Software

Software

World of Warcraft can be purchased either as a boxed copy or digital download. The game and expansion packs can be purchased from the Blizzard store, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and just about any other place that sells PC game software. The table below summarizes the purchasing options. The links in the table below are to the Blizzard store, but they are not always the cheapest.


Version


Description


Cost (USD)

Software Costs for World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft Includes the original World of Warcraft and all the expansion packs except the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack (I.E., It includes The Burning Crusade, The Wrath of the Lich King, The Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria), as well as the first month of play time. The physical boxed copy includes a beginner's guide from BradyGames. A PDF version (for those that buy the digital download) can be downloaded from here. Create the hero you want to be from one of 13 player races and 10 different classes. The level cap is 90 (out of 100). $20
Warlords of Draenor The latest expansion pack that introduces a new world and zones. Level cap raised to 100. There is a Digital Deluxe Edition for $20 more, but I can't see that it's worth the extra money. $50
Total
 
$70

At the very least, the game is going to cost $20. That is enough to allow your child to see if they really like the game and will stick with it. There is no advantage to buying the expansion(s) right from the start.

I prefer digital downloads to boxed copies any more. The nice thing is if you ever have to reinstall WoW and have lost or damaged your DVDs (if you ever had any), the entire game can be installed from online downloads (assuming you have a fast Internet connection). A word of caution about the installation process itself: it takes at least an hour to install WoW plus the expansion(s). The base game is first installed like any other game. Next, the game downloads any patches and updates released since the version installed was created. A physical copy can get way behind in the number of patches needed. These can take quite a while and require more than one download. If the expansions are purchased, they must also be installed. I have spent as long as three hours installing everything from DVD.

One or two pieces of free software are needed in order to talk with other players over the Internet using a headset. These are Ventrilo and TeamSpeak. Most guilds will have their own Ventrilo or TeamSpeak server, but sometimes you may run a combined guild event or with a pick-up group using the other type of server. Since both are free, it makes sense to have both installed. Ventrilo seems to be the more popular of the two.

WoW add-ons are programs - usually made by a third party, but not always - that are installed into WoW to add some sort of functionality the game didn't provide originally. I already mentioned Auctioneer earlier in this article, but there are thousands of others. Some are specific to a certain class like Hunter or Mage. Others are specific to a certain specialty such as healing or a profession such as herbalism. Still others help during group combat and with managing a raid group. I used about a dozen such add-ons during my time playing WoW. Although there's no need for them for a beginning player, they quickly become very helpful. I don't recall ever seeing an add-on that requires any sort of payment, but I recall a few that allow for donations. In order to avoid viruses and Trojan horses hidden in add-ons, it's important to download them from a known site. A good site to start with is Curse Gaming. More than ¾ of the add-ons I used were downloaded from there.

Monthly Cost

This is the part where your children tell you how much they love you. After the first month (in the US), World of Warcraft costs $15/month on a month-to-month basis. There are lower monthly terms for paying for 3 or 6 months at a time, but they are not refunded if the account is closed (by you or by Blizzard). You will need to either use Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or PayPal to sign up for an account. Thereafter, the account can be paid with any of the above or with a World of Warcraft Prepaid Game Card (after cancelling the other payment method manually). The prepaid game cards are $30 for a 60-day subscription. Paying via a checking account is only possible if using a PayPal account that is tied to a checking account. Additionally, in the some states, state tax is charged.

Apart from the software and monthly fee, there shouldn't be any other costs required for playing the game. However, Blizzard has made a number of "services" available for a one-time fee. For example, characters can be transferred from one server to another for $25 (USD) per character. The name of a character can be changed for $10. A character's race (e.g., Dwarf, Gnome) or faction (Alliance or Horde) can be changed for $25 and $30, respectively. As these can add up (especially if moving 3 or 4 characters from one faction or server to another), you should encourage your child to take care when they start their characters. Visit Blizzard's support site and click on Character Services for a list of the services available.