Eurogamer talked to Hearthstone Production Director Jason Chayes recently, who’s not only happy with how the game’s free-to-play aspects have been integrated but also also views the game as a “crucible” for understanding how a free-to-play game works – which could impact Blizzard’s other products.




The interview itself covers the usual ground, with Chayes recognizing the always-precarious link between gameplay and monetization and a desire by the devs to make the game as “free” as possible, a result he calls “unexpected but also very reassuring.”

While the talk centers around Hearthstone, it’s tempting to theorize that Hearthstone, as well as Heroes of the Storm, are serving as “test cases” for F2P at Blizzard in general. People have talked about World of Warcraft someday needing to go free-to-play, and the exact details of Titan’s monetization is almost assuredly still up in the air. Let’s take a look at both of these cases, as well as one more possibility.

World of Warcraft. I used to be pretty solidly on the “WoW will go F2P relatively soon” bandwagon while subscription numbers were in a freefall. Now that they’ve stabilized in the 7-8 million range, I’m backing away from that opinion. Really, kids, it’s OK to admit you were wrong. Until I’m wrong again, that is.

If the slide would have continued – or if it picks up steam again – then yes, changes will need to be made. But looking at other venerable MMO properties that are still sub-based, like EVE Online and Final Fantasy XI, it’s reasonable to assume that WoW has hit its “permanent” base, that core number of players who will basically never leave or will be quickly enough replaced by new players. If they stick in the high seven digits, they’ll be numerous enough to sustain the subscription model for several more years to come.

Titan. I’ll admit to not being up on all the Titan news, so I did a quick Google search for “Titan F2P” and found a near-equal number of articles saying it will and it won’t be F2P (as well as a smattering of “Please, Blizzard, do/don’t make it F2P!” blog posts and comments).

On the record, Blizzard President Mike Morhaime has said that Titan is “unlikely” to be a subscription game, which jives with the notion that Hearthstone/HotS are proving grounds for the concept and a way to work out various kinks in the implementation for Blizzard. It makes sense, when you look at it: Take a rapidly developed, fairly simple game as the test case before risking your nine-digit massive future franchise on the ideal. It’s similar, I think, to what SOE did with PlanetSide 2, in figuring out just what they could do with their Forgelight engine, and how to optimize it properly, before “risking” their much more lucrative EverQuest franchise.

And more? What about Blizzard’s other big, non-MMO guns? Sure, we have the StarCraft Arcade, but that’s not quite the same as a full AAA game. Given how MOBAs, nearly all of which are F2P, have taken over the e-sports scene, it stands to reason that Blizzard might make StarCraft III free-to-play to try and revitalize the RTS-as-e-sports machine.

As a primarily PvE single-player game, Diablo would be tougher to implement as F2P – and the team’s last attempt to fiddle with real-world transactions in the game was a spectacular failure – so I could see this franchise sticking to its roots.

Still, it’s not impossible to believe that, by the time Titan launches – in 2016, supposedly – that Blizzard might be as much a “F2P MMO company” as SOE or Perfect World or Turbine is today. Even a huge company like Blizzard knows it needs to change with the times to stay on top and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that.

By Jason Winter

21 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. zzz@zzz.cn on May 1, 2014

    Repetetive crap, there is nothing, game just for sick fanboys ONLY!

  2. I Love Hentai on April 30, 2014

    Mount me plox

  3. at least they cood have made d2 f2p…. but they are to greedy.

  4. Anon on April 29, 2014

    Anyone thinking their existing B2P/P2P games will go F2P are absolutely senile.

    But yeah it’s obvious Blizzard is testing the waters with different free games. Hearthstone is a huge success and that…MOBA I never remember the name of, already has tons of hype.
    Perhaps one day they’ll make a F2P MMO but I don’t really see the point right now because there is an over saturation of them. Exactly why many developers are dipping into other themes, like MOBAs and card games.

    But hey pretty much anything Blizzard does just becomes a method of printing money. They pull in fistfuls of cash with everything they do simply because they’re Blizzard.

    • Blizzards are cold on April 30, 2014

      Honestly. I’m all for b2p games. As long as it buy once. And be satisfied with more updates. Diablo III may have been buy to play. But it absolutely wasn’t satisfying. It’s pve based and those games usually only have one option. If Blizzard made a shooter that was b2p. I’d buy that game on the spot.

