Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nickles and Dimes

Yesterday, the blues announced a feature under development to allow friends of the same faction on different servers to group together for 5-man instances.  They stated this feature would be a premium service, meaning, it's going to cost you extra if you want to use it.

I've heard some people complain that Blizzard is starting to nickle and dime them in their game play.  First it was vanity pets and mounts.  Then it was the mobile auction house and guild chat feature.  Now this.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Blizzard making this service premium.  First, I won't be paying it, as I don't use RealID and so don't keep in contact with people on other servers as a general rule.  (And I have no real life friends who play.)  Second, why not have a fee for an optional extra service?

As the blue stated, it takes a lot of time and effort to work out the requirements for this feature.  This means, of course, that Blizzard is spending a lot of money paying people or adding equipment or whatever it is they need to do to get this capability in place.  They have to have a plan to recover their costs, or it would not make good business sense.  (And, face it, people, Blizzard is a business.  If running these services did not make money, they wouldn't be doing it, and we wouldn't have a game to fuel our blogs.)

It's sort of like toll roads.  The costs for building and maintaining these roads are recovered by the tolls.  The roads themselves are not a necessity (although sometimes they may seem that way.)  People could, if they wanted to avoid the toll, take the other, pre-paid roads (nothing is really "free"), which may take longer or require them to travel more slowly, deal with poorly-maintained pavement or stop at traffic lights.  But if they feel it is worth it to them, they may choose to pay the toll and travel in relative comfort and convenience.

A similar idea is true with this feature.  If people want to run instances with their friends, they do not have to pay the money for the premium service to run selected cross-server dungeon groups.  They could create a new character on their friend's server, level him up, gear him, and then run dungeons.  But that is a pain in the neck, especially for people who do not have a lot of time to play.  So, instead, they may choose to pay the extra fee for the convenience of being able to play with their friends on other servers, which is a reasonable option.

What would be a possible alternative to making it a premium feature (or making other features premium, as well)?  Blizzard could require all our subscription fees to increase, to cover the costs of their current and future feature development.  But would this be fair to those of us who do not need or want to use the extra features?

I like the fact that I can choose what I buy instead of having the costs for bonus features I do not use automatically transferred to me.  (Sure is an improvement over the tax system . . . of course, it's an improvement, anyway, because if you don't want to pay the fees to Blizzard, you can choose to "opt out", which option is unavailable when it comes to taxes . . .)

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