In late 2010, Blizzard Entertainment recorded that it had over 12 million subscribers actively paying for fantasy MMO World of Warcraft. As of the end of September last year, the company reported its subscriber base had slumped to just over 10 million – though, we assure you, that is still a gargantuan number for online gaming.
The drop in players alerted the company that it would have to change tact going forward if it was to compete against free-to-play games of the same ilk; amending its seemingly age-old payment model to free-to-play (at least until level 20 in-game), while performance upgrades and expansions keep the game feeling fresh for existing players. The latter has resulted in Blizzard upgrading the game’s server hardware in order to improve the “gameplay experience” across the board, leaving the company’s much-cherished, ever-dependable older servers out in the cold. Or so you would have thought…
Aiming to raise money and awareness for children’s charity St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital – a pediatric hospital specialising in cancer treatment and other life-threatening diseases in children - the company is auctioning off around 2.000 of the game’s now-retired blade servers through eBay. Each one comes encased in a gorgeous transparent case (replete with the World of Warcraft logo), a plaque witness to signatures from the development team and invaluable information (at least for fans and bidders) relating to the realm the server was used to host. The auction runs until the end of the month.
“World of Warcraft realms are like the virtual neighbourhoods of the game’s community. They contain the spaces where millions of players have made friendships, forged friendly rivalries, and created lasting memories,” said Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime. “Each winner in this auction will own a small monument to those collective experiences. The best part is that this auction benefits a great charity doing tremendous work in helping children from the U.S. and around the world.”
Source: Blizzard Entertainment