Thursday, June 21, 2012

Diablo and Rift Expansion Purchase News

A couple of items that caught my interest today.

Diablo Digital Purchase Restriction

Now when you purchase a digital copy of Diablo III, you are restricted to a Starter Version for 72 hours.

Blizzard must be having serious problems with stolen credit cards to take such a drastic step. I would wager that hackers/gold farmers are using stolen credit cards to purchase digital editions, make a throwaway account, use it to launder or convey gold in some fashion, and then repeat when Blizzard bans the account.

Credit card charge-backs are a serious issue for merchants, as Visa and Mastercard heavily punish merchants who have a high volume of fraudulent transactions.

My guess is that Blizzard is implementing this delay to make purchasing "temporary" digital copies an unattractive option for hackers while they work on a technical solution. I would imagine that the next patch will probably lock out trading or using the Auction House until you are level 13, or maybe until the Skeleton King is beaten.

RIFT Expansion Including Base Game For Free

I have to say that Trion's Marketing people are impressive. From Massively:

Storm Legion will apparently include the full version of RIFT along with it, allowing new players to pick up the expansion and experience both the core game and the additions without restriction. 
Of course, this sounds like less of a deal if you already own RIFT, but you're covered there as well, as existing players can expect a price discount on purchasing the expansion.

Let's see (all numbers made up for demonstrative purposes). Let's say Trion prices Storm Legion at $40, but says that if you already own RIFT, you can get a $10 discount:

Storm Legion + RIFT = $40
Storm Legion = $40 - $10 = $30

Subtracting both sides,

RIFT = $10

This is a very interesting definition of the word "free". It is mathematically identical to Trion saying that RIFT costs $10 and Storm Legion costs $30, and the combination costs $40. Only Trion's way of phrasing it will net them slightly more money because a percentage of current RIFT owners will not use the discount or coupon.

Yet the internet appears to be amazed at Trion's generosity. Well done, Trion Marketing!

That's not to say that it's a bad idea. I've always thought that expansion packs should just contain the full game. It means there's only one SKU running around. There's no chance of buying the wrong version. New players get access to the entire game right from the start. It's clean and easy, and really the only problem is dealing with the old unsold physical boxed sets.


  1. Your interpretation of the "Free RIFT!" announcement is identical to mine. Very interesting definition of the word "free".

  2. It's a clever move as it suggests to casual observers that the expansion is a good entry point for new players rather than the usual 'you've missed the boat' feeling.

  3. I agree about expansions including the basic game. I seem to recall EQ2 made a habit of doing this but never made much of a fuss about it.

    WoW is really the outlier here, do they really expect new players to buy 3 expansions as well as MoP?

  4. @ spinksville

    No, they don't really expect that.

    If you buy WoW today it comes with TBC. You'll be able to make a blood elf and wander around in Silvermoon. You'll be able to get to level 70.

    The lvling from 70-80 is quicker than before Cata launch. The same goes for 1-60 and 60-70. The lvling of 80-85 will be quicker when MoP is released.

    The expansions are also quite cheap except for the latest expansion, and that only when it is new. Right now, Cata is cheap too, at least on eBay (just checked, 10-15 EUR).

  5. @Rohan-- Whaddya think that the RMAH is attracting the credit card thieves?

    @Fn0-- Yes they do. Blizz has three expansions out right now, and only one is bundled/discounted. Blizz only came out with that discount a while after Cata dropped, so we can expect similar behavior for Mists.

    Additionally, your argument only works if a new player isn't going to play a Goblin or Worgen. If they want to do that, they've got to buy three packages from Blizz first. Three packages is still three packages, no matter which way you slice it, and with Mists due to drop, if you're a new player who wants to play a Pandaren, sucks to be you.

  6. WOW has been around for a while. So, I think it's probably more likely that someone thinking about buying Storm Legion didn't try Rift than someone thinking about buying Mists didn't try WOW. Thus, this tactic makes more sense for Trion than Blizzard because Mists customers would have WOW (and previous expansions) already and wouldn't care about getting another "free" WOW.

    Blizzard didn't have to offer bundles for their previous expansions because WOW was so ridiculously popular. Why offer a discount for something that sells well anyway? People just gobbled up the expansions as soon as it came out. I know I did, up to Cata.

  7. Why don't they just give away the expansion? Since they're already charging 15 dollars a month, it seems a tad overboard to slap an extra $40 on the customer every expansion.

  8. @Spinks, WoW does sell the expansions separately, but it doesn't price them the same. For example, right now it's:

    1. WoW + BC = $20
    2. WotLK = $20
    3. Cataclysm = $40

    The equivalent to Trion's pricing would be offering Cataclysm for $80, but giving you a $40 discount if you already own the previous expansions.

  9. @Redbeard, honestly, I would wager that all the RMAH traffic is legitimate.

    The thing is that when you are engaging in something illegal, you don't want someone who opposes you to have control of the money. If the credit card thieves used the RMAH, Blizzard would have more opportunities to detect and stop it. And, most importantly, Blizzard would have an opportunity to prevent the thieves from cashing out.

    It's like if you do something illegal in the real world, you pay in cash. Cash is not traceable, and a cash transaction cannot be stopped by the bank.

    Similarly, I would think that most RMT operations will use their own credit card operations to cash out, rather than relying on their enemy, Blizzard.

  10. Massively said "free", not Trion.

  11. Additionally, I suspect it will be difficult for an existing owner of the game to buy the expansion without getting the discount since it will most likely be an online purchase.

    Who goes to buy software in a box at the store these days? ;)

  12. @ Redbeard,

    Are you able to count to 3 or 4? You DO NOT buy "3 expansions as well as MoP" (= 4 expansions) as spinksville claimed. You buy WoW (which comes with TBC), you buy WotLK, and you buy Cata. That is WoW + 2 expansions. Still following it? OK, now you also buy MoP. That means 3 expansions in total. Exactly the same amount as in Cata where you had to buy TBC and WotLK seperate!!

    As I said only the last one will be expensive during launch after which the early adopter fee will be non-existant. Especially if you're able to shop a lil bit smart.

    On eBay both WotLK and Cata can be picked up for about 10-15 EUR each from several vendors.

    As for your race comment: too bad. Most people who try out WoW use a trial account which already means they couldn't roll worgen/goblin/pandaren. Once they'd like to get past level 20 they have to decide if they want to pay the first time to Blizzard: min one month play time or a subscription, and of course one WoW license (comes free with TBC, level cap 70). After that, well read what I wrote above. If they really want to roll a worgen/goblin/pandaren then they must start from scratch and then what you said applies.

    With RAF, the best option is to try out the game at low lvl. If player likes, go buy all expansions and together, with full liberty of choice for race/class, start at 80 to experience the Cata expansion. Since they RAF, their buddy can explain them stuff like this.

    The amount of people who buy WoW without having tried out trial is neglectible, as is your argument.

    "Who goes to buy software in a box at the store these days? ;)"

    All you need to buy is a serial from a reputable source. Once you have that you can download the expansion online from Blizzard.