To start, a quick update on the WoW Annual Pass billing issue I discussed on Thursday, along with some other thoughts as my time with the annual pass ends.
and I can confirm that that the cancel subscription button is no longer
locked out for our accounts - as far as I could tell, it was still blocked when I wrote the post four days ago. Wilhelm had previously been told that the billing system was somehow structurally incapable of processing customer requests to discontinue recurring billing - even AFTER you had paid for enough time to fulfill your commitment - until the end of the one-year pass term. Having this option quietly re-appear at the proverbial 11:58 PM invites speculation that Blizzard had a more cynical motivation for failing to honor cancellation requests back in May.
Most of my advice from Thursday stands - whether or
not you were prevented from canceling previously due to this policy, you
will be billed until you change settings. That said, now that Blizzard is honoring requests to discontinue billing, this issue is downgraded to a case of a corporation trying to sneak a $15 charge past its customers. Sadly, if you don't do business with every company that tries that these days, you're going to have to go become a hermit somewhere.
Was the Year in WoW worth it?
Last October, I chose to account the annual pass fee as a $60 purchase of Diablo III and a $96 subscription to WoW. On this basis, I think I did pretty well. My best guess is that I would have subscribed for roughly 4 months - one at a time at $15/month, for a total of $60 - in the absence of the annual pass. That would mean I paid $36 for the other 8 months - roughly $4.50 per month. Even though that's $4.50/month that I would not have otherwise spent, I'm reasonably confident that I got at least that much value out of the off-months.
If Blizzard had chosen to offer the same deal again with the Pandaria box taking the place of DIII, I would probably be inclined to take it (even though this would be a slightly worse value due to the lower price of the expansion box). The problem that I had this year was that pesky Diablo III purchase. I've enjoyed the portion of the game I played, but it hasn't been a high priority, and there have definitely been opportunities to snag it for less than $60. If you zero out the value of DIII purchase (overly harsh, but for the sake of argument), I was effectively paying $12/month for the off-months; nearly full price and far from a bargain. The reality is probably somewhere between these extremes - not the best bargain, but not that expensive as far as gaming life lessons go.
Last year, I speculated whether Blizzard would be doing anything to make the base price of the WoW subscription more palatable to people like myself who are open to paying a bit more for uninterrupted access, but not $150/year. Despite the success of the program - over 1.2 million customers took Blizzard up on it - the answer is apparently not. This could mean that Blizzard is more confident that people will stay subscribed with a new expansion on the shelves and alleged plans for more frequent content updates. Alternately, it could mean that the majority of people who took the annual pass deal were long-time loyal subscribers who would probably have remained subscribed anyway, and that lost revenue from these folks may have canceled out any gains from less frequent visitors like myself.
In the mean time, later this week will be the first time in a year when I will not be able to log into World of Warcraft. I will be back - amongst other things, there is a new expansion awaiting my attention - but almost certainly on a month-to-month basis. This will very likely save me money, but it remains to be seen whether Blizzard's current product is better experienced over the longer term.