New App: Dungeons With Friends

Warning: This post is a little ornery and is more of a reaction to a reaction piece

Call me “old” (in wow terms i guess) and crusty but I really don’t get why there is so much vitriol and venom being spewed in response to Blizzards newest premium service idea. What are they offering you ask? Well, if you become a premium member you get the option to invite RealID friends of yours into a group in order to run 5 man dungeons.

There’s obviously some very nice perks here especially if 5 mans continue to offer some rather nice rewards like the Amani Battle Bear. Being able to tackle these challenges with friends from other realms is really cool if you ask me. You could also run lower level dungeons together with a friend even if s/he’s on another server  in another guild.

What has people so up in arms is that this will be a premium service. Paying the additional $3 a month would grant you this benefit as well as the web auction house and guild chat features. People are claiming that this is a feature we should have had anyway and that WoW is turning into a model similar to the free to play microtransaction games. Um, no offense to some of these people but giving non-essential perks for a few dollars a month may appear roughly similar, the core game is certainly more robust than any of those other game models (LOTRO being one I can’t speak much about). WoW is not going to morph into a game where there are distinct benefits to purchasing the additional content. As long as it remains purely cosmetic or a matter of quality of life then it really is a perfectly reasonable course of action.

One of my real qualms with this is the statement “they can’t charge us for this because it is something we should be getting for free”. First off programming time is not free. Nor is anyone’s time doing computer maintenance or data management. Everything has a cost. The major content patches and class tweaks you clamor for costs money. Storing your character on the servers costs money. Lots of things cost money and that is baked into your subscription. Many $60 dollar games offer you only 15 to 20 hours of gameplay. I’m pretty sure many of us raid almost that much in a week (12) and pay effectively $3.50 to do so.

The second issue I have is that this is a perk. One that we don’t necessarily deserve for free. I know I’ve been playing WoW for a long time and I may be a bit jaded but once upon a time if you wanted to play with a friend at all you needed to start a character from scratch on their server/faction. There was no server transfer and there certainly wasn’t a faction transfer. There was no way to go say hello unless you put in a huge time sink all the while they were probably doing max level character things. With the invention of the transfers this becomes possible but it is still an investment. You pay for the data transfer and coding required to make the swap and viola you can now play with your friend but at the cost of leaving your old server/faction.

If being able to play with friends in 5 mans is something you feel that you will take full advantage of then I say go ahead and get the premium service when it becomes available. They’re putting in the hard work getting this feature up and running and if it works well then I think we will all benefit in the long run if it leads to the code for BoA cross realm items etc.


12 responses to “New App: Dungeons With Friends

  1. I would agree with you if it wasn’t for the fact that we are already paying for things like development, servers, maintenance. That money is supposed to go to all of these kind of features, isn’t it? They’ve implemented a couple of things which you have to pay extra for, like certain mounts and pets, and I find that ok. But this is affecting a big part of the game – instancing. We shouldn’t have to pay for in game features, we already are imo.

  2. This is a perk. Your paying for access to all US/Eu servers, to make up to 10 characters on each realm, and a limit of 50 characters. You are also paying for access to Azeroth. The quests, the levels, the gear, dungeons, etc, all on that particular realm. While there’s the opinion that you should be able to transfer your characters that you put time into, if you don’t want to pay for the extra service, you can make a new toon on the realm your friends are on, and level him. Leveling is really easy now, so it won’t take long say if you were leveling back in Vanilla.

  3. “The second issue I have is that this is a perk. One that we don’t necessarily deserve for free.”
    Where do you draw the line between ‘perk’ and ‘common functionality’? How does this feature differ from say the current Dungeon Finder? We didn’t ‘need’ the dungeon finder but it has become a very useful tool for everyone that plays WoW. Calling this a ‘perk’ and putting a price on it sets the bar for all future new features introduced to WoW.

  4. This is kind of silly. We do pay an awful lot for this game across the millions of people playing it, and I have no idea where all that money is going. However, for the web AH and chat having a small fee makes a lot of sense, it is definitely not an integral part of the game. Cross server instancing with friends really does not fall into the same group though. Which makes the same fee a little odd since it’s no where near the same thing.

    But why might it cost more money? Well I look at the other two of needing a whole new team of programmers for web based products and mobile apps and paying them a paycheck not related to the main game makes a lot of sense. So maybe there is a job in fixing database errors with this cross server friend group. These errors may never, no matter how good they program, go completely away, which creates a job, a rather large jobs to be done I think. Then, wouldn’t the new cross server mail create the same job? Well, mail is small and doesn’t require a constant stream of data, so really no, I don’t think it would.

    Then there is just why group the unrelated services? Well, to make people buy the services they won’t really use so more people buy them, so the people can get a paycheck from their work and not through the main game. I think they could offer this stuff for free, but then the main game would suffer.

    • “We do pay an awful lot for this game across the millions of people playing it, and I have no idea where all that money is going.”

      Sustaining a game capable of handling millions of people playing it.

      $15 a month for a perpetual and enjoyable gaming experience is pretty good. I pay under $170 a year to play WoW. Before I started playing, I was spending in the neighborhood $400+ annually on gaming (A new game once a month on average, some new, some used).

