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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck Games

Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60 253

An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'" On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.
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Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @05:34AM (#46343629)

    Pay an additional $50 for the new Starcraft III game and you can tell your friends you have completed the game without even playing it once.

    • [L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.

      I don't know anybody who values 100s of hours of their time at $60. They might not want to diminish that effort, but they have a poor way of showing it. If I played WoW, I'd be insulted.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I find this sort of good. I have a problem where I like playing games with my friends(WoW was previously in there) but I don't play NEARLY enough. I might play 2-3 hours a week. So, it would take forever to get the point where I could play the game with friends. At the time, WoW considered to get fun and more playable at level 60. But getting to level 60 takes a long time. I would give someone some money so I could play with friends and get some more entertainment out of it without having to invest a

        • Re:Value (Score:5, Interesting)

          by omglolbah ( 731566 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:04AM (#46343741)

          Guild Wars 2 solved this issue beautifully I felt.

          When you enter a zone your hp, damage etc gets scaled to the level of the area. Only down-scaled however so you cannot just jump to high level areas immediately.

          This DOES mean that your friends at higher levels can play with you though,which a bunch of my friends did. Worked great.

          Sadly the game didnt really 'last' for us for a variety of other reasons.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Guild Wars 2 is is still a fantastic game, and they constantly bring out new content, all voice acted, very nice.

            WvW is still fun..

            You just have to totally forget about the "gear-treadmill" mindset.

          • by asylumx ( 881307 )
            Everquest 2 also has something similar called "Mentoring" which essentially reduces your level to your friend's level as well as all your skills & abilities. I suspect the "free ride to level 90" is not probably going to bring new players to the game, so much as allow long-time players to quickly create an alternate character and have it be high level without grinding it out. $60 seems steep as a product from Blizzard, but on the flipside, in the past people have paid a lot of money for max-level char
            • "Mentoring" and "sidekicks" have been implemented in many games. It's been requested countless times for WoW. It's a good idea that they seem resistant too.

              The nature and design of these games naturally creates limits on who can play with who. Instead of coming up with an interesting and potentially fun solution to the problem (as the other 2 systems create), Blizzard has only implemented the Recruit-A-Friend system that helps reduce the time a little for the new player, but forces one friend to invest a

              • surely since day one you could buy a level 90 character from somebody else on the open market. so there were people who did nothing but make new accounts and level them up, then flip them for cash (probably a lot more than $60!). i remember reading that in chinese prisons they had everybody playing WoW for the benjamins.

                if this move devalues anything, it devalues the market for max characters.

                • It does devalue the market for max level characters, but that was a black market anyway. In theory, bought characters (if discovered) could get the account banned.

                  However, I think it's been a long time since you had people power-leveling characters to max to flip them for cash was common. My understanding was that in more recent years, it's been far more common for people to try to steal ("hack") the accounts, and then try to sell those compromised accounts.

                  When accounts were (or are) not compromised, usi

                  • One way is to spend some thought and create content that can be played on numerous levels and with group OR solo play. Some games get so fixated on PvPrs that they purposely forget there are those who don't log on for five hours every day for the 'glory of pvp' . Many devs have groups of friends in the game they play with and so concentrate on scenarios only large groups can play. I'm not paying for content that requires eight players to do because it quickly becomes "GLF tank, must be CR95+". Those new
                    • One way is to spend some thought and create content that can be played on numerous levels and with group OR solo play.

                      Absolutely true! Mentoring and Sidekicks aren't the only option. Some games have also created "mercenaries" that allow you to play dungeon content with NPCs that act as your party. Though, the problem with that is that you are still playing a massively multi-player game solo, which kind of seems pointless (given there are better single player games).

                      I'm still a fan of mentoring though. They could have created a "Legacy Dungeon" mode (with some incentive) for higher level characters that would mix them

                  • Do you know how much a leveled up character would go for?

          • Could you list your reasons for why GW2 didn't last please? As a game developer & designer I would be most interested in your perspective! TIA.

            • I'm not the OP, but I'll give you my reasons for why GW2 didn't work for me.

