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$179.88 March 23, 2012

Posted by Stormy in Beta, Moar Ranting.

More than 20 old zones, all completely revamped with over 3,000 new quests, new gear, new achievements and more! Six new zones with completely new stories, quests, achievements and more! New battlegrounds, new raids, transmogrification, void storage, reforging and more! Yours, for the bargain price of $179.88!

…BUT WAIT! There’s more! Simply sign on the dotted line agreeing to pay that $179.88 in the next twelve months and we’ll throw in this shiny new mount! Tyrael’s Charger is a horse, but it’s so much more! Look at the wispy wings, the glorious coloring, the satisfying whinny noise she makes! This can be yours with the World of Warcraft Annual Pass!

…not convinced? THERE’S MORE! With your Annual Pass we’ll give you *FREE* access to Diablo III when it’s released! You’d pay $60 for this at a retail store, and we’re giving it to you FREE FREE FREE!

…BUT WAIT! There’s MORE. This deal is BANANAS! Simply keep up your end of the bargain by paying us $179.88 and we’ll guarantee you access to the beta for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria when it goes live*!

ALL THIS can be yours for $179.88! CALL NOW!

*Mike Morhaime’s exact words. When it goes live.

There’s been a lot of screaming about this today. I didn’t really want to pile on, but since so many people are missing the damn point, well, here goes nothin’.

At this point the people arguing over this beta test fiasco fall into two camps: those who paid $179.88 of hard-earned money expecting to get what they were promised and are righteously pissed off that they haven’t, and people who have snidely and derisively looked down their noses at said people and said “Wait your turn. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Since the people in Camp #2 seem wholly incapable of speaking to the rest of us like adults and instead have resorted to schoolyard insults and “OMG you’re such an idiot if you actually thought that!”, it’s time to break this down.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the World of Warcraft universe since December 2010 you’re familiar with one overarching theme in the criticisms that have been leveled against Cataclysm. There isn’t enough content. What’s there isn’t very compelling, and content isn’t updated fast enough. Guilds ran Firelands for something like six months before Dragon Soul was released, and have been running Dragon Soul since the end of November. The overarching question has been “When are they going to replace this turkey with an actual expansion?” Knowing full well that Mists of Pandaria would not be released until sometime in the summer of 2012 at the earliest, and looking at tanking subscriber numbers, Blizzard Entertainment devised a pretty enticing scheme to convince players not to cancel their subscriptions in the lull between Cataclysm and Mists.

First, those of us who agreed to sign up for the Annual Pass would get a new mount. Who doesn’t love mounts? Second, the lull between Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria would be filled with two things: a free copy of Diablo III when it’s released, and access to the beta test of Mists of Pandaria. By most accounts (including the now-infamous pre-ordering offered by Best Buy), Diablo III was supposed to have been released in January, perhaps February. Now we have a tentative release date of May 15, a full four months later than one of Blizzard’s biggest retail partners was told to expect…that is, a full four months that you *should* have been playing Diablo III and were instead running Well of Eternity for the eleventy-sixth time.

The Annual Pass scheme* was designed to do one thing: distract and appease Blizzard customers for a few months with content that was ready for public consumption to drown out the chorus of “You suck and you’re slow and I’m cancelling.” It was designed to head off the freefall of subscriber numbers, which was actually starting to become a subject of conversation in the mass media and in brokerage houses that trade in Acti/Blizz stock.

*I want SO BADLY to call it a scam, but there are laws against that sort of thing

Ahhh, but then the big one: we were told to expect access to the Mists of Pandaria beta. I’ll speak slowly and in small words for this next part, since people apparently think I’m an idiot: to let one million subscribers in to the MoP beta is the equivalent of launching a completely new MMO the size of Rift or Star Wars: The Old Republic. Was it reasonable to expect that all one million of us would be allowed to line up at a starting gate and all go bananas at the same time? No, of course not. We get that. If Warcraft Realms is to be believed, the average population of a WoW server is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000-50,000 toons, which would require the deployment of at least 30 beta servers. We knew this wasn’t going to happen overnight (although, it’s worth noting that as late as Tuesday Blizzard was still saying the beta would begin “soon,” and no one actually found out about the beginning of the beta until the client was actually available and servers were actually up.)

However, there still remains the matter of my $179.88. When a monetary exchange between parties is involved, the matter shifts from being the kind of beta test we’re used to–several different waves, lots of downtime, etc–into a product purchased from a seller. I provided Blizzard Entertainment with $179.88, and so far they’ve responded by giving me…well, jack. OK, I do have my mount…let’s call her Jack.

