a big price hike. Given that it’s been announced that Warlords is only have two raid tiers rather than three, meaning that in theory the expansion should only last one year rather than two, and especially after the long content drought it just feels like a slap in the face.

Then there’s the business model, which has never changed but works as a double barrier, essentially charging twice for the same thing. If I choose to return to Warcraft then I will have to pay for the expansion, which is costing more and delivering less, and then I will have to pay to access it with the subscription. I’ve used the line ‘I should never have started playing other games’ in other posts and it’s true. Experiencing other business models made me aware of how jammy blizz was. There’s no choice, no flexibility, it’s continue to pay or lose the game. It was something I’d never questioned in the past, as it worked out to be pennies and it felt so worth it. Now it might still work out as pennies but what about those pesky feelings?

Then there’s the direction Warlords is going in. No flight, possibly for the whole expansion. They’ve removed valor and justice points, though after they essentially gutted the system in Mists that’s just more of the same. Dungeons, which I was so hoping would be making a comeback, look like they might be even more irrelevant than in Mists. LFR is still king, Garrisons are a big deal and a gold sink. According to The Grumpy Elf there’s little repeatable content, which makes me wonder what on earth players will do. LFR? No thank you.

Wrapping up
There’s no getting around this. I miss my paladin, I miss tanking, I miss the game in general. I do want to check Warlords out, level my paladin to 100, chase some new achievements. I want to do the launch quests, I want to run the 10th anniversary stuff, I want that fire dog pet. I’m sure that on a numbers basis I will play enough hours for the ratio to be $1/hour or less. The /played time on my paladin is probably another fact that should never see the light of day, and of course it’s only my main, not my only character. I still read Warcraft blogs, I check WoWInsider everyday. I might not have played since March but I’ve tried to keep track of the game announcements, and follow the news from beta. It hasn’t been encouraging news from beta but I wanted to know.

When there are multiple editions of a game available, I usually buy the deluxe version as the difference in price isn’t usually huge, and you get extra goodies. An extra £15 feels like a lot, though I suppose given that mounts alone are priced more than that in the cash shop, and you get a mount and a pet, plus some stuff for other blizz games that I don’t play, that by the numbers it works out. However, it doesn’t work out in terms of how it feels. Oh I haven’t even got to the best bit yet, once Warlords is released the subscription itself is going up in price. If you are subbed, or resub before launch then your price gets frozen, but if you unsub at anytime then be prepared to fork out more every month if you choose to return.

I resent it, I really do, which isn’t a good feeling going into a game. It does make me wonder whether I should just draw a line and walk away. Maybe it’s just nostalgia that’s drawing me back, the game has changed and is changing into something I don’t like all that much. It’s not the game it was when I first started playing. However, I then circle back to the fact that I do want to play, I guess I just want to play a version of Warcraft that doesn’t exist. I need to come to terms with that and either accept, and try and stop resenting, paying the price blizz demands or I really should just draw a line and try and stop looking back.

I said when I quit in March that I was voting with my wallet, that I refused to pay blizz during the long content drought. It was a symbolic gesture as one person quitting isn’t going to register, even if a lot of people quit they’d have to lose a lot more than they have for them to even start to take notice. Plus every expansion they say they want to get the next one out faster, and every expansion they fail at doing that, so even if they intend to change they aren’t going to.

If I resub, if I buy Warlords then blizz wins, they really will have no incentive to change as they are getting away with it. People complain but they still hand over the cash. However, as I said one person isn’t going to register, enough people are still paying that what I do or don’t do makes no blind bit of difference. The choice is mine. I suspect what I will do is just buy the standard edition as there’s an upgrade option, so if Warlords surprises me (ha and pigs might fly) then I can always choose to get the digital deluxe later. I will pay my sub and we’ll see what happens.

Just an end thought. Does this make me part of the problem?