              1. Gameplay was too dissimilar to GW1. I felt like I had been taken in a bait and switch.

              2. Poor/no character customization. Every character was exactly like every other character of their class and weapon. MMO replayability requires diverse gameplay options, and social games require character uniqueness. GW had little of the first and none of the second.

              3. Bad and inflexible control layout. This was my breaking point. What

              • I'm not the op either, but I'll comment on this:

                1. I didn't have this issue, mostly due to complete unfamiliarity with GW1. This was more a failure of marketing/differentiation than game design.

                2. I'm not sure what you mean by this. Yes, if two characters equip the same weapons they'll have the same weapon skills, but that only sets half of the bar. The remaining 5 skills can be set at will.

                3. Not being able to reorder weapon skills was an odd choice. It didn't bother me, but I can empathize.

                • To help clarify:

                  2. The first four skills, those defined by your weapon, defined your role. The last four skills were utility skills; seldom used, usually on long cooldowns, and generally not important to the character's role. They also took forever to unlock. I don't think I ever unlocked the last one, so most of my characters only had 5-6 skills to use, with little choice.

                  5. I played GW2 casually for a year, splitting my attention between 5 different characters. My highest level character got to leve

                • I'm not the OP either but I'll also respond. I enjoyed GW1 and still play GW2, both very casually.
                  1. Yeah, that's marketing. I miss some aspects of GW1 (like the dual profession system and more flexible skill system), but like some aspects of GW2, mostly technical (mostly non-instanced, the z-axis, the event system, the crafting system, unlocking weapon skills as you use the weapon, etc.)
                  2. Also don't forget traits, which further customize your character. But he's right that your character won't be
              • Note: I am a currently GW2 player and like the game. Hoping to put some context around the above's comments for people who haven't played the game.

                1) The game play did majorly switch between GW1 and GW2. They reimplemented the class system, created a whole new skill system and a bunch of other things. Some of this were a disappointment to me as well, as they removed the "Monk" class and you no longer had the ability to have a Main and Secondary class for each character. Beyond that though, I found the

          • by Salgat ( 1098063 )
            This is actually one reason why I stopped playing the game. Guild Wars 2 fails to make you feel like your really progressing anywhere. After a week of playing the game I sat and thought, "what's the point?".
        • by jythie ( 914043 )
          Maybe someone needs to build a fantasy MMO with EvE Online's advancement mechanic. While power levelers decry the skill system, it does do a pretty good job of letting people with different amounts of play time still play together.
        • Better solutions than pay-to-win have come up in other MMOs. The dilemma is: how do you make sure that levelling up takes sufficiently long, without making it too easy for power gamers nor too hard for casual players. The simple answer is to consider both elapsed time and effort spent.

          In Age of Conan, you start earning Offline Levelling points at a certain point, you get 1 every 4 days or so. You can use those to level up any character already over 30, 1 level per point. This ensures that you have at
      • Re:Value (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:13AM (#46344653)

        and this is why these freemium models are ruining gaming. Logging in and finding that the idiot in your guild that can't even figure out how to work the chat window properly suddenly, over-night, out-leveled the entire guild and now is wielding a vorpal blade, makes wanting to actually play the game and achieve all those things glaringly pointless.

      • Re:Value (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:36AM (#46344807) Journal
        One confounding factor: There already exists an illicit(but ill-controlled) market for assorted paying-to-not-play-the-game services. The Chinese Gold Farmer is the stereotypical classic; but if you want it and somebody can either grind for it in a country with lower wages and costs of living, or hack accounts for it, it's for sale.

        $60 is a value likely chosen to be high enough to pad Blizzard's pockets, and discourage truly casual purchase(which would mean that Blizzard basically wasted their time with the lower-level content, and now has to scrounge up enough 'epic level' new content to satisfy everybody, not just the powergamers); but also chosen to be ruinously low for any non-Blizzard seller who has to work, rather than just twiddle numbers on the server, to provide the product.

        It isn't my game; but my understanding is that people generally loath the famer-for-profit guys, so they may be delighted to see Blizzard blow them out of the water with economics, rather than comparatively feeble attempts at banning.
        • by Salgat ( 1098063 )
          A lot of players still see this as cheating. Embracing cheating may, at the very least, control it so that Blizzard gets the profits instead, but at the cost of legitimizing it and making it mainstream; this is something that may leave a lot of players with a bad taste in their mouth.
          • flip side: never played WoW, and I have no interest in trying because so many people have been doing it for so long that I'm pretty sure I would flounder about for a year getting killed all the time and called nooby nooby noob noob. This new way I could pay $60 and at least get my foot in the door. Much more tempting.

