Blizzard “not sure” if free-to-play is “the best model,” for WoW right now

Thursday, 27 October 2011 17:02 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Blizzard president Mike Morhaime has admitted the subscription-funded MMO market is a difficult one “to compete in,” but considering the value players get when paying a monthly fee, he feels free-to-play “doesn’t necessarily make for a better game.”

Speaking in an interview with Eurogamer during BlizzCon, Morhaime, like BioWare, doesn’t believe The Old Republic will be the “last large scale MMO” to use a subscription business model, despite a lot of “quality free-to-play experiences,” which are competing with sub-based MMOs in the market.

“I think it’s very expensive to make these games, especially if you’re expecting people to pay a monthly fee just to play the game, he said. “And so there are very few companies that can compete at that high level with those types of budgets. Definitely if you’re not charging anybody, they’re going to be a lot more forgiving about the experience they have.

“They haven’t paid anything. So in terms of developers entering the market, I can understand why a lot of games might choose to go free-to-play.

“For us, and even for EA with the Star Wars game, I think that the value that you get for the $15 a month is just unmatched. I don’t think you can get that amount of entertainment value anywhere. I’d put the $15 up against anything.

“I think that there’s an underlying, a fundamental assumption right now, that the less you charge, the more money you make. Which isn’t true. And it doesn’t necessarily make for a better game. I mean, everybody likes free… I think that definitely, players have seen a lot of really great quality free-to-play experiences, but I’m not sure it’s the best model for us right now.”

While WoW still charges a monthly fee, those who wish to give it go before signing up can download the game for free and continue to play for free until their character reaches level 20.