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My idea for World of Warcraft: Free to Play

I used to play World of Warcraft, but for many reasons I have not played in several years. With the recently released expansion, Warlords of Draenor, I have been hearing a lot of positive things and find myself wishing I could play some of it again. Unfortunately, I do not have enough free time to justify paying for the subscription, but I do occasionally have free time once or twice a month where I could spend a decent amount of time playing WoW. This is my idea of how Blizzard could add a free to play option to World of Warcraft that would open the game up to more customers.

First note, the existing subscription model would not go away. If people are enjoying the game as it is and can spend the time and money that a subscription makes sense, then nothing should change for those players. In fact, I think that the free to play option I am going to describe should encourage some players that have never taken a look at WoW to try it out and realize that they would be better off with the subscription option.

Second note, there are already micro transactions within the game in the form of pets and mounts as well as other pay for services like server transfer and character boost. The free to play idea would work similar to these options, nothing would be mandatory to be able to play or enjoy the game, but if you wanted to you would be able to pay for certain things that you as the free to play player have restrictions to.

Third note, there is already a free to play model in WoW that lets you play up to level 20 without buying the game or paying for the subscription. This idea is a bit of an expansion on that along with some other ways for Blizzard to monetize free to play players.

WoW: F2P

  1. The game and all the expansions would be free. If you want to get started with the game you just need to download the client and create an account. This would work just like the existing free to play option, but you would not need to pay for any expansions either. This would also apply to current players under the subscription option. 
    1. At this point, why have people pay for the box software of what is essentially just a really large patch. The expansions add a ton of content, but the patch before the expansion is released has all of the data needed for the expansion.
    2.  Blizzard has also said in the past that they would like to get expansions out more quickly, well if they switched to this approach they wouldn't really need to have expansions any longer. They could release new features and content as they were ready.
  2. Free to play players would have access to all zones and areas in the game that did need a party to complete. They would be able to do any quest or exploration throughout the vast world. This would be an incredible amount of content that those users would have access to for free. 
    1. There would be plenty of people that would use this option to have fun exploring the world and its adventures and would likely never pay any money. 
      1. That would be alright for Blizzard because those people are currently not playing or paying for the game so they wouldn't really be losing out with these people.
      2. These players would also help populate the world and add some value to other players just by being within the world. If a subscriber wants to play with a friend, but that friend doesn't currently play the game, it is a pretty big ask to get them into WoW. Here they would get to play in the same world without as large a barrier.
      3. Even if these players did not pay for anything very often, the fact that they would be in the game would give them the opportunity to pay for something. This is how games like Candy Crush or Angry Birds work, get as many people as possible to play the game and if they can get some number of them to buy anything then they are doing well.
  3. Free to play players would be restricted from higher end content like Dungeons, Raids, Battlegrounds, and Arenas. Anything that would require a large group of players to accomplish would not be able to be entered by the free to play player, unless they were willing to pay for it.
    1. I could see something like $1.00 for any single dungeon or battleground run.
    2. Raids could be purchased for $5.00 a run.
    3. Arenas could be purchased on a per season basis, maybe $25.00 for a season.
    4. They could also offer bundles like 10 dungeon runs for $8 or something along those lines
    5. There could also be an option for per day unlimited access, so for $6.00 you can play all the dungeons you want for 24 hours, or $10.00 for 48 hours.
  4. Other pieces of the game could be restricted as well.
    1. Professions could be limited to only subscribers, or perhaps just certain recipes would be only available to subscribers.
    2. Free to play players would not be able to gain access to the fastest mounts. This could either be done by giving subscribers a new fast mode or by limiting the free to play players to 75% of whatever their mounts speed is. Then the missing speed could be bought by the Free to play player.
These options would open up a lot of different ways for many different types of players to play the game. For someone that can only play once a month, they could buy a day pass and really dive in for that one day and then not feel any need to continue to pay throughout the rest of the month when they aren't able to.

These options would also be prices in a way that made the purchase of a subscription still the obvious choice for anyone that wanted to play the game frequently and gain access to the highest end content.

This wouldn't negatively affect any of the current or future subscription players. I can not see any way these options could be abused to give another player an advantage over the subscription players. They would not be able to buy gear or any other game affecting items. They would only be able to buy entrance into restricted content, which the subscriber already has and would continue to have unlimited access to.

I know WoW is not doing poorly and does not likely need to go the free to play route, but I think these ideas could be used to open the game up to more people. Adding more options for paying for WoW would bring in more money, which would benefit everyone that was playing the game by allowing Blizzard to continue to put resources behind continuing to make improvements to the game and grow the community outside of the limits it currently has due to the subscription.

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