Scroll of Ridiculous Value

Obviously there has been a lot of talk about the Scroll of Resurrection‘s instant level 80 character thing. But equally fascinating to me is all the other value-added things they stuffed in there. When they took the Scroll down the first time, I assumed it was because Blizzard was seeing people being Scroll’d and then defeating Deathwing via LFR before the week(s?) was up. Now? This is what you get:

  • Upgrade to Wrath. ($19.96)
  • Upgrade to Cataclysm ($26.99)
  • 7 Days of game time. (~$3.50)
  • Server Transfer. ($25.00)
  • Faction Transfer. ($30.00)
  • Free level 80 toon ($X)

Total potential value: $105.45 + $X.

When I quit WoW ~6 months ago, my criteria for ever returning was basically “when they started discounting server/faction transfers.” The game itself had not stopped being fun, it was the gradual bleed of friends that made me question the subscription. Even if I resubbed tomorrow, I would still be on the same shit low-pop server, stuck with the same inverted community. I have five level 85 characters and 400k+ gold that I’m not about to let rot, but neither am I paying $50+ a pop to save them. Simply put, there is a pretty severe barrier to reentry at this point.

So when said friends hit me up on Vent yesterday to chat, I knew the Scroll pitch was coming. And in some ways it was very, very tempting. The mental scenario played out like this:

  1. Friend rolls level 1 Horde toon on healthy server, sends Scroll.
  2. Accept Scroll.
  3. Delete an unused character, roll level 1 druid.
  4. Get the druid to level 80 instantly.
  5. Load druid up with 50k gold (the max transfer limit), other items.
  6. Free Server Transfer + Faction Change the druid.
  7. Paid Server Transfer + Faction Change for main.

That would get me a decent fraction of my wealth onto a new server, plus the ability to perhaps LFR Deathwing in that free week, plus a level 80 version of the only class I never played before, and technically a server/faction transfer at 50% off.

There are some unknowns, of course. Would I have to do the Server/Faction transfer immediately, or could I delay it? Are you leveled to 80 only after you move? Can someone send a Scroll from a level 1 character? Do I really want WoW back in my life, now, when there is probably another 6 months of just Deathwing?

The funny thing is… maybe it doesn’t matter. Even if I simply accept the Scroll on my main in order to just get the free server/faction transfer, maybe that’s enough. Log in, move the one toon, screw around for a week, let it expire. Then wait for the next promotion. By the time Mists finally rolls around, perhaps I will have moved several more toons somewhere else by using Scrolls every 3 months.

But OMG instant level 80 WTF?

It may be my relative distance from the game, but this does not strike me as particularly controversial or counter-intuitive as it may seem.

First, the Scroll can only be used on paid accounts created before March 4th. Brand new players are not getting level 80 toons right off the bat.

Secondly, and more importantly, nobody is really “skipping” the revamped 1-60 Cataclysm content here. If you were a veteran, you either saw it already or don’t exactly care about the questing your alts do. And if you do care, well, just don’t accept the level 80, yeah?

If you were someone who quit before Cataclysm, say at the end of Wrath or TBC or even vanilla, you are already past the revamped starting experience. This piece of the promotion is about skipping TBC and Wrath leveling, not 1-60. And if you are making a level 1 toon to take advantage of the instant leveling, then you have already decided that the new questing experience isn’t worth your time.

Does this set a troubling precedent? Well, maybe, maybe not. Death Knights are instant level 55. The Recruit-a-Friend promotion grants triple XP to both characters, and the referring account gets free levels to apply to toons up to level 60 – back in the day, I “recruited” myself to dual-box a rogue and priest to 60, then gave my level 28 hunter the free levels until he was 58. Nowadays, the triple XP lasts until level 80, and you can grant a total 40 free levels.

The one argument I am sympathetic towards is the lack of veteran rewards. If you have been dutifully playing and paying WoW all this time, you have gotten nothing. Sure, you have had the enjoyment and wonder of playing the game for the last X years, but you have paid for it in cash and tears. Promotions like the Scroll are great for people like me who might not have ever been tempted to hop back on the train, but it also makes the calculus of bothering to tough out the dry spells awfully fuzzy.

