Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blizzard's Premium Dungeon Finder

So apparently Blizzard has come up with a plan to charge players extra for the ability to form groups with RealID friends regardless of the server they're on.  I'm really not sure what to think.

On the one hand it's bound to be a useful feature to people with lots of friends playing the game who don't want to (or can't) transfer servers.  The ability to play with friends wherever they may be is always a plus.  I can't help but feel that it's not really a fair thing to charge extra for though.  It's the same functionality as the dungeon finder, just focused to those on your RealID list.  I can see that some work would be required as it (presumably) will allow you to group with friends regardless of which server cluster (battlegroup) they're on, which the current dungeon finder does not do.

Blizzard isn't working on a shoe string budget here.  They can't claim that if they couldn't charge for this they wouldn't have had the money to develop it in the first place.  Honestly this feels like a service that should be part of the subscription.  Even without charging extra for it they would likely make money, as an increased ability to play with your friends will lead to increased retention.  Better retention equals more subscription revenue, and thus, profit.

I also wonder why Blizzard is stopping there.  If you're going to charge extra for it, why not go the extra mile and make it cross faction too.  Who cares anymore?  The whole Horde vs. Alliance conflict is a war in name only (WINO?) so if people are going to pay a premium, let them cross that boundary too.  I know the ability to do that might actually tempt me back into the game, as I have plenty of friends playing Horde on other servers, and the ability to actually group with them on my Alliance mains has a lot of appeal.  If they had had that feature I could have avoided transferring my Horde characters to Alliance in order to play with a friend.


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  2. Ugh, I hadn't heard this yet. Is this the first sign of Blizzard's new post-subscriptions-always-increasing era?

    Is this the first testing of the waters to see how much money people will pay for new functionality? Is this an early prelude to determining the feasibility of going free-to-play?

    Or is this just a way to fund new features. As you said, they aren't working on a shoe-string budget. Maybe this is a feature that took a lot more work than we're assuming it did? Off-hand I would think that the changes to and the WoW client to add RealID (TM) would have been larger than these changes, but what do I know?

    Here's an idea...totally not thought out yet. Maybe Blizzard should formalize the pay features under development. Totally whoring out for dollars. Make a forum dedicated to new features where people would indicate how much they'd pay for a new feature. If the development cost would be favorable compared to the expected revenue from a feature then maybe they'd choose to develop it.

    Sounds that point you'd be directly paying Blizzard for a specific feature and you could ask for refunds for bugs or features not implemented. Sounds like an ugly can of worms to open.

    One more, maybe there was a mandate from on-high to only develop new features that bring in extra revenue. It'd be a neat way to make up for losing subscriptions if they made more money per subscription.

    Sheesh, I'm getting cynical in a hurry over this one.

  3. Someone on another blog (I'm afraid I've forgotten who) suggested that the feature was not a popular choice for development resources and the only way its proponents could get it development time was by making it a "premium" service.

    It's especially hard to swallow when Trion has just announced they'll do server transfers for FREE, once per 7 days. Sheesh.