Blizzard: World of Warcraft Won’t Go Free-to-Play Any Time Soon


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At BlizzCon 2013, Blizzard reaffirmed its position on keeping World of Warcraft pay-to-play.

Speaking at BlizzCon, CEO Mike Morhaime explained that WoW simply wasn’t designed to be F2P, and that he doesn’t foresee a F2P shift in the game’s future.

“We’ve always taken the business model on a case by case basis,” he said. “In the case of World of Warcraft, the first 20 levels are free. It wasn’t designed as a free-to-play game. I don’t see that type of transition happening in World of Warcraft, although we are always looking for new ways to make the game more accessible.”

In an interview with Eurogamer, production director J. Allen Brack added yet another nail in the coffin, clarifying that Blizzard is not even considering the move.

“We would have to rework the game pretty significantly in order to make it free-to-play,” he said. “It’s not something we’re currently considering.”

Would you want WoW to go F2P?

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3 Comments on Blizzard: World of Warcraft Won’t Go Free-to-Play Any Time Soon

Roman

On November 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

maybe not free to play, but maybe hourly or weekly set ups, like you pay for say 100 hours, so you play and use what you paid for. Cuz normally what happens when I pay for those is the real world keeps stopping me from playing then I have wasted money.

AxΣtwin

On November 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm

They say that now, but EA was singing that exact same tune up til a month before they announced TOR was going F2P. Sure, they still have along ways to go in terms of lost subscribers before they have to start seriously thinking about whether to kill the game or find a new way to extend its lifespan. However, I know they’re looking at keeping the subscription based model for their next MMO. I think they’re going to be in for a rude awakening when they realize that their new game is failing to live up to expectations because the P2P market is limping along.

Ron Whitaker

On November 12, 2013 at 5:40 am

@Axetwin: I don’t think the pay-to-play market is limping along, so much as it is just lacking any really qualified entrants. When WoW launched, it wasn’t the game we’re playing today. It was a very different beast, replete with bugs, server issues, and other problems. Heck, the first couple of months, I think Blizzard gave out more free playtime than they have since then combined.

What changed? Two things. One, Blizzard got its act together quickly. Two, the attitudes of people around the genre changed. When WoW launched, having a million subscribers for your MMO was a pipe dream, and launch issues were expected. WoW itself expanded the genre in ways no one could have foreseen. By the time the inevitable follow-on competition to WoW arrived, Blizzard had nailed down their formula. They were delivering regular content, with consistent server reliability, and they created a culture where that’s what players expected.

Every single subscription MMO that launched after WoW had to meet those expectations, and they had to do it at launch. MMO players who were used to WoW simply weren’t willing to wait for a company to straighten out issues with their games, especially those for whom WoW was their first MMO (and in some cases their first game). They wanted the reliability, performance, and content levels of World of Warcraft, and they wanted them at launch. This put a lot of pressure on companies, and it also kept people playing WoW, because none of the new offerings were strong enough to pull them away.

Today, WoW’s got the gravitational pull that the first Everquest did. Millions of people of played it, and a lot of them still are. Heck, the original Everquest has had something like 20 expansions. I think you can expect WoW to get a lot closer to that number before it goes free-to-play.