WoW Laying The Groundwork for F2P? Not So Fast...

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

Here we go again!

The recently datamined info found on World of Warcraft's public test server turned up an item, the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom, that offers a 100% XP buff from killing monsters and completing text. It seems like the kind of thing that would come from a cash shop – which Blizzard's community manager didn't exactly deny – and when a cash shop comes along, free-to-play is next, right? Right?

Take another look at Zarhym's words: the Elixir is potentially “a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly in the game.” As we've long known, the tendency for Asian players is not to buy subscriptions as we do here in the West, but to play in Internet cafes, purchasing time as they go. That's why F2P “started” in Korea and Japan before migrating to the U.S. It was simply the better model for those regions.

If I had to guess, I'd suppose the Elixir – and any other cash shop boosts that might come along – is designed primarily for those players, and those are the “certain regions” Zarhym's talking about. But adding an in-game cash shop takes time, effort, and money, and I'd be surprised if Blizzard was going to go to all that trouble for just one item, for only one, albeit significant, part of its customer base.

So let's suppose Blizzard adds the Elixir and other (we'll assume) non-gamebreaking items, as well as the usual plethora of mounts and other services, to an in-game cash shop that it makes available to all its players, worldwide. Now is it going free-to-play?

I'd say that it increases the odds by a not-small amount, but it probably still won't be for a long time coming. 8.3 million players is still a lot, and it's going to take a bigger drop than what we've seen to force Blizzard's hand and make the momentous switch. Plus, with a new expansion likely coming next year, and the bump in player numbers that usually comes with it, we probably wouldn't be looking at F2P until 2015 at the absolute earliest.

It's entirely possible, however, that the Elixir, and whatever else comes after it, is Blizzard's way of testing the waters of a F2P cash shop, both from a technology standpoint and a community reaction standpoint, to iron out all the kinks and make sure they present it in a way that's palatable to its player base. Only after they're 100% sure that everything is as it should be would they even consider turning the switch all the way.

Blizzard has always been willing to borrow concepts from other games and implement them in World of Warcraft. Eventually, they'll probably take the big concept of free-to-play and make it their own, but they can afford to do it at a their own pace and make sure it's done right.

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In this article: World of Warcraft, , WoW.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (52)

Pat Mustard 10 years ago
Never liked free to play - nothing is free in this world so they are forced to squeeze money out of you in various other ways. At least with a subscription you pay x a month, end of, f2p is tapping you left right and center. It makes a 2 tier game with those playing for free playing a skeleton of the game while those willing to spend big enjoying the full content. WoWs overarching problem is its age not subscriptions.

anip 10 years ago
WoW already have a Cash Shop... it's on their website where you can buy their special "pets"

Sara 10 years ago
I've heard a lot of ruckus from this game; that being P2P was in the long run cheaper than some F2P games out there, that you actually had access to all the content instead of having to pay to get more. Where does that stand if they start to add micro-transactions? Sure, its an Elixir now, but what else are they going to add to it? If people pay every month for it, I think it should stay the way it is. Aren't they milking enough money from WoW or are these the last efforts of getting all the cash they can before it all goes to hell?

Trenix 10 years ago
Micropayments is the worse thing you can do, especially for a game that's currently buy to play and pay to play. I highly doubt this means it'll go free to play, this is just another attempt for activision to get some more cash from their brain dead customers. I really don't care though, MMORPGs will die soon enough. MOBAs will be the new thing, being that you're participating in an ongoing PvP battles from the start.

PvE is repetitive and time consuming, usually intended to keep amateurs from getting into raids and PvP. The problem is that they'll still get there anyway, so this whole waste of time is for nothing. I personally think Panzar has the potential of being the new League of Legends.

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ExHuman 10 years ago
F2P or P2P: still not interested
I would rather play W III Frozen Throne

VelVanity 10 years ago
WoW WILL eventually go arguing over that..theyve already said theres only 3 exp packs left and that's it. Once last exp pack hits and after a week and everyones done beat all the content in it..and them knowing theres not another exp pack coming...population is gonna drop..and quick...

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kahosdark 10 years ago
WOW a la actualidad solo lo juegan personas que se quedaron estancados en la pre historia por tanto no evolucionan en lo que es este tipo de juegos.... otros juegos salieron f2p por que no hay gente ajajaj el negocio a hora son los f2p. Wow no tiene buenos graficos ni tiene buena jugabilidad ni buena historia lo unico que tiene son jugadores que no aprecian lo que realmente tiene un juego antes fue lo maximo por que era novedoso... a hora solo es comun -.- y pagar por un juego asi mensualmente estaria loco ... yo pagaria por calidad no por nostalgia a que fue lo mejor en su tiempo

ThcMonkee 10 years ago
I honestly don't care. Even from a standpoint of someone who loves F2P model and everything that it stands for, WoW turning to F2P simply isn't a big deal as it would have been 1-3 years ago. World of Warcraft is outdated in every possible way, while still a good game it's strongest attribute right now is nostalgia and inertia.

