Experience Points: WoW - a Cash Shop Too Far

Each week, Chris "Syeric" Coke gives his unfiltered thoughts on the MMO industry. Taking on the news and hottest topics, Chris brings his extensive experience as a player and blogger to bear in Experience Points. This week he examines the expansion of WoW's pet store and how many lessons Blizzard seems to have missed.

World of Warcraft hasn’t been doing well, at least not by WoW standards. In May, it was reported that the game had dropped to 8.3 million subscribers, continuing what’s becoming a quarterly trend of disappointing earnings calls and bolstering the sense that its community is bleeding out. While the game still has more “subscribers” than most other AAA MMOs combined, that reassuring fact is undermined by Eastern players not paying a subscription fee at all and instead paying by the hour. Considering that North Americans are thought to make up the minority of the player base, the increasing decline of WoW in China doesn’t spell good things for the game. Parent company Vivendi is trying to sell off Blizzard entirely. In that light, is it any surprise that a cash shop is being expanded in World of Warcraft? That’s our topic this week, and I’m here to look at just how many cardinal sins it's committing.