Few MMOs are as beloved as World of Warcraft.
With that love comes a lot of disappointment when the game doesn’t quite meet expectations.
One ongoing disappointment some players have with World of Warcraft is that it’s too expensive.
Why Is World of Warcraft So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
World of Warcraft has three different tiers of subscriptions with the most expensive costing $14.99 a month and the least expensive costing $12.99 a month.
World of Warcraft is expensive because of the ongoing costs of producing new content, hosting services, in-game purchases, the other various game service fees you have to pay, and the fact that World of Warcraft remains one of the most popular MMOs in the market.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Game Development Costs
One of the biggest reasons World of Warcraft is expensive is game development costs are high.
It costs a lot of money to make an AAA game.
Game studios have several expenses from game developers to animators.
Then they need to bring on additional talents like artists and voice actors to bring the game to life.
One could argue that World of Warcraft set the standard for modern-day MMOs.
It has pressure to continue to raise the scale each year.
Raising that scale requires money.
It requires time spent on designing and formulating new ideas and new experiences.
From design to launch, several steps need to take place.
Each step costs the company money.
In order to remain profitable and continue operating, the company needs to keep its prices high.
World of Warcraft is expensive because it has high game development costs.
2. Server Costs
Players don’t always realize that it costs certain companies money to launch their games.
Online games, in particular, often rely on third-party server hosting companies.
These companies have servers that the game studio pays to host its games.
Whenever you log onto a multiplayer game that has a server that you join, that’s likely coming from a third-party company.
The exception is dedicated servers.
Those servers are usually hosted by one of the players.
They act as a host, and other people can join their private server.
Non-dedicated servers, however, usually rely on a third-party server hosting company.
The problem with third-party server hosts is that they can be expensive.
Typically, the more players a game has, the more expensive it is to pay for servers.
That’s because it causes more strain on that server, resulting in higher power usage.
Since the server hosting company is spending more resources to host the server, it’s going to charge the game studio more money.
World of Warcraft is a popular game with millions of players playing online regularly.
That likely means that Blizzard, the game studio behind World of Warcraft, is paying a lot of money to the company hosting its servers.
To keep up with server costs, the company has to charge high prices on its subscription plans.
World of Warcraft is expensive because the cost of having another company host a game’s servers can be quite high.
3. Continued Development
Another reason World of Warcraft is expensive is that it is still under development.
Blizzard has been continuing to add new content to the game each year.
That content might include new areas, new enemies, new challenges, or simply new skins.
Since gamers are receiving something for their monthly payments, Blizzard charges higher prices on its subscription plans.
This enables the company to continue to produce new content as quickly as it does.
Without high-priced subscription plans, the company might not be able to produce new content as fast.
As mentioned earlier, gaming development costs a lot of money when produced at the AAA level.
To keep up with costs and continue to produce new content, Blizzard has to charge higher prices for its plans.
A lot of its content is also free.
While you’re paying a monthly fee, the fee that you pay doesn’t necessarily equate to the value of the content that you receive.
For example, you may pay $14 a month, but the content released during that month may cost $50 or more outside of World of Warcraft.
Because players tend to receive a great deal for free based on what they’re paying, Blizzard has no problem charging higher prices for its subscription plans.
World of Warcraft is expensive because it regularly produces new content.
One of the biggest reasons World of Warcraft is expensive is that it also has tons of microtransactions built into the game.
Blizzard is notorious for its use of microtransactions.
While it is possible to buy some of its skins, pets, and mounts with a currency you can earn in-game, that isn’t always the case.
There may be some exclusive skins that you have to pay real money for.
Others may only be available for a limited time.
If you don’t have the in-game currency available in time, then you may feel pressure to spend real money to buy the item before it leaves the store.
A quick look at the World of Warcraft shop can indicate the general prices for some of the items.
Pets, for example, can cost around $10 while mounts can cost around $25.
That’s a lot of money for a virtual item you’ll only ever use in World of Warcraft.
If you’re a collector and want to have all the pets and mounts in the game, then you could be spending tons of money.
Microtransactions can be a problem.
When a player doesn’t have a lot of impulse control, they might end up spending more money than they can afford to spend.
It makes the game significantly more expensive.
Blizzard does sometimes give away a pet or mount or even a skin for free.
By and large, however, if a player wants to get their hands on a specific package or pet before it leaves the store, then they’re going to have to pay extra for it.
World of Warcraft is expensive because of its microtransactions.
