Are Video Games Recession Proof? (World of Warcraft Version)

Blizzard Entertainment’s release last week of Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion pack to popular PC game World of Warcraft, might make one ask “What financial crisis?”

The markets look ugly, but Blizzard still broke the one-day sales record for a PC game by selling more than 2.8 million copies of new WoW expansion, according to a release by Blizzard. The game retails for $40, which multiplied by copies sold equals about $112 million.

The previous record holder was The Burning Crusade, the first expansion pack for WoW, which was released in January 2007. Users wanting to play as a Death Knight, level their characters up to 80, or explore the new continent of Northrend–all features in Wrath–will have had to purchase Crusade first.

So how much has someone who has purchased every WoW expansion paid for the privilege of slaying monsters and hanging with elves, dwarves, and goblins online?

Here’s my tally:

World of Warcraft, November 2004, $50
The Burning Crusade, January 2007, $40
Wrath of the Lich King, November 2008, $40
Online fee of $15 per month for 48 months, minus first free month: $705

The total? $835.

With numbers like that combined with the fact that WoW generated $271 million for Blizzard in the last quarter, it’s not hard to imagine the 11 million monthly users making the game a steady $1-billion-a-year business. WoW indeed.SL