Updated Mon, Jan 30, 2012 by Mem
Free to play games seem to be the predestined gaming model of the future. New titles galore have popped up throughout the last year, proudly announcing their free to play status. Players flock to these games in droves, ecstatic at the chance to get gaming enjoyment without the typical monthly fee.
World of Warcraft is one of the few remaining games that have yet to capitulate to the free to play model. Even with subscription numbers falling, a fully free to play game is no where in sight for the giant of MMOs. In fact Blizzard has released several statements firmly standing behind its pay to play methods.
Instead of following the path of free to play like many of its rivals, Blizzard has instead decided to throw a number of appealing perks to those players who choose to continue to pay for WoW. These perks include an automatic invite to future betas, a totally cool mount, and a free copy of the much anticipated Diablo III. All one needs to do to obtain these awesome prizes is promise to pay your monthly subscription fee for a year.
While it has yet to be seen if this will entice players to keep on paying (I know I for one promised my soul for a year to WoW), even if it doesn’t work the likelihood of a free WoW anytime in the near future is slim. Even losing subscriptions, World of Warcraft is still top dog on the MMO market. Until it loses that lofty position there is really no reason for the company to even consider taking the free to play route.
However, despite the fact that none of us will be playing a entirely free WoW in the near future, there is a free to play option of sorts available. For those players wishing to try out a trial version they will find themselves presented with a free WoW of sorts. Be that as it may, like most things in life, a free version of WoW is not nearly as good as the version you pay for.
While the various ads out there and even I myself have called the trial version of WoW free to play, you must first understand that the trial version is just that…a trial and nothing more. With a list of restrictions a mile long this version, otherwise known as a Starter Edition, is but a taste of delicious water for the parched.
As mentioned above, the free to play trial has quite a few restrictions, limiting how players using this “free WoW’ can enjoy the game. The restrictions levied on the trial version are as follows:
Thanks to the limitations on the free to play version of WoW, players will find themselves severely limited in their dealings in the game. While you can certainly get a general feel for the game, you will find your character essentially blocked off from the most important aspect of game play in an MMO; the community. With access to the Auction House, various chats, and even groups almost unobtainable, players will find their free WoW experience to be extremely limited and perhaps even a bit frustrating.
Hope for an excellent free WoW experience remains, as those lucky enough to have friends who already play the game can garner more of a community experience than those without. However, for the most part players will find that the free to play version of WoW is nothing more than a glorified demo, with many of the important features of the game locked…unless you are willing to shell out the cash of course. So what is the purpose of this free Starter Edition of WoW
Browsing forums you will find many a player outraged by the limitations on the free to play WoW. Many offer suggestions and demand that more features be open to them. Yet the fact of the matter is, despite their free to play promotion, the Starter Edition of the game was never meant to be more than a trial. Even though the time limited of 14 days has been extended nothing more about the free version of WoW has changed.
There is indeed a grand purpose to this free trial though, it gets players in the game and gives them a taste of what they could have. Like a spoonful of ice cream on a sweltering hot day, the free WoW trial is meant to give just enough to leave players desperate for more. For this the limited Starter Edition of World of Warcraft is perfect for. It gives just enough to let players get their first real experience in game without giving all its secrets away at once.
We could rant and rave and get angry that we cannot experience the full version of the game in this free to play WoW, but how can we complain about something that doesn’t cost us a time? Not to mention that with more than enough players willing to pay to play the game, creating a trial version that allows full access to the game seems silly indeed and seems counterproductive in . As the old saying goes why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.
Will a totally free WoW ever come to pass? While it may be something we see in the future, the giant that is World of Warcraft will first have to be totally toppled. For now, Blizzard has more than enough subscribers to validate leaving the subscription fee in place. While a totally free WoW may be something we see happening in the future, for now those of us wanting to play the game will have to resign ourselves to shelling out a monthly fee or settling for the Starter Edition of the game.
Do you think there will ever be a totally free WoW? How do you feel about the free-to-play trial package? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!