WoW Pet Costs More Than My Monthly Subscription

Of course the big news today was that Blizzard have entered the micro-transaction scene and are now selling in-game pets, bound to your account, via their online store. Can’t say I’m really surprised as Blizzard have been slowly introducing more and more paid services over the years and I feel like it was only a matter of time before they started selling in-game items. Expect more fluff and vanity items and probably even exp potions in the months to come.

I can’t say that I’m particularly bothered about the introduction of purchasable pets although I have to say that I’m shocked at the price. A single pet will set you back a hefty $10, 2/3 of a normal US monthly subscription. Note how I said US. Yep, Blizzard have decided to jump on the UK exploitation bandwagon (we always seem to pay over the odds for everything here) and charge a staggering £9 per pet. That’s more than my monthly subscription of £8.99!!

Let me put it in perspective: £9 for the pet, at the current conversion rate, is the equivalent of $14.9. Apparently Blizzard thinks that the WoW subscribers in the UK will swallow paying 33% more than their American counterparts. Other Europeans don’t fair much better and are expected to €10, almost as much as the British.

I know the “Europeans as 2nd class citizens” topic is a pretty old and tired subject but inequality irks me. Even when one considers taxation, it still doesn’t explain the crazy price tag that Blizzard have stuck on their European pets. It’s even odder when you consider that this virtual good doesn’t have any differing distribution or manufacturing cost for whatever part of the world it’s purchased in. It doesn’t need to be shipped over or imported from Alabama to Albania for instance.

It all boils down to greed. And that gets my goat.

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22 Comments

  1. Ysharros says:

    “I know the “Europeans as 2nd class citizens” topic is a pretty old and tired subject but inequality irks me.” — it irks the hell out of me too, and I don’t even live in Europe anymore!

    There are some things that are harder to do for some games companies that don’t have international presences (prize draws, giveaways, whatever), but this “charge the same number even if that makes it twice the price” crap has been going on since the early days of CDs.

    Bastages!

    As for the WoW-microtransaction… I fail to see how this can be a surprise to *anyone* considering the directions they’ve been moving in the past 18 months.

    • Gordon says:

      I mean, I can kinda understand that stuff might be delayed coming over here because of marketing, translations etc but to charge more for digitial stuff I always thought was ridiculous. The WoW sub rate in Europe is very reasonable so have no idea why they decided to come in so high with the pet price.

  2. Really, this STUNS you?

    http://www.station.sony.com/en/stationcash/#

    Typical Sony apologists…its evil if Blizzard does it but not anyone else.

    Been going in MMO’s for over a year now, get used to it. As for the price rate what do you expect? It’s not Blizzards fault

  3. Eric says:

    Actually if it would have been 5Euro or so, with 50% going to charity, it would have been ok. The $ = Euro idiocy should really stop :( .

  4. Taymar says:

    It’s not Blizzards fault

    Eh?

    Both Sony and Blizzard are acting abysmally in this regard. I am getting very tired of having to try to explain to people the difference between an exchange rate and taking the piss.

  5. Serves you guys right for having a stable, strong currency. If Blizzard’s smart they’re keeping the money in pounds, euros, or shotgun shells.

    Seriously, it’s a lot of money in any currency. I’m really surprised they didn’t come in at the $5 price point or under.

    • Gordon says:

      GBP isn’t very stable at the moment and we’re being killed because it’s so weak against the Euro, for instance. Curious thing though is that as the £ gets stronger, we should be paying less for US goods yet we always seem to pay a lot more…

  6. So, you could sabotage your country’s economic stability to lower the buying power of your currency and get cheaper stuff. Or, you could always move to the U.S. and get all those wonderful bargains you envy so much.

    If neither of these sound appealing to you, perhaps you should be happy about the prices. ;)

    • Stabs says:

      It’s not about the buying power of currencies it’s about the exchange rate used for games.

      Generally US companies charge Europeans something close to £1 = $1. The current exchange rate is 1 British pound = 1.6579 U.S. dollars.

      The stability of the respective economies is a factor in determining the exchange rate but once you know what the rate is charging people considerably more is a matter of business strategy. We’re getting into old chestnuts like why doesn’t a MMO break the $15 a month ceiling and so on?

      Effectively in Europe these pets cost more. It will be interesting to see sales figures. If the number of Pandaren bought per 1000 subscribers is way lower in Europe then they’ve probably put their price point wrong here. If on the other hand they’re just as popular that indicates they could have got away with charging more.

