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Blizzard discuss making World of Warcraft free

MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,255Member Uncommon

http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/06/30/blizzard-discuss-making-world-of-warcraft-free/

 

The rise of the free-to-play western MMO hasn’t gone unnoticed at Blizzard, developers of World of Warcraft, the dominant western subscription MMO. Speaking to PC Gamer at their studios in Irvine, California, World of Warcraft’s lead designer, Tom Chilton, explained that “at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee.”

Tom was speaking about the rapid expansion of free-to-play games in the west, and the terms under which Blizzard would consider a similar model for World of Warcraft. In the last year, classic western hardcore online games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Company of Heroes and Dungeons and Dragons Online have all embraced a free-to-play model, where microtransactions and item purchases are a substitute for a traditional subscription fee.

 

Yet Tom doesn’t think those games have gone free just to compete with World of Warcraft. “I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. I imagine that when one of them went free to play it cannibalized some of the other subscribers. I can definitely imagine that being the case with World of Warcraft. 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.”

While the western view of World of Warcraft is that it’s a subscription-only MMO, the Blizzard team have long experimented with alternates to a traditional subscription to remain competitive in different markets. Multiple micro-transaction items are available to buy for the most committed World of Warcraft players – including shiny star horses, and warrior panda pets. In Korea, the game is sold purely via subscription fee, with no boxed product available. And Korean World of Warcraft subscribers will get to play StarCraft II for free, too. In Russia, StarCraft II is sold in small monthly instalments – a salve to a market where piracy is rampant.

Don’t cancel your subscription just yet though: WoW isn’t going free-to-play in the near term. When asked if Blizzard were actively considering the implications of a free-to-play model, Tom played down the idea of the game switching over right away. “We’re not spending a lot of time thinking about it. It’s not something that’s a reality for us in the near future.”

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

I am just wondering.

If WoW ever decided to do this, what type of impact will this have on the Genre, which currently requires WoW for the Genre Hype alone?

image

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Comments

  • EunuchmakerEunuchmaker Harlingen, TXPosts: 204Member

    I would think it would accelerate the inevitable.

  • GTwanderGTwander San Diego, CAPosts: 6,035Member

    Originally posted by Eunuchmaker

    I would think it would accelerate the inevitable.

    ~But why would they want to speed straight into "last resort" mode?

    There is no reason to make the game free, as the whole move into that is only to attract people that would never get past the box price in order to try it. Anyone who was ever going to play WoW already has, and the smart move would be to wait till the very last minute to do this, and I mean should it ever drop back down to under 500k players worldwide. Which is probably never going to happen, ever. Not till they flat-out shut it down anyway... there's as many people leaving it as there are old players going back atm.

    Writer / Musician / Game Designer

    Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
    Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  • VirusDancerVirusDancer Brandon, FLPosts: 3,649Member

    They would be better off with a reduced WoW-Lite client that allows access just to the game lobby at a lower sub cost... people that do not feel like paying $15 a month might pay less for access to BGs/Arena/co-op random dungeons.

    I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

    Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%

  • GTwanderGTwander San Diego, CAPosts: 6,035Member

    Originally posted by VirusDancer

    They would be better off with a reduced WoW-Lite client that allows access just to the game lobby at a lower sub cost... people that do not feel like paying $15 a month might pay less for access to BGs/Arena/co-op random dungeons.

    Smartest answer I've heard yet.

    The e-sports aspects of the game are nearly standalone when compared to the rest of it, I am very sure they could market it alongside the rest of the game itself.

    Writer / Musician / Game Designer

    Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
    Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  • EunuchmakerEunuchmaker Harlingen, TXPosts: 204Member

    Originally posted by GTwander

    Originally posted by Eunuchmaker

    I would think it would accelerate the inevitable.

    ~But why would they want to speed straight into "last resort" mode?

    There is no reason to make the game free, as the whole move into that is only to attract people that would never get past the box price in order to try it. Anyone who was ever going to play WoW already has, and the smart move would be to wait till the very last minute to do this, and I mean should it ever drop back down to under 500k players worldwide. Which is probably never going to happen, ever. Not till they flat-out shut it down anyway... there's as many people leaving it as there are old players going back atm.

