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Posts with tag free-to-play

World of Warcraft earns over $1 billion a year

According to statistics from SuperData Research, World of Warcraft still dominates the MMO market with 36% market share. The game raked in just over a billion dollars in revenue in 2013, putting it well ahead of its nearest competition -- $253 million for NCSoft's 1998 title Lineage. The ranking of top subscription titles suggests that MMOs need staying power -- WoW is nearly 10 years old and Lineage is 16 -- and a strong Asian presence -- the top 3 are all big titles in Asia -- to sustain them over the long haul.

However, even though WoW continues to pull in strong subscription numbers, the industry has seen the subscription model declining sharply while microtransaction revenue has been on an upswing. With both a healthy subscriber base and its own microtransaction strategy, WoW seems prepared to succeed no matter which direction the industry goes. However, the overall subscription trend begs the question: will we ever see a free-to-play version of WoW? Blizzard has said no, and with subscription stats like this we can see why.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Is Hearthstone pay-to-win?

Many games that fall into the free to play category also fall into the pay to win category -- which is to say that if you want to be able to play well, you'll wind up forking over some cash. It's a big frustration with free to play games which can easily wind up costing just as much -- or even more -- than games with an ordinary pricetag. So while we wondered whether we needed to sink money into buying more Hearthstone packs, we were glad to see Polygon had done a detailed examination of the advantage you get from buying cards in Hearthstone.

Though anyone interested in the economics of it should definitely read the entire article, the end result is that because there are many options to earn in-game gold to buy packs -- and because the best decks aren't necessarily built with all epic cards -- with some patience a casual player will catch up with a big spender. But, still, opening pack after pack of cards that has an appeal that has nothing to do with economics.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Blizzard looking to expand microtransactions?

Purchasable transmog helm
An article over at Gamespot has recently brought to attention the fact that Blizzard is seeking both a manager and a director for a new unit within the company: "Microtransaction Strategy". For those of you paying attention to ongoing trends in the video game industry, this in particular might pique your interest. As we all well know, 2013 was a landmark year in terms of new titles for Blizzard with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and their announced MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. Both of these games are going to be free-to-play, which means that they'll be relying on microtransactions to generate cash flow.

With World of Warcraft being one of the few remaining MMOs that still charges a monthly subscription fee, I think it's fair to say that Blizzard hasn't been at the forefront of microtransaction-driven financing, despite the existence (and success) of WoW's purchasable pets, mounts, and transmog gear. However, the establishment of both the Microtransaction Strategy team and job openings therein point to some development along that front. It will be interesting to see what other types of microtransaction offers become available in Blizzard games in the future.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

No Free-to-Play World of Warcraft

Speaking to Eurogamer last night at BlizzCon, Production Director J. Allen Brack stated that Blizzard has no plans to make World of Warcraft free to play. "We didn't make the game to be free to play," he said. "We would have to rework the game pretty significantly in order to make it free-to-play. It's not something we're currently considering."

This echos what Mike Morhaime said in an interview on the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket. He also said that WoW was not designed to be free to play.

Many had thought that with subscriber losses and the introduction of an in-game Blizzard store on the PTR that WoW might be heading toward a free to play model, like many subscription MMOs are doing. But these statements by Blizzard developers allays those fears.

Filed under: News items, BlizzCon

The Queue: Horehound is not a bad word

The Queue
Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

As you read this, I'm off exploring the halls of the Milwaukee Public Museum and buying copious amounts of horehound candy sticks. Who doesn't enjoy eating stuff that tastes like licorice pennies?

@ExileDispatches asked:

Is it possible for WoW to go free-to-play without ending up pay-to-win?

Read more →

Filed under: The Queue

Breakfast Topic: Would you play free-to-play WoW?

Tom Chilton's recent comments about how WoW could one day be free to play have us wondering: would WoW players still want to play in a free-to-play, microtransaction-supported version of their favorite game? Free-to-play WoW might not look so different from the WoW we play right now, in which you can already play for free up to level 20. And the game already has its own not-so-micro transactions with pay-for for pets, mounts, and cosmetic items -- though free-to-play would only see this sort of item store expanding, perhaps drastically.

So tell us, readers: would you play a free to play version of World of Warcraft?
Would you play free-to-play WoW?
Absolutely! I'm already paying to play, so WoW for free is definitely an improvement.2776 (29.5%)
If WoW were free, I'd at least play sometimes. Why not, if there's no cost?1542 (16.4%)
I'm not sure. It would depend on the sorts of microtransactions offered.2942 (31.3%)
No way! Microtransactions would ruin game balance.2138 (22.7%)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Tom Chilton: "At some point it's possible that World of Warcraft could end up being free-to-play..."


