Friday, September 19, 2008
No Wrath without Burning Crusade
WoWInsider reports that Blizzard confirmed that you won't be able to play Wrath of the Lich King if you haven't got The Burning Crusade installed. Not a huge surprise, you'd have a problem to close the gap from level 60 to 70 without TBC anyway. But a reader was writing me and asked whether I thought that in the long run this could be a financial barrier to entry for people wanting to start WoW if they have to buy all the expansions.
I don't think that will really be a problem. You can now get the World of Warcraft Battlechest for $30, containing the original WoW and the first expansion. So you pay less for the bundle than either of them did cost on release. If on November 13 you want to buy WoW, TBC, and WotLK all together, it only costs you $70. And really, there is no good reason to want to buy WotLK for a new player right from the start. I'm pretty sure that by the time the third expansion comes out, there is some cheap package where you can buy WoW with both expansions for $30 or so.
The real barrier to entry into WoW nowadays is a completely different one. Like one of my readers commented yesterday, he had a friend joining for the first time, and that friend asked "where are all the other players?". That will be worse after Wrath than before. Not only will everyone be at level 80, which even with sped up leveling is a long way to go, but also there won't be all that many low level alts as in The Burning Crusade. TBC had veteran players making level 1 draenei and blood elf. WotLK has veteran players make level 55 death knights. Big difference for the future population of newbie zones.
Sad as it is, the best way to start WoW nowadays is via a friend, who recruits you with that triple xp offer and rushes you through the part of the game we used to love back in 2004/2005. Because in 2008/2009 that part of the game is an empty wasteland. You can still quest in the Barrens, but when you read some reference to the famous "Barrens chat" you won't know what they are talking about, because all you heard was eerie silence.