Blizzard Admits SWTOR Stole WoW Players; May Extend Trial
Blizzard has acknowledged that SWTOR is at least partially responsible for the dip in World of Warcraft subscriber numbers and is considering extending their MMO’s trial period.
Senior World of Warcraft producer John Lagrave told Eurogamer:
We certainly do look at [where WOW players go], and we have a very smart bunch of guys who do our analytics for us.
Of course people are trying Star Wars – our development team are trying Star Wars! I’m one of the few people who’s still playing it actually, but yeah we’ve seen a dip in subs. It certainly has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic, but it’s also attributable to people who want to wait and get Mists of Pandaria, so it’s not surprising.
“I’m one of the few people who’s still playing it.” Was that a subtle jab at the competition, or simply the truth?
Lagrave went on to discuss the possibility of extending WoW’s free trial:
We could certainly look at extending the level of the trial — what you can do in the trial in terms of the amount of gold that you can have and all that kind of stuff.
There’s a fair amount that you can experience up to level 20, because you really get most of the core systems in by that point.
But we can absolutely say, ‘Hey, why don’t we make it level 40?’ ‘Why don’t we make it level 60?’, do we let you at least experience the old world? It’s all possible.
While there are no current plans to extend the trial, Lagrave did say, “but that’s all absolutely on the table.”
What Blizzard isn’t presently considering is a swap to free-to-play. Lagrave said:
Right now we’re very happy with the subscription system with World of Warcraft. We think it works very well.
Mike [Morhaime] talks about the value we give you for that price-point, and that’s a fairly legitimate statement. Certainly a very cheap form of entertainment. So yeah, we’re comfortable with the subscription system. I won’t say never on that, but gosh not now and it’s been seven years! You’d think we’d have gotten there before now, so I don’t think so.
WoW is presently successful with its pay-to-play business model, but as the game continues to age, it will inevitable keep losing players. At what point will Blizzard go free-to-play? Or will it shut down the servers before that ever happens?