    I wasn't referring to Blizz at all, my dear GT, but the competition that will follow in the footsteps of the MMO juggernaut.  It would mainstream that particular business model in a way few others could.  Fortunately, I have nothing aginst it, I play a mix of F2P and sub mmos.

    When and IF they do, it sure as heck will speed up the rest of the genre to F2P/ RMT models . . . accelerating the invevitable.  Blizz can wait as long as they want, they're holding all the cards atm. 

    Well, at least until 2012, then the world ends.

  • GTwanderGTwander San Diego, CAPosts: 6,035Member

    Originally posted by Eunuchmaker

    I wasn't referring to Blizz at all, my dear GT, but the competition that will follow in the footsteps of the MMO juggernaut.

    When and IF they do, it sure as heck will speed up the rest of the genre to F2P/ RMT models . . . accelerating the invevitable.  Blizz can wait as long as they want, they're holding all the cards atm. 

    Hahaha!

    It's so true it makes me want to cry.

    Writer / Musician / Game Designer

    Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
    Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  • laokokolaokoko TaipeiPosts: 2,003Member

    Meh, it makes me sad,  all the games from the east is already ftp.

  • CeridithCeridith Toronto, ONPosts: 2,980Member

    The "at some point" is when WoW is completely stale and the paying subscriberbase dwindles to a fraction of what it is now.

    If that does even happen within the next 5 years, it will likely be due to another MMO juddernaught having snagged the interest of the masses. I have no doubt that such a game would be subscription based, not F2P.

    So I really don't see what the big deal is.

  • GTwanderGTwander San Diego, CAPosts: 6,035Member

    Originally posted by Ceridith

    The "at some point" is when WoW is completely stale and the paying subscriberbase dwindles to a fraction of what it is now.

    If that does happened within the next 5 years, it will likely be due to another MMO juddernaught having snagged the interest of the masses. I have no doubt that such a game would be subscription.

    I really don't see what the big deal is.

    There will never be another "juggernaut".

    Too many games to choose from, and the vast majority of WoW players tend to come from the camp of it being their first MMO, ever. Unless another game can create a phenomenon that gets the last of the human race that is oblivious to MMOs to play (much like how WoW did, it's a veritable cherry popper), they are going to have to contend with people that have enough experience with them to develop various tastes.

    Writer / Musician / Game Designer

    Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
    Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  • Lester_CreechLester_Creech nelson, BCPosts: 515Member Common

    i have been saying this would happen for weeks.   monthly subs are over.  have a little faith that not all F2P games will be designed to immediately rip you off and throw you under a bus, and that a more lucrative marketing system may actual allow many games to dramatically increase their quality.

    for those who welcome the change over, lets call ourselves legion, for we are many.

  • DaveykzDaveykz Zanesville, OHPosts: 23Member

    Originally posted by GTwander

    Originally posted by Ceridith

    The "at some point" is when WoW is completely stale and the paying subscriberbase dwindles to a fraction of what it is now.

    If that does happened within the next 5 years, it will likely be due to another MMO juddernaught having snagged the interest of the masses. I have no doubt that such a game would be subscription.

    I really don't see what the big deal is.

    There will never be another "juggernaut".

    Too many games to choose from, and the vast majority of WoW players tend to come from the camp of it being their first MMO, ever. Unless another game can create a phenomenon that gets the last of the human race that is oblivious to MMOs to play (much like how WoW did, it's a veritable cherry popper), they are going to have to contend with people that have enough experience with them to develop various tastes.

    I foresee that Blizzard's next MMO will be the next "juggernaut" if we want to use that term. It will de-throne WoW, and they'll be rolling in cash once again. And I bet I'll be throwing my money into that cash pile because who wouldn't want to try their next MMO o_O

  • GTwanderGTwander San Diego, CAPosts: 6,035Member

    Originally posted by Daveykz

    Originally posted by GTwander

    There will never be another "juggernaut".

