An unnamed source reportedly close to Blizzard told Develop that the California studio will indeed apply the free-to-play model in an upcoming, unannounced game. Riding on eight or more years of World of Warcraft's subscription-based success, Blizzard will reportedly expand its business opportunities by continuing to provide subscriptions while also addressing gamers who would rather pay for in-game content and play when they can.
It's quite possible that Blizzard's free-to-play model with World of Warcraft Starter has served as testing grounds, to see how many new gamers the model could attract. The studio certainly hasn't ruled out the possibility of using the F2P model outside World of Warcraft, it just reportedly doesn't plan to use that model in the near future... or at least, that was the attitude some time ago.
"It certainly is possible, if we find ourselves in that circumstance, or if we come up with a game where we think that’s the right business model, the most appropriate for players to experience it," said Blizzard COO Paul Sams during BlizzCon 2011. "We don’t have any opposition to the concept, it’s just that at this point, we haven’t decided to make a game where that is the model. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t."
Even if a F2P model isn't on the horizon, Blizzard may eventually cave in. EverQuest 2, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, DC Universe, Team Fortress 2 and numerous others have or will in the near future introduce a F2P model, covering both the casual and hardcore MMOG player. The pressure is on, so to speak.
For a while F2P has typically been associated with Blizzard's mystery project called "Titan." This is reportedly a casual MMOG and may very well fall in line with other hybrid MMOGs. So far we know that Blizzard has 90 of its most experienced MMOG developers working on the title, and the emphasis of the game will be playing with people you know as opposed to strangers (Spells With Friends?). The game will even co-exist with World of Warcraft, meaning Blizzard doesn't expect WoW subscribers to jump ship in favor of the newer casual title.
"I believe [it's] the most ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Sams said almost a year ago. "And I feel like we have set our company up to succeed on that. So, hopefully in 10, 15 and 20 years, that [new MMO] will still be growing strong and will have set a new mark in the industry for that type of product."
Twenty years? Sounds like Blizzard is trying to create the next Pac-Man or Sonic the Hedgehog. Will World of Warcraft even last that long? EverQuest turns 13 next month and it's still going strong...