Fee to play with ReadID mates? No thank you.

I just read that Blizzard are working to add Instance grouping with RealID friends to World of Warcraft. This is a obvious feature that I support adding to the game. In fact its a great feature that mmorpgs should have, and is probably a corner feature of most games going forward. City of Heroes (or some supers game) already had a cut down version of this, and it was a really valuable thing.

What I find totally screwed up is that Blizzard are planning to charge an additional fee for the pleasure of playing with your friends. What is the point of a system like RealID if all you do is chat?

Blizzard Post: With the continued popularity of the Dungeon Finder, many players have been asking for a way to group up with real-life friends who play on other realms to take on instances together. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about a new feature currently in development that will allow players to invite Real ID friends of the same faction to a party regardless of the realm they play on, and then queue up for a 5-player regular or Heroic dungeon.

As this is a fairly complex service to develop, we don’t have a release date to share quite yet. It’s important to note that as with some of the other convenience- and connectivity-oriented features we offer, certain elements of the cross-realm Real ID party system will be premium-based, though only the player sending the invitations will need to have access to the premium service. We’ll have more details to share with you as development progresses — in the meantime, you may begin to see elements of the feature appear on the World of Warcraft PTR.

This stinks of being “nickel and dimed“, and rather than being an incentive for players to continue to play the game, this will be (imho) a disincentive and a reason why they leave the game. I can play farmwille and all the other IOS games and get micro-charged for game features; I don’t need that from Warcraft.

WoW Insider: Blizzard says that only the person doing the invites and creating the cross-server party will need to have access to the premium feature for the system to work.

RealID without this feature offers almost no value to my gameplay. Most of the players that I wish to stay in contact with are folks where either I know where they are and on what servers, or I have real email addresses for, and also know personally in real life. So RealID is worth almost nothing at the moment. 

The idea that I’d pay extra just feels wrong, and there is no reason apart from the development cost. The development cost is something that I pay when I buy the box for the core game, but also what I pay each month, and getting charged extra for this seems to say that the monthly fee is not for the content or features, its just a server fee. What do Blizzard expect the monthly fee pays for?

I can see an argument that less people will server transfer as they will be able to group up together. So perhaps the idea is that you become a premium wow subscriber and you get this feature. In effect saying that the fee is there to offset the loss of revenue from the server transfers. What a great ideal for the shareholders, and totally wrong for us.

I can’t say I’d never pay extra for this, but I can say that this is a definitive line that has been crossed in the move from a single all-featured subscription, toward a game where you pay micro-transactions for everything.

Player responses have been similar to mine, and its frigg’n cheecky for them to say, “oh please don’t scream till we price it”, as that misses the point. This is the thin edge of the wedge for wow’s subscription fees.

WowInsider Comment by: DarkWalker May 17th 2011 5:52PM

For me the price does not matter. It could be $0,01 for all I care; I will not pay for extra services inside WoW, at least not while they also charge a subscription

If this goes in then Blizzard should just open the gates and let players buy gold, character levels, boss grade gear, and every other part of the game. I bet they’d even try to keep the monthly fee too, but hey – by then the 5th expansion will be ready and we’ll all drop $80 for the “Rise of the Merchant Prince”.

Happy paying.

ps. How much for the dance studio, or 3 specs, …