Free-to-play World of Warcraft "makes sense" eventually, Blizzard says

Lead designer Tom Chilton says MMO game may "at some point" switch to free-to-play model; game would have been in "bad shape" without casual-themed Mists of Pandaria expansion.

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A free-to-play version of Blizzard Entertainment's chart-topping massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft "makes sense" eventually, lead designer Tom Chilton has said.

Speaking with Polygon, Chilton said Blizzard Entertainment is not against the idea of morphing the subscription-based game to a free-to-play model, but continues to have issues with such a business mode switch.

"For Blizzard, it makes sense [to go free-to-play] at some point," Chilton said. "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."

World of Warcraft is the biggest subscription-based MMO game on the market. It launched in 2004 and had 7.7 million subscribers as of June 30.

Earlier this week, Bethesda announced that its upcoming fantasy MMO game The Elder Scrolls Online will carry a $15/month subscription fee.

Elsewhere in the interview, Chilton said the casual-themed Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft, released in September 2012, has proven "very successful" for Blizzard Entertainment. So much so that the game would have suffered if the company had not launched the expansion, Chilton said.

"We would have been in bad shape had we not done that," Chilton said.

He acknowledged that many fans saw the expansion as a departure from World of Warcraft's roots, but said it was necessary to grow and expand the game.

"People who played Vanilla always say 'if it had stayed the same, I would have the same fun now as I did then.' But that's not true. Audiences always evolve," Chilton said.

World of Warcraft's next major update, Siege of Orgrimmar, will be released on September 10.

Discussion

211 comments
krystyla
krystyla

Mists of Daily grinding was pathetic

dkeppens
dkeppens

Leech blizzard, leech ! Do what you do best !

DrowNoble
DrowNoble

So Blizzard says MoP was "very successful" despite that sub bleeding continued.  They sure have an odd definition of "successful" don't they?

What they need to do is take all those millions they get monthly and start cranking up the content.  A new patch every 2-3 months with content for ALL levels not just the capped players.  Wrath and Cats had only 3 patches their entire cycle which is pathetic considering how much revenue they have.

Next they need to release a full sized expansion.  Stop these mini-expansions for $40 that only add 5 levels with a small land mass.  By comparison, Rift's 1st expansion was triple the size of the original game and Trion did it with far less resources than Blizzard has.

Finally, they need to do the crafting revamp they been promising "to look into" for years.  The skill curve is horribly out of whack.  I need 20 bars, 10 stones, 6 gems, 4 leathers to craft a bracer no one will wear and doesn't vendor for diddly, just to get a 1 point skillup.

eeddrf11
eeddrf11

WoW was great during its time, I can see why people getting upset of how WoW changed a lot since vanilla. But lets face it, We as gamers don't see that unique experience we had with a game we loved anymore and we criticize, share, and express our opinions to those games . Its the present day and in my opinion games are feeling the same lately. F2P is being done by anyone, Shooters functionality are becoming more like CoD, MOBA games feel the same, MMORPG's feel the same, Strategies feel the same, etc. Even if more new games are brought to the table with different ideas SOME games suffer the attention they need from other popular successful games. But this is just my opinion on things. 

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

you didn't expect it to go on for ever, did you?

Sonic_Wolfe
Sonic_Wolfe

If it goes F2P Ill go back, in an instant, but casually. I switched to GW2 recently and I see NO reason other than nostalgia to go back to their style of game. WOW was a pioneer, Blizzard dont deserve the ire they get. Lay off and patiently wait for "Titan".

noandno
noandno

just release warcraft 4 instead

buccomatic
buccomatic

when blizzard finally self-destructs by turning wow into casual/soccer mom central it will be free to play. it's getting close.


congratulations on screwing up the greatest game of all time, blizztard.

tightwad34
tightwad34

I really wish they would stop calling it free to play. It's patronizing IMO.

Sakarnen
Sakarnen

"People who played Vanilla always say 'if it had stayed the same, I would have the same fun now as I did then.' But that's not true. Audiences always evolve,"

^While this is absolutely true, I still think Blizzard should at least attempt a 'time machine server' as Runescape is doing. I would certainly be interested in that.

straightcur
straightcur

I used to love the old Warcraft games.  I would love to see a new version.  I have ZERO interest in World of Wacraft.

kazama99
kazama99

but thats my point. The writers or whoever comes up with the lore doesn't even follow the story anymore. I think they need to do a reboot on the franchise. Go back to Warcraft 1 and 2 and with better graphics. They have messed with the lore so much, that I don't even THEY can keep it straight anymore.

kazama99
kazama99

Until they start BSing people, acting like going f2p is going to be the end of the world for their precious game. Blizzard isn't going to lose money really going f2p, look at all the extra crap that people pay for for that bloody game. The game, like someone already said is already f2p, with a sub.


Also the game is ancient now, the least they could do for fans is open up the base of players more by going f2p. All in all, blizzard has made a game to make money. They made their money, and enough for thousand lifetimes. I think its time to give a little back to fans and new fans alike.

