World of WarCraft Free to Play?

June 29, 2011


deathwing02-1024x768Mashable is reporting that World of WarCraft is now going to have a free to play option, that is until you reach level 20 (sound familiar?).  They are titling it “World of Warcraft Starter Edition” and it allows players to play until their characters reach level 20, then they will have to subscribe to the “full version” of the game if they wish to keep gaining experience; which can be done through an online account page.  There are some restrictions on Starter Edition Accounts, of course:

  • A level cap of 20.
  • A maximum of 10 gold.
  • Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
  • Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
  • In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.
  • Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.
  • Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters’ friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
  • Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.
  • Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
  • Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
  • Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
  • Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers
  • RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.

I’m not so sure that this is “Free to Play” as much as it is a revamped version of their trial accounts, given that you really cannot play the game “for free” past a certain low level and that there is no word about being able to utilize any preexisting accounts that were not trial accounts.  So count me skeptical as to the use of the term “Free to Play”, but I guess I’d be arguing semantics.  Some speculate that this might even be a precursor to a true “Free to Play” model simliar to LOTRO, but again I’m skeptical.  Warcraft’s subscription model doesn’t seem to be failing them at this point and if it isn’t broken, why fix it?  And sure, it might be fun to go in and play some in my past stomping grounds of Azeroth, but personally Tolkien’s world holds my heart; so I don’t see that happening any time soon.

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About Merric

Co-founder of CSTM and an avid LOTRO fan.

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29 Responses to “World of WarCraft Free to Play?”

  1. Steffen Says:

    Me, I would’nt call it F2P. Seems to me like a better trial version, but this won’t make me even try it. But it seems like all will have to get on baord with the free content technique to get new players, and I am still waiting for the Age of Conan F2P¨.


    • Hobbitmeister Says:

      “…and I’m still waiting for the Age of Conan F2P.”

      I thought it already did go F2P….back in March?


      • Nerves Says:

        The AoC free to play conversion happens later this summer. Right now, they just have the unlimited trial.


  2. Katabri Says:

    I call it an unlimited free trial.


  3. Katabri Says:

    Clarification: And unlimited TIME Free Trial. All trial limitations are still in effect.


  4. Vraeden of Elendilmir Says:

    Maybe they’re trying out an extended “10 day trial” or taking it to a test drive before going to a full F2P model prior to Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s just a matter of time before every game has players paying real money to buy fake money to use in game.


  5. Pakita Says:

    Nonsense. Anybody who things that WoW is going F2P in any foreseeable future or that Blizzard is being afraid of SWTOR or Guild Wars 2 is just silly and ridiculous.


  6. Tony Says:

    It isn’t free to play at all, your closing paragraph is right. I’m not understanding how so many of these bigger sites are not putting this together.

    It’s still just a trial. The second you give any money to Blizzard, you are expected to pay a monthly fee. You don’t always just have access to making characters under Level 20 or any characters you didn’t finish leveling.

    Paying anything takes that access away completely.

    Imagine if LOTRO was F2P, but once you went VIP or Premium, you’d not be able to do anything unless you put money in each month. Would that be F2P at all? I say no.

    If this were really a shift to free to play, you’d be able to log into your expired account and make a character and level it to 20. That isn’t the case.

    I think this is a good idea on Blizzard’s part, but calling it free to play is incredibly wrong. There have been other MMORPGs that did this with their trials and I don’t recall one of them being described in this way.


  7. LD Says:

    So it’s the same free trial that Blizzard have been running for years, with all of the same limitations except for the 14 day time limit. Sounds very similar to the ‘Endless Free Trial’ that Warhammer Online has, or that Champions Online had before it went free to play.

    The more interesting news is that Blizzard are now giving away The Burning Crusade expansion to everyone who has the base game. Really did not expect to see that at all.


    • Tanek Says:

      are they actually giving away The Burning Crusade? I know to are able to create the Draeni and Blood Elf characters in the trial now, but since it says you need the Battlechest to upgrade, I figured that part was no different than before (granted, at that price it is like buying only the base game, but still.)


      • LD Says:

        They really are. From the EU WoW forums:

        “Beginning today, June 29, players purchasing the original World of Warcraft – available for only 14.99€ in the online Blizzard Store – will now also get the game’s first expansion set, The Burning Crusade, for free. In addition, anyone who owns the original World of Warcraft, regardless of when they purchased the game, will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from The Burning Crusade expansion at no additional cost.”

        The Burning Crusade doesn’t appear to be for sale now, though you still need to buy Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. I assume they did it to lower the cost of entry for new players to a much more reasonable £70 (€85 / $100)… with ‘reasonable’, of course, being a matter of opinion.


  8. Thomas the Captain Says:

    I don’t think even a full conversion to F2P would bring me back to WOW. I did resub like many others after quitting Rift, but only played for 3 days.(a blind invite from the guild “Rebecca Black Fan Club didn’t help) Giving the Burning Crusade to players with vanilla WOW is interesting, but why would someone who quit 5-6 years ago even care about it?


  9. Elliestris Says:

    I wonder if this has more to do with The Old Republic and less to do with the spate of F2P titles?


  10. Centration Says:

    It’s exactly the same like warhammer online. It’s fun to do it once, but nothing can win it from the LOTRo free trial.


