Mashable is reporting that World of WarCraft is now going to have a free to play option, that is until you reach level 20 (sound familiar?). They are titling it “World of Warcraft Starter Edition” and it allows players to play until their characters reach level 20, then they will have to subscribe to the “full version” of the game if they wish to keep gaining experience; which can be done through an online account page. There are some restrictions on Starter Edition Accounts, of course:
- A level cap of 20.
- A maximum of 10 gold.
- Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
- Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
- In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.
- Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.
- Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters’ friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
- Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.
- Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
- Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
- Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
- Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers
- RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.
I’m not so sure that this is “Free to Play” as much as it is a revamped version of their trial accounts, given that you really cannot play the game “for free” past a certain low level and that there is no word about being able to utilize any preexisting accounts that were not trial accounts. So count me skeptical as to the use of the term “Free to Play”, but I guess I’d be arguing semantics. Some speculate that this might even be a precursor to a true “Free to Play” model simliar to LOTRO, but again I’m skeptical. Warcraft’s subscription model doesn’t seem to be failing them at this point and if it isn’t broken, why fix it? And sure, it might be fun to go in and play some in my past stomping grounds of Azeroth, but personally Tolkien’s world holds my heart; so I don’t see that happening any time soon.