The first thought I had when I read about this program was ‘Damn, Blizzard is so smart!’ With this move, they bind the hardcore WoW fan to be even more devoted to them, while Warhammer Online looms on the horizon. Like many others, I think a more correct version of the name of the program would be ‘Refer-yourself-to-multibox’. Even people who never considered a second account are now going for it and multibox their way to glory. In my guild we had people come back from quitting, just so they could have a zhevra mount. It’s a bit amusing to see that people get the most excited about things as mounts or non-combat pets. (As an aside, this is also true for the Spirit of Competition event, or have you ever seen so many Battlegrounds up before?)
I frequent a lot of blogs and LJ communities and left and right you see people describing their exciting multibox adventures. Heck, I considered (and am still considering) a second account for myself, as I have 10 characters on my main realm, and my better half loves the fluff part so much that I could get her a zhevra that way.
Does this actually garner completely new players joining WoW at this point of the game’s lifecycle? I don’t think so. All the friends I have that are interested in MMOs already play WoW, and everyone else is really not interested. I actually did the whole PR spiel on one friend I used to MUSH with, and I thought I had reeled her in, but so far, nothing.
There’s a lot of debate about the leveling speed-up process this whole program brings, how leveling becomes trivial, and how some people feel shafted by it. I don’t actually care that much. I have leveled five characters to 70 and my future number 6 just hit 48 today. It’s plenty easy to level these days, it’s not for everyone though. Let’s be honest, if you actually manage to recruit friends to join, they want to play with you at top level, and if you’re one of the legion of new multiboxers, the leveling changes are right down your alley to make it smoother. It doesn’t bother me, though there are plenty of people who call multiboxing cheating.
To get back on course, I believe the R-A-F program is a smart move. WAR goes live in mid-September and a lot of frustrated endgame raiders and PvPers will jump ship, for fresh content, new classes, RvR. But the dedicated hardcore will remain hooked, because they just shelved out the money for a new WoW Battle Chest for a key, possibly a 2 month game card for the zhevra, which gives Blizzard the buffer of 3 months on WAR. If they release WotLK in that timespan, the impact of WAR on the WoW playerbase will be as minimal as it gets, as even WAR enthusiasts like Tobold predict that the release of WotLK will bring the masses back.
Hats off, Blizzard. Me, I am going to the US next week, and might just pick up that WoW Battle Chest myself. I am weak. I will however not multibox, that’s just not how I roll.