By now, most of you likely know that the big announcement from Blizzard wasn’t a new game, but a new expansion for WoW: Wrath Of The Lich King. I did find that disappointing.

Everything I’d been reading seemed to point to an actual new game, not an addition to a current one. Since I’m not a Wow player, the news was less than thrilling. Oh, well.

On one web site – joystiq – I caught mention that it might be necessary for players to have Burning Crusade as well as Wow in order to play Lich King. Having just read the FAQ for Lich King, I’d say that was likely, since the new content is aimed at characters of level 68 or higher – and Crusade is what lifted the level cap to 70.

Joystiq wonders about the future, when there may then be several expansions to the game:

“…if you pick up say, the latest expansion pack a couple of years from now, when there are three are four out, will you have to go back and buy the others? That could get potentially very expensive for players who have already shelled out for the base game and are paying $14.95 a month. What are we, made out of gold?”

I’d say they’re getting off easy. Few players realize how expensive MP gaming used to be, back in the “good old days” before the web came along. Back when being online meant being on a proprietary system like CIS or GEnie.

Back when you paid five dollars an hour for the privilege of logging in. And that was during “non-prime” hours, after 6 PM local time. Get on before then, and you paid a lot more.

Genie’s original non-prime (i.e. daytime) rate was a whopping $35/hour. They really didn’t want you on there during the day. That’s when their machines were doing heavy commercial processing.

And just like now, the games had their hardcore players. Every so often, someone would post a message that he would be “gone for awhile” because of “credit card meltdown”. At $5/hour, it’s a wonder there weren’t more of those.

One of the popular games was Megawars III. Players formed teams, colonized planets, grew them to produce troops and ships, and eventually tried to take out the Empire’s home world (inbetween raiding and taking over other teams’ planets). The first successful team won the game. After that, everything was re-set and a new game started.

The captain of the Dorsai!, one of the most successful teams in MW3, once posted that, if you wanted a winning team, you’d better be prepared (as captain) to shell out up to a thousand a month.

And there are people out there who think that buying an occasional expansion, and paying $15/month is a lot of money. Obviously, they were never on those older systems. If they had been, they might be more appreciative of just how inexpensive MP games are today.