A while back, reports arose that Blizzard would be offering a paid "boost to level 90" service for World of Warcraft once its new expansion Warlords of Draenor launched.
The service appeared to cost a hefty $60 to take advantage of, but would only be necessary for those wishing to immediately raise more than one character to level 90 -- purchasing a copy of Warlords of Draenor will allow you to immediately boost a single character to 90 for no extra cost. $60 is still a lot of money, though -- the price of a new retail game, in fact -- and so there was some question over whether or not the leaked menu option, since removed from the in-game store by Blizzard, was displaying a placeholder price rather than what it would actually cost.
Well, it seems that the answer is no; $60 is, in fact, what it's going to cost. Why so much? Speaking with our sister site Eurogamer, the game's lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas explained that there were two main reasons for offering the paid boost service: firstly, to remove the necessity for players to purchase more than one copy of the expansion to get another "free" boost for more than one character; secondly, to ensure that the facility doesn't "devalue the accomplishment of levelling."
It's this latter aspect that is perhaps the more important. Although many MMO players focus heavily on endgame content, there are plenty of others who enjoy the journey as much as the destination -- and indeed in the case of most MMOs, levelling your way to the cap involves an epic journey around a sprawling world, getting to know the lay of the land and what the people who live in its various areas are like. It's a fun process -- and from Blizzard's perspective, they've built all that content, so actively discouraging people from seeing it by offering a character boost option too cheaply would be doing the entire World of Warcraft team a disservice. Pricing a character boost at $60 puts it out of "impulse purchase" territory for most people -- particularly when they've just paid up for a new expansion -- while still leaving the option there for those who are in a rush.
"If our goal here was to sell as many boosts as possible, we could halve the price or more than that -- make it $10 or something," said Hazzikostas. "And then hardly anyone would ever level a character again. But levelling is something that takes dozens if not over a hundred hours in many cases, and people have put serious time and effort into that. We don't want to diminish that."
In other words, you won't be expected to pay up for a character boost if you don't want to -- it's simply there as a time-saving option for those who want to quickly have another alt at endgame level.
"Maybe they want a second or third alt and they don't have time to level it themselves because they have a family and so on -- it's to allow them to do that," said Hazzikostas.