Hurvl
Hurvl

MoP got the subscriber count up to 10 million for a while, but it now it's to "just" 7,7 million. 7,7 millions is still a very large number of people paying 15 dollars a month. Every MMO I know of would gank to have that many players paying for their game. When WoW finally goes F2P it will feel like the end of an era, the exception to the rule joins the rest.

ilmarion
ilmarion

yes, before the auction house on D3, now wow free to play...and items to buy (pay for win) i suppose...blizzard, the people is not so stupid and WE ARE TIRED of your avidity. You wanna play? yes but not with my moneys!

PetJel
PetJel

yeah I'd get back to it if it went ftp. If it won't get infested with spammers and bots at least.

kazama99
kazama99

"We really don't know what the rate is before people drop off and lose interest." Um that's happening now dude. Partly because you still have to pay to play. There are so many F2p games out there like WoW, why the hell they haven't converted is stupid to me. Furthermore, the game is nothing but a grind fest anyway with more Trolls then any fantasy realm in existence can hold and more elitists then any gaming tournament can hold.

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

If its free to play ill be back to play WoW

The reason I quit was that I wasn't getting enough use out of a months/years subscription. 

If I can choose when I want to play without fees I will defiantly come back to the World of Warcraft!

ZellyPoof
ZellyPoof

I don't see how they would have been in "bad" shape.   At the time of blizz having 10 mil subs thats almost 150 mil a month, how in the hell do you somehow become in bad shape when there's no way they could have spent that much to keep servers up and running.  Throw in server transfers, sex changes, server changes, faction changes, buying the odd pet, hardware, pets to buy and you're probably looking at almost another 100 mil a month just off of that.  I call bullshit, blizz overextended itself somehow, probably with their foray into their so called Titan project and god forbid they pay their developers for that.  Oh, throw in the fact that wow has been around since 04 and they've collectively made around 2 billion dollars, not including extra services.

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

For the people that rip WOW and say it got easier and blah blah blah blah blah blah STFU and show me that you cleared all WOW content without nerfs and on heroic modes when available.  The point is the game was always fun in terms of raiding and always will be.  

Now If you wanted it difficult forever you should have asked for what I wanted from the game though and that is hardcore servers where nothing is nerfed and you can only run content at the proper level and in proper level gear but no every single time I brought that up on WOW message boards or in trade chat I would get ripped to shreds.

Anyway if it goes free to play I will be playing it like I used to and will try to make small purchases here and there to give Blizzard a little money but I will not pay a $15 sub again.

Geminon
Geminon

wildstar is primmed to put the final nail in WOWs coffin. it is enough like WOW that it will pull anyone that is bored with WOW away, and different enough to get people that dont like WOW at all to play.

im not calling it a WOW killer... im just saying it is going to be a contributing factor.

Geminon
Geminon

i think he is mixing up "would have been" with "was put in to"....

mists of pandaria i think efffectively killed off all of the remaining people that originally enjoyed the game... now it is just a graphical chat room full of people that just use it as a way to socialize.

alucardswrath
alucardswrath

blizzardvision with WoW, and free to play??..............Smells like one hell of a RMAH P2W fest. But in all seriousness, this somehow won't turn out good.......say SWTOR f2p model, but much more greedy......yikes.

Lausanna
Lausanna

I resub on and off when I'm not so busy with work that I can't put in some decent time. If it were f2p I'd probably play more.

dre256x
dre256x

Simple.. They might make WoW f2p when  there other mmo releases in 3-5yrs.. People will find it harder to pay a sub for WoW and there other mmo...

FlavethesonPE1
FlavethesonPE1

If it was free I'd have a hard time time not doing some wsg once in a while.

Tripwolf
Tripwolf

I had the most fun during Vanilla. Then again, I lead the most powerful guild on my server and was clearing content that the majority of people had never seen.

I understand why people prefer the expansions. They're casual, and that's fine. Real life comes first.

samgamgi
samgamgi

@eeddrf11 I agree of you. Because of that, when it comes to a genre that I REALLY know and like, sometimes, if I have the money, I try to give a chance for the game that got a score of 7 or maybe even 6, to see what the devs made different. Of course, it may simply be a bad game, but it may be a nice game with some new features that the reviewers didn't cared much about, and maybe I can like that feature. It's a gamble I kind of enjoy doing.  

buccomatic
buccomatic

@Sakarnen wow has devolved into near garbage and the only reason blizzard is saying the opposite is because there is no way for them to go back to what it was without admitting they totally fucked it up beyond repair.

it's hard to understand how the game devs DON'T understand that adding QTE to your toons rotation SUCKS BALLS. RNG. and wtf happened to the skill trees? i mean REALLY?? what's with the grouped mobs not being linked on aggro? might as well just get rid of CC. smh...

what a sad, sad story in the history of gaming - "wow, the greatest game of all time, completely RUINED by it's own creators."