      In any case UK does not have a more stable economy than US. It has an economy deeply interlinked with the US economy and every ripple on your side of the pond is felt here too.

      • I know all about USD/GBP conversion. I did some contract work for a company in England and got paid in GBP. Before that I was working at a German company getting paid in Euros. Trust me, I was watching exchange rates closely. The exchange rate does fluctuate quite a bit, and with the mortgage crisis here in the U.S. was great for me in that situation. Getting paid in a foreign currency while the dollar weakened meant I was essentially getting a raise every month when the U.S. economy was taking a beating. if the GBP was weaker against the dollar, then the costs for the pet would be closer.

        The real problem here is that economically you can’t just go by exchange rates. It’s a question of what the item is really worth in the local currency. Take soda as an example. In England and Europe, I was shocked how much I had to pay for a glass of Diet Coke (or Coke Light depending on the country). Compared to most places in the U.S. where I pay a fraction of the cost (even when converted to USD) and get free refills, the cost was outrageous. Then again, eating out cost a lot more as well. But, these are just the differences in costs in two countries.

        The interesting bit here, and a better measure, is how much the new pets cost in terms of subscriptions. It’s interesting to note that in England the pets cost more than the subscription. I figure the ultimate answer here is that if its too expensive, don’t buy it. Perhaps they’ll lower the price.

        • Stabs says:

          OK I can see that for cultural reasons different things (like eating out) vary in price.

          But this is downloadable content in an international game?

          What is the cultural reason for charging Europeans more?

          I think in the end the results will tell. I think a lot more US players will buy this than European players. Whether they draw the conclusion that they picked too high a price in Europe will depend partly on the figures and partly whether they feel that other cultural factors are involved. (My personal impression is that Americans are more likely to waste money on tat, ymmv).

          • Gordon says:

            I think plenty of people in the UK and Europe will buy the pets because we are just used to high prices. Plus at the end of the day, if Blizzard are making 30% more from sales in Europe, then they can afford to alienate quite a lot of players and still make a profit.

        • Gordon says:

          Indeed, and as the GBP is getting stronger now ($1.68 = £1), we should be paying less for US goods i.e. the WoW pets should only cost us £5.3 not £9. To charge us more than our monthly subscription is pretty ridiculous, I think :)

          I think it boils down to how much companies think people will pay and that’s been the problem with the UK. We’ve accepted that stuff costs a lot, especially electronics, clothes and food and drink and we don’t do anything about it. Ultimately the cost of living in the UK is just so high now it’s starting to become quite worrying.

    • Gordon says:

      Shouldn’t our buying power increase as the currency becomes stronger? I mean it wasn’t so long ago that it was almost $2 = £1, yet we still got charged abysmal rates.

  7. [...] the furor over this, especially reading another perspective from a perturbed Gordon, who said that the price translation to the UK is more than the monthly subscription amount, and therefore, [...]

  8. It is stupid. I’ve always thought it was dumb for companies to charge Europe the same base numeric amount without considering conversion rates. It’s both good and bad business, but I expected more out of Blizzard than that.

    And I’m sorry, but a non-combat pet isn’t worth 10 bucks to me. Not even a little. If it were a Pandaren costume or a mount, I could see it. But just a pet? Nuh uh.

  9. Stabs says:

    I’ve come back to this at some length and looked again at Brian’s points in a post here:

    http://stabbedup.blogspot.com/2009/11/wow-some-thoughts-on-game-economics.html

  10. USA Dave says:

    In the US, if something doesn’t seem right, we stand up and say “NO!”. You all sound like you bough a cheeseburger at Mcdonald’s and they gave you a bun without meat. You sit at the table eating yer BUN betchin’ about how you got ripped. DON’T BUY THE PETS. When Blizz looks at the market and see’s the sales discrepancies, they will lower the price to meet the demands you have. I think that’s how we are different. You simmer in the anger as you BUY the product, we tell them to F OFF with our checkbooks (or lack of opening them). Capitalism rules when you know how to use it.

  11. luvy duvy says:

    I like the pet stores i bought both pets and all the time i make a character in Wow no matter what faction what race on any server they automaticaly get a pet i hope they make more pets in the future and allso some of the money goes to the I make a wish foundation for kids who are dying and the company makes there wish come true so i didn feel stupid buying the pet. the pets pandorin monk and the K.T. ghost pet is very animated when you /bow to the monk he bows rite back and allso does lots of kung fu action and the K.T every now and then freezes rats when they come towards him.

    so dont knock it till you try it lol

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