  11. Brainslug Says:

    Now that’s the biggest “ROFL” of the day!
    With that many restrictions you’re better off watching youtube of WoW gameplay.

    Why even bother playing a online game with so and so many people if you can’t even talk to them, form partys … basically everything you play a mmorpg in the first place?

    Former WoW addicts told me the game was not doing too well as it did few years ago, but this “trial version” doesn’t sound like desperation rather than poor marketing ideas.

    Last but(t) not least I just want to emphasize how much I hate the term “F2P” because sooner or later you’ll end up spending real money: the one way or the other (though I’ll never regret spending money here as I did on other games :/)


  12. Adrian Says:

    all i’m going to say is that i’m glad my first mmo was LOTRO and i’ll be sticking by it for many years to come.


  13. Baudwyn Says:

    This is more akin to Warhammer Fantasy Online’s Unlimited Free Trial than a true “f2p” system.


  14. Crell Says:

    This is more like an Unlimited Free Trial… With grouping and chat restrictions enough that I wont even give it a try to go play with my RL friends who do WoW.


  15. Plinius Says:

    it’s kinda funny…wow was my first mmo ever and when lotro came out i just thought “dude, what a clone lotro is! they don’t even have pvp and raids like wow” and today i think “astonishing, how could i spend 2 years of my life with wow, they don’t even have an outfit- or music system”

    funny how perspectives change, huh? xD

    but i welcome the step enabling an unlimited trial – timely limited trials or demos always got onto my nerves throughout my “gaming-career”

    and you know what? a part of my heart wishes that lotro becomes the new genre primus, gaining more and more players through the hybrid-f2p model
    but the rest of my heart hopes that lotro continues to be successful, but without becoming the genre primus – no pressure on turbine, no “first kill” hardcore r0xx0r guilds/kins and no flying mounts


  16. Maximwulf Says:

    This has been said above but this is by no means a free to play model. Far from it. It just levitates the time limit, allowing potentially more casual players to join in and get hooked.

    Me personally, I love LOTRO F2P model. Its got be hooked and did get my money. SO far (Not including Isenguard) a mere $52 since September. I don’t think that’s too bad considering Subscribers would be tossing away $15 / mo.

    Do a little math real quick. If I were to play wow compared to LOTRO since Sept ’10
    WOW: $10 per Mo subscription = $150
    Lich King $39.99 + Cataclysm $39.99
    total = $230

    Moria Code $15
    SoA $7
    Pts $29.99
    Isenguard $39.99
    (Combined that with TP I acquired over time and I’m missing only 5 QP)
    Total: $92

    I see a big difference here (for a casual style player as myself)


  17. Baudwyn Says:

    I think, as a premium member, I spent about as much on LOTRO last year as I would have as a subscriber. However the difference is that I had a bit more control over how my money was spent, and aside from the Isengard purchase (which everyone had to buy) I don’t anticipate needed to purchase any more Turbine Points for quite some time.


  18. Galowyn Says:

    Its basically the same as Warhammers Unlimited trial thing.
    I guess im not that surprised by this, it is a good way for them to get a few new people into the game possibly. I mean its a lot easier to get someone to come play when they dont have to drop $100 before they even enter the game.

    I don’t really think it should be called free 2 play though thats a bit of a stretch. I think Unlimited Trial or something would be a better description.


  19. mmicnova Says:

    if i ever want to try out WOW, i can spare $10 for a full experience of one month. i’ve seen it, it looks nice, a bit to cartoonish for me but i could get used to it, but the main reason why i’ll never try it is because the LOTRO players are simply great! every wow player i know about is the child of some of my friends. i’m cool with playing LOTRO with their parents :))


  20. Lonarandir Says:

    This looks to me like an unlimited trial. I stopped playing WoW a few months ago and at that time I was leveling some alts. A level 20 cap will probably allow you 2 or 3 hours play time.


  21. Dirstel Says:

    I’ve never played WOW except for a quick run around to level 5 or so on their trial. My main sticking point is that they want me to buy the game, AND then pay to play it every single month. One or the other, people. One or the other.
    And that model that’s been described is not f2p. It’s an extended trial. F2p means (for me) that you can play the entire game without paying anything.
    This move by WOW is not more likely to make me play, if only because there isn’t really time in my life for two big games. I already work, have a partner, play tabletop games, read, and play LOTRO. The schedule simply cannot take one more, even if I wanted.


  22. Moraiwe Says:

    I won’t suddenly be joining either, for all of the reasons people seem to have listed above — I still don’t have time for another MMO; the limits are, well, kind of limiting; and I still don’t resonate with the story of Azeroth, or fancy playing a female elf who has six-foot-long eyebrows but no midriff armor.


  23. Galithar Says:

    to me this just seems like a desperate attempt by Blizzard to try and get more people to play WoW because they know that WoW is on its last leg and slowly dying off (thank God!)calling this F2p looks and sounds like they are trying to steal some of Turbines thunder. I dont know any other company or game that offers the amount of free content like turbine and LOTRO do.


  24. Andy Says:

    Capping their “free” trial at 20 is crazy. For the most recent expansion blizzard put all their time and effort into tarting up vanilla content and then put xp boosting mechanics in place that meant you outlevelled that very content. What killed it for me was that after 6 years or so playing the game there was very little actual content at max level to be done at that level outside raids and the grind of heroics.


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