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Blizzard ponders free-to-play World of Warcraft

Developer gives free access to StarCraft II via World of Warcraft subs in Korea

Blizzard is musing over a free-to-play business model for massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft.

Speaking to PC Gamer, World of Warcraft lead designer Tom Chilton, admitted that, "at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee."

However, he quickly clarified that: "We’re not spending a lot of time thinking about it. It’s not something that’s a reality for us in the near future."

Major Western titles such as The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online have moved to an Asian style free-to-play model in recent months, although Chilton speculated that this was not an attempt to compete with World of Warcraft directly.

"I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. I imagine that when one of them went free to play it cannibalised some of the other subscribers," he speculated.

"I can definitely imagine that being the case with World of Warcraft. If another game comes along and blows us away it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee. Or even further down the line, when we have another MMO out," he added.

World of Warcraft uses a Western style subscription model in South Korea, where it is sold purely as a digital download, but subscribers will also be given free access to the forthcoming StarCraft II. Given the popularity of StarCraft in the country this is more to drive sales of Warcraft than inevitable hit StarCraft II.

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