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When will World of Warcraft go Free to Play?
I love WoW, but the cost of a subscription is too much for me at the moment. So, I have been playing some great MMO games that started out as subscription based, but later went F2P (free to play). These games still claim to be making money, some had even been saved by making the change!
How long can Blizzard keep charging a monthly subscription fee in the current financial climate?
I think that it will eventually go free-2-play, maybe in 2-3 years. I imagine you'll still have to buy the CDs, but i'm sure you won't have to pay a subscription fee anymore.
I hate to say this, but I doubt that it will. I think that they have peaked or declined in players because they have really been pushing the "Scroll of Resurrection" feature here lately. The only way I see WoW being free to play is if they find another way that they can undoubtedly make the same amount of money that they were when they were charging for subscriptions. Who knows, though? I don't work for Blizzard, and I don't know what goes on behind the scenes.
I do feel like it is inevitable because profits for MMOs are leaning heavily on the bonus content that costs money, rather than a monthly subscription fee. Guild Wars, for example, was always free to play, but they are able to make money off of micro transactions for vanity items on high level players. Given that Blizzard recently (within the last year or two) began introducing paid vanity items in their online store (pets and mounts mostly) it means they are also preparing for this inevitability. In my mind, the change will be gradual. They set up a free to play model for new players from level 1-20 and my guess is they will just slowly extend that level cap. Maybe in another year we'll see it lifted to level 30, then 40 after that. Right now the game is still profitable as a subscription based game because the player base is still ridiculously large (if you lose a million players and still have the population of a small country, it isn't time to change your model yet.) Plus, since The Old Republic launched as a subscription game, it means WoW isn't the only one doing it and the pressure to convert is lessened. I predict the game will finally reach full free to play a few years after they release its last expansion.
Blizzard is owned by Activision and for that reason you will not see it go free to play. The reason why I say this is because WoW is a compensation entity for the company and they know people will pay $15.00 a month to play the game and if they raised it to $20.00 a month people would pay to play it.
WoW is addicting and some people take the game to literally where they feel they have to play it everyday for a few hours. Studies have shown that World of Warcraft is a game that is not only addicting by it has increased social responses from people who don't normally interact with others in public. So for some in the sense the game is a door way to open talk I guess you could say.
I also enjoy WoW, and I would like to see it go free to play as long as that doesn't imply that it is going down hill. However, I doubt Blizzard will make go free to play any time soon. If you want a good free to play game, Guild Wars 2 should soon be released, and it looks impressive.
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