  5. Blizzards are cold on April 29, 2014

    Seems amazing, I was on that bandwagon as well I’m afraid. My opinion changed as soon as the playerbase stabilized. Blizzard’s a great company, though I’m not sure how well they’ll compete the f2p market. As long as they keep their other games that continue reeling in the dough, I guess a few f2p games for them won’t hurt, may even help. The true problem is the money factor. It all comes down to profits.

    • LordHikaru on April 30, 2014

      At the end of the day it comes down to profits. Blizzard/Activision wants their money and getting more people to play their games is a way to do it. It might not always be successful but nothing ventured nothing gained. It’ll be interesting if Blizzard can develop a game that’ll let WoW retire and take a vacation in the Bahamas and have a cruise lol.

  6. Goblingraphx on April 29, 2014

    I think we will see another “experiment” come out before we get to a Blizzard doing a full fleshed out MMO game in F2P model. Maybe Blizzard will make FPS to go head to head with Planetside 2?

  7. The Mountain on April 29, 2014

    MOUNTED BABY!!!

    YOU ARE VERY WELCOME!

    • the mountaineer on April 29, 2014

      MOUNT THE MOUNTAIN

      • the mountaineer mother on April 29, 2014

        *your mom was here and she mounted you*

        • The Mountain on April 29, 2014

          Silly pimple faced internets fanboyz…No one can mount The Mountain. I am too strong, too powerful….I have too much stamina, too much prowless to ever be mounted by anyone like you!

          I am The Mountain…and I MOUNT YOU ALL! MOUNTED BABY!!!

          YOU ARE VERY WELCOME!

          • The True Mount on April 30, 2014

            I shall mount u strong and with a big duration also i shall mount u fast like no one ever seen before YOU’VE BEEN MOUNTED SON!

          • The Mountain on April 30, 2014

            False Mount…The person who was nothing and never known before The Mountain chose to reveal himself.

            The person who is the #1 internets fanboy…aka stalker of The Mountain.

            You are trying to be like me, but you are not. You do not have the strength, prowless, or mad skillz of The Mountain.

            All of this will be reviewed when The Mountain’s First Look video comes out.

            As always I continue to mount you the whole time I type this with no lose of power, strength, or prowless. For my stamina is great!

            YOU ARE MOUNTED BABY! YOU ARE VERY WELCOME. LET THE MOUNTING CONTINUE!

          • The True Mount on April 30, 2014

            Foolish little boy.. you think you’re wise because you use some ”fanboy” insults HA HA HA I SHALL MOUNT U HARD AND SHOW YOU MY TRUE STRENGHT!

          • The Mountain on April 30, 2014

            I give up, I AM the FALSE MOUNTAIN!! You win True Mount u shall have the crown!

          • Fags

          • The Mountain on April 30, 2014

            Poor lil False Mount…I guess he has given up and surrendered to the greatest of The Mountain. He has to try and post and pretend he is The Mountain, but he not! Everyone knows it’s just him. He does not have the mad word skillz of The Mountain and it shows.

            This just proves that you want to be The Mountain. BUT YOUR NOT!

            Is this the best you got? No wonder you are on a F2P site with cheap no count skillz like that.

            Poor…poor lil False Mount.

            I MOUNT YOU SO HARD THAT THE PIMPLES ON YOUR BACK BURST!

            YOU ARE WELCOME!

          • The Mountain on April 30, 2014

            “People Who Say”…you just say those words because you wish The Mountain would mount you, but I can’t I am true busy mounting False Mount. I have been for days and days!

            I am sorry please don’t cry!

          • The Mountain on May 1, 2014

            I pee’d myself last night because my brother wanted to get inside my room while parents were away! *crys*

          • The Mountain on May 1, 2014

            Poor lil Falsey Mounted has no real skillz and now his life has come down to trying to imitate The Mountain, BUT HE CAN’T!

            Why poor lil Falsey Mounted ask? Why do not cry for The Mountain will tell you. I shall whisper it in your ear why I MOUNT YOU!

            Because you do no own the mad word skillz of The Mountain and people can tell instantly…that is no Mountain!

            So I continue to mount your internets fanboy self all day and night with all my mights,

            I mount you strong…I mount you true…I put you were you belongs!

            I mount you with all my strength, prowless. With my stamina that never ends.

            I MOUNT YOU BABY!!!

            YOU ARE VERY WELCOME!

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?