With another season of WoW Adventures wrapped up, it’s pretty easy to tell that I’m a huge fan of the World of Warcraft video game. August 7, 2018 will mark the 12 year anniversary of my initial account creation… meaning Sionis the fire mage of Stormwind is 12 years old next month!
Reflecting on the Value of World of Warcraft
Twelve years is a long time to play one game.
Wow. To think of that my wife Technicolor Mom, has only been playing since 2014! Despite that late arrival, her account will turn five years old in February!
So, surely I’ve spent a ton of money on WoW by now, right? The game has a monthly subscription and an in-game store with mounts and pets, which obviously I’ve bought my share of those over the years. There’s no way any of that hasn’t impacted my wallet.
Or… has it?
Let’s take a look!
One of the coolest things about playing a persistent digital game as your primary hobby is that the costs can be easily tracked and followed, even over 12 years. That means I can pinpoint, down to the dollar, the amount I have spent on World of Warcraft (minus the cost of the base game and the first expansion since I bought those at Walmart before digital purchases had become a thing)!
Since 2006, I’ve spent $1,250.16 on my WoW subscription. That’s a big number when added up, but ultimately it breaks down to just $8.68/month. Now, take into account the number is lower because of various changes to my account over the years, such as when I wasn’t subscribed or when I got a free month here and there. Ultimately though, my WoW subscription has been considerably cheaper than the $12.99/month that my Netflix account currently costs, and let’s face facts… that Netflix account is for my daughter’s use, not mine.
In 2010, Battle.net introduced a Blizzard in-game store, including mounts, pets, and digital versions of new game expansions. That means I’ve been able to keep track of all my transactions from the Blizzard store since then. That includes every Expansion, WoW Token, Character Transfer, Mount, and Pet that I might have felt tempted to add to my account.
All of these costs are entirely optional for a player. I splurged in this department, especially between 2015 and 2018. Let me tell you something… the WoW token was a winner for Blizzard if my account history is to be believed!
Since my first transaction in 2010, I’ve spent $1,069.92 in the Blizzard in-game store. Most of these are bigger ticket items, like the $80 we spent buying the 2016 BlizzCon Virtual Tickets, or the $70 I spent on the Battle for Azeroth Digital Deluxe Edition.
I hate farming in the game for gold, so I have used the WoW tokens to fill my coffers, which means I’ve spent more in that department than I imagine most players have, which has been great for me, but definitely increased my money spent here.
Still, in the interest of full value, the price tag stands.
Overall Cost of WoW
Okay, so taking the in-game store and my subscription costs into account… we know that I’ve spent $2,320.08 on one game over the last 12 years. That breaks down to about $193.34/year or $16.11/month.
Has it Been Worth It?
If you view WoW as any other hobby, the cost is negligible. For example, when I was big into Kayaking in Florida, I once purchased a Tsunami 140 from Wilderness Systems. They gave me a deal for $999.99. By the time I got an old boat trailer and retro-fitted it into a kayak trailer, I’d spent another $500. The Werner Fiberglass Paddles that I finally upgraded to ran me another $275. In other words, it added up quick.
Let’s not even talk about the safety vests, second kayak (for friends, obviously), travel expenses, and everything else that went into keeping that hobby active. I easily spent well over the entire twelve years of WoW costs in just one year.
Sure, one could argue that when I moved to Alabama and gave up on Kayaking that I was able to recuperate some of the investment and therefore it’s not a straight 1:1 conversion. That’s probably true, but had I stayed in Florida and continued to Kayak, I would have ended up buying new kayaks and paddles over the years, which would have used any money that I made from selling old equipment.
But what if you don’t view WoW as a hobby, but instead just another form of entertainment?
Alright. The best example to compare it to then is probably television.
For me, video games always took priority over something like watching normal television. I like to claim that I was a cable-cutting hipster, as I have never had cable television in my home. As a result, I’ve saved far more than the cost of WoW by simply not having a cable subscription.
In fact, according to a USA Today article, the Leichtman Research Group said that cable television companies report average spending per subscriber of about $85 a month, while the average among satellite TV providers tops $100 a month.
Even if we pivot to gaming… I’ve spent more money on Xbox consoles since 2006 than I have on WoW!
No matter how you slice it, hobby or entertainment… WoW is extremely cost effective.
So if you’re thinking to yourself, “but WoW is expensive”, shut that thought down.
It really isn’t.
To the Future!
On Tuesday, the 8.0 WoW Pre-Patch will go live on the US servers. I plan to log in my characters and start checking out the changes that will come to the game in 2018 and beyond.
I don’t know how many more years I’ll be playing World of Warcraft, but I plan to enjoy it every day knowing it provides good value and is an excellent way to forget the world and relax for a few hours.
Maybe I’ll see you in the game! 🙂