Last month, Argentinian World of Warcraft players found a nasty surprise in their inbox—an email from Blizzard announcing two separate price hikes to their World of Warcraft subscriptions, making the game prohibitively expensive. Firstly, though, some context is in order.
Last November, fellow PC Gamer writer Joshua Wolens covered the explosive increase of Steam prices in Argentina and Turkey. In Argentina specifically, inflation means that one US Dollar is around 824 Argentine Pesos (ARS).
As per WoWHead, World of Warcraft players were informed in January that the monthly WoW subscription would increase from 650 to 12,000 ARS—which is bad enough on its own, except Blizzard’s new policy includes a one-two punch.
While the right hook hasn’t come in just yet, Blizzard plans to charge Argentinian players in USD in Battle.net going forward. This is huge for two reasons: firstly, $14.99 converts to 12,460 ARS, a whole 460 ARS more expensive than the initial price hike at the time of writing. Secondly, Argentina’s tax on currency exchange via credit cards is around 60%—so if you’ve gotta convert, you’re paying extra.
To scribble this all down, Argentinian players had a monthly subscription of 650 ARS. Now they have to pay (with tax) around 19,936 ARS a month to keep playing a game they already own. That’s a 2,967% increase. If you converted all of that to dollars, a WoW sub used to cost less than $1 and now costs around $24—but the minimum wage in Argentina is around 118,000 ARS, making $24 the equivalent of $140. Less affordable by some massive margins.
I got in touch with a couple of Argentinian players—one of which brought the issue to the wider community on the game’s subreddit. The thread’s author, Zutsa, writes: “I asked my real life friend if he would keep playing WoW after this, and even though he actually does own The War Within, he probably won’t play anymore due to these changes.”
Zutsa tells me that they’ve seen a variety of responses from the community at-large: “I’ve seen many people angry at Blizzard for this decision, even if they are not from Argentina, while others are agreeing with them because this decreases the amount of bots that used VPNs to abuse the lower costs.”
While that’s definitely a reasonable claim, I can easily imagine Argentinian players choosing to buy gold from farmers in order to skirt around those costs—Blizzard’s choice here may simply create a different problem, even if it patches up its bottom line. As horrible as this all is, devoting resources to a player base that’s only able to shell out the equivalent of $1 a month isn’t great business.
The change to USD also means that, should the situation in Argentina worsen, WoW’s subscription will only get pricier. I bring this up to Zutsa and they soberly agree: “Yes you are right, this will only get worse with inflation. Which is already the worst in the world, or it was last time I checked.”
I also spoke with Vicente810, who bought a year’s subscription when they saw the tidal wave coming. “Sony and Square Enix have never accepted Argentinian Pesos. Blizzard was one of the few companies that still accepted them,” Vincente810 writes, before saying that their currency conversion doomsday prep is simply “how we Argentinians operate. Years of inflation has made us quick in either spending money or exchanging it for dollars. This is because inflation causes our currency to constantly lose its value. So saving money is in fact unwise.”
I can’t begin to imagine the frustration of not only losing your access to new games, but to games you’re currently playing as well—especially for reasons that are mostly out of your control. Argentinian WoW players are left with four options: be rich, farm enough gold to buy a WoW Token, buy enough gold to get a WoW Token, or migrate to private servers en-masse.