          • Oh, I have no particular illusions about Blizzard giving a damn about their customers (see also: Diablo III: because shitty ping is too awesome not to add to single-player! Also auction house.); but they are operating in an environment where pay-to-play already happens under the table, so they will probably be able to get away with it being seen as a difference of degree, rather than kind, and a blow against the farmers.
        • Blizzard has been pursuing this course ever since they released bind on account gear in WotLK which increased the rate at which you gain experience as well as make the gear have stats that scale with level. They've been making leveling easier and less time consuming. I would say that after a new expansion pack comes out players will reach the new level cap within 3 days to 3 weeks. That's just one expansion pack. The cost of this service is 4 months subscription. I would say that the casual player could lev

  • Arg Pandas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aethelrick ( 926305 )
    Once upon a time WoW was worthy of the gaming geek... now it's watered down drivel complete with kung-fu pandas... who even plays this any more?
  • Wut? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @05:38AM (#46343649) Homepage

    When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. (...) They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.'

    So... buy WoW, create lvl 1 character, buy expansion, instant level 90? Sounds to me like you don't have to accomplish much...

    • If you play game to "accomplish" something, you might want to reevaluate reasons why you pay to play the game to fake-accomplish stuff.

      If you are instant L90 you have ... freedom.

      Want to go to sightsee zone X? You can.

      Want to try dungeon Y? You can.

      Want to do quest Z? Sure, go ahead.

      Want to...

      There is so much you can do besides watching stupid pointless number to go up. Maybe you can try that sometimes.

    • by Exitar ( 809068 )

      Do you mean that killing thousands of rats is an accomplishment?

    • So... buy WoW, create lvl 1 character, buy expansion, instant level 90? Sounds to me like you don't have to accomplish much...

      If the game is any good, those level 90 players won't survive without skills anyway.

      I don't play this game, so I can't really say if it's any good or not, but as a general rule, if the level does not equate to actual skills, then it's not a very useful measure (except perhaps of time or money spent).

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @05:43AM (#46343669) Journal

    I played World of Warcraft on and off for a few years. I was a pretty hardcore player from the launch of Burning Crusade through to near the end of Lich King and came back casual for a while for late Cataclysm and early Pandaria. I know the game pretty well and have friends who still play it.

    So I can say with confidence that you would be absolutely mad to pay for a boost up to level 90 with prices like that (and if you are a new player, mad to pay at all).

    There are two types of people now who might be starting out at level 1; new (or returning-after-a-gap-of-years) players starting their first characters, or veterans levelling an "alt" (a secondary - or indeed tertiary or beyond - character).

    If you are a new player, then going through the level-up process is important and you should not skip it. First of all, this is where you learn how to play your character. Most end-game content involves group-play and if you have a brand new player at the level cap staring at a hotbar full of unfamiliar abilities, it will be a long time before you are actually competent enough to play alongside others. The level-up process, during which you are introduced to abilities one or two at a time, takes you at least part of the way along that learning curve for your character. It also exposes you to a lot of the game's lore, if that's your bag (I always found WoW's lore a bit boring and juvenile, but some people like it).

    And if you're a veteran player, then there are lots and lots of things you can do to accelerate the level-up process for an alt without handing over real-money. I levelled up three alts while never taking them out of "rested" state (meaning they were getting double xp from kills). Heirlooms allow you to boost the rate of xp gain even faster, to the point where 1-80, by the launch of Pandaria, was just stupidly fast. I doubt even a brand new character takes over 100 hours of game time (or indeed, anything like it). Alts certainly take much less.

    So yeah, I can't imagine Blizzard would have too many takers for this. Or at least, I hope they won't.

    • I would not pay to level up an alt... but if I were to start on a new server? I actually might.

      Starting out on a new server, even with heirlooms you still end up sometimes strapped for cash.
      Boosting up to 90 so you have a 'money-runner' so to speak might be worth it.

