Now what would be really interesting is if, say around 20.12.2011, World of Warcraft announced that it was going free to play.
Lord of the Rings Online was still offering standard and lifetime subscriptions right up to the point that it announced it was going free-to-play; getting your most ardent fans to agree to sign-up for a year mightn’t be a bad plan if you were going to open the game up to all, for ‘restricted content’ free play at least.
In addition, a forthcoming expansion which, potentially, could be seen as specifically targeting a younger audience, might work better if the subset of younger players who couldn’t normally afford a regular subscription were able to play for free, and then pay smaller amounts for the combat pets, mounts, and other items they were interested in.
Now, if World of Warcraft were to add a cosmetic item system, something which has already proven incredibly lucrative in a game such as LotRO, then you might consider it as further evidence that an in-game WoW Store was a distinct possibility, and free-to-play often goes hand in hand with an RMT store.
Of course, realistically you’d expect Blizzard to test the RMT waters first, perhaps with a small vanity item that could be bought with real money and then traded on the game’s auction house to other players, as a finite controllable experiment.
Don’t take this as some sort of proclamation as to what I believe is going to happen, but it is an interesting thought experiment to consider whether –what with the recent decline in subscriptions of their aging game, along with a core audience which seems dissatisfied no matter what they do– Blizzard would entertain the idea of opening World of Warcraft up to the pocket money demographic.
I’ve thought for some time WoW may go free to play, preferably at a time that best torpedos the opposition.
I actually think they’d make even more money if there were lots of things in the cash shop by being F2P than they would by being sub-based.
I would definitely consider buying a Rentokill panda extermination kit from the cash shop.
“I actually think they’d make even more money if there were lots of things in the cash shop by being F2P than they would by being sub-based.”
I agree, given the demand for the sparkle pony despite its high price point, I think they could make a killing if they created a store similar to that found in LotRO or RoM, with many items, cosmetic and otherwise; people still regularly pay $15-$20 for a mount in LotRO each time a new one is brought out.
If they’re really clever, they’ll have most items earnable through in-game grinding, to keep the subscription set happy too, much like DDO does.
“I would definitely consider buying a Rentokill panda extermination kit from the cash shop.”
Have you pictured Tauren performing monk kicks yet? I did this morning, and I’m definitely not finding pandas as the most ludicrous thing about MoP.
The title to this post read like you’re telling people to make babies :P Thus I could not concentrate on the rest lmao
Also “smeg” for a captcha… good times ;D
It does rather, doesn’t it!
Make experiments, not war.
It’s an interesting situation to think about, but I doubt Blizzard will convert WoW to f2p anytime soon.
While subscriptions indeed seem to be declining, I can imagine they still have millions of paying customers who are more than happy to keep paying for the game and who will also buy the new expansion as well as soon as its out.
As for myself, I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back to WoW again. I played the game since release, with intervals of a few months in between, but the game always managed to stir my interest again after a while.
After Cataclysm though, I was bored of the game merely a few months after the expanion’s release.
Where in the past I always retained some interest in the game, it’s gone completely now.
This has been said a thousand times before I’m sure, but I think Blizzard has really taken WoW in the wrong direction over the years.
And this new expansion they’ve announced…Pandaria, wow-pokemon, removal of talent-trees as we know them, more focus on speeding through dungeons, etc…who comes up with this stuff?
I might just be getting old and bitter :p
“While subscriptions indeed seem to be declining, I can imagine they still have millions of paying customers who are more than happy to keep paying”
The interesting thing about the free-to-play model is that it doesn’t preclude the subscription model running in parallel. Many f2p MMOs, especially those converting from standard subscription models, maintain the subscription for those who prefer to pay to play that way.
“As for myself, I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back to WoW again.”
I’m fairly sure that I’m over WoW, but I am a fan of the Pandaren (I guess I have to fight Stabs now, or something), so if they gave me a way to dabble with the game (over and above levels 1-20) I might find myself slowly becoming hooked again. It’s certainly what keeps me playing and paying in current f2p games, even when I think I’ve had enough.
On previous Blizzcon they were asked about going F2P and they dismissed it outright.
On this Blizzcon they were asked about going F2P and they said that it might be possible, depending on situation, but they have no plans for that yet.
So… i’d say F2P on next expansion after Mists.
I find it interesting that they were open to the idea at all, thanks for the information!
I would say, however, that if I were planning on making my game f2p in the near future, I’d probably play my cards close to my chest. And nothing would be an attention grabbing launch-day spoiler for SWTOR than announcing WoW going f2p, so one would probably want to keep it secret until then.
Next expansion after MoP is a good bet too though, since they can see whether MoP boosts their slightly flagging figures, or if the declining trend persists. If the latter, then they can open the f2p floodgate and boost revenue as best they can until Titan arrives.
It would certainly be an interesting turn of events.
To my developer eye, it seems that Blizzard has been taking baby steps, constantly inching over toward free-to-play. The sparkle pony, the vanity pets, etc., just all seems to indicate they’re heading in that direction. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if “Mists” were where they made the free-to-play jump. Definitely interesting to consider.
Based on past performances, I’d hazard a guess that they’d use the announcement as a spoiler against their competition’s publicity. Given that, the other thought experiment to ponder is whether they’d use it on SWTOR, or save it for Guild Wars 2.
I think there’s a good chance of WoW making even more money as a F2P game with a well-stocked RMT shop. However, making that switch involves gambling the tens of millions of dollars they receive every month in subscriptions – the downside of getting the transition wrong is they could have most of their current subscribers cancel and play for free. It would be a very brave executive who signed off on taking that risk…
Captcha – rimbuggle. Is that an exotic and perverse way of attempting to make experiments?
Of course we should bear in mind that free-to-play and subscription models are not mutually exclusive, many f2p games still run subscription plans too. The trick for World of Warcraft would be to keep the subscribers, while opening f2p (and thus RMT transactions) to everyone else.
Levels 1-85 free to play, and a subscription required for end-game raiding…?
It’s probably also worth keeping in mind that a fair number of WoW’s current players are already on a non-subscription payment model.
As you say, the trick’s going to be keeping the subscribers whilst moving to F2P as well. There’s no way Blizzard are going to dump all their subscription revenue at this point unless they know something really, really significant that we don’t.
I wonder if we might just start to see the level cap on F2P accounts creep upward – perhaps toward Level 60. The idea of the “classic” levels being F2P does not sound nearly so crazy, and might attract a lot of players back.