In the genre that’s largely free, World of Warcraft is easily the most expensive MMO game. Although it comes with a free trial version (Which has its own problems), You’ll need to pay more than $ 40 to get the latest expansion pack and subscribe to a $ 15 monthly subscription to truly experience Azeroth. It has happily borne that cost for 17 years because WoW is a giant who defines the type who continues to innovate and reinvent itself in exciting ways. But every time I have to shell out more money to pay for one of WoW’s various gaming services like relocating a server, I feel like I’ve taken advantage of it. WoW gaming services are a very expensive toll that you sometimes have to pay just to enjoy the game as Blizzard wanted.
Before we get into why WoW gaming services are a negative experience, let’s break down what exactly they are and how much they cost:
- Raising the character’s level to 50 costs $ 60.
- The character race change costs $ 25.
- The character faction change costs $ 30.
- Transferring a character to a different server costs $ 25.
- The cost of changing a character’s name is $ 10.
Here’s how that graphic compares to Final Fantasy 14, another MMO that is very similar to WoW in terms of structure and account services offered.
To boost FF14, the total is calculated by adding a chapter level payment ($ 25) and Tales of Adventure ($ 25), which opens the story campaign for the latest expansion. There are no species in FF14 either.
So it is clear that WoW gaming services costs a lot more than its closest competitor. But what really frustrates me is how much I am feeling forced To purchase the WoW service to keep enjoying the game. Server moves seem like an unnecessary penalty for fixing issues that have nothing to do with me as a player and everything to do with some of WoW’s outdated features.
WoW has a population balance problem
In World of Warcraft, players are divided between two warring factions: Horde and Alliance. Although recent expansions have united the two factions somewhat – at least in terms of combo – this means that WoW is two largely separate games: Horde players can access completely different missions and domains from Alliance players. Your faction is more than just a loose bunch of different fictional races. The choice is important.
Being in a faction means that you cannot play cooperatively with those of the other class. At best, players can coexist in neutral cities, but there is no way to form parties or groups across factions. Even if you can, the game triggers the text chat of opposing factions to simulate the language barrier between them. There is no way to communicate with those who are supposed to be sworn enemies.
This faction system is one of WoW’s hallmarks and quickly becomes its biggest weakness. Having a huge group of players to fight is great, but it effectively reduces the population of WoW in half, which means fewer people can join. Because WoW drives are divided between hundreds of different servers, some servers are more popular for one faction than another. More popular, in many cases. Wowprogress Estimates Seven of the top ten servers with militant raid unions prefer the crowd disproportionately. Illidan-US, one of the original servers of WoW, has an estimated 22,000 active Horde attackers compared to only 148 active Alliance Raiders. This means if you want to play the more difficult end-of-game content in WoW, you’ll likely need to start over (or pay) to become the Horde character.
During BlizzCon 2021, director of the game The Hazecostase ion recognized This balance of factions was one of the biggest problems that plagued WoW today and that there are no easy answers. Faction imbalance not only makes the game less fun for those in the minority on the server, but it also splits friend groups unnecessarily unless everyone agrees to be on the same side.
In recent years, Blizzard has integrated servers and applied sophisticated technology to try to solve the problem. Connected worlds, for example, link two or more servers together to make them behave as if they were one large server. If I am a Alliance player in Illidan-US and go out to explore, it also guarantees special zones across the realm that I collide with other Alliance characters. It helps, but it is a first aid tool.
Although many US servers are connected to others, There are many things that are not connected. And if you are using one of those offline servers, then the faction imbalance can annoy you completely.
When Shadowlands was first launched, I decided to start over with a new character. Almost all of my WoW characters are Alliance, so this time I thought it would be fun to play Horde instead. But it wasn’t until after I’d spent nearly a hundred hours reaching level 60 and playing endgame that I began to realize that something was wrong. No matter where I went in the open world, I felt like I was squeezed by the Enemy Alliance players. I eventually had to turn off PVP completely because I was routinely attacked. There were also fewer Horde players that could be grouped into certain Global Missions, and when I got to the high enough level that I wanted to start playing Mythic + dungeons and raids, I felt like there weren’t a lot of open parties. Even finding a respectable union was a meager choice. After playing Alliance characters on the same server, the difference was profound.
I finally realized why things felt so weird when I researched the estimated population balance for my server, Lightbringer-US. Alliance characters outnumbered the Horde characters on the Lightbringer-US by an estimated factor of 20. Horde wasn’t just in the minority, we were practically nonexistent. What’s worse, Lightbringer is not connected to any other server according to WoW’s support page.
What frustrates me is that the hundreds of WoW servers are not created equal, but none of this is communicated to the player through World of Warcraft directly. When logged in, the servers are only listed by approximate population but do not provide any more accurate details about that server’s culture or the time zone it is based on (other than broad geographic descriptions such as “European”). All this incredibly useful information must be discovered using third-party websites. Server selection makes a very risky decision and virtually requires a great deal of research. Good luck finding new players.
But the incredibly weird thing is that once you’re in this mode, you only have three options: push, start a new character from scratch and lose all that time and effort, or get tough on your teeth and keep playing. If I want to stay in Lightbringer-US, I can pay $ 30 to change the faction, but I have to give up the Blood Elf badass look and change to Alliance Race. Or I could pay $ 25 and switch to a different server with a thriving community of Horde players. This is what I did.
This is the second time I’ve had to pay for server relocation. It was the first time in years when I originally moved to Lightbringer-US so I could bond with a group of friends in a Guild. Talk to any WoW veterans, and they’ll likely have gone through a similar situation. As a player, I’m indignant that I feel like I’m getting taxed just because I want to enjoy World of Warcraft the way it was intended – either directly with friends or alongside a healthy community. Blizzard should remove every barrier that exists between players having fun together, not monetizing them.
I understand that these services cost money to dissuade players from taking advantage of them, which could theoretically lead to a bad experience for many players. But making the barrier such exorbitant fees – more than half the price of the new expansion in some cases – sounds ridiculous, especially in the midst of the pandemic when people are already hurting financially. Why do I have to bear the hidden cost of World of Warcraft’s legacy server infrastructure and platoon design? This is a blizzard problem and not mine.
World of Warcraft has made some great strides over the past few years to become accessible to all players. Its new starting area is a much better introduction for beginners, as the settlement process takes a fraction of the time it used to, and Blizzard has even eliminated your character’s gender change fees and made it something you can do as much as you want, anytime. Time. But there’s still a lot that makes World of Warcraft so frustrating. It is time for Blizzard to rethink its approach to these services and the kind of message it is sending to players who have already invested a lot of time and money in this game.