      Personally I've leveled up probably 30 characters since I started playing shortly after launch in EU.. I find it enjoyable compared to a lot of other time-wasters. Sometimes I just want to mindlessly derp around after a long day of figuring shit

    • A largely overlooked factor (though I agree with your general comment - and for myself, I will at most see it as a way to maybe rapid-level an alt with the free one when I buy the upgrade just to try some new class out) is that they realized that without the levelling people would have no idea what a class's spells do.

      So they are saying boosted characters would go through a kind of special starting zone and get a bunch of quests designed to teach them the character in a kind of crash-course way - much like

  • by MtHuurne ( 602934 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:09AM (#46343763) Homepage

    It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90.

    A bit of searching shows that in the past WoW expansions were introduced at $40, so why wouldn't a player opt to buy the expansion twice rather than buying the level upgrade for a second character?

    Note that the pricing for this expansion hasn't been published yet, but I doubt they're going to price it at $60, since people expect a full game for that price.

    • Because you need to pay for the Base Game, Plus all expansions, and the new expansion. Now they've discounted the old expansions, but in total base game, plus xpac's to MoP + the new Xpac, will probably be close to $60, or possibly more.

    • Because buying it twice is useless unless you also pay for a character transfer - actually TWO. Wow-insider calculated that getting a second boost from buying the expansion twice would work out to around 140 dollars in all.

    • Battlechest ($20) + Mists of Pandaria ($40 now, maybe $20 when WoD arrives) + Warlords of Draenor ($40) = $100. Then you will need to transfer your character to your main account unless you want to pay $15/month. This is another $25. $125 vs $60. Most people using this feature will be hard-core players whose raiding guild needs another class but doesn't want to recruit, or people who want to try out another class at max level but CBA to level it (levelling from 1-90 is still no small task, generally tak
  • Wrong incentives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately this means that Blizzard will benefit from making the leveling content as boring as possible. I always considered that the fun part of the game, the rest is just a repetitive cycle of running the same dungeons over and over.

    • Why would blizzard change the leveling content ? It's been the way it is for 10 years, it got some revamps with cataclysm and been left alone again ever since.

      Altering the comprehensive leveling content (which includes all the past expansions) now would cost them a fortune in development time for literally zero gain.
      If anything the biggest change that could reduce the quality of leveling content is to speed up XP gain so people level through zones much faster and this has already been done for all pre-cata

  • Devalue WHAT???? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.'

    Could also be regarded by many of us as...

    "Why $60? $60 for every new character pushed to 90 (which will take probably less than 1/2/3s CPU time from WoW Servers) is sweet."

    Every day I am more amazed of the new ways to take money from people for things that are virtually worthless. Like calling a script to change level to 90, change attributes and award skill points / gold / whatever.

    BTW: I dont think most people nowadays really enjoy gri

  • Paying to skip the whole boring leveling process is going to be a wet dream for a lot of impatient wannabes. But from my experience with MMOs based on leveling skills, you pretty much need to go through the leveling process to get to know the class, limitations, effective playstyles, rotations, and so on. Starting at max level is going to mean that you know nothing about the character class, so you will be a waste of a group/raid slot.
    Cue lfg messages where the caller asks for members who have not bought th

    • Not so much, actually.

      Most people leveling do it alone or maybe in a small group. No need to think about 90% of the abilities a class has while doing that because the leveling content needs to be tuned to people who are novices. Most people don't want - despite playing an MMO - to be forced to play with other people in a group at all times in order to level, so you can't touch this leveling content.

      Most people leveling don't even set foot in a dungeon in WoW. A dungeon being fundamentally different than wor

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @08:28AM (#46344403)

    Dear WoW players. Do you remember when the DKs came to be? And how everyone was moaning how, by definition, everyone who had no idea what to do seemed to play a DK?

    The reason was simply that DKs started out at level 55. These people did not, like everyone else, start out small with a handful of skills, then get a few new ones every couple levels, with plenty of time to get to know them and get comfortable with them. No, they got everything dumped on their head at once with almost no time to find out what to do and how to play because, well, how would they?

