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Blizzard: F2P (Still) Not the Best Model for WoW

By - Source: Eurogamer | B 48 comments

Looks like the free-to-play model isn't on World of Warcraft's horizon at least until the next MMO is out the door.

During an interview with Eurogamer, Blizzard's Mike Morhaime admitted that the free-to-play model infiltrating competitor MMORPGs like Age of Conan and Star Trek Online still isn't a right fit for Blizzard's own subscription-based revenue monster, World of Warcraft.

To some degree, the studio has already caved in by offering an unlimited "demo" with a level cap of 20 and other limitations. Yet there's no sign that Blizzard will succumb to pressure from other games in the genre switching teams by offering a F2P option alonside its current subscription service.

"For us, and even for EA with the Star Wars game, I think that the value that you get for the $15 a month is just unmatched," he told Eurogamer. "I don't think you can get that amount of entertainment value anywhere. I'd put the $15 up against anything."

He added that there's currently an underlying, fundamental assumption in the industry that publishers and developers make more money by charging less... an assumption he claims isn't true. "It doesn't necessarily make for a better game," he said. "I mean, everybody likes free... I think that definitely, players have seen a lot of really great quality free-to-play experiences, but I'm not sure it's the best model for us right now."

Sony Online Entertainment boss John Smedley said that he understands why some developers might choose the F2P model from the start, as gamers are more forgiving about the experience because they've paid absolutely nothing. Still, he believes that Star Wars: The Old Republic may be the last large-scale subscription-funded MMOG to enter the market.

"I think it is a very difficult market to compete in, I think it's very expensive to make these games, especially if you're expecting people to pay a monthly fee just to play the game," he told Eurogamer.

"And so there are very few companies that can compete at that high level with those types of budgets. If you're not charging anybody, they're going to be a lot more forgiving about the experience they have."

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    FulmeR , November 1, 2011 6:18 AM
    Quote:
    I'd put the $15 up against anything."
    Id put $30 up that says you lose half your fan base with your next "Panda" expansion

    Farewell Blizzard, you held my attention for many many hours, alas those days are gone. They didnt come soon enough!
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , November 1, 2011 7:22 AM
    The price of a product is what the consumers are willing to pay. If people don't mind paying 14$ a month then blizzard sure don't mind taking them.
  • 12 Hide
    phishy714 , November 1, 2011 11:25 AM
    In other words:

    "Why the heck would we go F2P when the mindless idiots are still willing to pay us $15 a month to play a grindfest of a game?"
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    FulmeR , November 1, 2011 6:18 AM
    Quote:
    I'd put the $15 up against anything."
    Id put $30 up that says you lose half your fan base with your next "Panda" expansion

    Farewell Blizzard, you held my attention for many many hours, alas those days are gone. They didnt come soon enough!
  • -2 Hide
    Thunderfox , November 1, 2011 6:37 AM
    F2P exists for games that are too crappy to convince people to pay outright for, so they try to trick them into spending that much or more with nickle and dime content. With millions of WOW players still willing to pay the money outright, they have no need to change anything yet. WOW will go F2P if its popularity drops significantly, just like everything else.
  • 9 Hide
    joe nate , November 1, 2011 6:43 AM
    FulmeRId put $30 up that says you lose half your fan base with your next "Panda" expansion


    I don't know what's with all the pandaren hate. Pandarens have been in Warcraft since Warcraft 3. And WoW has never had a "serious" tone to it to begin with, with all the references to things outside the game.
  • 4 Hide
    sgs2008 , November 1, 2011 6:59 AM
    guild wars 2 says hi
  • -3 Hide
    magnetite , November 1, 2011 7:01 AM
    You'd think with all the paid services Blizzard has for WoW that it wouldn't go F2P? For example, character transfer, gender change, name change, etc. Team Fortress 2 has similar things like buying hats, and it went F2P. I believe TF2 has less players than WoW, although I could be wrong.
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , November 1, 2011 7:22 AM
    The price of a product is what the consumers are willing to pay. If people don't mind paying 14$ a month then blizzard sure don't mind taking them.
  • 7 Hide
    memadmax , November 1, 2011 7:31 AM
    They said the same thing with cata "good bye blizzard" "crappy expansion" "im gonna play Aion" etc etc....

    They were back in a week or two... Blizzard will never let you go, muhahahahahaha!
  • 7 Hide
    Goldengoose , November 1, 2011 8:03 AM
    ThunderfoxF2P exists for games that are too crappy to convince people to pay outright for, so they try to trick them into spending that much or more with nickle and dime content. With millions of WOW players still willing to pay the money outright, they have no need to change anything yet. WOW will go F2P if its popularity drops significantly, just like everything else.


    Look at guild wars 2. Look at the success from league of legends - it's a very bold statement to say they are all crappy and they rely on tricking; that wouldn't be a good business model so no one would use it. I'm afraid sir you are an idiot.
  • 9 Hide
    billybobser , November 1, 2011 10:01 AM

    joe nateI don't know what's with all the pandaren hate. Pandarens have been in Warcraft since Warcraft 3. And WoW has never had a "serious" tone to it to begin with, with all the references to things outside the game.


    1 joke level doesn't represent 'being part of the story'.

