Blizzard just announced some significant changes (opens in new tab) to how World of Warcraft players can purchase game time, and players aren't happy about it. In a forum post, WoW community manager Bornakk broke the news that, going forward, players would only be able to purchase game time for World of Warcraft in increments of 60 days, meaning you can no longer make a one-time purchase for 30, 90, and 180 days of World of Warcraft game time.
To be clear, this doesn't affect World of Warcraft subscriptions, which can still be purchased on a recurring monthly basis (or in increments of 90 and 180 days). Though subscriptions are probably the most common way to access World of Warcraft, many players prefer to buy game time as a once-off purchase. It's great option if you don't play consistently, as you can just buy a little bit of game time whenever you need it rather than committing to a monthly fee that potentially gets wasted. Purchasing game time like this is also preferable to a lot of players in different countries where credit cards are not always a common payment method. At the end of the day, though, it's just nice to have more options for how you pay.
Selling game time cards for 60-day increments is actually the standard for most other MMOs, but the change is still upsetting to a lot of players. There are already over 500 comments between the official forum post and a thread on WoW's subreddit, with many players expressing frustration and confusion over why the change was even made in the first place.
"There's nothing about this that benefits wow players/subscribers," writes one redditor (opens in new tab). Other comments accuse Blizzard of trying to artificially juice subscription numbers and retention rates by forcing more players to buy a recurring subscription.
"The whole purpose of this is to force more people to HAVE to subscribe," says another player. (opens in new tab) "Then, when the inevitably quit the game, and forget to cancel your sub, they make more money off you due to auto-renew."
Even if Blizzard is just adjusting to the industry standard, it's easy to see why having fewer payment options is frustrating. One thing to take into account is that buying game time (or a subscription) at a larger increment rewards you with a hefty discount. Buying game time in a lump of 180 days would save you about $25 as opposed to paying monthly. But because that's still a lot of money (180 days is about $75), it's natural that some players wouldn't want to commit to a subscription where they might forget to cancel when that six months is up. At the same time, other commenters are pointing out that you can immediately cancel a subscription after buying it and it only takes a few seconds. Sure, it's an extra step, but it's a pretty harmless way of avoiding an unwanted charge.
Even so, this this move comes on the back of other Blizzard controversies that have upset its players, including outrage that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick (opens in new tab) is receiving an estimated $200 million bonus at the same time that Blizzard announced it was laying off around 50 people in its esports division (opens in new tab).