Let’s say, for example, instead of purchasing access to WoW, D3 and the beta, a salesman had come through my neighborhood selling vacuum cleaners. On March 21st my neighbor’s vacuum cleaner has arrived. God, that thing is loud. But it’s pretty slick–he even wrote a couple blogposts about how cool it was. On March 23rd I contacted the vacuum salesman and asked when I could expect to receive my vacuum. After all, my neighbor has his.


Then a series of nebulously-worded posts promising delivery of said vacuum cleaner “soon,” and an admonishment that just because I paid my $179.88 doesn’t mean I was guaranteed delivery of a vacuum and goshgolly I can be content with your broom for a while longer.

At this point, this fiasco could be fixed with a simple blue post saying, “The Mists of Pandaria beta launched on March 21, 2012. Due to overwhelming demand, we will be granting beta access in a series of six waves beginning on March 21, and we expect all subscribers who have signed up for the Annual Pass to be granted beta access by April 15. We expect the beta to conclude in mid- to late May.” That’s all it would take. I raised this suggestion elsewhere and was told in no uncertain terms that a beta test was a free-for-all with no schedules attached and that to expect any sort of shell of a schedule was naiive of me. Horsepuckey. If that’s really the way things are done, “Oh, we’ll get to it when we get to it,” well, then no wonder it’s taking so long to get content out the door.

Instead, we’re left with a bunch of self-serving jerks who got into the beta and just wish the rest of the plebes would stop their infernal whining, and a chorus of people who paid $179.88 for something and are technically going to get it…eventually…someday…soon. As for me, I have a credit card bill for $179.88 and a horse named Jack.



1. Saga - March 24, 2012

While I really would have liked to be in the Beta by now, I am understanding the reasons for having invite waves. I get what you’re saying in this post as well, but I don’t agree with your views on all of it.

First of all, camp 1 and camp 2 are both equally guilty of schoolyard insults from what I’ve been reading. There are idiots and rude people in both camps.

Also, I would change your vacuum analogy. You paid 179.88 for your vacuum and you did get your vacuum. What you were promised was a free extra mouthpiece if you bought your vacuum, and that hasn’t arrived yet. (Or to be exact, I guess you were promised a free extra mouthpiece, a vacuum-bag and a spare hose.. you got the latter two but not the first already.)

I understand people’s frustration, but I don’t agree with the sentiment that we paid 179.88 for Beta access and we didn’t receive it. I paid 179.88 to play WoW. The rest is extra. I didn’t pay any more to get those things than I would have already (I am still playing WoW and am planning to do so, had I not been planning to continue playing I’d not have gotten the Annual Pass).

That said, yes they should have anticipated the incredibly response they got to the Annual Pass and should have worded it differently. Sadly, as with any contract it’s always “subject to change”, something which usually says when you sign it.

2. Steve - March 27, 2012

I don’t know the terms and conditions of your agrement, so:

Can you ring Bliz and say, “I was expecting beta access, I didn’t get it I want a refund?”

If you have a contract for the supply of a service and they aren’t supplying can’t you just tell them they broke the contract and you’ll be done with it?

3. $179.88. Well, less in real money. [ 6D ] - March 28, 2012

[…] Link: $179.88 « Scribblings on the Asylum Wall. […]

4. Cluisanna - March 29, 2012

I agree that this is frustrating, but I don’t think you can say you paid any amount of money for this, and especially not 179.88$ (since that is 12*14.99, I’m gathering you are paying monthly, meaning you can’t have payed the whole sum yet).
The point of this whole thing is that it isn’t a “I pay you money, you give me certain things” situation, but rather “I assure you I will keep paying for this thing I am already paying for, and you will give me things for that assurance”. That means that you are under no obligation to keep your side of the contract. If you don’t like the deal anymore, you can simply cancel your WoW subscription, and the only thing Blizzard will do is delete your charger and revoke your Diablo and MoP beta keys. You can even play some Diablo, realize you really don’t like it and the MoP beta isn’t looking good either and still just cancel your WoW subscription.
(Sorry if I am sounding unfriendly, that is not intended. English isn’t my first language.)

5. The Subscription Dilemma: MMO’s and the F2P Revolution « The 616 Project - December 19, 2012

[…] guess my question to all of you is, why do you feel that $179.88 of your money is worth it to keep playing one video game when there are so many free  MMO options, […]

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