Blizzard announced today that World of Warcraft Classic will soon include its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. If you're already level 60 in WoW Classic (or plan on getting there soon), having a whole new continent to explore is obviously exciting, but brand new players and everyone in between have a reason to get excited too: Blizzard will be offering a one-time level 58 character boost so you can jump straight into the Dark Portal when Burning Crusade Classic launches later this year. The catch? You have to pay for it, and you can only do it once.
"This boost is really meant for you to come and play with your friends," WoW Classic production director Patrick Dawson told me. "It's not meant to be a way to avoid leveling. That's part of what Classic is meant to be—all those levels that you earned matter. The reason that this is important for us is that we also know community matters and playing with your friends matters. So providing people with the opportunity to do this once, so they can't just get as many characters as they want, lets you play the character that you want alongside your friends who maybe have been playing and putting in that time and investment into getting multiple [level 60 characters]."
For a long time World of Warcraft has sold level boosts so players can jump straight into the new expansion. When you buy Shadowlands, the current one for modern WoW, you get one of those level boosts for free, but you can also buy as many as you want.
But the level boost players can purchase in Burning Crusade Classic is going to have a lot more restrictions on it. Here's what we know so far:
- You can only purchase one level boost per account, since the intention isn't to let players skip leveling multiple characters but let those without level 60 characters jump into Burning Crusade right away.
- You cannot level boost a blood elf or draenei character (the two new races added in Burning Crusade)
- You can only use the boost on a Burning Crusade character. If you have a character that isn't transferring over to Burning Crusade Classic when it launches, you'll have to level it the old fashioned way.
All that seems well and good, but I was surprised that Blizzard wouldn't just give the level boost away for free—especially since it's just a way to help players catch up with their friends.
"Our philosophy around boosts is that they're entirely optional, and we always want to be considerate of the amount of effort it takes to level up a character and how much pride players feel in that accomplishment," Dawson explained. "And while they're a super convenient way for players to get a character ready to join their friends or their guilds, especially when it's time for a new content update or a new expansion, it's important to put some limitations in place on the boosts, including making them an optional service. And we approach that in different ways for different facets of World of Warcraft. Burning Crusade Classic is included in players’ subscriptions—unlike Shadowlands, for example, where you can get a boost as part of an expansion purchase—so we’re taking an approach that we feel is right for WoW Classic and its community. That also includes restrictions such as not being able to boost blood elves or draenei, and not being able to use the boost on a character in the Classic Era."
I can see Dawson's point, but considering how exorbitantly expensive WoW's account services like server transfers ($25), race ($25) and faction ($30) changes are, it sucks having one more thing to pay for—especially during a pandemic when a lot of people are already hurting financially. I asked Dawson how much Blizzard would charge for the Burning Crusade Classic level boost, but he didn't comment. I'm praying it doesn't cost as much as the current Shadowlands level boost, though, which is a whopping $60.
Hopefully Blizzard will consider a much more reasonable price, but either way the message it sends is frustrating. It feels like Blizzard is overcompensating on behalf of people who might be irked that others got to level 60 without putting in any effort, but there's also no denying that level boosts are just a way to generate profit out of thin air. Blizzard is already imposing heavy limitations on the Burning Crusade level boost, so charging extra just feels like an unnecessary tax that only serves to punch down at people who maybe don't have a lot of money to spend in the first place.