Thursday, September 3, 2009

Race Changes are Live

Welcome to the Faction Change page! This service lets you change a character's faction from Alliance to Horde or from Horde to Alliance. A mandatory opposite-faction race change is part of the faction change process, and the full range of customization options offered by the Character Re-Customization service is included as well. Each faction change costs $30.00 USD.

Wait... Thirty Bucks?!

I've always had a bit of an issue with the transfer costs, if only because I've spent well over 500 dollars on them myself. It's never been anything that would put me in the poor house, but the cost of it adds up over time, and just makes me wince when I see it tallied up on my account page. It doesn't help that I do xfers 4 toons at a time.

In the end though, the thing that makes me batty is the fact that I KNOW somewhere at Blizzard, this is the basic process going down:


SELECT COLUMN 79, ROW 7232 --- REPLACE WITH "Scilla"



CHA-CHING! USD$25.00 plx.

Seriously... if you kid yourself that your character isn't a bunch of cells in a spreadsheet somewhere, then you need to L2Computer. My example above is obviously dumbed down, but you get the idea.

Want a race change?

SELECT COLUMN 102, ROW 7232 --- REPLACE WITH "Human"

Sex change, name change, server change, race change. This is all the same process. Granted, the race change requires a few more variables to be punched in (REPLACE UNDEAD HORSE WITH DRAENI ELEPHANT, REPLACE HIGH WARLORD TITLE WITH GRAND MARSHAL, etc), but don't ever kid yourself that a human Blizzard employee is clunking around in the databases. It's a script that gets ran, and a bunch of the variables are even entered by yourself when you fill out the webpage and enter your credit card info. Hell, you watch the script run when the little orcs are marching on the webpage. Then maybe a human glances at the result (the "transfer pending" part of the process) to make sure nothing broke, or that you didn't end up with a billion gold on accident.

So why the disparity in fees? Why is a Name or Sex Change ten bucks (REPLACE PENIS WITH VAGINA), a server change twenty-five, and a race change thirty? Why not make a 'database manipulation fee' be a flat value, and quit being so pretentious about it?

I know why... because these are the degrees of 'importance' or 'significance' to the player base. They carry an emotional weight, and this is where the bean counters get excited. Want a vagina? Meh, whatever, ten bucks. Good luck with that. Whoa whoa, wait... you want to MOVE SERVERS? Well, that's a pretty big deal, you didn't grow up on that street. That will cost twenty-five. HOLY SHIT (!) you want to sell out Thrall, abandon the horde, and start losing every AV you enter? Well, that's a pretty big deal, and will cost you thirty dollars. Oh, it's to play with your friends that rolled Alliance? Yeah, whatever. Thirty. Take it or leave it.

It's still just a database script being run, though.

I'm going down to Blizzard soon, with all kinds of printed materials and charts and graphs, and will ask very nicely for a job. I probably won't mention how silly I feel this practice is, should I be granted an interview. I know they want to make money, and I've already outlined why I believe they have this variable pricing scheme in place. It's a business decision. I'd like there to be a "one free database transaction per month billed" kind of thing introduced, but why would they do that? I alone have proven that I'm willing to pay a billion dollars in server transfers in addition to my monthly subscription. They probably won't hire me just because they'd lose that revenue and my xfer money is what they allocate to fix problems with the Server Instance Full dilemma (oh, snap! zing!).

Anyway. I'm over it. I may leave Cho'gall, but won't pay ANOTHER thirty bucks to have a separate cell adjusted. Why even split it into two scripts? I had planned to bring one of my Horde toons to Zul'jin to play with an old roommate once I got back to the states, but 25 to go there, plus 30 to go Alliance to join him would be enough for four months of playtime.

Yeah...

No.

25 comments:

Username74003 said...

I dont really care about people spending money to change races, but the picture has me rolling. That has brightened up my day.

Melaisis said...

Ayyyyyyyye.

I know the point here is that Blizzard are getting away with charging outrageous amounts of money for doing sod all, but I doubt that's not what they're thinking.

The main reason why these prices are so high is because they don't want people swapping servers or factions lightly. If changing servers/factions only cost a fiver, then many people would happily ninja a decent item or few hundred and then bail. Expensive transfers ensures that people aren't swapping between different communities on a whim whenever they get a bad rep.

At the end of the day high prices just another mechanism to make sure people behave themselves. If people just can't leave at the drop of a hat, then they're more likely to be courteous to their fellow server and faction dwellers, instead of running off at the first sign of drama.

Adam said...

you're a funny guy, ixo.

Larísa said...

Oh, how I hope that the Blizzard guys will see how that gem they'll have in front of them sparcles. That they won't miss the opportunity to grab an (almost) free epic.
Good luck!

Kiryn said...

My train of thought when I was first reading the announcement was:

1. Wow, I wasn't expecting the faction transfer to be enabled this soon.

2. $30? Hmm, that's kinda steep. But it isn't that much more than a normal server transfer. Maybe I'll move one of my old Alliance 80s over to Horde so I can get my new main some heirlooms.

3. Wait wait wait. The $30 cost doesn't include a server transfer? What's the point of that? Why the hell would anyone want to play separate factions on the same server? That's lame. Forget it.

And subsequently decided to stop playing my new main and wander off to Champions until Cataclysm comes out >_>

jdwarne said...

@Melaisis

There may have been a point in time when I would've bought this explanation, but that ship has sailed. Not too long ago there was a cool-down of several months on server transfers. Blizzard recently bumped that down to something like 30 days. Iso is right, I'm afraid. They charge what they charge because there are plenty of players out there who will pay it. Simple economics, whether we like it or not.

