I know that said I will not play WoW, but the game was simply calling to me. So I decided to give it one more chance. I’m still not happy with how Blizzard handled my case, but my previous post resulted in an interesting discussion both here and on Shamus’ blog which has shed some light on why things turned out the way they did. It appears that my case is not unique – quite a few people in both threads said this was exactly their experience with the trial account upgrade. Few commenters reacted as harshly as I did though.
I think the comment by Tim Keating sums it up the best:
The reason they want you to go buy retail is that if you get to day 89 and do a chargeback (a common gold farmer tactic… so they don’t even end up paying for the service), the cost of the box gets charged back to the retailer instead of Blizzard, who would otherwise have to eat that money in addition to the extra 2 months of service fees.
Apparently chargebacks are gold farmers bread and butter these days. I’m not sure how much actual farming can be done with a trial level 1-20 characters or how efficient it would be. The mobs you can actually take on at that level do not really drop anything expensive – but I guess an intensive grind could yield some moderate profits. I guess these characters could be used as mules for moving contraband gold and items between servers. If they get the axe from Blizzard for illicit activities, then who cares.
This of course sucks for people like me who just wanted the convenience of upgrading the test account without actually needing to buy the retail box. I’m not sure why Blizzard even offers the online upgrade option if most of the time they flag these upgrades as suspect – just like they did mine. Removing that option on trial accounts that have been inactive – or perhaps even on all accounts would solve this issue and spare customers the frustration. Yes, people would whine that there is no online upgrade option, but the way things are right now that option is not valid anyway – and it makes people like me angry.
But apparently this is just the tip of the iceberg. WoW fraud seems to be rampart and unchecked for the most part. People get their characters stolen robbed and transfered to different servers all the time. Those are established user accounts – not just trials. So the scope of the problem is immense, and Blizzard can only do so much to prevent it. At some point I guess the risk of losing a potential customer is smaller than potential damage that could be done by allowing a malicious person to run away with a hijacked account.
So I decided to give Blizzard some slack, suck it up and do what they told me – which was to buy the retail box. Unfortunately that simple inconvinience turned into a quest itself. When I made a decision to do it, it was Friday afternoon. Of course since it was 4th of July shops closed early (and I left the house late) so there was no place in town that I could actually buy the game. So I said “Screw this game! I’m not playing it!”
On Saturday I was passing by a Wallmart and realized – they have games in there. So I popped in determined to locate the video game isle. It was not difficult to find – you could essentially see the big overhead screens with PlayStation and XBox logos from the other end of the store. Originally they were connected to active consoles running promotional discs or letting people test new games. When I got there both screens were dark. The consoles were removed from their protective enclosures below the monitors. All that was left were a PlayStation controller (firmly attached to the display case) with a broken right thumb stick and a badly broken (to the point of being unusable) Guitar Hero controller. Yay Wallmart!
The PC gaming section consisted of two shelves. One was labeled “PC Games” and the other was labeled “Windows Games”. I’m not sure if the employees knew the difference because there was no logical division as to which games went on which shelf. In fact, half of the games on the “PC” shelf were actually Playstation 2 titles – likely left there by absent minded customers, or equally absent minded employees. It was total chaos.
They did have World of Warcraft in stock. I spotted around 5 boxes of the original game, a dozen or so of the Burning Crusade and 2 or 3 bundles containing both. I grabbed the first one on the original game from the shelf, and noticed the box was ripped open on the bottom. I grabbed another one, and though it was not ripped, the sealing tape was evidently broken. Yep, yet another form of a WoW scam. People simply come to Wallmart, open a WoW box, pull out the CD-Key and then play for free for the first month. Of course the security features are affixed to the box itself and not to the CD sleave with the key itself. So they can safely pop it in their pockets and waltz out of the store without setting any alarms.
I checked every single box, including the bundles and each looked as if every single one was tampered with. Burning Crusade boxes were useless to me at this point – but they were the most numerous, and actually included boxes that looked absolutely intact. That of course didn’t do me any good. Some seals didn’t look all that bad, but I just could not tell for sure whether or not they were carefully peeled and re-glued to the box or did they just look worn. I was not about to rip one open and see if the CD is inside. I was also not about to risk buying a box that someone opened and hope that they didn’t write down the key and activate an account with it yet. So I said: “Screw this game! I was right. I’m not playing it”.
Also, Wallmart sucks.
I finally got the game on Sunday from another place. I tried giving Blizzard a call to see if they can do something about the trial account but of course they don’t work on the weekends. Can you see how this “small inconvenience” is turning into a long arduous journey for me? It’s like there is some force out there that doesn’t want me to play this game at all.
I decided that I don’t give a flying fuck anymore. I created a new account, and rolled up a new character. Say hello to my brand spanking new Troll Huntard:
For the record, Hunter class is actually much easier to play at low levels than than Warrior class. My Tauren warrior had major difficulties taking on mobs even one level above him. My lv. 14 hunter on the other hand can relatively easily deal with lv. 16-18 opponents as long as I fight them one at a time and take a break to recharge and heal/revive my pet in between fights.
At this point I don’t really even care if I ever get my Tauren back. It would be nice though. I shot Steve an email as per our conversation but I didn’t hear from him yet. This is Blizzard’s chance to redeem themselves in my eyes. If they give me back my character, I will be happy and forgive them for shafting me in the first place. Either way, I will post an update here and let you know what happened.
[tags]world of warcraft, wow, wallmart, warcraft, blizzard[/tags]