Tomorrow will bring some form of big announcement for Blizzard’s (and the industry’s) flagship title, World of Warcraft. We’re most likely to get news of some new expansion loaded with lots of new and rehashed features, but rampant speculation points toward the possibility of some F2P announcement. I’m pretty sure that one is still many years away.
Why World of Warcraft Won’t Go F2P
The Change is Too Radical
Blizzard has made a business of keeping WoW’s course steady as she goes. WoW has been about raiding since 2005. They could have changed that model to try and attract more people, but they don’t. There’s no need to change a sure thing, even if your numbers are only making you 100M a month. The cash flow is still fantastic, and WoW’s subscription numbers will skyrocket once again. Even if the numbers grow to HALF of what they were in Q1, that represents ENORMOUS growth. When your product bounces back that well in the next iteration, you don’t change. You wait until it stops bouncing back — at least Blizzard can afford to wait when it still generates that much cash. Change of this magnitude is far too radical to make simply for the sake of change.
The changes to the game itself to accommodate F2P would alter the very essence of WoW, and that itself would ignite a loss in players. Players, especially WoW players, do not want change. They don’t. Again, that’s why WoW has stayed the same game and simply become easier over the years. You have the same game providing the same experience, and doing everything it can to continue to provide that same experience with the least amount of friction possible.
F2P Belongs to New Properties
Blizzard has done a fantastic job keeping their business models separate. WoW is their subscription model, Hearthstone is their F2P, Diablo and StarCraft are their B2P, and their new games will do just fine however they end up launching.
Change Admits Defeat
I’m among those leading the school of thought that Blizzard is gradually phasing WoW out and transitioning their players to their newer games which are ultimately going to be what keeps a WoW player a ‘Blizzard’ player 10 or 20 years from now. I’m personally in that group. I stopped playing WoW some time ago, but I will be a life-long Blizzard fan playing their games. Blizzard wants more Keens. Â SO, despite my thought that this would ultimately be their way to go, it’s too soon. Blizzard knows its too soon. Doing so now admits the game is going that direction. Admitting that spooks not only shareholders but players as well. It admits a form of defeat. F2P has to come at a time when it isn’t perceived as failure, and we all know a game converting to F2P is done when a game is failing. WoW is NOT failing — yet.
Players Unsub Because They Want More
The reason players unsubscribe isn’t because WoW has become less fun to play. Okay, I guess that’s why some people do (I did). But most of these subscribers stop because WoW’s latest expansion offered less than previous expansions. WoD only gave themÂ 5 dungeons, 2 raids, and 1 content patch. They ran out of things to do. The answer isn’t to charge less for less. Blizzard can charge more for more and still get it! Their value proposition simply needs to be more for the same or technically the same for the same (what they used to give). Deep down they know this, and deep down they let WoD drop for other reasons… Â ::cough:: Phasing out go play Hearthstone and get hyped for Overwatch ::cough::
Tomorrow morning’s post will be on What Happens IF WoW Goes F2P. Yeah, I’m hedging.