Don't Like Paid 90 Boosts? Blame Blizzard Growing Up

If you've been upset about the recent confirmation by Blizzard that they will  start offering $60.00 paid level 90 character boosts you may want to read on. What we think the real reason behind the new paid service might surprise you.

Read on for comments made by a Blizzard employee about the $60 level 90 boosts and why we think they are really adding the service.

The Source

I'll be basing my thoughts today on Blizzard explains $60 cost of World of Warcraft level 90 character boost, an interview by Eurogamer of World of Warcraft lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas.

While it is easy to speculate on why Blizzard has decided to introduce these paid character boosts lets listen to what the Blizzard developer actually said.

Below are excerpts of Hazzikostas' interview. (Emphasis is ours.)

"We realised as soon as we came out with Warlords of Draenor boost to 90, we knew that there was going to be demand for more than 1," 
"It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service." 
"In terms of the pricing, honestly a big part of that is not wanting to devalue the accomplishment of levelling,"
"If our goal here was to sell as many boosts as possible, we could halve the price or more than that - make it $10 or something. And then hardly anyone would ever level a character again
"But levelling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that." 
"I am not an economist, I'm not the one setting the dollar value myself, but it's not the profit maximising price. That was not our aim here." 
"The intent here isn't to create a world where no-one levels,"
"It's just to allow people who want to purchase additional level 90s, maybe they want a second or third alt and they don't have time to level it themselves because they have a family or etc - it's to allow them to do that."

We Have To

Just to reiterate what Ion Hazzikostas stated: Blizzard knew that once the "boost to 90" mechanism was introduced into the game players would have a ravenous desire to have it again.

So great would be that desire that they would be willing to buy another expansion for a total of $60 (WoD for $40 for Warlords of Draenor plus $20 for "Battlechest" assuming MoP is rolled into it) just to gain another boost to level 90.

(Perhaps they won't include MoP in the Battlechest and so buying an expansion will also require MoP at $20 bringing the total to $80. Still. Not that much more than $60.)

Since asking players to do this would be "awkward" and "odd" they realized they *had* to make it into a paid service.

So Hazzikostas is saying once they let the level 90 boost genie out of its bottle there would be no way to put it back in.

As Hazzikostas out is once there is one level 90 boost "there was going to be demand for more than 1."

All the Cost. Less Benefit.

I don't really buy this line of reasoning since they have allowed Recruit-a-Friend to be used by players wanting to speed up leveling since The Burning Crusade.

Somehow they didn't find the complicated Recruit-a-Friend mechanics "awkward" and "odd"? They were about as awkward and odd as they come.

Rather than having people have to deal with the overhead of managing a whole other account they figured they would just let them pay the same as another account but not give them the benefits of another account.

So, for $60 you can have one character boosted to level 90 or you can have a second account, 30 days of game time and a character boosted to level 90.

Either way, the reasoning that players would be confused doesn't really hold water. Or maybe its just the "normal" players who would be confused. (More on these "normal" players later.)

There's Value In Them There Levels!

Now let's address the thing that has cause so much controversy: the $60.00 price.

What was the reasoning behind the $60 price according to Hazzikostas?

"…not wanting to devalue the accomplishment of levelling,"

Which he stated,

"takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases"

Hazzikostas stated leveling 1-90 can take between 24-101 hours. (Yes, we're being a bit facetious with these numbers.)

Taking him at his word, that averages to around 62.5 hours of game play per level 90.

$60.00 divided by 62.5 hours comes out to about $0.96 per hour. That values leveling for one hour at $0.96 cents.

How much does a level 90 boost cost per level? $60.00 divided by 90 levels equals $0.67 per level.

Since 60 (dollars for the paid boost) and 62.5 (average hours to level to 90) are so close for our purposes let's make the math a bit easier and call them even.

That would mean that Blizzard thinks the value of a level is around $0.96.

They are only going to charge you $0.67 per level to save you the trouble of having to, as Hazzikostas put it, not have to "put serious time and effort into" leveling from 1-90.

Not For You?

I hate to tell you this but if you're reading this blog you may not be the target market for these paid level 90 boosts.

If you are reading this blog I'm going to assume that you have more than a passing interest in World of Warcraft and are playing the game enough that the thought of leveling a character is just part of the game.

I dare say that anyone reading this should probably consider themselves on the more "hardcore" side of World of Warcraft players.

"Normal" World of Warcraft players don't even know this blog exists.

"Normal" World of Warcraft players think leveling is boring.

"Normal" World of Warcraft players just want to sit down and play the game, maybe with friends, and enjoy themselves.

"Normal" World of Warcraft players have things to do.

"Normal" World of Warcraft players think spending $60 to cut out 62 hours of "boring" or "repetitive" gameplay is a bargain.

You and I aren't "normal" World of Warcraft players and likely don't see value in spending $60 on something we would readily do any way.

That's the point. These boost aren't for us. They are for "normal" World of Warcraft players who just want to cut out some of the "grind" and are willing to pay $60 to do so.

You and me? We'll be leveling our hearts out because that's one of the joys of playing the game.

Unless we too hate leveling then we may buy a boost.

The Real Reason?

We now know why Blizzard is setting the price so high but why offer it at all? Why not just tell players "No boost for you!"?

We're (almost) all adults. I think we can handle it.

The amount of Blizzard-sanctioned hoops I had to jump through over the years with multiple Recruit-a-Friend and Scroll of Resurrections I've done is staggering.

All just to shave off some leveling time in exchange for some real money.

