Recently there’s been a fair bit of bad news for Blizzard and their long lived subscriber based MMO, World of Warcraft. For years now it’s been the most popular MMORPG but with the recent introduction of games like League of Legends and D&D Neverwinter, not to mention an equally long lived MMORPG, Runescape, World of Warcraft subscriber numbers have been dropping like flies.
Speaking with Polygon, World of Warcraft lead designer Tom Chilton has suggested that Blizzard may be considering the switch from a subscription based model to the free-to-play one but Blizzard has concerns about it’s success in the long run:
“For Blizzard it makes sense [to go free-to-play] at some point.” said Chilton “But a lot of the risk is in making that transition. You hear stories about developers going free-to-play and getting double the number of players, but you don’t always know it works out that way and how long it stays that way. We really don’t know what the rate is before people drop off and lose interest.”
Blizzard has also recently announced that it’s testing out an in-game microtransaction shop which contains both cosmetic things like pets and mounts, to more game based perks like XP boosts. The in-game cash shop is currently being tested in the Asian Test Servers. Blizzard explained the store in a little more detail:
“First, we’ll be testing the in-game store with some new kinds of items we’re looking into introducing (in Asian regions, at the outset) based on player feedback: specifically, an experience buff to assist with the leveling process, as well as an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. We’ve had a lot of requests from players in different regions for convenience-oriented items such as these, and as with other new ideas we’ve introduced as WoW has evolved—including Pet Store pets, mounts, and more—your feedback plays a hugely important part in determining what we add to the game.”
Personally I’ve never paid for World of Warcraft, I’ve made use of private servers such as MoltenWoW to get my short lived World of Warcraft fix. I would be considered a casual player of games like this so opting to pay £8.99 per month for something I’d probably play once or twice every few weeks isn’t my cup of tea.
What are your thoughts on this? Would you play World of Warcraft if it was free-to-play? Or if you’re an existing player would you continue to play if it became F2P?