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Addiction is a lucrative business for Blizzard

Ever since the release of World of Warcraft (WoW), Blizzard pretty much set the standard on what a major massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) should be like. A massive world, an unheard of amount of items and a game play style that makes things fun for just about every MMO player out there. Then on top of all the addictive elements, charge $15 a month per account. Sounds like a recipe for success right? It is.

Unfortunately, Blizzard sat on its behind after reaching a few record breaking numbers in terms of total account signups to WoW. Why do I say this? Because despite the much anticipated release of the Burning Crusades expansion, not much was introduced into the game considering the large amount of resources that flows into Blizzard HQ per month. Considering that WoW is now exceeding a global account list of 8 million players, there's definitely gold in them subscriptions.

What exactly is Blizzard doing with all that cash? Let's take a look at Burning Crusades. An extremely high percentage of mob models in this expansion was ripped directly from the original game. Colors were changed and names were edited, but overall, only a small handful of new models were added. Take into consideration that much of the new popular features of the game were added outside of the expansion and we begin to see that there's something wrong with the picture here.

Blizzard also delayed the Burning Crusades expansion for a long time. Those who paid for the expansion were also asked to pay a retail price that matched the original game when it was released -- that is an obscenely expensive amount considering that the original game is much more grander in scale. Burning Crusades appears like a collage of textures and models taken from the original game than a true expansion.

Besides all of the above, Blizzard is still not addressing some of the strange oddities in the game. Hunter pets that swim deeper and faster than a druid in aquatic form -- I don't know about Blizzard but I certainly have never seen a cat out-swim a seal, infantry that can run faster than the fastest ground mount in the game. I've seen a guard chase down a player on an epic horse mount. Blizzard also recently announced that the druid class will receive an epic flight form -- instantly castable but will cost 5000 gold to learn the epic riding skill. Wait a minute, you need a "riding skill" to turn into a bird and fly away? What exactly are we riding here?

Don't get me started on class balance even, there's no such thing -- gear stats dominate this game. Blizzard attempts to adjust class features on almost a monthly basis and just makes a mess of everything. Fixing one problem reveals another. The problem here lies in the dynamics of each class and their abilities. Because of the large amount of complaints that flow on the Blizzard forums, the company is subject to constantly changing abilities around. In essence, the whole ecosystem of classes is adversely affected by small adjustments as well as large ones.

So take one part large monthly income from 8 million paying subscribers and one part large injection of cash from the release of Burning Crusades and what you get is a missing picture and lots of questions. Make no mistake about Blizzard though, it is in the business of making a profit, not putting its players first. It already achieved what it set out to do with the initial release of WoW.




"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer







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