WoW: Dragonflight is launching at $49.99, which is $10 more expensive than its 2020 predecessor. Its Heroic Edition ($69.99) and Epic Edition ($89.99) have increased by the same amount. While frustrating, fans will recall that this isn't the first time Blizzard Entertainment has experimented with pricing.
World of Warcraft expansions began at $39.99 with the launch of The Burning Crusade in 2007. This trend continued through Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria. But Blizzard Entertainment began an unpopular trend with the release of Warlords of Draenor in 2014, raising the cost to $49.99.
Legion and Battle for Azeroth continued this, and fans still weren't very happy about it. But there was a glimmer of hope with the launch of Shadowlands; for the first time in six years, a WoW expansion was back to $39.99.
However, Dragonflight is snuffing out that hope, and it's hard to imagine Blizzard will return to $39.99 again. World of Warcraft has been losing players between expansions, and its fanbase seems to only get smaller with time.
It's possible that Blizzard's return to $39.99 was an experiment to see if the increased price was somehow responsible. If there was little to no change in player base, there would be no reason to stick to a lower price from a business perspective. However, this is merely speculation, as Blizzard hasn't offered any official statements regarding the pricing and we likely won't ever truly know the reasoning behind it.
But is this price increase justified? Staying subscribed already costs nearly $200 a year. WoW is one of my favorite games ever, but I've made it no secret that I despise its steep cost and predatory subscription service. I even went so far as to suggest that World of Warcraft's subscription model is destroying the game, ruining the core philosophies behind its content updates. And with all the money we spend on the game's subscription, having to now spend even more on each expansion feels completely unnecessary and may end up alienating more of WoW's already diminishing fanbase.