[Article by contributor Dustin Triplett.]
PC Gamer asked game producer John Lagrave if World of Warcraft’s paid subscription model would be going the way of the dodo anytime soon. It turns out that despite a severe subscriber loss, World of Warcraft is still going strong.
We’re very happy with the sub[scription] model – it works very well for us for various reasons. You churn through a lot of content very quickly on a paid-for game, and we think we offer great value in all the content we have for the player. If we went to a free to play model, do you make a ton more money? Maybe. Do you burn out players? Probably. I’m not saying we’re never going to go to free to play, we do that with the trial right now, but we’re really happy with the subscription model. We’re doing very well. – John Lagrave
I know hating Blizzard and World of Warcraft is the “cool” thing to do, but I couldn’t agree more with Lagrave. Free to play games are great for gamers on a strict budget and who are willing to sacrifice quality content for the sake of gameplay. Right now, regardless how you feel about the content, the fact is there is more than enough solid content worthy of a paid subscription.
However, if World of Warcraft did go free to play, Mists of Pandaria is introducing several features that could potentially work well with the model. These features include pet battles and the farming mini-game that resembles Farmville. “If we were to add Farmville to WoW, we’d make it awesome,” Lagrave said when acknowledging the comparison.
Gaming burnout is common for the MMO genre, especially for games on the free to play model. Maybe it’s just me, but the moment a previously paid MMO goes free to play, I lose all interest. They often morph from a solid experience to a drip-feed husk of their former self, relying purely on cosmetic features to stay alive.
I’d rather see World of Warcraft go offline indefinitely rather than have it be free to play. As Lagrave points out, that day could arrive. I just hope I don’t live to see it.