Not Hurting Enough

No matter the dire economic news surrounding Activision Blizzard, one thing always keeps me grounded: when there’s a WoW “sale.” Then it’s made clear they aren’t hurting enough.


A bargain at 70% of the price, clearly

Stock price of ATVI was $83.19 in September 2018, and it closed $42.92 Monday. That’s damn near half the value in six months.

Now, obviously, cutting prices for (apparently) extremely lucrative services will cut into profits, but it nevertheless boggles my mind that twenty-one dollars ($21) is the sale price of this sort of thing. Or that moving servers – which is a cell on a data table somewhere – costs seventeen fifty ($17.50) on a discount. Especially when you can buy an entirely new copy of same goddamn game for $40. And that comes with all the expansions, 30-days of game time, and a level 110-character boost.

Blizzard has gotten a bit clever over the years though, as it says “new account required.” It used to be that you could buy another box and basically merge them under one account, thus netting you a level 110 boost token for the sale price of a box instead of the $60 or whatever nonsense they sell it for in-game. Maybe it still works that way? Regardless, the process is obfuscated enough to likely dissuade most from realizing it.

As for me, it’s a bit of a moot point. Even if the BfA expansion was any good at all – it isn’t – I have less than zero desire to head back to WoW at the moment. Seeing the naked hubris of “sales” like this though, only reinforces my resolve to stay away from a game in which people are so invested that these prices “make sense.”

Posted on March 13, 2019, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I’ll play devils advocate.

    I want to move a character. My order is submitted, someone in a department with probably a limited staff gets a system prompt to make the move. They will need to check to make sure all mail has been collected in the system, verify that the new server doesn’t have an existing character with the same name, probably copy all the files associated with that character, put a back up copy in an isolated folder in case the transfer has an issue, submit emails, and flag an in game notification. Maybe a few things we don’t know about that are involved.

    Let’s say it’s a person that has been doing the job for years and can do it in 10 minutes, but it could be someone fairly new that needs 20, so average 15 minutes. I know, well that’s still 4 an hour, certainly it doesn’t cost that much in salary and benefits. But they can’t just pay someone to sit there all day waiting for a change to be ordered, so they have other duties. I know for myself if I’m working on something and get asked, hey can you handle this, take you 20 minutes tops. Sure it does, but then I have down time while I try to get back to what I was doing.

    Are they making a profit at the sale price? Probably minimal but it’s offset with volume. Normal day to day probably has a lower amount of orders placed so they allow for a higher cost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you seriously think they do all of this manually and not with some script? Their support is so automated that most of the staff was laid off, why would they manually execute server transfers which is routine service?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure a lot is automated. I don’t know enough about the system to say if it is 100% hands off. It would seem to me that someone has to be involved, even if just to verify the transaction.

        Liked by 1 person

    • As Moongy mentioned, there is a zero chance the process isn’t fully automated. Maybe back in 2008 there was some manual intervention, but not today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If the process was fully automated it would only take seconds to complete a transfer. I think they say could take an hour? Been a long time since I used character services.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. They need to look through the cardfile to find the physical location of the USB flash drive that holds my stores the character. Then the transfer guy needs to find the right usb stick and carefully remove it without dislodging any other characters from the server, carry it over to the correct new server and find an empty slot before finally updating the location records on the card file. That all assumes the character’s cardfile wasn’t one of those destroyed during lost during the the great serer transfer of 2011 or eaten by the hamsters when they escaped last week.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not sure high prices always indicate continued success. I’ve played a few (terrible) mobile games with very clear P2W schemes, and what happened towards the end of one wasn’t that everything was massively discounted, but rather the power curve accelerated, and the cash shop went into overdrive with ‘specials’. The game went from ‘kinda selling a bit of power’ to ‘god mode can be purchased’. The intent here was clear; bleed the remaining people who are still super invested as dry as you can, because that making everyone else quit doesn’t matter at that point.

    I know WoW doesn’t directly sell raiding gear (max characters don’t really matter), but that’s the kind of trend I’d look for as an indicator that things are really trending down.


  4. Yeah, and the sale is just being done to convince those who thought it was “juuuuust a tad too much” to spend on transfer and race change, to spend it anyway, now the Allied Races landed. One might argue that it´s “nice” of Blizzard to have a sale on the “services” that they know people will use anyway, but…I´m no longer convinced, at this point.


  5. A very interesting point. Is it that their finances are healthy enough not to worry despite share price fall, or perhaps that the accountants are that in control that discounting of services is bounded within acceptable levels?

    Regarding transfers I would imagine it’s fully automated. The only likely human contact is to respond to flags/error messages or emails to warn that something in the automation threw up an error. After all item undeletion is fully automated now, you submit the request and provide some details and the item reappears. It is only database operations, I highly doubt it’s a long and manual process as that wouldn’t be sustainable given that the support/tech staff have other stuff they need to be doing. The sheer volume of support tickets they get is probably mind-boggling.

    It always galled me in a (mostly) subscription game that you have to pay extra for stuff like this. In other free to play MMOs, maybe that’s more understandable. Blizzard get away with it because people keep paying for it. I have never paid for a server transfer or race change in WoW on principal, I’d rather reroll than give them money for this…


  6. Since we’re doing devil’s advocacy, here’s mine with a few strips of tinfoil attached: perhaps the prices are there to discourage faction and realm transfers, rather than make money off of them.

    There is a huge imbalance in current mythic raiding progression between Alliance and Horde in general, to say nothing of local shard/server problems. And Blizzard is trying to sell the fantasy of equal footing.


    • I have a history with “to discourage their purchase” rationalizations, as if Blizzard is trying to save us from ourselves by pricing things so high. In short, it’s bullshit. There are dozens of different ways Blizzard could be balancing their server loads or these services, and they just so happen to have chosen the one that increases their profit margin. That we as customers even entertain the notion that Blizzard is doing us a favor by charging $25+ for this sort of thing is some late-stage capitalism dystopian absurdity.

      Plus, clearly, it simply isn’t working. Nor does Blizzard have any particular motivation to fix it.


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