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Cataclysm: She’s-a Launched

I was originally planning on just picking the game today, as I am not addicted (enough) to WoW to stand outside in sub-freezing weather (if we hit 40 degree’s we’ll dance around naked in the sun) just to pick up a box that will unlock the data Blizzard made us all install weeks ago.  I got the call from GameStop two days ago from an overly perky girl who not only was clearly reading a script, but probably never even spent a day inside one of the stores she was speaking for.  She told my answering machine with a smile bigger than the Cheshire Cat, that they will be having a celebration starting at 10pm for this momentous occasion.  I checked out what that was, and according to the main site, it would involve trivia and dance contests.

With the Gamespy trivia I linked to a few days ago, I probably would have fared well at that, but like hell I’ll dance around unless an abundance of currency is involved.  If I refuse to play DDR at any time at all, like heck I’m going to do that round my peers for sport.

After stewing it over, I thought about the current events and how things are panning out.  My mother pre-ordered the game for my birthday months ago.  Since then a digital download has been offered, not from various brands and the like, but directly from Blizzard itself.  If not for the money already spent on the pre-order, this would have been how I purchased the game myself.  (I could always buy the box for my ‘collection’ later, I doubt they will disappear any time soon.)  But this new option and my reaction to it is what sparked my only real interest into going to this midnight release event.

If any Gamers in their right mind had all these options available, why would any bother going out at all?  If you could just sit back, wait for the servers to come back online before getting your new gaming goodness on, why would you even waste time going outside?

Valid questions, and all correct.  If you had the option, in my opinion, you should have downloaded the game from Blizz and been set and ready to go from the first moment. 

And while this made perfect sense, this bothered me.

If everyone else did this efficient method of upgrading their account, there would no longer be these midnight releases.  Blizzard is rather large since WoW first started six years ago.  So large that others are ripping off quite a few of their ideas, both in-game and in business.  If this was a success, and by all means it already is, other companies will start focusing on just digital sales.  And then others, and others.  (I am curious to see numbers of sales, but to be more precise: How many bought directly from Blizzard.  How many went in person at any store, and how many people that put money down on the game did not come to collect their copy within three days of release.  The latter suggesting they left their money rot and got the game digitally once they found out that was an option.)

The idea of gamers grouping up for this mini semi-annual and extremely short conventions is now in serious danger of going the way of the dinosaur.  I have never gone to one of these releases, much like I have never gone to midnight movie releases.  I do not feel the need to get it instantly.  (I have some self-control, for goodness sake.)  But, if these release events are going away, I would appreciate at least going to one before the die off.

But bollocks to the pre-release party.

I left my house five after Midnight, arriving just about ten after.  There was a line that wrapped the outer edge of the inside of the store, forming a boomerang-like design (the store is on a corner of this mini-mall strip…but that makes it sound smaller than it is) that went from counter to counter.  I stood in line, the counter behind me, and slowly, jerkily, wound my way with the other customers towards our intended destination: the other counter just feet away from my starting position.  The room was warm, but not overly-so, even with my jacket on.  (I was sporting a Murloc t-shit, which I swore has shrunk in the wash since the last time I wore it a week ago.)

People were chattering about skills and classes, to item sets and other bragging points.

“Ah, man.  Mage armor.  Did you guys see that?  The new tier armor for Mages?  It is awesome!”

He was right, it is.

“…so I took points out of Chilblains and put them into [unintelligible].”

Frost spec’d Death Knight.

“Dude, I pop my wings and it’s like every hit: ‘Eight k, eight k, eight k.’ “

Ret Paladin, more than likely attempting to explain how he is not completely over powered.  I do like the changes to the class, though.  Has a pseudo-holy Samurai feel at the moment.

I ended up being the second to last customer to get their game.  I received a regular game box (was not sure what my mom pre-ordered exactly as the name on the receipt was cut short, making me worry if she got the expensive Collectors Edition, which is double the regular price), receipt, and a poster for pre-ordering.  While walking back to my car I saw people waving to one another as they departed, one mentioning that the other didn’t even tell him their name.

As the car warmed back up and the frost quickly faded away, I could see the store manager spiritedly jog over to the door, changing the “Open!” sign to “Closed.”  With the parking lot already almost deserted to begin with due to the time of day,  I saw the last person hop in their car and drive off.  Quickly getting their game unwrapped and beginning to conquer the elements in a struggle against Deathwing, no doubt.  (Kudos to them if they brought their laptop along.)

That was it.  I was at a midnight release event.

Will this still exist come next expansion, due in about a year from now?  The idea of Blizzard selling the game digitally was somewhat sprung on us fairly close to the last-minute.  Some of the people present that night might have gone only because they already paid for the game, but they will not be caught unaware next expansion.  Others might need more coercion than just a poster to get out of a cozy home during the middle of winter.  I am not even sure if I will attend it next time, as I came to witness the event and get the game; both plans were successfully executed.  What reason do I have to do this again?

I think it largely depends on what brick-and-mortar’s offer next time.  Not that they have to bribe me to give them my money, but if the clear winner is to just get the game from the company that produced it, why would I bother going to a store that is not connected to it in any way?  Most pressing question of the night would be:  How could anything even compete?  Blizzard not only recently announced the Digital Download option recently, but that the game was going to be ten bucks cheaper than normal.  Did GameStop know this?  Did they pay Blizzard the wholesale price expecting the Retail Price to be ten dollars higher than that it came out to be?  What could they offer us to go through them instead of Blizzard?  T-shirts, hats, stuffed figurines of the monsters we fight with in-game?  That does sound appealing, I might add, but even if they did hand out those items as incentive, Blizzard owns the rights to those products and will get paid either way.

Here, if you’ve read through my “Deep Gaming Thoughts” all the way you should be rewarded, so here is the official Cataclysm trailer (now don’t get addicted to it, Mr. Foucault!):

-Edit-

Seems like I am not the only one pondering the future of these ‘events.’  Mmogamerchick and her commenters also think the Fate sisters are not smiling upon retail sales against the Direct Download option.

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