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

@kazama99 I share the sentiment, but I think it's already too late.  The only way for Blizzard to do some service to its old fanbase is to shut it down and move on.  Or reboot the damn franchise...  I doubt that the upcoming expansions will ever make this franchise shine again.  Both the game itself and the lore behind it have degenerated to a point beyond repair.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@Hurvl The thing is that there is a trend downhill 

buccomatic
buccomatic

@GH05T-666 when you come back you won't recognize it and you won't like it. it's so dumbed down that a 2 year old could run a 40 man raid.

kazama99
kazama99

@ZellyPoof  also don't forget the xpansion packs your basically guaranteed to buy if you want to get the new content, which over 100 to buy the original game and expansion, unless you got a very special deal when it was slashed in price or something.

kazama99
kazama99

@ZellyPoof exactly, the are just trying to milk betsy for all she is worth. greedy people.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@DeViLzzz Easier things are not just raids, hardly people complain about raids, but as a whole, because everything in the game ( beside hc raids ) is way too much easy 

AshTrai
AshTrai

@Geminon In order for that game to be the "final" nail in the coffin, there would actually need to be a 'first'!

WoW has seen off any and ALL competition that is touted by hyperbole spewing spastics over the years. It's hilarious to see comments like this still occur time after time. 

MAXAM999
MAXAM999

@Geminon Still .. that wont change the fact that everyone will involved to the game when it becomes F2P more than before .. and this will force other Developers to switch to F2P . Because Sub fee's models are dead these days TBH ~

rodier3
rodier3

@Geminon i hope.  But I dont think it will be different than any mmo earlier. Like GW2..     In fact I think  it will have different audience. 

Main problem with strugling MMOs are - they fight for Wow audience. They want steal it. But that is not possible.   Instead, they should be different and get different audience.  Like wow did back in 2004.


There are DOZENS of players that are bored of themeparks (games like wow) where you can on max level go  only raids.   WoW is working because have DOZENS of raids. But any normal mmo like GW2 cant have that much raids = BORING after while. Same for Tera and so on, and on. 


They should do sandbox game. BUt not shit like  Darkfall (but hey, look how much ppl play darkfall just because its sandbox).  Game wher eyou will have rich lore, story, quests, but you will be also able to build house,  get ship, rare mount, just go to noninstanced dungeon to grind some mobs with extra toughness and extra exp..etc  Like Vanguard was.

kazama99
kazama99

@Geminon yep that's kind of the way it was even before mists, when I played 3 or so years ago. People just hang out with their friends doing dumb stuff and not really "raiding".

kazama99
kazama99

@alucardswrath P2W, you mean kind of like G2W (grind to win). Or be incredibly fortunate to have a awesome guild who won't kick you out if you suck and politics aren't involved.  Come on man give me a break, that game hasn't changed, even it has gotten easier. P2W isn't anymore of a crime then it is now. You basically have to have all your time centered around WoW in order to be successful.

Ghosting_42
Ghosting_42

@Tripwolf  Vanilla really was the most fun. I still remember messing around in some crappy RP gear that looked cool on my paladin. Ran into a group of 3 players in ~lvl30 content that was having trouble. Helped them finish, then rezzed one that had died. He called me a noob since I had all green quality armor on at the time and hearthed out. After he left I swapped to my full t2 set, and the remaining 2 players flipped the F out. I remembered being in that same situation ogling a dwarf with full t1. Epics actually gave you something to aim for. Now though, epics drop from everything and are sold by everyone. Sad times.

arsy130
arsy130

@Tripwolf i doubt you even raided, everyone on the internet lead their guild to be the realm first at everything it seems. 

kazama99
kazama99

@_el_Greco_ @kazama99 yea, it seems that in order to fix their mistakes with lore, they come with new lore to fix their fixes lol. I honestly don't think a reboot is out of the question if enough people voice their opinion. It also probably comes down also to the writers.

Since maybe alot of the blizz employees from the original aren't employed anymore, it might make it hard, but still if the fans voice it, it may happen. How many times has DC rebooted Superman and the lot? So here is to hoping.

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

@stan_hg @Hurvl Regardless of the downhill trend, Blizzard will still be profiting quite well.  I honestly don't see them being in any tough spot.  They'll just continue to target young gamers, casual gamers, and the most pathetic crowds.  The only ones losing in this situation are the old fans, seeing how Blizzard is running this game and franchise into the ground without any dignity.

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

@buccomatic A 6-year old..  Let's not jump the gun now : )

Hurvl
Hurvl

@wapzod @GH05T-666 Some people sound like they actually will *defiantly* go back to WoW. Seeing as everyone is bashing WoW, any sign of interest in WoW is like defying the voice of the majority (or the voice of the vocal minority). In that case, "defiantly" works very well.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@_el_Greco_ @stan_hg @Hurvl Well agree, just to mention that their 7.7mil number is inflated imo. I am quite sure, that this is not 7.7mil  *15$ every month