Blizzard Raising UK World of Warcraft Subscriptions by £1
If you’re Blizzard and you’re hemorrhaging subscribers to your flagship game ahead of a hotly anticipated expansion pack, how do you make the money work? If the plan being implemented in the UK is any indication, it looks like you raise the prices.
Blizzard has announced that the monthly subscription prices for World of Warcraft gamers in the UK will increase by £1 per month.
Starting on November 13th, when the Warlords of Draenor expansion is released, the monthly subscription price will increase by £1.00 to £9.99. The three-month subscription plan will increase to £28.17 from £25.17 and six months will cost £52.14, also up £1 per month.
One important exception to that is for WoW subscribers on an auto-renewal subscription plan. So long as you don’t let your subscription lapse, you can continue at your current subscription rate for the next two years before being transitioned to the £1 higher rate.
The timing of this announcement is very interesting. Last month, Blizzard announced that WoW ended June with 6.8 million subscribers which was down 800,000 over the three months ended on June 30th. Increasing everyone’s subscription by £1 per month won’t cover the loss of the subscription revenue from 800,000 users (they’re worth £7.2 million at the old subscription rate) but it’ll do a bit to stem the bleeding.
Also, the next WoW expansion is coming in November. Usually, the release of an expansion means big bucks to Blizzard. They’ll get the upfront cash injection from the expansion purchase and a reinvigorated subscriber base as lapsed gamers come back to play the expansion. For a while, that’ll help World of Warcraft get by until Project Titan nears completion.
With MMOs moving away from the subscription model to the free-to-play or $60 release with microtransactions business model, WoW and Blizzard are heading in what is effectively the opposite direction. If Warlords of Draenor is a fantastic expansion, it might be a brilliant move to take from those who have left the game and are coming back for this (assuming the rate hike hits other regions and I’d be shocked if that isn’t the case). Otherwise, it’ll just be delaying the inevitable when WoW is no longer financially viable in its current state. From this point, though, it’ll probably last longer than The Elder Scrolls Online.