    Too many games to choose from, and the vast majority of WoW players tend to come from the camp of it being their first MMO, ever. Unless another game can create a phenomenon that gets the last of the human race that is oblivious to MMOs to play (much like how WoW did, it's a veritable cherry popper), they are going to have to contend with people that have enough experience with them to develop various tastes.

    I foresee that Blizzard's next MMO will be the next "juggernaut" if we want to use that term. It will de-throne WoW, and they'll be rolling in cash once again. And I bet I'll be throwing my money into that cash pile because who wouldn't want to try their next MMO o_O

    Err... I dunno if I agree or disagree.

    *Everyone* who ever played WoW is likely to at least buy it, but sticking with it is another question. The rose-colored goggles fall off when you start diversifying what games you play. A lot of people have WoW as the first, and refuse to try anything else. I know quite a few people who would have never played WoW a few years ago, but now that it's popular enough, they do.

    The words straight out of their mouth is "why would I play another online game, aren't they all the same?"

    It kills my inner child.

     

    Anyway, yep, they next one will do swimmingly in launch sales, but the droppff rate can be anything similar to what we've seen lately. I expect no different from SW:toR.

    Writer / Musician / Game Designer

    Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
    Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  • The_GrumpThe_Grump WhyIsThisNecessary, PAPosts: 331Member

    To be honest, as a player who enjoys exploring and questing, I was really drawn to WoW when I finally got around the stigma of WoW's community and what I've heard (and experienced ) about Blizzard to play the game. It was incredibly fun at first and all of the quests gave me the impression that, were my character real, he was actually doing something to further not only himself within the world but to further the ends of his race and faction. When I saw that WoW had an achievement system with WotLK I had even more of a reason to induldge my quedsting and exploring. With all the fun I was having it was definitely worth the roughly $15.00 I paid per month.

    Then I began to experience bugs involved with quests and combat mechanics on a regular basis which could cripple my favoured class (Warlock). With the support I initially received on the phone when I spoke with Blizzard's support I thought that the GMs would be able to help or point me to the tech people who could. Unfortunately, after around April or May of last year when the big WotLK patch came out the queues went from 30 minutes to a few hours all the way two or more days. GMs were far from helpful despite how detailed my petitions were and as I experienced more of WoW's content I found even more bugs and the ongoing problem with Warlock (and Hunter) pets were more and more frustrating. I began to talk with other Warlocks (and Hunters) about that issue to see if it had been around for long and was told by many players it happened sometime during the BC expansion and, when talking with players that had been around from that period, the bugs involving quests were common -but no one really concentrated on doing that many quests anyway.

    In that June I quit WoW and sometime in August I received a code for a year of free gameplay from a GM. Sweet deal, right? Not at all. I experienced more content and found that the more I experienced the more I encountered problems and the resounding allegation of, 'Damn, Blizzard, you make how much money a year from WoW? What are you doing with it?' With all of the issues I was having, reporting when I encountered them in detail and receiving abysmal GM and tech support I finally stopped playing WoW in February of this year. I had 6 months left of completely free game time and because Blizzard just can't get its act together despite the money coming in I just couldn't continue to play the game...even for free.

    The point of this background is to demonstrate that there is at least one player -and I am by no means the only one who has experienced this sort of thing with WoW- who won't play the game even if there is a point where there is no subscription fee for the game. If Blizzard can't maintain what they have created with that kind of money there is no good reason to suspect that Blizzard will maintain it with no money. Folks can talk all they want about the size of the game and the technical aspects involved, but it doesn't make much sense at all that income of that amount still leaves WoW with myriad problems. Then again, it does show what people are willing to put up with.

    But, really, Blizzard isn't likely to take the subscription-free tack and for one simple reason: they are enormously successful with the model they are using. Thus, the practical viability of the subscription model is going to remain in force for quite a long time. For some time now Blizzard hasn't had to grow WoW to continue their success, they've just had to minimally maintain their product. By the collective account of players dissatisfied with what Blizzard has done in the wake of what it really can and should do, Blizzard is quite the expert at minimal maintenace. Maybe that's where NCSoft learned it?