    From world ending scenarios to what is essentially a kung fu panda game.
    I can't see how the story can develop to such high stakes without one of them saying

    "oh btw mister, this guy, who no one knew about, was actually underneath this place you've managed to miss all this time, and he's even more powerful than the previous guy who was at the time the most powerful."

    of all the places wow could've gone, they chose the april fools story line.

    (no need to mention the aged gameplay as to why they will heamorrage players)
  • 0 Hide
    feeddagoat , November 1, 2011 11:20 AM
    I do agree that F2P would be a loss for blizz, cheap expansion packs and constant updates like the random events and knowing the fact your not gimped by lacking access to AH, missing bank slots etc is a unique selling point. Basically it comes down to if people are willing to pay monthly vs people willing to spend on pay to win. Attached to activision, money beats what people want!
    For me, the price is too high, especially for a PC game. Steam constantly sells games for less than £10 (often less than £5) which I can enjoy at any pace. Paying double that for something I could only get a limited time on before my period runs out just reeks of poor value. I would rather pay per hour and be charged by that rather than by date or keep your current model, just make it cheaper.
  • 12 Hide
    phishy714 , November 1, 2011 11:25 AM
    In other words:

    "Why the heck would we go F2P when the mindless idiots are still willing to pay us $15 a month to play a grindfest of a game?"
  • -3 Hide
    enforcer22 , November 1, 2011 11:28 AM
    GoldengooseLook at guild wars 2. Look at the success from league of legends - it's a very bold statement to say they are all crappy and they rely on tricking; that wouldn't be a good business model so no one would use it. I'm afraid sir you are an idiot.



    GW sux and so does LOL but then again LoL isnt even a mmo so who cares either way. But yes all the games that have gone FTP are all garbage. There is a reason they went that way and it wasnt becuase they were doing as good as they expected and becuase they were making butt loads of money.
  • -4 Hide
    techguy911 , November 1, 2011 11:37 AM
    Just about every game out there is now fp2 even rifts ,some of the games i play that are fp2 some players spend $100+ month to get ahead and all games that have gone f2p make more money than they ever did even during release.
    I have friends that spent $500 on stuff in age of conan and pay monthly most games that have dual f2p with option to pay get much more money.
  • 1 Hide
    xx_pemdas_xx , November 1, 2011 11:44 AM
    techguy911Just about every game out there is now fp2 even rifts ,some of the games i play that are fp2 some players spend $100+ month to get ahead and all games that have gone f2p make more money than they ever did even during release.I have friends that spent $500 on stuff in age of conan and pay monthly most games that have dual f2p with option to pay get much more money.


    RUNSCAPE largest MMORPG F2P the free to play game can take years to master. then the P2P takes a lifetime.
  • 5 Hide
    guruofchem , November 1, 2011 11:49 AM
    Blizzard provides the best depth and breadth of gameplay in any MMO out there, so why should they not continue to charge the monthly fee? If there is a significant drop in subscribers (and it would probably take several million to make them panic) you might see a shift in the model, but why risk the cash cow unnecessarily?
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , November 1, 2011 11:53 AM
    Of course it's not the best model. Everyone's already at the top level with most of the best equipment. You make it free to play and you get nothing. If it becomes F2P as a new expansion comes out, and you can buy 'headstart' pandarian equipment, then you'll see some major money.
  • -6 Hide
    figgus , November 1, 2011 11:56 AM
    World of Warcraft: PANDACLYSM will alienate enough of their mature players (the ones with jobs and money) that Blizzard will end up going F2P 6-9 months after it is released. You just watch.

    Their current 12 month and get a free mount deal is a first for WoW, and it shows that they are aware of how precarious their dominance of the MMO market is. Star Wars and Pandaclysm are going to be the one-two punch that dethrones WoW.

    I don't hate WoW, I still play it, but the writing is on the wall for anyone who can read it.
  • -1 Hide
    figgus , November 1, 2011 11:58 AM
    techguy911Just about every game out there is now fp2 even rifts


    Eh? Rift is not F2P.
  • -7 Hide
    plum , November 1, 2011 12:02 PM
    mark my words; guild wars 2 will destroy WoW
  • 0 Hide
    sweetleader , November 1, 2011 12:21 PM
    figgusWorld of Warcraft: PANDACLYSM will alienate enough of their mature players (the ones with jobs and money) that Blizzard will end up going F2P 6-9 months after it is released. You just watch.Their current 12 month and get a free mount deal is a first for WoW, and it shows that they are aware of how precarious their dominance of the MMO market is. Star Wars and Pandaclysm are going to be the one-two punch that dethrones WoW.I don't hate WoW, I still play it, but the writing is on the wall for anyone who can read it.


    Pretty much the most rediculous thing I have heard (besides the guy saying GW2 will destroy WoW... LOL). Pretty much all the people I know on WoW are excited about the new expansion with everything that is changing and Blizz bringing back world pvp.

    WoW will never go f2p. The only game that stands a chance at "de-throning" WoW is SWTOR. And if people are like me they will just play both. Beleive it or not, more than one game can be popular in a market.

    This is coming from someone who works 8-10 hours a day 5-6 days a week.
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