Blizzard Entertainment has added some extra incentive to sign up for a year of World of Warcraft: a free copy of Diablo III.

The newly revealed annual pass from Blizzard locks players into a 12-month subscription to the popular Massively Multiplayer RPG. In a limited time offer it awards players a free copy of Diablo III, an exclusive WoW mount Tyrael's Charger and guaranteed beta entry into the next WoW expansion: Mist of Pandaria.

The new offer seems to be aimed at getting lapsed players back into the WoW or hooking current subscribers for another year. Only players who own a WoW license in good standing before Oct. 18 can receive the loot. Anyone who creates an account after Oct. 18 can't participate in the promotion.

WoW peaked in October of 2010 with a subscription base of 12 million players. But since the release of the third expansion Cataclysm, the game has been losing players at an increasing rate and was down to 11.1 million players in June.

I've chased the WoW dragon myself (both literally and figuratively), but I haven't had an active WoW account since the second expansion The Burning Crusade. My account has been inactive since 2008. The new expansion has caught my interest making me wonder whether I should head back into the breach. I'm also an avid Diablo fan, playing the action dungeon crawler, Diablo II, many times over since its release in 2000.

So on the surface getting a WoW Annual Pass seems like a great idea, but it does have some costs.

If I were to start playing WoW now, I would have to catch up on the last two expansions I missed. That means buying Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm for the combined total of about $68 from Blizzards digital shop (with a 15 percent discount). I would also have to pay from my monthly subscription after that. A six-month subscription costs $13 a month, but Blizzard would probably charge $12 a month for a year subscription. Also the pass only gives access to the Mists beta and not the full game when it releases. Then when Mists of Pandaria does come out, it will likely cost $40.

All-in-all I would likely invest about $250 (including the 1-year subscription at $12 and the three expansions), to get a $60 game for free. I wouldn't have to pay that all at once, since Blizzard lets you pay for your 1-year subscription on a month-by-month bases. But once you have signed up for the year pass you aren't allowed to break it.

I could just get the 12-month subscription without the expansions, but I don't see much point in playing an outdated version.

And what are you receiving now for the Annual Pass? Nothing really, except for the new mount that is being released soon-ish with the 4.3 patch. Diablo III has yet to be given a release date still, but is expected early next year. Mists of Pandaria has just been announced, so who knows when the beta will start running.

The annual pass will probably benefit current WoW players the most. They are already happy with the game and have already made the investment on the new expansions. So veteran WoW players will likely keep playing, so they get a free game for something they will probably do anyway.

But are the goodies good enough to attract recovering WoW addicts or are the barriers to re-entry just too high?

Players who weren't impressed with the game post-Cataclysm will probably be the least enticed to get back in, since they will be locked into a 12-month subscription with no changes to the game that lost their interest in the first place.

As for me I don't think I'll get the annual pass either. Sure I'll be able to kill time leveling up my now outdated characters, but the cost to get back into the game just seems too high. There are plenty of other games to play this time of year and who knows when the limited time offer will run out. Plus, with Star Wars: The Old Republic coming out next mouth it is just too early to pledge another year of my life to WoW. But please, don't hold me to that statement.

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