I think the real reason Blizzard is offering this paid level 90 boost is that they are all getting older and have kids and families and probably wish they could just pay $60 to not have to level yet another 90.

Don't believe me? Listen again to Hazzikostas: (Again, emphasis is ours.)

"It's just to allow people who want to purchase additional level 90s, maybe they want a second or third alt and they don't have time to level it themselves because they have a family or etc - it's to allow them to do that."

I think Blizzard may be growing up and the act of leveling is becoming a "young man's game" as they say.

The Aging Actor Syndrome

Have you ever noticed that there are movie actors and directors that seem to lose their "edge" as time goes on?

A few that come to mind are Adam Sandler, Ice Cube and Judd Apatow.

Their early works are edgy, raucous, filthy, and have a certain "bite" to them.

Movies like Friday, Big Daddy and 40 Year-Old Virgin, all produced when they were much younger.

Those above movies seem a far cry from Are We There Yet, This is 40 and Grown Ups.

Just look at those two sets of movies. The first are all about the single life and "living it up". The second are all about having (and dealing with having) families.

Has Blizzard moved from its " staying up all night drinking Mt. Dew and making games" phase into its "I've got to put the kids to bed" phase?

Are they a company at which the idea of not having to spend "dozens if not over 100 hours" leveling is appealing to them personally?

I think they may have and I think that the developers are going to be taking advantage of these $60 level 90 boosts. Instead of leveling they will spend time with their kids.


While I've over-simplified and generalized much of the stuff in this post I did so to help clarify for all of us that Blizzard honestly thinks that these boost will be a boon to a certain type of player. We may or may not be that exact player.

I also know that, despite my hyperbolic words above, there is no such thing as a "normal" World of Warcraft player. There is no such thing as a "normal" person.

We're all unique and have our own unique reasons for choosing to spend the money we do on this game.

I've spent countless amounts of money on second accounts, Recruit-a-Friend and paid character services. Why?

Because I determined that the benefit I was getting (faster leveling, new character look, new faction, etc.) was worth the real world money it cost.

And you know what? I don't regret spending any of that money because each time I got what I wanted out of the deal.

The same will be true if I ever determine that $60 is worth more than the time it will take me to level a character to 90.

I know I would probably pay $60 if it meant keeping up with my friends in the game while at the same time giving me more time with my daughter.

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  1. I currently have 14 level 90s, all at max profession levels (I know, too much free time, but I'm retired). I'm also a fairly competent gold maker (I usually have 1.5-2 million gold spread across my characters and accounts); and I read this blog, among others, so I don't know if I qualify for "normal." But lately, I've wanted to try out horde side. I've already spent $30 per character for faction transfers, and I'm leveling other characters there, too. Personally, I would gladly pay $60 for a level 90 boost for a horde character! But what I think is cool about it is that people who don't want to pay can continue leveling their characters the same way as always, but for those of us who want a quicker result, it will be available.

    1. I fully agree with your points jim! Good read.

  2. An interesting read Jim.
    Personally, however, I really just don’t see what all the fuss is with this. Buy a boost if you want or level a character if you want – who cares?
    There’s been an undercurrent for a good while now in the community discussing how with each passing expansion the barrier to entry for new players is harder and harder to get past as the level cap increases. Reduced XP to level can only do so much but the bottom line here is that new players trying to get into this game face a substantial barrier to entry – and for those new players RAF (and Heirlooms obviously) is not really an option.
    Once the new expansion hits, players will be able to boost to not the maximum level – which will be 100 - but to the previous max level of 90. They then level through the 10 new levels to get to 100. This seems fair enough to me.
    I class myself as a normal player, I make gold, I have 5M liquid gold right now on Arathor EU and I enjoy the (often limited) WoW time I have. However, I’d really like to try out a Mage but no way do I have the time or the desire to level from 1-90 (investing that time) and then perhaps finding out that I don’t really like the class. I don’t have those hours to risk wasting them....

  3. I usually enjoy thinking/reading/writing about major shifts in Blizzard's practices and direction; these can be interesting topics for many of us who follow gaming. As a result, I've been poking around various blogs and websites reading others' perspectives about the character boost.

    This was a disappointing post, as you certainly did (as you put it) over-simplify and generalize, as well as throw in many personal projections and assumptions. There's just way too much amateur psychology here, and that never makes for a good read.

  4. You're leaving out some of the numbers involved. You say that buying another copy of the game is "almost" the same price as the $60 boost. That's wrong.

    Say the second account actually is $60, best case (if MoP gets in the Battlechest).

    Say you want another level 90. You buy a second account. Now, if you want to move that character to your main account, add another $30 for the transfer. Or, add the cost of a second monthly subscription if you don't transfer the new 90. So now you've paid $90 or $60+monthly sub.

    The math gets worse if a new Warlords-level account would be $80.

    It's not as simple as "buying another account," there are more costs to doing it that way.

    The fact that Blizzard is willing to give up all that extra money (which, let's face it... They'd totally get) to give your "normal" players a leveling boost says a lot about the company. In a good way.

  5. I believe it's not really an age related thing, but an expected return of players thing. Bliz is expecting that when past players read the incoming "largest amount of changes in WoW ever wall of text", that they will return wanting to play asap with their friends. This will allow those 70/80/85 players to not only return and start WoD with everyone else, but get a profession boost if they use a 60+ toon.

  6. Are the sic appropriate? That's how those words are spelled in the UK, from where the article originated.

    1. Thanks for the info. I'll look into it and removed them if needed.

    2. Fixed. I learn something new every day. :D