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.
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.”
Because two posts aren’t enough!
Actually, the real reason is because during the comment back-n-forth with Syncaine, Wilhelm mentioned something I had never realized before: Blizzard actually does post revenue numbers for just World of Warcraft. You can follow along at home by navigating to the Activision Blizzard Investor page and the Q4 2014 Excel document entitled 12-Quarter Financial Model. On the Rev Mix by Platform tab, you get the following (edited) table:
The asterisk indicates that “Online” revenue solely has to do with WoW related subscriptions and services. So for 2014 WoW raked in $1.035 billion. Interestingly enough, this point of reference allows us to flip back to the NR and OI by Segment tab, which breaks down total revenue for just Blizzard (again, chart edited):
Apparently you can get a much easier summation of the above information from this PDF, which I only realized after the fact.
So, for 2014 Blizzard made $685m in non-WoW revenue. For the curious, those non-WoW figures were $319m in 2013 and $538m in 2012. As far as I know, only the Diablo 3 expansion and Hearthstone were notable releases in 2014, although obviously there is X amount of revenue coming in from incidental sales of D3, Starcraft, and such.
I was unable to find exact figures of total Reaper of Souls sales other than 2.7 million copies in the first week. Assuming $40 apiece, that lowers Hearthstone’s possible share by another $108m at a minimum. If the opening paragraphs of D3’s Wikipedia page can be believed, the original game has sold 15 million copies. Combined with news that D3 + expac sold 20 million altogether as of August 2014, that pushes the Diablo portion to $200m, minimum.
Going back to what we know, the Hearthstone revenue formulas are thus:
- [Hearthstone] = $850m – [$500m+ Destiny], or
- [Hearthstone] = $685m – [$200m+ non-WoW]
Incidentally, most of the Destiny reporting says it achieved $500m in revenue on Day 1. That’s not actually true – there was $500m in shipped product, but only $325m in actually-sold games in the first five days of release. Or about 5 million units, physical and digital. There are two near-as-we-can-tell figures that incorporate all of 2014: VGChartz’s 9.3 million units and 13 million unique players as of Christmas. Depending on how charitable you wish to be, that range is either $558m to $780m (@$60/copy), or $604.5m to $845m (@$65 average/copy). Which means Hearthstone is anywhere from $292m to… er, $5m.
I think I heard Syncaine fall off his chair from here.
All told, I still feel it’s entirely possible that Hearthstone made at least $100m in 2014, if not $200m. That’s a quite a reduction from my earlier post vis-a-vis $350m for Hearthstone, of course. And I’m fine with that in light of this new information; if I’m factually incorrect, then I will acknowledge it and move on. My only real horse in this fight is the ridiculously specious argument that A) Hearthstone is a mobile port, and B) it’s not that successful. Not only does current reality defy A, in terms of B it’s entirely possible Hearthstone (eventually?) outstrips Magic: the Gathering in yearly revenue.
Either way, not bad for a card game that came out of nowhere.
I’m getting into a weird place when it comes to sales. This past Black Friday consisted of…
- Shadow Warrior ($5)
- The Banner Saga ($5)
- Logitech G502 Proteus Core Optical Gaming Mouse Black + $50 Steam card ($80)
I do not anticipate anything worthwhile happening on “Cyber Monday.”
There were indeed deals on games I technically want to play. I have heard good things about AC4: Black Flag, for example, and it was discounted down to $20. The problem I have – and arguably always had – is the fact that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to specifically purchase a game if I’m not going to play it right away.
My “currently playing” list in the sidebar hasn’t be accurate for a while simply because I find myself cycling through games much faster these days. Cycling either because the games aren’t grabbing me (and I’ve finally acquired the intestinal fortitude to just abandon un-fun games) or because they end up being short, 5-10 hour experiences. While I am glad to finally start working on my backlog in a more serious manner, it also means there isn’t much motivation to drop $20+ on something right now.
There was no discount on Warlords, which means I didn’t purchase it either.
SOE technically had a Double Station Cash sale on Friday, but I resisted that siren call as well. Primarily because I was miffed that I had used my Walmart SOE card about a month ago after holding onto it for all of last year (it’s a 1500 SC card with a bonus 500), and I wasn’t about to physically go to Walmart on Black Friday to pick up another. There was that reason, and the follow-up to what I would actually spend SC on these days. PlanetSide 2? The upcoming H1Z1? EverQuest Next, released 20 years from now, or whatever? I can wait.
And that is really what it all comes down to these days: I can wait. There’s an indie game on my Steam wishlist called One Way Heroics and it was discounted down to $0.87. Didn’t buy it. Why? It would make the inevitable Humble Bundle it is a part of that much less of a value. Same with Not the Robots, currently 75% off at $2.49. I am not actually that cash-strapped that it matters in a financial sense, but the question I always ask myself is “do I need this right now?” The answer used to be “No, but I might want to play it later when it’s no longer on sale and I’d feel dumb for letting the deal go by.” These days, the answer is more simply “No.”
