When the new annual pass offer was posted the first thing that crossed my mind was that I was buying it, it was not even something that needed to be considered.
I looked at it this way. I pay all year round anyway so paying in advance is no big deal. Add to the fact I get a mount, another game and an invite to the beta and you basically have a no brainer here.
As it turns out I actually saved money because of this. By paying in advance I saved $2 per month on my subscription cost and I saved the money I would have spent to buy the mount. Yes, I would have bought the mount anyway. I have the sparkle pony and the rasta lion so I would have got that too.
That alone means I have saved, at the least, $24 in subscription costs and $25 on the mount for a total of $49 savings. Nothing wrong with saving $49 if you ask me. Add to that the fact I get another game free, if I play it or not does not make a difference, it is free, and an invite to the beta guaranteed it as a win/win/win all the way around for me.
When I mentioned I bought the new package to some of my guild mates and explained the advantage to buying it they all seemed to jump on board. Some are probably going to sign up today even. Every one of them immediately considered buying it and the few that had issues with it had issues with it for one reason only, the outlay of a years payment.
When I explained that you do not have to pay a year in advance, you can pay one month at a time if you want to, then any reason they had not to buy it was gone.
It is a good deal for everyone that plans on playing for a year anyway. Worst case scenario would be you get a free mount, a free game and a beta invite but pay full price for each months service. Still pretty much a win/win/win all the way around.
So what exactly is Blizzard's intention with offering a package deal like this?
It all comes from an accounting stand point. While it might get a few people that do not subscribe all year long to subscribe for a full year that would be a bonus in their mind. While it might very well get a few of the people that quit playing to come back and pay for a years commitment even if they are not currently playing cataclysm. It is not aimed at them as their main focus.
It is aimed at me and people like me. People that plan to pay for a year anyway. The are giving all the bonuses to make sure we take notice and make our yearly commitment in advance instead of paying as we go. They want to try, as best they can, to get everyone that is currently playing to commit to a year. That is the intention.
It is completely for accounting purposes. Even if everyone chooses to pay one month at a time when agreeing to the year contract, every month on that contract can be counted as revenue generated in the quarter that the commitment was sold in, or assigned anyway they see fit. Commitment contracts are really fun for accounting and playing with numbers to make them look better then they really are.
They are trying to boost their quarterly numbers for the sake of their stockholders. Nothing more. They have to answer to them first, not us. The stockholders took note of losses since cataclysms release.
While us fans argue over if the loss of players matter, some saying yes, some saying no, the stockholders opinion was the only one that blizzard actually took notice of, and they said, yes, the loss is a problem.
Just look at what recently happened to netflix. It lost 810,000 subscribers and its stock fell 23%. In comparison, netflix is much bigger then WoW, lost (percentage wise) much less then WoW did, and it hurt them. It hurt WoW too and this is their response to try and keep the stockholders from biting their heads off.
This is being done to address that problem, to save the game in the eyes of the stockholders, not us. They want to be able to show the stockholders at the next meeting that even though they have lost a fair deal of subscribers their profits have gone up instead of having to say, we lost subscribers and all the money associated with them.
That is the reasoning behind such a fantastic deal. There is absolutely no reason for anyone in the game not to buy this deal. They want, they need, as many of us regulars to buy it. Even if all you can afford is $15 a month and can not spend more up front you can still take advantage of the deal. You can still get the free game, you can still get the free mount, you can still get beta access, all for the same exact $15 per month you are already paying anyway.
If you look at it from our standpoint blizzard gets nothing by giving this to us. If anything, they lose. They lose the money some would have spent on Diablo. They lose the money they would have made selling a mount. They lose the money from people that always paid monthly like me but now pay in advance so my cost is now cheaper.
It seems they are buying time for this next expansion and hoping it will reverse the bleeding that cataclysm has caused. This sale is just a way for the accountants to pad the books by using future commitment numbers as current numbers (a common practice) to make it look like they are doing fine, to make the stockholders happy long enough for MoP to come out.
Then they will all collectively hold their breath and cross their fingers and hope that the month MoP is released it doesn't lose customers the same as it did the month cataclysm was released.
This is a gambit. A risk. If MoP turns out to be as badly received as Cataclysm has been and causes more people to leave, even in small numbers like 5%, then the whole franchise might be in for a huge change because the stockholders will demand it.
We will find out for sure on May 15th when MoP is released I guess.
Now stop reading this and go buy that annual pass now. It's worth it.