Justin R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jong said...

I'm seriously considering faction change.

Good luck at the interview mang!

Antigen said...

Ixo, I'd follow you headlong into Blizzard's offices, lay the smackdown on their accountants, slap up their CFO a bit, then ride into the sunset until we get to a Denny's. Then it's Grand Slam time, baby.

Hudson said...

Funny post, but you missed why it is so expensive

http://hudshideout.com/blog/?p=3309

River said...

Nothing wrong with cheap vagina's in my book.

Brohuld said...

I absolutely HATE the fact Blizzard has made this a paid service.

This is most unfortunate, as a really, really long "Treason!" questline, extended over weeks, involving the killing of thousands of innocent Horde/Alliance villagers would have basically given the same $30 in grinding time, but also would have been a real role playing solution.

Lost opportunity here :(

Brohuld

Jormundgard said...

Did you get an interview? Or is this a cold call?

Jeremy said...

Funny post, but Faction change is, I think, the only real change that is actually fairly intensive, unlike the other cash cows.

As mentioned elsewhere, you have to convert faction-specific items to the other faction, such as all the Argent Tourney lewts, tabards, etc. (It probably took awhile to compile the list and test the code to make sure nothing was missed)

You have to convert reputations.

You have to convert quests (actually, just drop them all).

- Check class restrictions, ensure class quests don't get borked.

- Convert mounts.

- Convert achievements.

- Ensure code exists to clear out guild & arena teams, and friends/ignore lists, and test for 'sploits.

- Make sure mail won't bork up process.

- Convert flight paths (probably 75 or so flight paths + connections/etc to doublecheck).

It's actually a fuckton of work.

Jeremy said...

- Don't bog down the servers/database engines/etc while doing this.

- Probably move your character to a different database and database server, I don't know Blizzard's layout. Certainly more than 1 database that holds all the players in WoW...

- Ripple changes down through normal & bnet auth accounts, again, don't know how auth ties in to character per se.

- Ensure process doesn't crash crap.

- Ensure these database updates (and there are quite a few of them across multiple tables) don't somehow lead to data corruption.

blah blah blah etc

Shy said...

- and then once the developer has made sure that this works, the testing team has to go over, sending it back since they found mistakes. Back to the test team. And then maybe ready for release.

Train your support to be able to answer questions about this, set up your web team to make sure the information on the web is complete, and then on top all of the game situations that could possibly be created by this (alliance only server anybody?)

So yes, while they now only have to press the replace button, a small little process did go ahead of that.

Ixobelle said...

I see what you're saying, but compare writing of the script to, say, the creation of Zul'Aman.

ZA was included in a free content patch, and consumed way more time and resources to create.

I know the script wasn't found in the bottom of a cereal box, but I doubt it was the crowning achievement of the db team at Blizz.

Even assuming the race change WAS a difficult process, the gist of this post touched on server changes, which is a seriously simple (ONE CELL?) change, and still costs $25. I've paid it before, many times, and will probably pay it again before my time with WoW is done; but it always feels pretty shitty when I'm typing in the credit card number.

I pay to play the game. A limited number of these 'adjustments' should be included in the overall fee. Not enough to server hop every day, but enough to migrate once every 6 months for free, if desired. It just feels like they're grasping for dollars when the already have a steady stream coming in from me.

Darraxus said...

Im not paying thirty bucks for that shit. They should give you the option of a entire server faction change. I am not going to pay near 300 bucks to transfer all of my toons to the other side.

Shamrockgirl said...

i was really hoping a server transfer would be included... i was goung to move my belf lock over to my main server so she could actually get some play time. oh well, guess i shoulda never rolled horde with someone who no longer plays...

Jeremy said...

I don't really think you can compare stuff such as character customization or the like to content patches. One's a value-added service targeting a (very) small segment of the population, whereas a content patch features a large quantity of additions and gameplay enriching content theoretically available to the entire subscription base.

Additionally, free content patches are put in at an upfront cost that Blizzard eats, in terms of paying developers, artists, etc, to keep these subscriptions streaming in over the long run, which in turn pays off the addition and also funds future expansions.

One could argue that providing the faction change feature for free could theoretically pay for itself via a higher subscription retainment rate; however, but there's not really any way of knowing, and if it ended up that subscriptions were unaffected, then the service was developed at a pure loss.

Jeremy said...

Unrelatedly, I think charging for character customization is pretty much a scam; it really is as simple as you have mentioned: changing a value in a database somewhere. Server transfers probably the same way, but I think the idea of charging there is more to make it a very meaningful decision, much like faction transfers.

pugnaciouspriest said...

Yes my changing race and server on one toon is looking a little too expensive.. for aprox the same amount I could have got a Blizzcon pet! /liveview which I didn't think was worth the money at the time

Pierre said...

They aren't charging for the work involved, they are charging for the luxury. How do you incorporate microtransactions into Wow? this is how.

Bob said...

Well your transfer fees paid so far is why they charge what they do. They can, the market will bear it. For the record it isnt the bean counters that make those pricing decisions it's the marketeers. We bean counters just get to add it up. I agree it would be nice to have one fee considering whats involved in each change, but lets face it there is money to be made.

Kensai said...

I've been looking forward to this change ever since beast mastery died. I want to change my tauren hunter to an orc hunter (or undead, har har), as survival doesn't really fit a tauren, being so big and bulky, but 30 bucks for that ? That's like 7% of my monthly paycheck... jeez, i'd rather just get me a lifetime supply of noggenfogger elixirs and deviate delights.