    Remember those raids in BRD (for the non-players, that's the first place where those DKs would get to play with the other kids in earnest) were a bit like, as a well known person put it, "a toddler driving a Leopard II tank with a faulty differential lock into a bicycle race of bi-polars"? They had no, zero, zilch, idea how to play their character.

    And now, kids, it's like that all over again. Only much, much WORSE. Remember those moans you breathed whenever someone acted like he had no idea what to do, the comment "fuck, did you buy your char on EBay?" in chat? What used to be mostly unlikely will now be very likely: Someone dropped some coin to get a char they have no idea how to play with.

    The group finder just got much, much more fun. To watch. Certainly not to play.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone using group finder would tell you that this is already the current situation. Since your time, raids akin to LK BRD have been nerfed to the point where the gameplay resembles Dance Dance Revolution. Where thinking of others is punished. Where strictly adhering to a constantly changing theorycraft published for you by some grognards in Kansas is the only way to play up to snuff. Where teamwork is so unnecessary that it is nearly impossible to Leroy a group (even the healer has to be incredibly off

    • I think they should give it as an option only to players who have reached at least 70 or something. That way you get through almost all of the "learn your character stuff" before jumping into LFR under-geared and retarded.

      • But ... but ... why should I buy the level 90, then? I wanna raid, I wanna have epics, I wanna be imba, I FUCKIN WANNA! I'm entitled to be in your group because I paid 60 bucks for it! Now go, peons, and drag my sorry carcass through the raid and by definition I get to get every item because I NEED it!

        Just watch out for new YouTube videos that will create heaps of amusement. For the people watching, at least.

    • driving a Leopard II tank with a faulty differential lock into a bicycle race of bi-polars

      That actually sounds really awesome... Um, maybe I've had too much WoT...

  • by Thyamine ( 531612 ) <thyamine.ofdragons@com> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @08:48AM (#46344511) Homepage Journal
    I think we are just seeing the prolonged lifecycle of a MMORPG. Most either fizzle and die, or last long enough that they have to start going through these hoops. I think WoW is just one of the biggest/longest so we are seeing some of these ideas for a first time or at least publicized in a grand fashion. Every iteration has made the game easier and easier for players, pushed the upper levels, and introduced things that make players who played the first iteration sound like grandpa (we used to have to grind for days for a single level, up hill, both ways). This is just another step where content is being added, so how can you get the most out of it (business need)? You let players just jump right to it! It bugs me, but as someone working full time with a family, I can see how players may appreciate it.
  • This won't kick in until the expansion comes out, so it won't be to max level. You'll still need to level it through the expansion. So there will be some learning involved still.

    Hopefully the expansion leveling takes a bit of time. I was up to 90 after just two zones in MoP and skipped most of the rest of the zones.

    My question is, can a new account do this right away or do you need to get at least one character to 90 the hard way first?

  • Right. So two hours of my time pays for 100 hours of leveling?

  • The problem with the VAST level-spread is that, even with millions of players, low levels in WoW are a lonely wasteland most of the time for new players.

    While I tend to solo-play in MMOs fairly often, I occasionally get a hankering for some group-based ass-kickery. So, if I wanted to play with my friends, I could either invest however many hours essentially soloing a character to catch up, or I could drop $60 and have rough equivalency. They'll still probably outclass me as they have a better handle on th

  • There has to be a level playing field. Payouts for advancement are a slippery slope. Battlefield 4 has premium double XP days as well as all the additional perks and upgrades they get. Nothing turns away fans more then seeing some guy twinked with "free market" loot.

  • They're doing a great job of maximizing revenue from a declining game. Instead of just coming out and offering everything on the store, they just offered pets and mounts at first. The implication was in game purchases would be limited to "Cosmetic items", and of course those willing to buy just cosmetic items did, since there were no functional items competing for their money.

    Now they've crossed the Rubicon and will allow you to buy levels, as long as you buy the expansion. It's a good way to increase
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:59AM (#46346385)

    On live, level 90 is the cap. The for-sale 90s are intended to be brought to the new expansion, which goes up to level 100. Since all the content is at level cap, this move makes some sense. The summary should at least mention that level 100 will be the cap when these things are for sale. Pretending that "the game is the experience of leveling, after which you have won" can be forgiven, but leaving out the actual level cap? Shenanigans.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken