|But I just bought the OLD Battle Chest :(|
We mentioned the Battle Chest and Recruit-a-Friend changes last week as significant pointers towards a concerted effort by Blizzard to bring players to the game: what about those who were already here but left? We all know someone who's got a subscription that's lapsed (for whatever reason) and these players are a significant resource. Not simply do they know the game, they have characters that have already gone through a lot of the awkward [*] levelling process. However, it is the reason why they left that is the bigger issue. Anyone who's cancelled a subscription will know Blizzard are fairly intrusive when you do so in terms of asking you why you're leaving, and I'm betting those questions make a fair few people feel they did the right thing by walking away to begin with. I was only cancelling a long-inactive account and the level of questioning made me feel uncomfortable. You shouldn't be asking people what's wrong when they're walking out the door, it should happen well before that.
How then does Blizzard attract back people after an absence? Is 'free time' enough of an incentive? In my experience it doesn't work, because enticing people back to an experience that remains pretty much the same as the point at which they left isn't doing the job. By far the best way to get people interested is to present something that everyone's talking about, that creates a word of mouth experience that piques the interest, and (staggeringly for me) that's what Lootistics Island is becoming. It may seem worryingly cynical for those of us who've been here since Day 1, but for someone with a 90 who left the game pre 5.4 the lure of gearing to a standard that will allow them SoO access is pretty strong, especially if that means being ready for the Expansion when it hits... more significantly still if that can be achieved, say, in a weekend (and yes, it is entirely possible.) Those are the kind of incentives that people are looking for, and I think this means that, at least in the pre-Expansion event, we can expect to see an awful lot of incentives to pull in the lapsed subscriber.
|NO, this is NOT Horde/Alliance bias (don't start!)|
That means, that when the Recruit a Friend programme launches with the token system for your choice of rewards, I can see something similar being offered to those who have cancelled their subs. Pay up front for X months and have the choice of these FABULOUS PRIZES on your return to Azeroth, perhaps? After the minefield of the Annual Pass that might not be an option, but I can see something being tied to re-subscribing that's not linked to RAF. The question is, what would it be?
What if it was linked to XP gain on your account?
It wouldn't happen with any character on any server once the Expansion hit: you'd have to level them normally with the same 'rules' as everyone else (so that Achievements like Server First could be preserved) but before that... what if returning players got a standard +50% experience buff on all their characters, regardless of level up to 90? Would that be enough of an incentive to make people want to return? But hang on, what about everyone else who is already here? Wouldn't this negate Heirlooms? Frankly that's not the issue, the main thrust of this exercise is getting people who aren't 90 there as quickly as possible so they can use the Expansion when it launches. There's a reason Blizzard tested the XP 'Flask in a Store' idea and it was for precisely this reason. This way you're still paying cash to make it happen, but instead of a microtransaction it's a sub, and in the long run that's worth a lot more to Blizzard if they intend to stand by this model.
I have to believe Blizzard will be doing their utmost not simply to entice the newer player in at Blizzcon, but to bring back the Old Guard, and that will mean some kind of concession, somewhere along the line. What that is however, we will have to wait and see, but I suspect this might be something we hear about BEFORE Blizzcon as a way to further pique interest and draw people in...
[*] Yes, I know YOU love it, but for some people it remains a means to an end... ^^