World of Warcraft could be Free to Play in Future

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Here’s a small bit of news that could have a big effect on millions of gamers in the future – Blizzards hugely popular MMORPG game World of Warcraft could eventually become free to play, being supported by the same micro transactions that have made more casual online games so popular.

It wouldn’t be the first popular commercial game to go down that route. Anarchy Online changed over to a free to play service several years ago and the decision has been one that totally revived the games falling userbase and kept people playing for long after they would have done had subscriptions continued. You still need to pay for certain elements of the game, but removing the need for monthly subscriptions opens up the game to a much wider audience.

Dungeons and Dragons Online has also recently abandoned monthly subscription charges as well. Although it’s not going to happen tomorrow, Warcraft could eventually do a similar thing, supporting itself through micro transactions rather than a monthly fee. The idea was suggested by WOW’s lead designer Tom Chilton in an interview with VideoGamer:

“I certainly think it’s possible that we could do some kind of microtransaction 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 microtransactions. Whether we ever shift to a free-to-play model is really too hard to say at this point.”

Although this method of billing does work well for older games that have a small userbase, the problem with the method is that it creates an uneven playing field – no longer are the most dedicated or skilled players the best. Instead, the people with the most amount of money become more powerful. At least with a monthly payment, everything else in the game remains unrelated with personal finances – buying of WoW gold from online sources not included.

There was no news on how this attitude might affect Blizzards upcoming top secret MMORPG project which is said to be ‘significantly different’ from World of Warcraft – so much so that Blizzard aren’t much worried about competing with themselves.



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