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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

WoW Goes Free-to-Play! (Sort of...)

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday June 29 2011 at 7:57PM
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Are we really supposed to be seeing this many big news stories in one week?  I mean, come on... didn't somebody tell the game companies that E3 was at the beginning of the month? 

That said, WoW.  I mean that both as an acronym and a word of exclamation in this case.  Blizzard has always talked about one day trying the F2P approach far down the line, and while their recent announcement of offering the first 20 levels of Azeroth for free to anyone as a trial isn't exactly a total conversion like LotRO's recent Freemium change it's still pretty remarkable.  World of Wacraft just got a whole lot easier to become addicted to.

Now, I'm not going to be that guy who will jump in and say, "ZOMG!  WoW's falling!  Everybody grab a stick and poke at its rotting corpse!"  If you ask me, this change means a few simple things.

  1. Blizzard has seen the success of Freemium models, and is toying with the idea.  If not for WoW specifically, most definitely for future projects.
  2. World of Wacraft has seen some decline in subscribers, as any game that's six years old is bound to, and this is a marketing strategy to hook returning folks and new folks (are there any left?) alike.
  3. Everyone knows WoW is addictive.  Offering a full 20 levels, and not just an arbitrary days long trial is simply a better move.  People who have less time to game will have longer to get hooked, even if it only takes a few hours to get to 20 these days.
In the end, I'd be very surprised if this was any sort of deathknell for Azeroth.  It's going to be a very long time until WoW turns into a game that few people talk about.  Despite its age, and the lukewarm reception to Cataclysm, they're still the biggest kid in the class.  Now there are some majorly hefty competitors in the wings, no doubt about that.  But then again, how many times have we said that so far?
 
If I was a betting man, I'd put all my money on the new unlimited trial as more of a marketing and revenue experiment than any sort of signal for doom and gloom.  But that's just me.
NeVeRLiFt writes:

Blizz throws some sand into the box and they won't have anything to worry about from SW:ToR and GW2.

 

still not getting it?

give the players something to do endgame beside chasing that carrot on a stick....

Wed Jun 29 2011 8:29PM Report
BarakIII writes:

Nothing to see here, move along. Yeah, Blizzard has money to burn, why not experiment? But will they dare to experiment with gameplay elements? Nah, I guess that's too much to ask for. It still just boils down to a limited free trial so it seems pretty meaningless.

Wed Jun 29 2011 8:31PM Report
Inktomi writes:

It will get more people to try the game as they might have shied away from the high price of all the software expansions. I saw this coming a mile away. Sadly, I have the old original software somewhere...

Wed Jun 29 2011 8:55PM Report
clankyasp writes:

took 7 years..

Thu Jun 30 2011 12:49AM Report
rwmiller writes:

I'm sure the gold sellers will love being able to have accounts that don't expire.

Thu Jun 30 2011 5:18AM Report
Durray writes:

So they are trying an unlimited free trial like WAR? I don't really see what impact this will have

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:04AM Report
jinxxed0 writes:

This is a great day for the Chinese Economy. 

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:05AM Report
DeeMarie writes:

I'm guessing this is their way of bolstering those subscriber numbers.

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:32AM Report
WSIMike writes:

They're basically doing what Mythic did with Warhammer.

It's a decent idea. Of course, the way the game is set up these days, and the way they almost literally throw xp at you from all directions, you can get to 20 in an afternoon, even as a brand-new player.

I don't see it as this big huge deal, really. I also don't see it as "them experimenting with F2P". It looks like they're trying a different approach to the free trial; one which, again, has already been done.

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:42AM Report
Recant writes:

It's much easier to convince friends to play now because they can try it for as long a they like for free.  The classes have been revamped at lower levels which makes them more interesting and defined much earlier than before.

It's  irrelevant if another MMO has done something similar before, this is just a decision Blizzard have made to generate more revenue and encourage newer players.

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:50AM Report
anthonyman6 writes:

Why is this such a huge deal? I don't really understand. All they did was make an "endless" trial. Okay...and?

Thu Jun 30 2011 6:55AM Report
ZombieKen writes:

Same trial, just no longer expires.

It will give people on the fence enough of a teaser to convert some into subscribers.  Now that Vanilla plus BC is only $20 including the first month, buying the box only really costs $5.

Smart business I guess.

Thu Jun 30 2011 7:23AM Report
Kyleran writes:

Now, if they'd quit selling each expansion separately, and roll them up into a single, reasonably priced box they'd drag in the rest of the folks who've never played WOW.  (all 10 or 12 of them) ;)

Thu Jun 30 2011 8:07AM Report
sebbonx writes:

WoW gets even bigger, SOE shuts down, it is all good.

Thu Jun 30 2011 8:07AM Report
Athcear writes:

Endless lv 19 battlegrounds?

Thu Jun 30 2011 12:34PM Report
P2PGamer writes:

WoW's F2P is about as F2P as any other F2P in the market.  There is Pay to Look Cool (P2LC) and Pay to Win (P2W), but I have yet to see a  level playing field game that is truly F2P. 

Thu Jun 30 2011 4:18PM Report
MisterSr writes:

that's not even free to play (sort of), tFreemium is free-to-play (sort of). This was just an extended trial, so obviously nothing to see here.

Fri Jul 01 2011 1:32AM Report
stragen001 writes:

As far as I can see, its exactly the same as the old trial just with no time limit - means people dont have to make their mind up in 10 days = more chance for people to get hooked

Seems to me though, that Bliz need to concentrate more on keeping their exisiting subs what with the major competition on the horizon from SWTOR and GW2

Fri Jul 01 2011 5:39AM Report
rainwoof writes:

author just make effective post name, trial is f2p, not the game

Sat Jul 02 2011 11:40AM Report
Mothanos writes:

yes endless level 19 battlegrounds with full Bind of Account geared toons.

you can already 1 shot each other without it on low level battlegrounds, with a FULL BoA set you are god amongst men.

think it will turn more players away if they wane try pvp in wow then they will gain lol.

Sun Jul 03 2011 3:23AM Report
Kost writes:

@Mothanos: You really should take the time to inform yourself better:

1-20 F2Pers will not be able to aquire BoA gear.

1-20 F2Pers will not be able to turn off exp and remain at 19.

Do some research next time instead of just spewing forth an assumption that couldn't be further from the truth.

Tue Jul 05 2011 12:27PM Report
Vyeth writes:

You guys have nothing to worry about, take off your silly tin foil hats..

Whatever Blizzard plans to do F2P, they will ignore the western market more than likely.. They get it.. You don't like F2P, which is sad that a game is judged simply because of its payment model but that kind of snap judgment system is normal in this society anyhow..

Tue Jul 05 2011 3:46PM Report
Stonefalcon writes:

Give it till next year when they release their subscriber base numbers. They will probably announce 15-20mill or some rediculous number as they will include all the accounts that have reactivated as ppl will be flocking back to a F2P wow and lvl 19 battlegrounds.

Tue Jul 05 2011 9:57PM Report
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JRamos1982 writes:

The WoW free-to-play is still like the trial with no time liimit no thanks Blizz.

Wed Jul 06 2011 7:43AM Report

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