5. Subscription Plan Lengths
The type of subscription plan you buy can also determine how expensive World of Warcraft is for you.
Blizzard has three different subscription tiers with bonuses on them.
For example, the least expensive subscription plan requires you to subscribe for six months.
You pay $12.99 a month, but because Blizzard charges you every six months, you actually pay $77.94 every six months.
That can seem like a lot of money.
The most expensive option is to pay every month.
Without the discount, you’re going to spend $14.99 every month which will end up costing you more in the long run.
As such, if you wish to save money, it’s cheaper to pay $77.94 every six months than $14.99 every month.
The exception is if you don’t play World of Warcraft that often.
Blizzard counts on you playing World of Warcraft very often to make your investment worth it.
If you’re not playing the game that often, then you’re probably not getting your money’s worth out of it.
If you buy the six-month plan, for example, then only play for one or two months, then you’re paying $12.99 a month for nothing.
World of Warcraft is expensive because of how it organizes its subscription plans.
While a lot of the content you receive from World of Warcraft is free, there are sometimes certain expansions that you also have to pay for.
For example, one of the World of Warcraft’s latest expansions, Dragonflight, is one that all subscribers have to pay for.
It even has different tiers of purchase.
The cheapest price, the base game, costs $49.99 when not discounted.
The most expensive price, which Blizzard calls the Epic Edition, costs $89.99 when not discounted.
You receive a few extra features with the more expensive option.
This makes World of Warcraft expensive because it means you sometimes have to pay another $50 to $90 to play the new content.
You’re already paying a monthly fee.
Having to pay $50 to $90 on top of that may seem a bit too expensive for some players.
Since you’re already paying a certain amount each month, you might expect Blizzard to use those funds to create its new content.
Instead, Blizzard is trying to make more profit by selling its larger expansion.
That said, Dragonflight is a larger expansion.
It offers a few more experiences than a standard free update from Blizzard.
Besides a desire to earn a higher profit off the sale of the expansion, Blizzard likely had extra costs to cover as well.
World of Warcraft is expensive because you sometimes have to buy pricey expansions on top of your subscription plan.
7. Paid Realm Transfers
Now and then, a player might want to transfer their character to a different realm.
You can think of realms as servers.
There may be several reasons a player wants to transfer to a different server.
One of their friends might have started playing on a different server, for example.
Their current server might have problematic people on it that they want to stay clear of.
Whatever the reason, a player might want to switch servers.
It isn’t free to do so on World of Warcraft.
To transfer to a different realm, the player has to purchase a character transfer.
That costs $25.
You have to pay $25 just to move your character from one server to the next.
While it’s rare that someone would need to transfer their character, it’s still a punishing price.
World of Warcraft is expensive because it charges a high price just to transfer your character to a different server.
8. Brand Name
World of Warcraft made a name for itself as one of the most successful MMOs to launch.
It boasted millions of players.
While it has lost some of its golden sheen over the years through questionable choices, it’s still one of the defining MMO experiences.
Because of that, it’s able to keep its prices as high as it does.
Players have tons of content to play through.
World of Warcraft has been around for some time, and its original quests, for the most part, are still available to play.
For many people, the investment is worth it since there’s so much content.
Others are simply willing to pay more to experience what World of Warcraft is all about.
That enables Blizzard to put a high price on its subscription plans.
World of Warcraft is expensive because its brand name is popular and an industry standard in the MMO market.
9. Subscription Plans Versus One-Off Purchase
One of the primary reasons why World of Warcraft is expensive is that it uses subscription plans.
A lot of other games have a one-time purchase.
You pay $60 or $70, then you own the game forever.
You don’t have to keep spending on it each month to keep playing it.
That isn’t the case with World of Warcraft.
Since you need a subscription to play it, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars over the years.
World of Warcraft does have a free tier, but it only allows you to access some of the quests, and you can only level up your character to level 20.
If you want to experience the full game, then you’re going to have to pay each month for it.
World of Warcraft is expensive because it uses a subscription plan to access the game.
10. Game Service Fees
A final reason World of Warcraft is expensive is that you have to pay for certain game services.
In many other MMOs, this service is either free or you’re able to grind some form of in-game currency to unlock it.
In World of Warcraft, if you want to change the name of your character, use some guild services, or even change your character’s race, then you’re going to need to pay for it.
The average price for any game service is $25.
That’s a lot of money to make a change for your character.
World of Warcraft is expensive because it charges you for certain game services.