This past weekend I have been going through the final hub of Kroktopia in Wizard 101. Being a Storm Wizard, this is actually more of a challenge than the fire-based hub and ice-based hub. I like it though. The “epic” storyline in Wizard 101 is mostly linear, and I was hitting through Karanahn Barracks, which if I recall correctly, had one storyline quest in it and maybe five other quests. It cost me $1.83 to play this zone if I buy 2500 crowns at a time (the cost drops to $1.22 if I buy $80 worth of crowns at a time).
The preceding three-zones (Well of Spirits, Ahnic Family Tomb, and Djeserit Family Tomb) cost me $1.83 for all three, and included three or four times the amount of quests as Karanahn Barracks. I finished everything I could in the Barracks, to then have to buy another zone Karanahn Palace to continue the story for, again, $1.83. Karanahn Palace is a dungeon instance, so right away it feels like there will be less than a quest zone because the dungeon instances in Wizard 101 are insulated with their own quest chains, etc. So, I knew that once I completed the Palace, once, it would be time to move on. Except for alts, it was likely I would never return to the Palace. I also had to refill my crowns in order to buy Karanahn Palace, and instead I just signed off and played other games for the rest of the weekend.
This pricing plan for Wizard 101, although like manna from heaven, still must keep some sort of objectivity within itself. As a consumer, I am told that I can buy zones for money. Great! I love this business model. The game is fun. Let’s throw money at them. Then, as I go along, the model within itself starts getting a little wishy-washy. $1.83 for two hours of gameplay and three zones. $1.83 for a good half hour of gameplay and one zone. $1.83 for a hour of gameplay and an “one-shot” zone. Even if the amount of money is trivial to me, the developers are the ones setting the inherent value.
All of Kroktopia costs $23.79 with the first two hubs each costing $7.32 and the final hub costs $9.15. If I could buy a “world” or hub at a time, the entry cost would be higher, but the value of each purchase averages out. The feeling of getting gypped out of the value for a zone would not happen nearly so often. Of course the main goal is to make the feeling of each zone purchase painless. Shelling out more than $20 hits on different parts of my lizard brain than a sub-$2 purchase. (The option to buy “worlds” wholesale is not available.)
It feels superficially nice that each “zone” of Kroktopia costs the same amount, but that is not nearly the case once the surface is scratched. I definitely will go back and finish up Kroktopia, but developers of buy-the-zone type games should watch for value pitfalls. It gives the impression of a “the first one’s free”-lead in, which sends many intelligent consumers scampering away. The goal should be to make consumers comfortable in each content purchase, and not feel like they have a mere $1.83 gate to purchase before continuing on their journey.