A lot of us Tech Guru’s also happen to play World of Warcraft due to how the fun the game actually is. It’s undisputed that that Blizzard is indeed the King of the MMORPG realm with it’s widely successful and popular game, World of Warcraft (WoW). Although the game first went live quite a few years ago, it still remains at the top as the most played MMO with a impressive amount of players all around the world. The MMO giant has also released a numerous amount of expansions for World of Warcraft with the latest expansion called Mists of Pandaria.
Like other MMORPG’s, World of Warcraft has found it very difficult and challenging to keep their subscribers paying and happy. I often think this is due to the lack of new and innovative content they put out as opposed to what they were doing when they released their first expansion, the Burning Crusade. As a second though, games do get old and I personally feel that World of Warcraft is beginning to pass its time after hearing that they recently had lost a approximate 1 million subscribers to the game. This could also be due to the hype of Guild Wars 2 and the upcoming RIFT expansion, which happen to be two other very popular and hyped MMORPG’s.
Blizzard has actually been trying to cut their losses by luring more players into the MMO. They’ve done this by releasing a free to play starter version of the game. The goal of the starter version is to get players hooked on World of Warcraft and it’s immersive environment. Thus having these “lured” in players to pay to advance their characters well beyond the level of twenty.
World of Warcraft producer, John Lagrave, had recently told CVG that by allowing newcomers to play the game for free until level 20 gives the consumer “a good sense of what our game is.” That said, some industry watchers are no wondering aloud as to whether or not the game should become free to play above level twenty.
“You know, we looked at it lots, we looked at whether Level 20 would give you a good sense of what our game is, and we think it does,” said Lagrave. “There’s also a lot of things in the game that are special that we want to reserve for our paying customers.”
It should also be noted that the World of Warcraft competitor, Star Wars: The Old Republic (created by the widely known developer, Bioware) had recently went entirely free to play after having a massive subscriber loss. As of this moment, Blizzard does not have any plans to expand into the free to play business model, but I personally have no doubt that they are prepared for it. Surely there are at least some ideas on the table in case anything out of the ordinary happens. At least, that’s what a smart company would do, I think. However, Lagrave did note and acknowledge that Blizzard had “slid some of the pay-four features in the first 20 levels” of the game. To me, that sounds like they are testing the waters of the Free to Play model in case they find themselves forced into moving into this model. I also have an idea that they might just be testing the waters due to the upcoming release of Guild Wars 2. The Guild Wars series is widely known and popular, so there’s no doubt that Blizzard will be seeing a subscriber loss after that game comes out. Not to mention that Guild Wars 2 does offer some innovative ideas in the MMO industry along with some really cool Player vs Player features. That said, there is no doubt that numerous World of Warcraft players are very much looking forward to seeing the launch of Guild Wars 2. Whether or not players will have a permanent move to Guild Wars 2, I don’t know.
What’s interesting is that earlier this year, Blizzard had mentioned that they were looking into getting their game on the iPhone. I’m no programming genius (I would love to be one though) but that sounds extremely difficult and it seems like a payment system coming off the iPhone could potentially be very dangerous with the jailbreaking and such. I’m not sure how that all would work out, but it does sound fairly interesting. I wonder if they continued to move that way, if that would encourage a Free to Play business model on the iPhone? Again, that would bring some payment security issues and questions up that I think Apple just can’t handle right now. If they were to bring it to Android on the other hand, using the new Google Wallet feature might be a way to make things work. Again, I’m no expert programmer, and this is just a thought off of an idea Blizzard said they wanted to explore. I think we can all agree that it would be a fairly interesting concept. I also think that they might even gain a huge subscriber influx with how many people are replacing their PC’s with smartphones and tablets.
I know that World of Warcraft on a mobile device would be quite a large step for the game, but it is very well possible that we could see it within the next couple of years. Mainly due to the popularity of the mobile industry, it’s no surprise that Blizzard Entertainment would be interested in putting their game on the mobile market with how much popularity and casual gamers that haven’t been marketed to just yet. While I could be entirely wrong, I really do think that we could see World of Warcraft on mobile devices within the next year or so.
Either way, with many MMO’s heading towards the Free to Play business model, I can’t believe they aren’t even “thinking” about the idea of switching over their business model.
That said, is anyone upset to see that World of Warcraft isn’t headed for the Free to Play business model anytime soon? Let us know in the comments below!
source: TG Daily