A few things have changed as well over the last 2 weeks. I started playing WoW again and decided to take advantage of their offer of signing a 1-year contract to receive a Tyrael's Charger and a free copy of Diablo 3. I'm not sure which was the bigger bait, but I have decided that it was a good deal and I should take advantage of it.
The Annual Pass also offers beta access to the Mists of Pandaria expansion. This was of less consideration, but I have never had beta access before and I will probably take advantage of this as well. It seems like an experience that every 'gunter' should experience at least once.
Diablo 3 offers me a few more options that I'm interested in. Mainly the ability to sell in-game items for real world currency which can then be used to pay my WoW subscription or buy in-game vanity items. I don't entertain for a moment that I would be able to make enough money to turn a profit, but if I can eek out 15 dollars every few months I can then get a free month of WoW time. I'm not sure on which computer I will play this game on, but I'll deal with this after the games release later this year.
In addition to this being a free Blizzard game (and who can say no to that) it is a chance to be avant-garde in the MMO world; and I want to be a part of it. Obviously Blizzard has done some cutting edge things in the past, and they will probably continue to break the mold in the future, but what they are doing with the auction house in Diablo 3 is taking a risk. They are joining real-money transactions, or micro-transactions, with in-game loot to create a secondary market behind their game. I see this as a first step to generating a secondary economy with 'Blizzard Bucks' or whatever they are calling them. I have been listening to some interesting audio books lately that talk about how this could effect the global economy.
I recently listened to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheton, cue nerd cred) in which the value of in-game currency exceeded the value of the US dollar and was used by corporations world wide because of it's increased stability. This is just one of the many instances of this I have of this encountered in modern fiction. The other book that I'm currently listening to is Reamde by Neal Stephenson. In this book the MMO Terrain has take the place of WoW and also is taking transactions it the in-game currency. I'm not through this book yet so I can't speak to the effect this is having on the world, but clearly it is heading this way. So authors have thought of in-game currency eclipsing the US dollar and how this may affect the future. Blizzard is taking what I sense to be the first step towards this; and I want to experience it.