Blizzard finally revealed today that World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic is launching on June 1, but it's not all good news for the community. Alongside the release announcement, Blizzard also revealed the price of its deluxe edition and new account services like a one-time character level boost, and a lot of players are upset over how steep those prices are.
Before we get to the root of the issue, it's important to know that World of Warcraft Classic is a free addition to any regular WoW subscription. It emulates the MMO as it existed back in 2006, but because MMOs tend to evolve and grow over time, players eventually got bored killing the same raid bosses and wanted more. That's where Burning Crusade Classic comes in. It resurrects World of Warcraft's first expansion true to how it was back in the day, giving WoW Classic players a whole new continent to explore, more levels to grind, and a bunch of other exciting changes like flying mounts. Burning Crusade Classic is also included in a regular WoW subscription.
What's upsetting players, however, are the prices of the optional account services that many will want to use going into Burning Crusade. The most controversial is the $35 fee to clone a character so it can play on both WoW Classic and Burning Crusade servers. A patch planned for May 18 will introduce some of the expansion's features early (like the ability to play as blood elves or draenei). After the patch rolls out, all WoW Classic players will have to make a permanent choice: Move their character forward into the Burning Crusade or choose to keep that character contained within the original WoW Classic version.
Those who move forward into the Burning Crusade will stay on the same server and enjoy all the fancy new features and areas to explore when they launch a few weeks later. Those who choose to stay behind will be transferred to new servers that will stay stuck in Classic, where the level cap is 60 and no new features will be added. It might seem like an obvious choice, but a lot of players prefer the Classic version of Warcraft untouched by expansions. That's what WoW Classic was all about in the first place.
That's where the $35 clone fee comes in. If you want to have the best of both worlds you can pay to clone a single character to both sets of servers. This creates a version that plays on Burning Crusade Classic servers and a separate one that plays on regular WoW Classic servers. It's a similar process to playing on WoW's beta servers, where you can choose to clone one of your existing characters from live servers over to the beta server—except now it costs a whopping $35.
"They can fuck off with the $35 to keep a copy of our character on classic servers," reads one comment. "It's such a shameless money grab for a service that should have been included and free with the release of classic BC."
It's easy to see why players are frustrated. World of Warcraft's account services are infuriatingly overpriced compared to other MMOs. What's more, by forcing players to pay to play the same character on both Burning Crusade and regular WoW Classic servers, it arbitrarily divides the community and creates pressure to follow the majority over to Burning Crusade. Otherwise you risk being left behind in a ghost-town Classic server. "[It's] essentially killing the population for classic vanilla," wrote one Redditor. "Absolutely insane pricing."
"It's really gonna cost Classic only players unfortunately," wrote another player. "Most of the people I knew were on the fence on whether they were going to clone at all, and probably would have for $10 just because. They certainly won't do it at $35."
Players are also criticizing the price of the deluxe edition, which costs a hefty $70 but only includes some cosmetics, a character level boost, and one month of game time. That's more than the cost of the special edition of the Shadowlands expansion, which included the access to Shadowlands itself (valued at $40). "Dear lord that's more than many triple-A games cost now," wrote one user on Wowhead. "You know, standalone games? That are non-sub based?"
None of these purchases are mandatory. Players can jump in and enjoy Burning Crusade Classic for just $15 a month, but it feels manipulative when you're then presented with big choices with permanent consequences that can be sidestepped by paying a lot of money. A few months ago I wrote about how upset I was that I had to pay $25 just to transfer my WoW character to a different server due a severe faction imbalance that made it difficult to have fun. These account services are all largely automated—it's not like a Blizzard employee is working tirelessly to manually copy and paste character data—so the fact that you're being charged so much for them feels like a scam.
As a long time WoW player who has probably spent thousands of dollars in subscription fees and expansions over the years, this sucks. But it's a strategy that's apparently working: Even though Blizzard has shed about 30% of the players it had three years ago, revenue is up 7%. Somehow I doubt that will be helpful news to those irked by the optional costs associated with Burning Crusade Classic.