World of WarCraft Free-To-Play to Lvl 20

Blizzard is dabbling in the free-to-play model with the new WoW: Starter Edition.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris

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See, this free-to-play model is really starting to pick up speed, as more and more major developers are jumping on the money-spawning bandwagon. The latest developer to join the craze is none other than Blizzard. Blizzard has announced that World of WarCraft is now free to play up to level 20.

Instead of offering the free 14-day trial, Blizzard has adopted a free-to-play model that lets players test out the world of Azeroth to their heart’s content at no charge until they reach level 20. It’s at this point where they will have to throw down $20 to buy the full package, in addition to the monthly subscription fee. Blizzard is labeling this free trial the World of WarCraft: Starter Edition. The Starter Edition also comes with content from WoW’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade, letting players create characters from the Draenei and Blood Elf races.

The free-to-play business model is nothing new for the casual, social market of games. Games such as Farmville have been at it since their inception, making bank off of player’s insatiable hunger to buy digital goods for real money through microtransactions. But lately we’ve seen more and more companies within the “hardcore” demographic of the gaming industry adopt this proven business model.

Valve recently made Team Fortress 2 completely free to play, while Hi-Rez Studios just announced a new Tribes title that will also cost no money upfront. And while Blizzard isn’t jumping into the deep end of the free-to-play pool (more like splashing around in the kiddie pool), it’s a great first step. Here’s hoping more major companies adopt the free-to-play business model in the near future.