'No plans' for World of Warcraft to go free-to-play - Blizzard

Senior producer on MMORPG says $15/month business model "works well for us," doesn't rule out free-to-play switch in future.

World of Warcraft subscriber rates are dropping, and free-to-play games are on the rise. Despite this, Blizzard Entertainment told PC Gamer it is "really happy" with the current monthly subscription model for WOW.

Blizzard says WOW's subscription model is staying put…for now.

Senior game producer John Lagrave told the site at an event recently that the developer has no plans to make WOW free-to-play, noting that a subscription model is optimal.

"We're very happy with the sub model," he said. "It works well for us for various reasons. You churn through a lot of content very quickly on a paid-for game, and we think we offer great value in all the content we have for the player."

Lagrave did not rule out the possibility of WOW one day adopting a free-to-play business model. He acknowledged that there is potentially more money in that sector, but cautioned that players could get burned out.

"If we went [free-to-play], do you make a ton more money? Maybe. Do you burn out players? Probably," he said. "I'm not saying we're never going free-to-play; we do that with the trial right now. But we're really happy with the subscription model. We're doing really well."

Blizzard reached an all-time high subscriber count of 12 million in 2010 following the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion in China but has shed nearly 2 million subscribers since. Activision reported last month that the subscriber base for WOW stood at 10.2 million.

At the same time WOW's subscriber base is diminishing, free-to-play gaming is surging. Team Fortress 2, EverQuest, and Aion have adopted free-to-play business models in the past year. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts' free-to-play label in January tallied 25 million users, and a new report suggested that significant 2011 PC gaming growth was a result of the free-to-play sector.

WOW shipped in 2004, but the game isn't done growing yet. The Mists of Pandaria expansion is slated to hit the game as early as this year. The add-on is set on the new continent of Pandaria and focuses on the Pandaren as well as the monk player class. The expansion pack, which does not have a release date, will also increase the player level cap to 90.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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131 comments
ChaosiDn
ChaosiDn

wait ...then why does it cost us to switch servers and get new races......and pay the sub....=( BLIZZARD Q.Q

Meteor7
Meteor7

@NeoTaintedAngel actually it helps them pay for the excessive amounts of cocaine they do. Their secret vaults are filled with cocaine, whores, and cash.

Meteor7
Meteor7

@Warlord_Irochi it's no wonder I quit, the community in WoW has become a disease. 90% are either brain dead morons that fail at doing very simple tasks like getting out of the fire after the 100th wipe or elitist ass wipes that think they own the world.

NeoTaintedAngel
NeoTaintedAngel

It's funny because they pull down more money than any other MMO through other services anyway. (Server Transfers, Vanity Pets, Mounts, Race Changes, Faction Changes etc) It's like, the monthly fee helps to pay for Kotick's monthly excursions to space to commit genocide on alien races.

journeygr
journeygr

Eddie Makuch asked a epic stupid question to John Lagrave. John scratched his balls with both hands and epic trolled Eddie to the death having an epic evil smile on his face. And you people made a whole conversation about a epic stupid question. I mean, a really stupid one. There is nothing to talk about.

Shango4
Shango4

star wars the old republic here and world of warcraft is out

-Unreal-
-Unreal-

@penpusher Seems you've also missed the part where I described how they need to pay for numerous things. There's magnitudes more people playing WoW than LoTRO, so that's a terrible comparison. Even 5 million would be a struggle to upkeep with a huge reduction in money coming into the company nevermind the current 10.2 million which would undoubtably rise significantly if it did go F2P.

-Unreal-
-Unreal-

@ccgod You would make a great business man. So your business model is sell your product, keep all the money for your company and don't pay any staff or any of the partners that supply you with servers and bandwidth? Maybe you missed the part where I explained that in detail.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

2 things - there are other games that compete for my WoW time that are not MMO's, and secondly F2P would KILL WoW, simply because if you are not spending any money then why would you care about upgrading your character?

wexorian
wexorian

""" We're very happy with the sub model," he said. "It works well for us for various reasons. You churn through a lot of content very quickly on a paid-for game, and we think we offer great value in all the content we have for the player."" Reallly? sory i still play but i get tired from new cotent after 3 month DS sucks :D

Ovirew
Ovirew

I think, now that I've heard this, I'm done with WOW. I don't see any point in trying to get into the game again if there's never going to be any hope for it going free-to-play.

max_1111
max_1111

@s4dn3s5 You should probably take a look around again since it would seem you haven't done so in a very long time. There have been several games released now with GOOD free to play models... Just off the top of my head: Tribes Ascend and Allods Online. People need to lose the whole "Free to Play automatically means Pay to Win" mentality.