      While I can see where this feature might end up as a slippery slope, people are getting way too up in arms about it. I personally will not pay for the feature as it really doesn’t affect my quality of life all that much and I would encourage others not to spend on it as the model experiencing too much success COULD feasibly result in the idea eventually going too far. That said, people need to drop the entitlement complex. $15 a month is chump change (And if it isn’t chump change for you, you need to realign your priorities to a job hunt instead of playing WoW). I spend that much getting food for myself and my girlfriend at Burger King (And she’d punch me in the stomach if I acted as if taking her to BK was anything but cheap), I’m lucky to get myself into a movie alone for that price, a two hour movie on Blu Ray costs about double that amount and I spend a whole lot more than that for ONE Friday night at the bar.

      The cost to enjoyment ratio of WoW, with or without this feature, is pretty great in favor of the consumer compared to most forms of entertainment. If you don’t plan to utilize the feature, cool, but acting as if you’re entitled to this feature is really pushing it.

      • Well put.

        I don’t think anyone is arguing that this isn’t a nifty feature and we’d all love for it to be built in but ultimately if it requires a hefty amount of programming to sustain on top of the development they’re putting towards new art assets, quests, and content patches then it’ll have a price tag.

        I don’t want people to take what I said the wrong way. Sure i’d love to get this for free and I think everyone would probably agree. What I take issue with is people getting enraged over it requiring premium service due to a sense of entitlement. We’re already getting more bang for the buck compared to any other game I spend money on…and you can easily spend WAY more per year on non-WoW video games compared to Wow.

        Hell I bought Witcher 2 and I’m looking at maybe buying L.A. Noire shortly as well. If those are each 40 hour games I’ve spent $110 dollars for 80 hours of play time (made up numbers of course) whereas that amount of money for wow at the premium rate still gets me 6.1 months of game time [288 hours of raiding time, ~120 hours of alt fun time].

  5. ps. ugg forgot to mention it is not just cross server, but cross battlegroup. Unless I missed them adding that before.

  6. Blizzard is innovating and testing the demand for functions that likely require an increase in maintenance costs. Imagine the outcry if they implemented these “perks” for “free” and then raised the subscription price for all.

    This is a very nitch perk. I will likely not use it, but you never know, when new technology is developed, I often find ways to use it. I don’t really want to pay for something that I won’t use, but I do like that Blizzard is innovating. I have gladly paid for iPhone access to the AH (and now guild chat) since it came out. My willingness to do this has apparently allowed new perks to be developed.

    This conversation is frighteningly similar to the conservative rant “don’t tax me” yet expect local services to continue and get better. I suspect opinions about this run along those lines.

    • 100% agreed.

      I honestly don’t have a lot of WoW friends. Of the core group I used to play with, all but one have moved on from the game and that one’s PC has been busted for a month and he faction changed his main anyway. Things as they are, I probably wouldn’t use this feature and am much happier to see it as a “premium” feature rather than seeing my monthly sub raised for a feature that I wouldn’t likely use.

  7. As a professional software developer in the game development industry, I can tell you with 95% certainty that this “feature” is not a whole ton of development time. They already have the capability of doing cross-realm instances, they already have the capability of seeding the cross-realm instance matchmaking system with pre-built parties. The only thing that they’re missing in order to make this functionality work is some UI and a bit of backend work so that you can form your party through the RealID system instead of leveraging the WoW in-game grouping system.

    Our subscription money is supposed to pay for maintenance, development of new content AND development of new features. Somewhere along the line, Blizzard has decided that not only are they going to cordon off certain vanity content to “premium” customers, they are now going to start cordoning off game functionality as well.

    Well, that’s their choice to handcuff their own game I guess. And until there is real competition in the MMO marketplace, they can continue to nickle-and-dime us to death and they’ll probably get away with it too. But, they’re just making it easier for their competitors to beat them and offer a better experience at a cheaper price.

    • Are they really nickel and diming us to death? It isn’t micro transactions. The only things that cost money right now are vanity pets/mounts, and the premium service. The premium service is a luxury that is not required and has some fairly neat quality of life improvements to it.

      I’ve done ok so far not spending money on any of these additional potential cash sinks and I do just fine. Not everyone will want to do the RealID thing and those that genuinely have contacts across multiple servers will enjoy it. If they don’t use it then it’ll be no different than what we have now.

      Until you know more about how real ID and the LFD tool will interact under the hood so to speak it is impossible to say with certainty this will only take little additional work.

      I think they suffer somewhat from the PSN Plus service problem. While it’s not exactly the same since the WoW subscription is not free of course, their premium service doesn’t necessarily have anything really concrete value wise that the average player will want to take advantage of. While the RealID thing would be awesome to have for free, it certainly fits nicely into the premium package as far as giving it some measurable value for the money spent. It won’t be for everyone though.

      • It is impossible to say with certainty, sure, but it is very possible to state that if this is actually difficult for them to implement, they have terrible software developers. Hence my confidence that this isn’t difficult at all, as they have lots of talented software developers.

        I, for one, am glad they are spending “non-premium” development dollars future-proofing the game for IPV6, and leaving features that people might actually want to “premium” development dollars.

        And yes, this trend of developing features/content and then making it a “premium” benefit instead of just putting it into the base game is nickle-and-diming. It’s pretty much the same as when cell phone companies sell you a service, but then charge you an additional $1/mo for call display. It’s hardly a necessary feature, but honestly it should be part of the base package. But they’re betting they can charge extra for the feature and plenty of people will buy it because it’s a small surcharge in comparison to the base package. The only reason cell service companies get away with doing bullshit like this is because they don’t have a competitor who would happily throw in the functionality as part of the base package. It’s very analogous to what’s happening here.

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