When it comes to MMORPGs, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  Blizzard announced today that the game will now be free to download and play for the first 20 levels of the game.

World of Warcraft players can reach level 85, so the amount of content Blizzard Entertainment is making available for free is actually only a small fraction of the content available in the game. There is also an enormous amount of “end-game” content that is designed for players looking for additional challenges and better rewards once they reach level 85.

There’s still plenty of money to be had for the company once a player decides to move past level 20 as they will still need to buy all three expansion packs.  With greater pull from other games, movies, and comic books, this seems like a good move by the company to keep its hold on the online gamer market.

For those who don’t play WoW, does this news make you want to check out the action, or are you too busy with City of Heroes and DCU Online to care?

via Venture Beat


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Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I am not a current WoW/MMORPG player and this has made me curious. Can I get some “Top 5” recommendations that I should check out? And why? I may be heading to the forums after this :-)

      • I blew through about 15 levels in a night with some friends (casual, too, not even the hardcore “get to endgame!” players), so 20 levels seems small unless I’m soloing.

        But mileage varies player to player.

        • Doesn’t seem like a bad deal to me though. I’m usually a solo gamer anyhow, I don’t like group dynamics in online settings, even though the damn game insists that if I want to finish some quest or other that I be a part of a group. But I have Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King (along with the original of course) but I haven’t played in a year and a half or longer. This could be what I need to get me hooked again and then maybe I’ll pay for a bit, or maybe I’ll just play a few characters up to level 20. If you only play when you’ve got time or just to kill some time, and not like you’re whole being revolves around it, 20 levels can take a little while, depending upon how you play the game. Obviously the hardcore gamers who have tons of time on their hands are going to be able to get through 20 levels in a single night, but then again, they already know what they’re doing and probably already have characters up to level 85 as it is, which would be cool to do that, but I have two babies and just can’t devote that much of my time to it. But free gaming is well, Free, that I can get behind and my wife can’t complain about it either. lol.

    • The first hit is free then to get the rest it will cost you about $120. Thats Warcraft+BC $20 + WotLK $40 + Catacylsm $40 +60 day time card $30.
      The real kick in the johnson is that BC, WotLK, and Cata are all preloaded on your computer and your just paying for the authetication key code in the box, that and if you want to play Cata races you are forced to buy the other two box sets and authenticate them before you can use your cata code. No Worgen/Goblin for you if your trying to save some $$$.

  2. Actually, from what I hear, City of Heroes is going Free-To_play as well. I am liking the direction MMOs are going with the whole try before you buy idea. There aren’t a lot of hold outs for the old model now that is has been proven that micro-transactions work better. The proof is that Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have both thrived after going F2P.

    • Yes, we got the notice a couple weeks ago that it will soon be free-to-play with paid options. Free players have limited slots (I believe it is two character slots per account) and there is a queue for getting into crowded servers as well as limited costume options. VIP (subscribers) get into servers with no wait as well as the option to play on a VIP-exclusive server.

      All players will also have access to a cash shop of costumes (consisting of both the former “Super Boosters” costumes as seperate parts as well as new parts) and other things (I’m not sure what all will be there yet).

  3. ~wyntermute~ on

    Meh, I’ll stick with Dungeons & Dragons Online, because it doesn’t _require_ a monthly subscription fee at ANY point. I might use up some hard drive space on WoW, though, just because … Well, I don’t have a good reason beyond “If it’s free, I’ll try it.”, because when I actually DID subscribe to WoW (2 whole months) I kinda felt like I wasn’t getting my $$$ worth. Now that the price is ‘free’, I think even _I_ can get my money’s worth out of it.

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