InfestedHunter
InfestedHunter

They make 150 million a month from WoW. Why in the world would it be free to play? That is so stupid. DC universe had no subscription. So they hacked half the content and made people pay real money for the extras that was already at launch. If WoW became free to play then what would happen to all those people who payed for a year subscription to get Diablo 3? This article is just stupid.

Savoritias
Savoritias

they are too proud of themselves.

TheGame50401
TheGame50401

They did that with DC Universe Online, and to tell the truth, the lesser options u have without pay, it's better to pay the monthly fee to reap all the benefits of the game!! SO, I'd say if they made wow F2P, that would be a bad move... But what I think they should do, bring WOW to Xbox and PS3!!!!!!! oh, and PSVIta

TheGame50401
TheGame50401

Well, I can see why they wouldn't do that... They'd have an avalanche of people joining and if all at once could crash and burn, lol

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

free to play often means pay to win, and it also mean that your business model has failed. No dev goes to free 2 play unless they have no choice.

Kos1c
Kos1c

I dislike some F2P models. Buying weapons, and armor is an advantage that shouldn't be done through your wallet. If they just sell you bonus' like increase XP for a set time and armor colours etc, then sure. As the leveling experience isn't nothing compared to some end game content. I don't play F2P MMOs because of the reason that you can get over powered items for a few bucks, while people (like myself) perfer grinding, or killing a boss to receive an item. It just ruins the whole game since the people who are 'bad' can get gear so easily, while the people who refuse, or don't have money/credit cards, have to do the work for it. This is what I like from monthly subscriptions is that you work for what you wear. Games like WoW have made it easier since they are catering for both the hardcore and the casuals, so it's nothing like it was in say Vanilla where it was about pure time and skill at the end of the day.

faridle
faridle

Free to play mmo`s tend to cost your wallet more money anyway, by selling gear, vanity items, exp bonuses the list goes on. I rather have an set fee and get regular and bigger content updates.

AmnesiaHaze
AmnesiaHaze

gimme free WOW ASAP blizzard , or esle i won't play it !

ROMEOHELL
ROMEOHELL

WoW is dead for me , it's community becomes self annoying greedy bastards ... and it's no fun anymore . in the other hand MMO's like old wow gonna exist again .. for me i think it's GW2 .

penpusher
penpusher

@Sevenizz what on earth does that even mean? And free to play does actually bring in a lot of money for the dev/publisher in question. And the reasons to go free to play are rather obvious, draw in even more people. True WoW doesnt NEED to but the fact that its lost 2 million people in the last year or so tells me people are rapidly getting tired of paying the price of full retail. It's taking time but as time goes on WoW is going to keep shedding those numbers. You see the reverse of why go free to play if you dont have to is to ask why pay full price every 6 months when the competition is free?

max_1111
max_1111

Why would they change their model when people are dumb enough to fork over $15 a month and MORE for their microtransactions?!?! I have no problem with the $15 per month or Free to Play models (as long as Free to Play doesn't translate to Pay to Win), but using both is straight up f%^$&ing greedy.

nik0la2
nik0la2

The MMO genre will die along with WoW. I doubt any other game will top 2 million subs or have a consistent player base for long.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@WildVanilla22 WoW was worth paying: lots of content and stuff to do anytime... util it's community became a bunch of immature elitist jerks that constantly scold you because you do 0.001 dps less than expected in the 4345765432 raid against Deathwing.

WildVanilla22
WildVanilla22

no game is worth paying monthly, so no thanks.

ramyland
ramyland

"15 bucks a month (which isn't a fortune like many people like to claim)"... TriumphantToad ........maybe for you are not 15 $ money, but wow is played worldwide, and not everywhere are the same wage rates!!!...

killa32130
killa32130

10.2 million X $15 a month X 12 (year) = a stupid amount of $$$

Leonagard
Leonagard

Mmo's!? QUIT! You have to do the same!... this game was great but this is the end... I went playing for the first 2 years... them it was enough... for sure I will play GW2 for a while... WoW will be free when the subscribers base low by half... BTW I hate this model... hope GW2 turns good... Moo's needs a fresh air!...

