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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

World of Warcraft Possible Free to Play, says Blizz Dev Tom Chilton

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday July 7 2009 at 7:56PM
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Tom Chilton, courtesy



 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, 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

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, “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.

Play safe,


Mystik86 writes:

Free to play MMOs bother me for the simple reason that thus far they have lacked any real quality and have not managed to hold my gaze for too long. I won't even return to FreeRealms until they implement player housing and the rest of the zones, cause for me it was still lacking.

As for the WoW going F2P, I'd love that. It would mean I could try out the game any time I want and not have to pay to see if it's worth it to keep playing. I'd like to see them continue with expansions too but either make them free or half the price (at least) of what they currently are.

WoW has always been the singleplayer game in a multiplayer world with group things to do, for me anyways. It's toony and players there are somewhat unintelligent but the Warcraft story is always there. The lore beats a lot of trash available and it would be the perfect game for roleplaying if people cared more about it. Player housing should have been part of the original game, too, and that would have increased roleplayability by a huge margin.

The secret MMO they are working on has attracted a lot of interest for me, but I will always be a huge Diablo fan and am still more excited about it than any other game on the horizon (despite it's apparent use of the WoW engine).

Wed Jul 08 2009 9:31PM Report writes:
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