Tom Chilton, courtesy Videogamer.com
I am definitely one to admit where I am wrong, and I am wrong. Maybe Richard Aihoshi is right when he says that RMT is inevitable and that most MMO’s would embrace the free to play model over traditional pay to play model used by most mainstream MMORPG’s in the coming future.
Posted today on videogamer.com, Long time developer Tom Chilton addresses the question in an interview if the incredibly popular World of Warcraft can embrace a micro-transactional approach. His response, “ I certainly think it's possible that we could do some kind of micro-transaction stuff. Whether or not World of Warcraft ever goes the direction of, I guess like Anarchy Online has gone the direction of going free-to-play with micro-transactions. Whether we ever shift to a free-to-play model is really too hard to say at this point. Anything I say now could easily five years from now end up seeming like, oh my gosh, that was an incredibly dumb thing to say, how naive!” – Courtesy Videogamer.com
This is in the light of the SOE Tween based mmorpg, Free Realms reaching 3 million registered users in record time. When Tom was asked about the phenomenon of Free Realms he simply told Videogamer.com, “Is that really more successful? I don't know. It's a nebulous land of whoever wants to feel better about saying that they got the best. At the end of the day it's all about whichever company is making the most money will claim that they're the best, but whatever – as a game designer and developer that doesn't interest me that much.”
We also might see a trend forming as Turbine Inc. is turning towards a micro-transactional approach with DDO Online. As well as Frogster buying the rights to “The Chronicles of Spellborn” and turning that into a Free-to-play model.
I know personally that the community that is anticipating the release of Cryptic’s Superhero based MMORPG Champion’s Online would like to know what a “Cryptic Buck” is. Since the company never confirmed it’s purpose, there is speculation that Champs might be implementing a cash shop when released.
I know it is hard to deny that lifting the lid of spending off of spending makes micro-transactional mmorpg’s very attractive to game publishers and developers. But do we really know how much more profitable it would be for the already successful WoW Franchise?
My guess, really my prediction is that there is a "coming storm" from Blizzard in the ways of Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and the super secret new mmorpg that Blizzard is working on. I feel that if wow would go free to play while the new IP will command a monthly charge like wow is now, sort of a bait and switch move. According to Tom Chilton he has been working on this new IP for some years now and has been in development “on a very small scale”. He was also very ambiguous about the details and doesn’t indulge much information about it other than he feels the fans will be excited.
Blizzard does nothing on a small scale.