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Players Are Not Pleased With World of Warcraft’s New Recruit-a-Friend Program

By Mike Fahey on at

After going on hiatus in June, World of Warcraft’s long-running Recruit-A-Friend program will return later this year with cool new mounts, pets, and garb for players who convince others to join the game. The rewards, which include WoW’s first-ever backpack, look wonderful. It’s nearly everything else about the program, including the timing of its return, that has players concerned.

Launched back in 2008, Recruit-A-Friend gives special benefits and rewards to players who invite new players to the game. Along with cosmetic gifts like special mounts and pets, players and their friends earn the ability to teleport to one another from anywhere in the game and earn 50 per cent more experience than normal when adventuring together. The teleportation and extra experience are still present in the new system, which Blizzard announced yesterday via a post on the World of Warcraft website.

One new feature of the program is that in addition to accepting brand new players, it will also let you “recruit” returning players, as long as they have not purchased game time in the past two years. Rather than picking in-game item rewards like mounts from a list of available options, players receive equipment or game-time rewards at a rate of one for each month of game time paid for by their recruited friends, as follows.

  • One Month: Rikki the adorable monkey pet
  • Two Months: One month of game time
  • Three Months: Explorer’s Dunetrekker, a two-person camel mount with an awesome face
  • Four Months: “Renowned Explorer” title
  • Five Months: Game time
  • Six Months: Stinging Sands cosmetic weapon enchantment
  • Seven Months: Renowned Explorer’s Tabard
  • Eight Months: Game time
  • Nine Months: Explorer’s Jungle Hopper, a two-person flying mount
  • Ten Months: Renowned Explorer’s Rucksack, the game’s first backpack
  • Eleven Months: Game time
  • Twelve Months: Renowned Explorer’s Attire, completing the adventurer archaeologist look

You can get these rewards if one person pays for 12 months of game time, or if 6 people pay for two months each, or any combination thereof. (One player can recruit up to 10 new players.) Once the twelve-month reward is earned, players will receive a free month of game time for every three months their recruited friends pay for.

It doesn’t sound like a bad deal, but a quick scroll through the blog post’s comments reveal several valid concerns from current players.

First off, there are the rewards. They’re this cool set of mounts, pets, and costume pieces tied to the game’s Egyptian-themed Uldum zone. Very Indiana Jones. Making these desirable items exclusive to the Recruit-A-Friend program is diabolical, especially considering one of them is an honest-to-goodness backpack. Players have been clamouring for something other than flimsy cloaks for their characters’ back slots for years. Now there is one, but it’s essentially locked behind a paywall. Worse than a paywall; a make-someone-else-paywall. Bah.

As many players in the World of Warcraft forums point out, these designs would have been better used as rewards for Archaeology, one of the game’s cooler, more lore-centric secondary professions. That outfit would be a perfect way to get players to dive deeper into the game’s rich history.

Then there is the timing of the program’s relaunch. Blizzard just launched World of Warcraft Classic, bringing lapsed veterans and curious new players to the game in droves. It’s one of the most exciting reasons to subscribe to World of Warcraft in years. If ever there was a time to recruit players to the game, it was a month ago. All of the new and returning players traipsing through old-school Azeroth right now? It’s too late, they’ve already paid to play. And with World of Warcraft Classic getting so popular, the fact that none of the item rewards are usable in the old-school version of the game makes the idea of rideable camels and monkey friends much less appealing.

Blizzard’s implementing the new Recruit-A-Friend system “in the next few months,” so there’s still time for changes to be made. Perhaps tweaks and modifications can make the feature more attractive. Maybe this first cosmetic backpack is a harbinger of spectacular new back items for all players, regardless of their ability to bring new players to the game. Or maybe it’ll just be a bunch of solo players creating new accounts, paying for 12 months of game time, getting their special gear, and moving on. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll bring friends.