If I do end up pulling the trigger, I’m definitely letting the sub lapse again later. Because… why not? An unstable subscription is apparently worth more to Blizzard than a stable one. It sounds backwards and dumb, but it is perfectly rational in its own way. I paid $85 for a game (ME3) on Day 1 when I could have gotten that same game for $50+ less a few months from now. The people already subscribing/buying Day 1 are money in the bank; they need no convincing.

Moral of the story: it pays to play hard to get.

Of course, that probably works about as well in the long-term as it does in real relationships.

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Posted on March 9, 2012, in WoW and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. The SoR FAQ sez what they can only be sent ta an account what went inactive before March 4, so I’s pretty sure ya ain’t gonna be able ta yo-yo yer account ta snag a buncha free transfers.

    • I was able to use the prior Scroll once every 3 months; it was useful for taking advantage of the occasional cross-faction AH deal.

      Now, I fully expect the the whole instant 80 thing and free upgrades to go away eventually, but the SoR will still be around. The question becomes: with the server transfer part of it go away too? Maybe, maybe not.

  2. I was suprised at the extent of the offer. Of course, I’ll do my best to make use of it, I know two people who didn’t went beyond the 1st month of subscription and didn’t care about getting Cataclysm. Now I can give them the expansions for free + one level 80 toon. I know that none of the two will keep playing, but this thing is free and who know what may happen one year on. Maybe they decide to give it a try, and it’ll be 80 level less before they can play with me and 1-2 expansions less to play. And if they never come back playing nothing is lost.
    The second point is the one you mention: don’t play and get free goodies, play (and PAY) every month and get…. hmmmm…. what exactly? Not that I get nothing from my WoW gameplay (I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t enjoy it), but still…..

    • ARGH so many mistakes…: “…didn’t GO…” and “…expansions less to PAY” and “…80 levelS less….”.

    • Yeah, it’s never good to sit back and think: “If I only knew, I could have scored big by not subbing.” Can you imagine someone who had leaked details? Set up the account to lapse March 3rd, play all the way up to March 2nd, have friend Scroll them 3-4 days later, get $X worth of free things.

      Hope that first continuous week of playing in March was worth a server/faction transfer, a level 80 character, and a mount for your favorite in-game friend.

  3. As a sidenote, if you want to move your gold efficiently I recommend buying up argent pets for your faction to resell on the flip side (or lanters or the enchanting pet). Generally they sell for about 2k gold same faction and then 5k gold cross faction. It takes a while to sell them (depending on your end target realm) but this way you don’t have any dead gold on the old server.

  4. The transfer thing is interesting. It looks like Blizzard sees the low-population servers as a barrier to people returning–but then why not offer a bulk transfer of all characters on a server to another? It can’t be much more difficult to transfer 10 characters than it is to do one. I think MoP will see Blizzard trying to eliminate ‘servers’ even more and putting everything in one big pool. Bad news for those who want server community, good news for low-population realms. Actually, it makes me wonder why they haven’t already implemented a cross-server auction house.

    • There was actually a blue post I talked about a while back that specifically mentioned there being some kind of low-pop “solution.” I am hoping that this particular promotion is not it, but I still don’t know how far they would really go.

      But, yeah, the server transfer process is 100% automated; no human involved. There was an episode of Legendary over on GameBreaker.tv that talked about how one of the hosts transferred between test servers during a beta back and forth for like an hour. There is zero reason – other than lost cash – why Blizzard couldn’t just move an entire roster in one go.

  5. Of all the widgets included, the insta-80 bothers me the least. (The other stuff only really bugs me a little because it seems to be ignoring existing customers… Blizzard isn’t very good with loyalty rewards.) I’ve argued that they should *sell* insta-80s for players who want to just go raid. This looks like a curious interim measure to that potential end, so I’m happy to see it.

