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

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."

  • FulmeR
    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!
    Reply
  • Thunderfox
    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.
    Reply
  • joe nate
    FulmeRId put $30 up that says you lose half your fan base with your next "Panda" expansion
    I don't know what's with all the pandaren hate. Pandarens have been in Warcraft since Warcraft 3. And WoW has never had a "serious" tone to it to begin with, with all the references to things outside the game.
    Reply
  • sgs2008
    guild wars 2 says hi
    Reply
  • magnetite
    You'd think with all the paid services Blizzard has for WoW that it wouldn't go F2P? For example, character transfer, gender change, name change, etc. Team Fortress 2 has similar things like buying hats, and it went F2P. I believe TF2 has less players than WoW, although I could be wrong.
    Reply
  • The price of a product is what the consumers are willing to pay. If people don't mind paying 14$ a month then blizzard sure don't mind taking them.
    Reply
  • memadmax
    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!
    Reply
  • Goldengoose
    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.
    Reply
  • billybobser
    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)
    Reply
  • feeddagoat
    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.
    Reply