    (1)TL:DR must be your way of saying that thinking hurts. Then again, this may explain why it looks like you responded to the post without using your brain.
    (2) It's not about community, is it? You just have nothing better to do.

  • mklinicmklinic Pottstown, PAPosts: 1,435Member Uncommon

    Isn't this discussion well underway already: http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/283178

    -mklinic

    "There's a point I think we're missing.
    It's in the air we raise our fists in."
    -from Behind Closed Doors by Rise Against

  • TLoZDarkLinkTLoZDarkLink Plano, TXPosts: 66Member

    Originally posted by MMOExposed

    http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/06/30/blizzard-discuss-making-world-of-warcraft-free/

     

    The rise of the free-to-play western MMO hasn’t gone unnoticed at Blizzard, developers of World of Warcraft, the dominant western subscription MMO. Speaking to PC Gamer at their studios in Irvine, California, World of Warcraft’s lead designer, Tom Chilton, explained that “at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee.”

    Tom was speaking about the rapid expansion of free-to-play games in the west, and the terms under which Blizzard would consider a similar model for World of Warcraft. In the last year, classic western hardcore online games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Company of Heroes and Dungeons and Dragons Online have all embraced a free-to-play model, where microtransactions and item purchases are a substitute for a traditional subscription fee.

     

    Yet Tom doesn’t think those games have gone free just to compete with World of Warcraft. “I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. I imagine that when one of them went free to play it cannibalized some of the other subscribers. I can definitely imagine that being the case with World of Warcraft. 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.”

    While the western view of World of Warcraft is that it’s a subscription-only MMO, the Blizzard team have long experimented with alternates to a traditional subscription to remain competitive in different markets. Multiple micro-transaction items are available to buy for the most committed World of Warcraft players – including shiny star horses, and warrior panda pets. In Korea, the game is sold purely via subscription fee, with no boxed product available. And Korean World of Warcraft subscribers will get to play StarCraft II for free, too. In Russia, StarCraft II is sold in small monthly instalments – a salve to a market where piracy is rampant.

    Don’t cancel your subscription just yet though: WoW isn’t going free-to-play in the near term. When asked if Blizzard were actively considering the implications of a free-to-play model, Tom played down the idea of the game switching over right away. “We’re not spending a lot of time thinking about it. It’s not something that’s a reality for us in the near future.”

     

    _______________________________________________________________

     

    I am just wondering.

    If WoW ever decided to do this, what type of impact will this have on the Genre, which currently requires WoW for the Genre Hype alone?

    I have a bad view on WoW already considering one of my friends turned on me because of it. Making it Free to Play may make the community worse than it already is. I've seen way too many videos of guild mates being kicked out for no reason (Which is stupid IMHO to kick people without explanation on why), people whining about stupid things like this, expecially # 1:

     http://www.retrohive.com/2010/03/30/the-most-annoying-mmorpg-players/

    and etc.

     

    By the way, the person who turned on me? My first girlfriend. -.-

  • StormakovStormakov Brooklin, ONPosts: 191Member

    Originally posted by TLoZDarkLink

    By the way, the person who turned on me? My first girlfriend. -.-

     

    How did your hand turn on you?

  • TLoZDarkLinkTLoZDarkLink Plano, TXPosts: 66Member

    Originally posted by UserNoName

    Originally posted by TLoZDarkLink

    By the way, the person who turned on me? My first girlfriend. -.-

     

    How did your hand turn on you?

    She was lost in her own little world and too addicted to the game to notice anything. Before we met up again she was depressed. She had "friends who wern't really her friends." and decided to side with them. I was depressed when I met her also, but not as bad as her. Eventually she provoked me and then I decided that was enough after trying to calm her down after I lost my cool for a few mins. It's extremely easy to provoke me at times because my personality inside doesn't reallly match with most of the world. Emotions come in, things happen, people forgive or forget. I guess that's how life goes. (Expecially for people who have tastes that seem feminine at first though they really arn't if you look carefully. Since when was it against the law to look at jewelry to preplan or calm myself down?)

