World of Warcraft could go free-to-play

In a recent interview with PC Gamer UK, World of Warcraft’s lead designer Tom Chilton said that “at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee.” While mainstream coverage of free-to-play games remains sparse, the popularity of micro-transaction business models amongst big publishers and developers is on the rise with titles like SOE’s Free Realms, Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes Online, EA’s Battlefield Heroes, and Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online - to name a few.

Above: Blizzard is looking for new ways to make gold. Time is money, friend!

According to Chilton, Blizzard isn’t ruling out the possibility of eliminating the more traditional subscription fee in the future and suggests that Blizzard’s next MMO might even be a free-to-play title. “If another game comes along and blows us away it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee. Or even further down the line, when we have another MMO out,” said Chilton.

But don’t expect Blizzard to pull the rug from under their players’ feet only to replace it with a velvet rope model and micro transactions.  “It’s not something that’s a reality for us in the near future,” explained Chilton. Still, Blizzard’s recent sale of an epic mount through their online store raked in epic profits, leading us to believe that a free-to-play MMO by Blizzard could be just as, if not more, profitable than the already successful World of Warcraft.

Source: PC Gamer via CVG

Jun 30, 2010


  • AlpineGuy - July 2, 2010 7:18 p.m.

    I would gladly pay for WoW and its expansions if I didn't have to pay a subscription fee. GLADLY.
  • Willis916 - July 1, 2010 5:20 a.m.

    Runescape?? no....ok......
  • N1kc - July 1, 2010 5:02 a.m.

    When you say "next MMO" I immediatly think The Old Republic, and I really hope it's F2P.
  • SirDinkleman - July 1, 2010 3:23 a.m.

    Seriously battlefield heroes is barely free. Yeah you can PLAY the game but you cant be GOOD at it unless you pay for some ridiculous weapon that costs $20. Hopefully WoW will let free to play players be good at the game without having to pay.
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  • FriendlyFire - June 30, 2010 11:31 p.m.

    @defunct: Depends on the game. Guild Wars is free to play, they make the money in buying the game and expansions (which are dirt cheap right now). Considering you need to pay a one-off fee for most MMOs, this is just a steal, and I've never had to pay for more than the base costs. I could even have done fine with just the original, but I loved the game and bought the expansions. I wouldn't be surprised that Blizzard is watching Guild Wars 2 closely, since it'll be a lot more competitive than GW1 and still free.
  • defunct - June 30, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    I HIGHLY suggest people try out a 'Free' to play MMO before saying it's really 'Free'. The name is very deceptive. Especially if you actually want to play the game! As for the 'so much wasted money in the past, since it's going free in the future'. This seems too much like a joke to bother with actually. If you consider anything in life you've ever gotten for free, and you're paying for now, are you truly wasting your money? I've gotten free food before! Free beer! Am I wasting my money instead of waiting around for another free one? Or another angle, was your time spent in the game so horrible, that it wasn't worth the money? F2P games ALL make money, or they wouldn't still be around. They don't get it through advertising, or at least not only that way. They get it through customers paying them money in their Item Stores. Can you imagine WoW selling an Item Store ONLY item that would rez you while you were running a raid? Click it, and you're alive again. Other means of rez on CD? Pay to rez! You DO realize that this would become REQUIRED for some hardcore raiding guilds? F2P games work by restricting MAJOR portions of the game until you either earn enough credits in game, or you pay through the store. And if you're trying to earn them in game, they make sure the process takes a LOT of time and it's at least a little painful. Want access to all the instances? You gotta pay. Access to horses? Gotta pay. Access to Outlands/Northrend? Gotta pay. Even areas like Hillsbrad, or STV, could easily be restricted until you pay. Seriously. Try out some F2P games, and you'll quickly see how not free they really are.
  • Ded - June 30, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    It would be harder to complain about problems if the game were free..
  • EsotericFerret - June 30, 2010 10:57 p.m.

    I absolutely loved WoW and I would play it for a few months with each expansion, but I just can't make myself keep paying for it month in and month out. If they had a free-to-play model, I would so get back into playing it every now and again.
  • JohnDagger - June 30, 2010 10:53 p.m.

    This could be kinda likely to happen. Say what you want about the new game APB, but it has numerous methods of payment. It could become microtransaction based, a 20hrs per month cheaper subscription fee, or maybe just a single payment method like Guild Wars...who knows maybe eventually you can just sign over your immortal soul for a eternity of gameplay in hell...
  • Vitoruss1 - June 30, 2010 10:37 p.m.

    It'll become free when the game's age begins to show and its popularity wanes. If I'm not mistaken, that's not happening any time soon. There's simply still way too many subscribers, and it is going to be years and years and years before cutting the cost from players is even considered.
  • ColonelKc - June 30, 2010 10:24 p.m.

    Hmm, so people wasted so much money every year for something that might become free....
  • number1hitjam - June 30, 2010 10:18 p.m.

    I think it's funny that his name's Chilton and he works for Blizzard. Who's next, Bob Snowball?

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