A while back I heard about a video of a Wintergrasp battle in WoW that had been won within 62 seconds thanks to a clever bunch of folks that piled around the relic door and used grenades and bombs from the engineering profession to blast it down. I looked up the video and found that it was the notorious Goon Squad that had pulled it off. A friend in my guild mentioned that the Goons had also once kited Jaina all the way to Orgrimmar, through the city, and into Thrall’s chambers where they had a showdown. What a fun idea! I decided to check out their website to see what else they’d been up to.
I was immediately met with a warning that I was not a paying member, but that if I clicked “ok” I could see the payment options for the guild. Uh, payment options? I clicked ok and was met with a summary of what it requires to be a Goon.
If you want the privilege of running with the Goons in WoW, it will cost you an additional monthly fee payable through Paypal, credit card, or direct bank account transfer. They have four different membership plans, each allowing you access to different levels of raiding and guild activities. The above Jaina/Thrall event, for example, was a “Platinum Only” event. All those people involved pay an extra $50 a month on top of their regular WoW subscription fee to participate in this kind of thing, or just $40 if the economy-inspired price break had already occurred.
For all this, the Goons must bring in an impressive amount of money, too. They say these fees go toward paying full time guild employees, including the GM, raid leaders, and a sys admin to keep the forums and vent servers going. They boast 1800 accounts, so even if these were all just $10/month accounts with no frills, that’s $18,000 per month that they pull in. That’s the minimum. You saw how many $40-50 accounts were running around in those videos, so it has to be quite a bit more. I’m sure some folks also buy DKP and gear, so I can’t help but wonder what they rake in. And do they report it and pay taxes on it?
There are guilds of similar (or larger) size out there that seem to function perfectly fine with a GM, officers, and raid leaders, none of whom get paid by the membership. I don’t know how many accounts Alea Iacta Est has, but with almost 5000 toons associated with the guild, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a comparable number of accounts to the Goons. I suppose some would argue that the in-game experience the Goons offer is rare, however. It is an exclusive club and membership can potentially change the game completely for you. But is it worth an extra $40 per month on top of your WoW subscription?
If it were a one-time fee to help defray the cost of the website and vent servers, I could see doing that. Even a small yearly donation would not be unreasonable. But, supporting the GM and officers so that they can basically live off of running the guild? Sorry, I don’t think so. The payment of real money for gear is absolutely ridiculous, too. Pushing the boundaries is sort of their thing though, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised. Still, I’m surprised they get away with it.
Edit: Evidently this is just another one of the Goons’ clever games and I fell for it. They’re pretty good, aren’t they?