     

    Back onto the topic. I'm not sure whether to be glad or depressed about this news. Considering it's going F2P I would have considered trying it again. On the other hand, If it's going F2P without a payment option, I already know one thing...

     

    Over powered Cash shop anyone? :[

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,757Member Uncommon

    If they think it will make more money as F2P thats the way they will go, that will mean sticking two fingers up to the WoW community but its not as if you have another WoW to go to is it?

  • uquipuuquipu Roma, PAPosts: 1,516Member

    WoW will go free to play in 2026, you can bank on this.

    Well shave my back and call me an elf! -- Oghren

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Pittsville, VAPosts: 5,211Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Cruoris

    i have been saying this would happen for weeks.   monthly subs are over.  have a little faith that not all F2P games will be designed to immediately rip you off and throw you under a bus, and that a more lucrative marketing system may actual allow many games to dramatically increase their quality.

    for those who welcome the change over, lets call ourselves legion, for we are many.

     I have little faith. Practically none at all. The idea that F2P games aren't going to eventually turn into corrupt garbage is based on the false premise that people will continue buying things they have no incentive to buy in large quantities.

    As for WoW going F2P that's as bizarre a hypothetical as I've ever seen.

    "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  • NinjaGazNinjaGaz MacclesfieldPosts: 53Member Common

    Why would you change a model which is supposedly bringing in £130m per month?

    You'd have to be crazy to do that!

  • JoliustJoliust stoughton, WIPosts: 1,329Member


    Originally posted by VirusDancer
    They would be better off with a reduced WoW-Lite client that allows access just to the game lobby at a lower sub cost... people that do not feel like paying $15 a month might pay less for access to BGs/Arena/co-op random dungeons.

    Haven't read the rest of the thread yet, but I saw this and it just hit me as genius. This is something could bring me back to wow now and again and I haven't played in 4 years.

    I would also net more money if their was a shop for gear for these players, and bought twinks. It would screw up WoW Arenas for subscribers but perhaps there would be enough of these players to throw them into their own arena matches. Competition really stresses some people to buy better stuff to "win" or just keep up.

    Sent me an email if you want me to mail you some pizza rolls.

  • Rockgod99Rockgod99 Manhatten, NYPosts: 4,640Member

    Make Vanilla WoW f2p and watch blizzard take the other 40% of the mmo population by storm.

    Even I would play 1-60 WoW again, I would even use the cash shop to unlock the 60 raids lol.

    image

    Playing: Rift, LotRO
    Waiting on: GW2, BP

  • TreekodarTreekodar jlkjklPosts: 524Member

    Originally posted by Rockgod99

    Make Vanilla WoW f2p and watch blizzard take the other 40% of the mmo population by storm.

    Even I would play 1-60 WoW again, I would even use the cash shop to unlock the 60 raids lol.

    Deep down inside you know the ''hardcore'' players are a serious minorty and that WoW has been enhanced to cater to as many people as possible.

    Eleanor Rigby.

  • Rockgod99Rockgod99 Manhatten, NYPosts: 4,640Member

    Originally posted by Treekodar

    Originally posted by Rockgod99

    Make Vanilla WoW f2p and watch blizzard take the other 40% of the mmo population by storm.

    Even I would play 1-60 WoW again, I would even use the cash shop to unlock the 60 raids lol.

    Deep down inside you know the ''hardcore'' players are a serious minorty and that WoW has been enhanced to cater to as many people as possible.

    Vanilla WoW wasn't hardcore. It was an actual mmo. Azeroth used to be an actual game world. remember the old cross roads fights? the taren mill wars? the server crashing brawls on the bridge leading to stormwind?

    The rabbid ffa pvp on pvp servers in ever damn 20-60 zone?  Everytime you traveled to a dungeon the cave leading to the portal was like a mini pvp skirmish.

    Man I had such a good time back then. now my character sits in a major city disgusted because I no longer need to travel anywhere due to Dungeon/BG queues.

    image

    Playing: Rift, LotRO
    Waiting on: GW2, BP

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