According to NowGamer, WoW's Game Director Tom Chilton said the following to them at Gamescom 2013 regarding WoW going Free-to-Play:

Tom Chilton
I definitely think that free-to-play MMOs will be around for a very long time. At some point it's possible that World of Warcraft could end up being free-to-play, but I do think there's always room for there to be subscription games.

This is about as close to WoW going Free-to-Play as we have yet seen, however the intention is clearly there that Chilton believes WoW won't be doing so soon.

Read the whole topic over on NowGamer for more information... and keep in mind this doesn't mean the next expansion will bring Free-to-Play WoW, or that there are any plans for it to happen. Game Directors like to talk about possible futures, and that's all Chilton is doing (like any good Game Director should).

Filed under: News items

What WoW Free to Play players can and cannot do

What WoW Free to Play players can and cannot do
The World of Warcraft Starter Edition is Blizzard's free to play option for WoW. While it is a good way to get to know the game, don't go running out to tell all your friends to play with you for free until you know a few things about this edition. In order to avoid pronoun trouble, your friend is named Veronica.
  • A Starter Edition player cannot send or receive mail. So you can't mail bags, gold, or even an empty welcome note to Veronica.
  • Pet Battles are off limits for free to play people, but they can purchase the training -- unfortunately.
  • Veronica will be able to create a Pandaren, just not a monk.
More free to play info after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Tom Chilton suggests Mists of Pandaria "wildly overhyped"

Maybe Mists of Pandaria isn't quite as likely as we all thought. IGN PC had a chat with Game Director Tom Chilton about the rumors of the upcoming expansion, as well as the upcoming patch 4.3 and the possibility of WoW moving to a free-to-play model.

Chiming in on the subject of transmogrification was Art Director Chris Robinson, who explained a little about the details behind the feature and its restrictions. Robinson clarified that protecting class integrity was an important factor in both armor design and the upcoming transmogrification feature: "When you see those demon wings you know 'Okay that's a warlock,' you know you can apply that to his tier twenty-one armor but it's still a warlock."

So what about free-to-play? Chilton confirms that it's "definitely a possibility," but for those of you looking for an immediate free-to-play version of WoW, you're going to have to wait. Chilton clarified that the change would be a dramatic departure from Blizzard's current business model, and it would take quite a bit of convincing to switch models.

As to the subject of Pandaren ...

Speculation swirled recently regarding Blizzard's decision to trademark "Mists of Pandaria," as many thought it may indicate the name of the next World of Warcraft expansion. Pandaria, in Warcraft lore, refers to the home of the Pandaren, basically humanoid war pandas you may remember making an appearance as neutral heroes in Warcraft III. Chilton said the speculation was, "wildly overhyped." He added, "if you look at traditionally how we've handled that race it's been in those secondary products because we haven't realized it in the world. Most of the time when we do anything panda-related it's going to be a comic book or a figurine or something like that."

Comic books, figurines, or a new expansion? Time and undoubtedly BlizzCon will tell. Check out the full article over at IGN PC.

Filed under: News items, Rumors

Arcane Brilliance: Beginner's guide to being a mage

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're taking a trip through the first 20 levels of the game, which are now eternal. The important thing to remember about rolling a mage is that you've made the right choice; congratulations.

Between the newly adopted unending demo, the extended Recruit-a-Friend promotion, and the freshly bargain-priced WoW/The Burning Crusade bundle, it seems Blizzard is making a concerted effort to woo new players. And from my limited viewpoint, it seems to be working.

I have a brother, a year and some change younger than me, who doesn't live near me. This sucks, because he and I have absolutely everything in common. We grew up taking turns watching each other play Shining Force, or designing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns to force each other to play through, but then college, family, and career separated us. I'm here in Las Vegas playing copious amounts of video games and ignoring my kids, and he's at Purdue, working on his doctorate and just generally making me ashamed of the waste my life has become. Naturally, I've been trying for years to drag him down to my level. Thus far he's resisted, but when I notified him of these new opportunities to play the game on the cheap, he finally took the plunge.

And rolled a warrior.

Sigh.

Oh well. At least it wasn't a warlock, right?

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

WoW goes free-to-play through level 20

Welcome! It's a good day to be one of the few remaining human beings who isn't playing World of Warcraft. While previously players who set up a new trial account were limited by 14 days of playtime and a level cap, Blizzard announced today that players on any trial account are able to play the game forever for free. The catch, of course, is that players are capped at level 20 until they upgrade. You can try out any of the races and classes available up through The Burning Crusade expansion, including the blood elves and draenei, with no time limit and no limit on characters created.

If you do get the hankering for more WoW thanks to the trial, you can get the digital Battle Chest, which includes classic WoW and The Burning Crusade, for $19.99 (as soon as the Blizzard site works again, anyway).