MasonChaos
MasonChaos

A "free to play" model will most likely be released around the same time or recently after the release of GuildWars 2... that's it they're smart.

trodeback
trodeback

I've been hearing that WoW is dying ever since the BC expansion came out. Funny thing is the 3rd expansion raked in the most subscribers.

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

I'm glad they're not going free to play. I hate the standard free to play model. I loved LotR:O until it went free to play. I love it like it is. I'd rather just pay my 15 bucks a month (which isn't a fortune like many people like to claim) and be happy. Plus, they'd be crazy to go free to play with 10.2 million subscribers.

pyroone
pyroone

@albaficas who cares where their subscribers live, they are paying customers. Gw 2wont make a dent to wow,just like the horrible gw didn't. Its funny how you call wow players no lifers but guild wars is essentially the same type of game only bad.

Agent-M
Agent-M

[quote]You churn through a lot of content very quickly on a paid-for game, and we think we offer great value in all the content we have for the player.[/quote] We can rake in Millions of dollars by creating sub-par content very quickly for our gullible players.

Albaficas
Albaficas

anw gw2 will rape this game with eaze Tera is also better...very western oriented for a korean mmo and no grind at all... very friendly mmo,wont mention the art design is the best to date from any mmo out there and u can run in on crappy pc's too without problems..(unlike swtor) but it wont affect wow thats for sure...ppl think when they hear KOREAN mmo its auto a grindfest game. Anw tera goes for my sub game and gw2 free time. these 2 mmos make wow looks pathetic too bad the nolifers wow fans dont see that.

Nekromenos
Nekromenos

What they'd really like to say: "We're very happy with the sub model. 10.2 million people keep paying us about $15 every month and we've literally been swimming in cash these last years. You can surely count on us to mention the free-to-play model once in a while though. It's good for publicity. That would be all, thanks a lot and please be sure to visit our online store to buy a re-textured flying mount for $20 before you leave (you get a Coke Zero on the house). Bobby out."

Albaficas
Albaficas

pyroone wich from the 10 mil subs half of them is from asia and are RMT do some research before talking.

Agent-M
Agent-M

[quote]"We're very happy with the sub model," he said. "It works well for us for various reasons" [/quote]

andres_ak47
andres_ak47

if you think it's a waste of money, think first of COD Elite. then decide wich one is worthless paying.

pyroone
pyroone

I haven't played WoW for two years but I think it's funny WoW still have over 10 million paying customers but people still claiming it's demise. I recently bought guild wars trilogy and played it and it is the worse MMO I've ever played. I feel like I just threw my money in a toilet. Guild wars 2 will have to completely re-create itself to be a decent game. I've tried Rift and it's a good copy of WoW but why would anyone pay the same subscription price as wow when they can play the real thing instead of a good copy? WoW may die, but only after Blizzard releases the next MMO they're working on now.

brunorr
brunorr

What surprises me is that a 2004 game is still the leader. Man, the MMORPG genre is stale.

Demo_Target
Demo_Target

Personally, I think the only game that currently stands a chance to compete is Guild Wars 2, and only because it already has its following. FFXIV screwed up big time. The big problem all those competitors that came over the years have always had was the need to beat WOW and beat it preferably by offering exactly the same kind of experience, with not nearly as much background, history, and community... so why pay/play them? The other problem is with the people, WOW is suffering because at its size it attracts everyone, and also tries to please everyone, which is not possible when one part of your player base wants the 1 epic a month after spending ten hours a week in Molten Core back, another part of your player base wants to fill purpz loot checklists, and yet another wants to pwn noobs in pvp for whatever reason. Still, if there's still 10 million people playing it, we can only assume the forum "community" or whatever approximation of it still exists is either a vocal minority, or seriously addicted. Or using the game as a paid chat channel to meet friends they haven't actually played with since 2009.

megakick
megakick

Well WOW won't last forever. Most of don't play Wolfenstein 3D anymore....

eaterofsouls2
eaterofsouls2

Maybe some people want wow to die because they were disappointed when they played it. And rather than move on they express hatred towards the game and completely ignore the feelings of those that play it in the hopes that it will make them feel better? Selfish and Pathetic!

MrAWESOME7
MrAWESOME7

I subscribed for about 5 months then I got tired so I canceled. Not losing any money. Just deal with it.

Meteor7
Meteor7

We want more money for our drugz and whorez people!