First, a quick note to the tanks in recent WoW heroics that I’ve been healing: When a healer shouts out “mana!”, that should not be interpreted as “run even FASTER into the next group of mobs!!! WHEEE!” Because I am going to not heal your butt, but will just laugh when you end up as worm food.
So. Last week there was all sorts of hubbabaloo over Activision Blizzard’s recent quarterly statement, in which (among other things) they mentioned a statistic that’s gotten everyone talking: only 30% of all WoW trial accounts make it past level 10.
Seriously — who cares? Is this interesting in any way, shape or form? Why all the discussion surrounding this statistic when they didn’t tell you any of the possible factors behind it? Blizzard’s not hurting for WoW players, so I don’t think they can view this as a crisis. And how would this number compare to other MMO trials? Now, that might be interesting.
What caught my attention instead was a lovely three-word phrase that kept popping up in Activision Blizzard’s presentation. See if you can’t figure out what it is:
Ah yes: “Value Added Services”. That’s sinister marketing speak for “we got ’em pinned against the ropes — now nickle ‘n dime them to death!” Or, in other words, microtransactions and paid premium content.
Okay, yeah, we’re not going to stir up any new controversy with this. You either are okay with microtransactions at this point or still find them annoying and crass, but they’re not going away, so the general community feel is that we might as well stop complaining about it, because it’s here to stay. Sort of like how every tax increase by the government gets us complaining at first, but if long enough time goes by, we just accept it, forget it and soldier on.
I just found it a bit… creepy that “Value Added Services” was featured so prominently in this presentation. I mean, it’s underlined and everything! Blizzard’s downright proud of the fact that there’s been widespread acceptance of gross overcharging of basic services such as moving to different servers, as well as the pricey $10 pets (the charity excuse is long gone — but the price remains the same). Obviously there’s demand for these things, and people willing to pay, but I take this presentation to mean that what we’ve seen in the past is only the beginning of a big, big push for more microtransactions — er, “value added services” — on top of subscription fees and the rest.
After all, we “solidly adopted” it, so now we’re stuck with it, eh?