Trying out WoW for the first time with one of these trials? Have a friend who's just starting out and needs a push in the right direction? Check out WoW Rookie, our resource for new or casual players, with topics like: For a full list of the restrictions placed on endless trial accounts, check after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

PAX East 2011: Will World of Warcraft ever go free-to-play?

It seems that every new MMORPG wants to bill itself as a "WoW killer." From Lord of the Rings Online to Age of Conan to (most recently) RIFT, everyone wants a piece of the most popular subscription-based MMORPG of all time.

To date, World of Warcraft has weathered the competition. Its subscriber numbers have reached an all-time high (now over 12 million), with its latest Cataclysm expansion selling nearly 5 million copies in the first month alone. The game should remain popular and successful for years to come. Still, even Blizzard admits: It can't stay on top forever.

So what happens when the game starts losing a significant amount of its subscriber base? If what happened to Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online is any clue, World of Warcraft might move to a free-to-play model. Since switching to free-to-play, both of Turbine's games added subscribers and increased revenues.

This past weekend, I sat in on the free-to-play MMO panel held at the PAX East 2011 conference in Boston. Afterward, I caught up with Robert Ferrari, VP of Publishing and Business Development for Sanrio Digital (Hello Kitty Online), to discuss WoW. We discussed the free-to-play industry and whether or not World of Warcraft could eventually find a place in it.

"WoW has to be looking at a free-to-play model currently," Ferrari theorized.

Read more →

Filed under: News items, Rumors

Breakfast Topic: Would you pay for extras in a F2P WoW?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Lord of the Rings Online went free-to-play. "Free" is a questionable term, since they charge you for a fee for features you can technically live without but are still fairly important; things such as the gold cap, the ability to gain rested XP, and certain instances and PvP options require a fee. You get an enhanced version slightly above a trial, but you are still limited in what you can do in the free-to-play version of the game.

While playing a game, I want to play the whole game, have the entire experience, and not feel as if I have been shortchanged by being on a limited version. Personally having purchased some of the Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age DLC, I would still have to pay for the added functionality. Not being able to fully advance my character and see large amounts of content would irritate me more than the cost would. Not being allowed to make use of content would make me feel like I was missing out.

I want the choice of whether or not I do this instance, raid, or battleground. Could you imagine attempting to zone into Icecrown Citadel and seeing a message that says, "Requires a V.I.P. membership"? WoW has sold us a few items for extra money that are not required, but not having a Lil' XT or a sparkle pony doesn't affect your game functionality.

LOTRO offers things like more bag spaces and removing the gold cap and even priority login for those with V.I.P. accounts. So if World of Warcraft decided to follow the LOTRO model and go semi-free-to-play, would you just play the free portion? Would you pay for the V.I.P. portion? Would you buy the other nickel and dime upgrades they have on top of that? Or would you quit WoW altogether, feeling as if Blizzard had shortchanged players by making us pay for things like bag space, PvP and raid availability?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Tom Chilton can imagine a future where WoW is free-to-play

PC Gamer posted an interview with Tom Chilton where he discussed the possibility of World of Warcraft eventually going free-to-play. He clarified that there are no active plans for this now, but he can imagine a future where it would be possible.

As massively multiplayer games become more mainstream, a common tactic to compete with WoW is to make the games free to play while charging microtransactions for in-game content. It makes games more accessible, and in theory can make publishers enough revenues that they can be profitable. If enough games break even this way and WoW starts losing momentum and market penetration, instead of shutting down, it would only make sense for Blizzard to keep the game available for the residual income. The original EverQuest is still live, for example. Instead of leaving vast empty realms populated by a very small number of nostalgic gamers, however, making WoW free-to-play could keep it residually profitable for longer.

While WoW will undoubtedly lose the majority of the market share some day, this day is not close. Warcraft is past the red-hot growth phase of its life cycle; however, it's still the largest player in the market. Chilton acknowledges that there's no reason for Blizzard to make this change while this is the case: "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."

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

PAX East 2010: Turbine on renting vs. owning in the MMO market

Blizzard's presence at PAX East 2010 was even smaller than I was expecting, with two or so Community reps there to oversee the StarCraft II tournaments going on. Boston-based Lord of the Rings Online developer Turbine, though, had a very large demo area which saw a lot of traffic over the course of the three-day event. Con-goers could stop by and demo LotRO, as well as Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and hobnob with the Community reps and developers present.

With the WoW-specific news at the event registering somewhere between "literally nothing" and "nearly nothing" on the newsy scale, I decided to stop by Turbine and ask them a few questions about their MMOs. I ended up speaking with their Design Director, Ian Currie.

"I'm from WoW.com," I said, "so obviously I don't normally do a lot of reporting on your games. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever even played DDO, and I've only played a little bit of LotRO."

Currie smiled and said "You really don't know what you're missing, then, do you!"

"Apparently not," I acquiesced, "but maybe you can help fill in the blanks."

Read more →

Filed under: Events, Interviews

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