A lot of folks have been talking as if SWTOR is the impending WoW-killer (as if we hadn’t heard that before from Rift and Conan and LotR and especially from Warhammer).
Has Blizzard set themselves up as their own killer with their Diablo III special deal?
If you missed it, Here’s the announcement…
For a limited time only, players who make a 12-month subscription commitment to World of Warcraft through the WoW Annual Pass will receive the following epic rewards:
- Diablo III FREE – Download the digital version via Battle.net for free when the game launches early next year. This is the full game, not a trial edition.
- Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount – Ride for the Archangel of Justice on all current and future characters on a single World of Warcraft account. Tyrael’s Charger will arrive via in-game mail with the upcoming launch of patch 4.3.
- Access to the Next WoW Expansion Beta Test – Get a guaranteed spot in the beta test for the next World of Warcraft expansion (at a time to be announced in the future).
Blizzard is trying to guarantee future revenues by locking people into long term contracts. This is not an uncommon practice. A number of the
trolls commenters have said that this is a bad sign, and that Blizzard knows its product is failing. Oh really? So is AT&T failing, because I had to make a two year contract with my cell phone. Certainly not. On the contrary, this is a prudent business move. They assure themselves of your $15 a month for a year ($180) and in exchange give you a digitally-downloaded game for free. That costs them almost nothing. Yes, it impacts their initial sales on the Diablo III release, but they will get to brag about a huge number of D3 subscribers.
It seems almost a no-brainer for long-term WoW players to sign up for this. If you expect to play for the next 12 months anyway, then why not get something for free with it? So lets assume that this turns out to be a popular option.
On Diablo III release day, that means that a lot of WoW players will probably be playing D3. Will Stormwind become a ghost town on that day? Will Orgrimmar be abandoned? Will raids be canceled due to low attendance in the week after D3 goes live?
What if Diablo III is a really good game? Will it actually draw enough people away from Azeroth? What is the tipping point for it to go from a distraction to an actual draw away from WoW? How many WoW-to-D3 conversions do you need before guilds start to fall apart and raid teams lose viability?
Also, everyone who signs up for this is guaranteed access to the Mists of Pandaria beta. Will beta then become the de facto live game? What do you do if half your guild is busy in the beta while you’re poking around in Cataclysm content?
I don’t really think that this will happen. Warcraft and Diablo are very different games and appeal to different types of gamers. However, I do see that Diablo has the potential to leech away a fair number of WoW players due to nothing more than convenience through this innovative offer. I also think that the beta for MoP will be a very different experience than past betas due to a large number of subscribers having access.