That Instant World of Warcraft Level 90 Boost Might Set You Back $60

Then again, that's a whole lotta levels.

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Imgur / Blizzard

How’s the refrain to that Eagles song go? I’ll let you figure out the one I’m thinking of while I tell you about a little World of Warcraft wrinkle that’ll send you soaring to the game’s loftiest heights, level 90 — the limit until the forthcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion gets here and knocks it up to 100 — without slaying a single grub worm, steam frog or bloodpetal lasher.

Blizzard announced the insta-level 90 perk back in January in a Warlords of Draenor news update, revealing the boost would be granted for one character per account to anyone buying the expansion. The company then added, in a clever marketing ploy, that pre-orders for the expansion would gain access to the optional boost at time of pre-purchase (though the pre-purchase program isn’t live yet).

But what about players who might want the option to boost more than one character to level 90? What about those who don’t plan to pick up the expansion straightaway? Blizzard said it was “evaluating ways to make that possible,” and that it was “testing out a feature that gives you the option to purchase a character upgrade directly.” How much that might cost was anyone’s guess — until now.

If this screenshot, noticed by WoW Insider, is bona fide, it sounds like you’re going to have to fork over what you’d pay to play through any other triple-A game these days: $60. The screen indicating as much was reportedly snapped by a WoW player while Blizzard was performing maintenance on its U.S. servers Tuesday morning, between server restarts, then linked through MMO-Champion. The presumption, and I can’t personally verify this because I don’t have the game installed, is that it vanished once maintenance concluded. Consider it a glimpse of what the feature could look like if it does go live.

Before you kvetch about forking over $60 for what in processing time amounts to someone flipping a switch, it could be worse. Consider how long it takes the average player to approach the halfway mark in an MMO like WoW. I spent a year — granted playing willy-nilly, but for probably somewhere in the vicinity of 100 hours — just getting to level 80.

Then there’s the risk-reward argument: If you’re going to let people bypass most of the journey, shouldn’t you make the cost sufficiently prohibitive to make that 1-through-90 expedition worthwhile?

I’m not into skips (I tend to have the opposite problem, where I can’t allow myself to move forward if I haven’t done and seen and touched everything), but I get why players who’ve already seen the sights might be so inclined. And I understand that for some, WoW doesn’t get interesting until you’re deep into the max-level endgame content. It’s a shame there’s no way to glean intentions — to identify and then encourage first-timers to run that 1-90 gauntlet on its own merits. I guess this is the compromise: the going rate for a “play-experience,” what we pay nowadays for games, solo or multiplayer, where playability ranges from six or seven to dozens of hours.