For nearly a decade, we’ve offered premium features to help you gear up in Warcraft. Best in Bags was first launched with Cataclysm to help reforge your gear. Even though we’d been personally playing the game since Vanilla, our site wasn’t around then, so we didn’t have anything to revive for Classic’s relaunch.
We also didn’t think there would be a need for a gear optimizer with Classic – everyone already played it, gear was simpler (or so we thought), and we figured there would be enough information for people to make decisions.
We were wrong.
“In Retail, AMR has been my go-to app for helping me optimize and prioritize gear. I would love to use it for Classic in the same capacity; while folks say the game systems are “simpler”, there are absolutely subtleties best handled by programming.”
Shortly after Classic launched, it became clear that gear wasn’t as simple as it seemed and Best in Bags would actually be pretty darn handy. So we decided to make it for Classic.
Creating Classic AMR – the process
Our entire company is just 3 people: a developer (Yellowfive), a designer and theorycrafter (Swol), and me (Zoopercat), a researcher and data guru. We already work full-time on retail Warcraft, so supporting Classic was going to be a massive undertaking.
It seems easy to support Classic – just add in a few stats like Spirit and Hit, remove Azerite, change the talents, etc. It’s never that simple though, is it? Of course we already knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the devil is in the details.
For example, when you load your character, we need to know your ‘spec’ in order to apply the right optimization. Retail WoW has specs built right into the game, Classic does not. Instead, we have to infer your build for Classic by identifying key talent choices. Incorporating those assumptions into the optimizer wasn’t enough – what if someone builds differently than the standard builds? To accommodate everyone, we had to add a way to customize your ‘spec’ in the Classic optimizer.
Situations like this were so common that half way through creating Classic AMR, we ripped so much code apart that only the most basic building blocks from our Retail code were useful. It was like our remodel project required taking the house down to the studs.
But taking something down to the bare bones is often a good thing. Sure it took us way more time than we wanted, we cursed a little along the way (ok, a lot), but the end result is worth it.
Classic AMR pricing
As a consumer, I often wonder how companies come up with their pricing on products. Is the more expensive product worth it or just marketing hype? Is a product more expensive because it costs more to be climate-friendly? How much of the cost of this product goes into marketing and advertising?
At Ask Mr. Robot, we aren’t selling grass-fed beef or Gucci belts, our website is way more serious than that 😉 I thought it would be interesting to share how we price our premium features.
Our current subscription price
We launched premium in 2011 for $12 a year. That price has never changed and we’re proud of that. It has taken a lot of work over the years to keep the price low.
As a recent example, when Corruption was introduced in Patch 8.3, the number of combinations of gear in your bags exploded. It wouldn’t have been a problem if we could have just equipped all of the best items, but then you’d be at 150 Corruption. More combinations = more computing power = increased server costs.
In order to not pass that extra cost onto you, we had to get clever with our optimization algorithm and make it even faster. A faster algorithm means we could keep the computing power at a stable level and not increase costs.
This type of thing happens every expansion. That’s part of our job and your $12 subscription pays for our ongoing work.
Pricing for Classic AMR
Classic will have ongoing work as each phase is released, so our first instinct was to create a second subscription for Classic.
However, in a survey of over 2,000 Classic players, we found most of them were also playing Retail. With this information, separating the site into two subscriptions seemed less than ideal. Doubling the price didn’t seem right either – we don’t have double the ongoing work.
What we did have is a lot of up-front work from creating Classic AMR. That’s a one-time thing, so a one-time payment mades a lot of sense: a one-time Classic Upgrade payment.
We set the price at $10 because it’s our best guess at covering the cost of our work to create Classic AMR. It’s possible we go in-the-hole, but I hope not. It’s also possible we end up with extra money which will allow us to add more Classic features.
Meanwhile, the subscription price stays at $12 which covers both Retail and Classic.
Questions about how the payments work?
First, I’d like to point out that everyone gets a 1-week free trial for Classic (no credit card required). Once you decide to upgrade, here are some answers to questions that might come up:
- Using Classic requires an active premium subscription and the $10 one-time Classic Upgrade payment. The active subscription can be annual, monthly, a guild sub, or a gift code that you redeemed.
- The premium subscription can be purchased at the annual price of $12 a year, or you can pay monthly at $2 each month.
- If you currently have a premium subscription, you just need to pay for the one-time Classic Upgrade of $10.
- If you have no subscription, you will need to buy one (for either $12 a year, or $2 a month) and the $10 one-time Classic Upgrade.
- If you buy the annual subscription, you will be charged $22 now ($12 + $10), and then only $12 next year for the annual subscription.
- If you buy the monthly subscription, you will be charged $12 now ($2 + $10), and then only $2 next month for the monthly subscription.
- Once you pay for the $10 Classic Upgrade, you get it forever. So even if you cancel and stop playing, when you come back and subscribe again, you will still have Classic access. You will NOT need to pay for the Classic Upgrade again.
Here’s a screenshot of what your account billing page would look like if you had a monthly subscription and paid for the Classic Upgrade.