Besides, worst-case scenario: just wait a few weeks for another sale.
A friend of mine still hanging onto WoW for dear life wanted me to see this news:
In other words, character transfers are 25% off for a limited time. Not quite the 50% discount Blizzard was offering back in June of last year, but hey, why would they? They got back 600,000 subscriptions in Q3. Can’t possibly stymie that value-added cash flow equivalent to any number of quality Steam games/bundles/etc.
I kinda get the argument that the value is there for players still invested in playing WoW; even at $18.75 there are only a few Steam games that could stand up to ~100 hours of play that WoW could easily generate in a month. On the other hand, my subscription ended 5/10/13. I am nearly a year and a half removed. And even if I came back tomorrow, all my toons are still stuck on
no-Pop Auchindoun-US whatever merged PvP server nonsense exists with just about everyone else I know having abandoned ship to a PvE server. So the costs for me to get back into the game is, minimum, $15 + $18.75 + the expansion. That is a rather serious goddamn commitment for something I don’t even know I will find fun anymore.
So, no thanks, Blizzard: it’s still a wee bit ridiculous. If I could transfer my entire character stable wholesale for that price, sure, maybe. I simply got too much gold, too many alts, and not enough fucks to give.
I had half a mind to forgo any videogame purchases this Black Cyber Fronday, because sometimes a 50+ game backlog just becomes ridiculous to consider adding to. (Un)Fortunately, the half of my mind that controlled the credit card was the other one. I picked up:
- Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe version ($26)
- The Last of Us ($30)
- 12-month PlayStation Plus subscription ($30)
It could have been worse, of course. I did exercise restraint in not picking up Shadowrun Returns and State of Decay; not because they might not be worth it, but because I have no particular reason to have them right now. Perhaps after, I dunno, I get around to finishing The Witcher 2. And Crysis. And the half-dozen indie games I started but not finished. And…
I am officially back in action, having successfully moved all my shit across town and (more importantly) getting the internet hooked up at the new place. During the transition, I took the opportunity to indulge in my baser whims, and ended up purchasing the Playstation 3, a very decent TV to play it on, and… games. All of the games.
- Demon Souls
- Journey Collector’s Edition (Journey, Flower, flOw)
- Final Fantasy XIII
- Heavy Rain
- Metal Gear Solid 4
- ICO & Shadow of the Colossus bundle
- Red Dead Redemption: Game of the Year Edition
- Valkyria Chronicles
- Uncharted 1 & 2 (came with PS3)
- Infamous 1 & 2 (came with PS3)
In fact, I might have gone a bit overboard, even though all of them were less than $20 apiece.
Scratch that, I know I have gone overboard, because this also happened:
The funny thing is that I have so much choice at the moment, that I have chosen not to play anything just yet. The only game I have booted up in the last 48 hours has been XCOM (it was $28 at GMG over the holiday), and that was just because it was one of the few Steam titles that I could play in Offline Mode. I only played XCOM until the end of the tutorial (difficulty Normal Ironman), but so far it has piqued my interest. Then again, I should also probably get back on the WoW train if for no other reason than to actually use the last few remaining free days. And then there is some PlanetSide 2 things I want to talk about. Nevermind the fact that I should probably finish hooking up my PS3 and pop at least one disc in the tray…
So, yeah. Overboard.
Since I am already in for a penny, might as well get all the pounds: if there is some PS3/console exclusive title that I should be on the lookout for come Xmas sale time, let me know in the comments. For example, I almost overlooked Bayonetta until I saw it on eBay last night.
In case you haven’t seen them yet, there are a bunch of sales going on this weekend.
There is a fledgling new indie game marketplace called Because We May. Until June 1st, all of the games up there are 50% off or better. Those include:
- World of Goo ($2.99)
- Osmos ($2.99)
- The Binding of Isaac ($1.99)
- Psychonauts ($4.99)
- Q.U.B.E. ($7.49)
- Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII Double Pack ($1.49)
- Dungeon Defenders ($7.49)
EA finally got (one of) the memo(s) about why Origin is terrible compared to Steam, and now all (four) Origin games are 50% off. This includes:
- Mass Effect 3 ($29.99 but see below)
- Battlefield 3 ($29.99)
- BF3: Back to Karkand DLC ($7.49)
Amazon is also a place where sales occur:
- Syndicate ($17.99)
- Total War: Shogun 2 ($7.49)
- Mass Effect 3 ($25.99)
- Saints Row the Third ($16.49)
- Mirror’s Edge ($4.99)
Finally, Steam appears to be selling EVE for $6.80 again. Still not pulling the trigger just yet.