Monday, October 24, 2011

Paying More For Flexibility

After deliberating the new "annual pass" to WoW, with the "free" copy of Diablo III, I decided to pull the trigger. 

Nils, despite his funny European currency, is not wrong when he points out that this is a bad "bet" if you look at it as a pre-order of Diablo III coupled with a longterm subscription at whatever is left over divided by twelve months.  Based on my past gaming habits, I would probably have paid for 2-4 months of WoW time - at a cost of $30-60 - between now and November 2012, had I not taken this "deal".  If the sole goal is to pay as little as possible, I may well "lose" somewhere in the neighborhood of $36-66.

What $66 will buy you
That said, I also think I'm getting more, as a result of being able to log in during the 8-10 months when I otherwise would not have been able to play for lack of a subscription.  A few examples:

  • This evening I am exploring the updates to WoW's Halloween event.  I would not have paid $15 to resubscribe for a month just for this project.  The Lunar Festival supposedly has similar updates.  Some of my "lost" $66 can cover access to world events.
  • My mage has yet to finish the regular heroic dungeons.  Once he's through these, it will be on to the two Zandalar instances.  Then there will be a third tier with the new zones in patch 4.3.  Finally, there will be the EZ-mode Deathwing encounter tuned for PUG's.  I would like to see all of this stuff at least once.  Could I have done that in a single month, by paying $15, clearing off my calendar, and spending every single night in randomly generated WoW dungeon groups?  Probably, yes.  Am I happy to spend some of the $66 so I can spread that experience out over a more leisurely pace?  Yes. 
  • I have no intention of leveling a Monk to the new level cap during the Pandaria beta, as I did with a DK during the Wrath beta.  Nowadays, my time is limited enough that I'm going to invest it on characters I actually get to keep.  That said, I expect that I will get some entertainment value out of being able to sign and preview mechanics changes, learn where flight masters are, etc. 
  • There's also a mount involved, which I'm assuming will be usable as a ground-capable flying mount.  Currently, both of my level 85's spend most of their time on the Horseman's mount, because I can't be bothered to write a macro or devote an extra hotbar spot to a second mount for locations that do not allow flight.  If the new horse is a substitute, at least I will have a bit more variety.  I would not have paid anything for this, but I will probably use it once I receive it.  
Like Anjin, who also signed up for the annual pass, it is not my plan to sign on every night, get back into raiding, or stop playing the other games I play.  Quite the opposite, not having a monthly timer on my WoW subscription makes me less concerned about taking time to do other things.  I could have had this deal at any time by paying the $156 for two 6 month subs, but that was more than I think it is worth.  By cutting it down to $96/12 months, the number becomes something I am willing to pay, especially with some extra's thrown in. 

(And yes, incidentally, this entire analysis assumes that Pandaria will not arrive prior to November 2012.  If the expansion arrives in August or something - earlier than expected, but the expansion definitely looked further along than past expansions at their Blizzcon debuts - suddenly I'm likely to be satisfying my "commitment" with time I would have purchased anyway.  Like the perks, I consider this possibility of actually "winning" the bet to be an extra, rather than part of the math.)


Joe said...

You're seriously thinking Mists of Pandaria may not be out until Q4 2012, and that its lucky if its out for Q3 2012?

That seems incredibly ridiculous to me. We already know 4.4 should be coming before year's end, to compete with SWTOR. MoP has to come probably within 6 months of that (especially since Blizzard is cutting content in this xpac to move faster). That should put it in June, at the latest. I would even imagine a bit earlier than that. The only reason I can see MoP not coming sooner is if Blizzard is really antsy about not releasing D3, SC2:HOTS, and WoW:MoP too closely together, but its looking more and more like they may all land quite close together. My guess at lunch with a friend today was a Mar-Apr-May release schedule for them, respectively.

Green Armadillo said...

To clarify, I don't think we can entirely rule out Q4 because it is Blizzard, but I think Q3 is most likely. The point I was making in the post is that I'm valuing the subscription based on a worst case scenario (which would make the year of subscription least valuable).

In the past, external testing has not started until the last patch of the previous expansion launched, and testing runs something like 5-6 months. In principle, May is on the table if 4.3 goes live soon, the expansion is nigh-Alpha-ready now (which would be further along than past expansions at Blizzcon), and all testing goes as planned. June/July is probably the target date, though I'm still inclined to believe it could slip to the August timeframe.

Anonymous said...

Hello Green Armadillo, I'm a frequent reader of your blog. This time I would like to share my experience on this topic with those that are still undecided about the anual pass.
I purchased the anual pass a few hours ago. It was a really touph decision because I haven't been subscribed to WoW since July, but I was considering testing the LFR option on 4.3. The LFR tool will increase the number of skilled players and reduce the time to find them. In Woltk that was a big problem for my guild.

I also used to play Diablo II a lot before I played WoW, but I did not have any interest in playing it these days. This past weekend I installed it to see if I still like that kind of gameplay; I end up doing a lot boss runs and some of the quests in act 2 for nostalgia. It was a lot of fun and challenging. I can see myself playing Diablo 3 with some of my guilmates from WoW.

I will play the WoW beta to test the monk class and take my time questing in the 85-90 quest areas. I only play one character mostly, so I don't see myself making alts any time soon for the next expansion - I haven't made a goblin or worgen yet. This means that a year from now I might have experienced everything I wanted from the expansion.

I suspect WoW will make a considerable portion of the game F2P by next year. This anual pass deal just remind me that soon after I became a lifer in lotro they went f2p. I wondered whether I will have the same experience after making a one year commitment. But for now I don't think it is a bad investment.

Nils said...

If only Blizzard had known that lowering the monthly rate from $13 to $8 would make you subscribe for 12 months instead of 2-4 :)

Bhagpuss said...

Your reasoning is roughly why I maintain a Station Access account for SoE even when I'm not playing any of their games. It's well worth the £13.99 a month for the knowledge that I can log in to any SoE MMO on a whim. Even if I don't actually get the whim.

Anonymous said...

just a thought - what if WoW goes FreeToPlay starting Jan until Pandaria hits? The pass would be an excellent way to keep a minimum level of people paying for premier services....

but as I said - just a thought.
Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Yeebo said...

I'm undecided on whether I plane to get DIII, so the deal is not quite so tempting to me. A free $60 game is a nice perk though.

Anonymous said...

I probably won't get D3 when it comes out, but rather wait for it to become a bit cheaper. That, combined with the fact that my WoW subscription is about to run out, makes the deal a lot less tempting.