    …even though I have no interest in raiding, I think it’s smart of them to get players to raids ASAP if that’s the part of the game they are into. I’m a big fan of the leveling content, m’self, but I don’t have to raid to get there. Fans of raiding still have to plow through the leveling grind. That seems like bad design to me.

    • Indeed, the offer makes sense in light of the discrete leveling and raiding games. Gating the “real game” behind 60/70/80/85 levels of tangentially related gameplay is problematic for anyone who doesn’t particularly enjoy the leveling experience, and I’ve been critical of this design philosophy since I first became acquainted with it in Molten Core (not because I didn’t enjoy both, but because it seemed counter-intuitive and unnecessary). Frankly, the raiding game could function perfectly fine as a level-less, lobby-based game.

  6. Why is everyone saying that veteren players get no rewards? Did everyone forget about annual pass?
    I have annual pass on two accounts and just used a SoR on my old wrath account.

    Regardless, as a veteran player, I don’t really need a bribe to continue playing a game that I love.

    • Well, we could ask why the Annual Pass wasn’t retroactive. I mean, we already know why (the Diablo 3 cash loss would be ridiculous), but that is the sort of thing people are referring to.

  7. I’ve seen a lot of scroll chatter lately and haven’t posted my own thoughts anywhere. Something about your post makes me want to tell another side of it.
    #1 It’s actually supposed to be a gift to the friend who is casting the scroll – they can now play on their home server with their friend moved over.. For free. That should be a great bonus for the person who has been with the game so long – they get more friends to play with.
    #2 – I would venture to say that most of the people accepting a scroll are NOT people who played in vanilla and quit before BC came out. In that case, we can not add in the value of the expansions because the large majority of them probably already have cataclysm, don’t you think?
    #3 – I reupped on a 2nd account I had, got to make a lvl 80 and then paid $25 to move it to my main acct. they made money on me and I’m a loyal subscriber, I should be pissed probably and think that it’s just Blizz trying to get money from me. But I got a lvl 80 toon out of it.
    #4 – it’s not like they give you a free server transfer to any destination, it’s locked in to the specific character that the person casting chose.
    #5 – Probably the biggest point, I’ve gotten to play the game for the last however many years (in my case, 5). I’ve enjoyed it and I’m thankful for it. I’ve been on 4 different servers and I’ve had a lot of experiences and fun.

    I do believe a larger and more thought-out and defined loyalty would be a great boon to Blizz. But, they did put a loyalty program in with the annual pass – remain loyal to us for a year and you get a free game (even before you’ve paid for the full year…). It’s just too bad most players don’t see it as a loyalty program and instead think of it as a “trick” to get the subs locked in for a year.

    • Very fair points.

      I don’t consider the the Annual Pass a loyalty program for two main reasons. First, I don’t believe Blizzard would have offered it had they not lost 2 million subscriptions. That’s supposition, of course, but the timing (and the earnings calls) makes the entire offering suspect.

      Secondly, is rewarding future loyalty really, well, rewarding loyalty? When I get a discount on my college loan interest rate for having paid on time for the last 5 years, I don’t consider that a reward for my loyalty – that is a transaction, a contractual benefit I took into account when making my original decision. Are “vanishing deductibles” loyalty rewards? Are airline miles loyalty rewards?

      It may be semantics in the end, but rewarding loyalty, for me, is when you give something back that was not factored into a person’s original decision. You expected X amount of things for your $15/month, and got X + Y instead. That sort of definition obviously has issues after the first round of loyalty rewards – you might come to expect rewards every year, thereby running into the “contractual” side of things – but the main point would be the sentiment of the gift.

      You are right that the veteran is getting the “gift” of having his/her friend come back to the game. But said veteran is only getting that now, 7 years later, after a particularly brutal year at Blizzard. No “thanks for staying with us this whole time,” beyond what they are contractually obligated to deliver. No retroactive Annual Pass.

  8. I came here just to comment that I love the title (the article was good too). Well played.

  9. Were you able to up your character to 80.. and then load it up and xfer it? I’m in the process of doing it right now and am afraid it will remove the offer to xfer. Thanks!

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