The transfer would certainly receive it's due media coverage, but considering the upcoming F2P games and the ones already out, F2P simply doesn't need World of Warcraft.

kahosdark 10 years ago
que es lo que se busca en un juego....
que sea gratis
que tenga buena historia
que tenga excelentes gráficos realistas
que tengan habilidades extraordinarias
que tenga pvp dinamico
entre otras cosas y a la actualidad hay juegos que tienen eso y muchos mas

WOW fue bueno en su tiempo por que era novedad..... a hora es historia pero no deja de ser un buen juego tiene sus medallas xD

zakena 10 years ago
tbh the players of WOW are in a nutshell . if WOW goes f2p the competition goes up. Nerds who think they are pro will realize what pro is when the actual f2p players who spend hours grinding and work hard to earn everything ingame begin to play.

the only qq i see is sub players afraid if f2p does happen we will loose the upper hand of their so called " Talent"

kahosdark 10 years ago
realmente wow a mi parecer es un juego que ya esta muriendo xD.... en sus años fue un excelente juego pero ahora hay mejores... lo digo por que hay juegos parecidos que wow... pero son inigualables en graficos jugabilidad historia etc en cada actualizacion lo unico que cambia es que ponen mas mazmorras y cosas aburridas... por que no cambian para mejor... es aburrido tener mas de 30 skiles y solo usar 4 -.- y apretar las mismas 4 teclas al mismo tiempo -.- y saltar como loco para esquivar ataques -.-.... will war linage etc me parecen mejores, pero a mi parecer quien se lleba el premio es tera online y aion f2p... WOW silk road imperio Mu etc fueron xD.....
yo los he jugado todos hasta lvl 20 de ahi aburren xD pero Tera online y Aion excelentes

que prefieren un playstation 1 o un playstation 3 xD es obvio verdad.

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Jasin420 10 years ago
WoW is the only popular MMO to hold out going free to play. SWTOR, DCUO, ect have gone F2P and have done well. Makes you wonder if the people at Blizzard are just greedy.

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Paxaterz 10 years ago

Chawmba69 10 years ago
Stop posting "WOW, gonna be f2p its not gonna happen any time soon. Blizzard is having 3 more expansions and making a lot of money by making wow p2p. I hate to be a hater but its kinda getting on my nervs alittle bit and also blizzard is not a f2p company they only did that to hearthstone because why pay money for a card game when all of them are free. WoW is a good game that has a amazing player base and generous people to pay 15$ a month. So once again WoW will never go free to play... we got rift.. be happy :/

Game Of Drones 10 years ago
This article is wrong. 2015 is wayy to early for WoW to be going F2P. When you have a cow, you are gonna milk it till it gives milk. 8 million subscribers is still a lot. And still leading.
And Blizzard won't even think F2P unless the numbers drop below 1 million. And again, think. 1 million people that pay 15 bucks each month is still a lot. That's still more that half the subscribers other paying mmo games have.
We really cannot say when WoW will go free to play. Their next expansion could be the best so far and bring back those 4 million subscribers more they had during the WotLK period. Or it could be the worst expansion so far. And they could lose 7 million. But if they keep this steady pace WoW might not even be free to play even in 2020.
Maybe they would even make WoW 2.0 with better graphics. You never know.

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Narroc Matahari 10 years ago
I think you all got it wrong watch wow not go F2P and just open a cash shop for more then just pets like this item.
There down right greedy... You pay for subscription... you pay for expansions... you pay for pets and mounts. Why should they go f2p... no just slap it to the players and make them pay for more. Money Money Money.... why kill the cash cow lets just milk it more.

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Padsoldier 10 years ago
Well, that sounds definitely interesting. I'm afraid though that creating a non-P2W F2P MMORPG is impossible, I really do hope Blizzard manages to achieve that. I'd love to play WoW on official servers (private servers are great as well but 3.3.5 after a couple years is kinda boring), but I'm really afraid they'll screw this f2p transition (and terms) up like EA did with SW:toR.

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Obamu 10 years ago
lol the private servers are better IMO, donate and win, atleast its rarer to pay to win than most free to play games in my experience.

longtimegamer 10 years ago
WoW could pay me to play and I wouldn't come back to play it. Game died with the release of Cataclysm they simplified the game so much its not even worth doing the free trial. Blizzard tried to please everyone at once and ended up driving more than 50% of its customer base away. I will never play another Blizzard game as long as I live (same goes true for Perfect World games), a bad company can not be trusted and I will not put money, time, or computer space to a product made by that bad company.

Deathisnear24 10 years ago
If WoW goes F2P I personally won't care. They took everything fun out and made it THE themepark mmo. I'll gladly take Rift over pandas anyday. Why play WoW (the current) version when you can play BC WoW but better (Rift).

Velizor 10 years ago

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Skullheart 10 years ago
I think if WoW were to go f2p,they wouldn't let any secrets or loopholes through.They'd keep it a very well kept secret just because they know how much of an audience they have.So I say we all just sit back and let them be.If they decide to go f2p,good for them.If not....good for them.

unmarked 10 years ago
making wow f2p will cause a whole new breed of flame wars and shit storms.

a apocalypse

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LOLZ 10 years ago

NewBlizzardMMO 10 years ago
I think this article should mention Blizzard IS working on a new MMO. I forget the name. So, whatever they do with WoW, it'll likely impact this new MMO in some way depending on how things go with WoW.

Blizzard may find people won't want to play their new MMO. The Warcraft Universe is a very casual place even though the Warcraft games were not. If Blizzard makes another traditional MMO, a click to attack and wait game, I don't think many people are going to pay for it, at least, not as many as WoW, or maybe not even 50% of that.

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