The MMO market is rapidly changing and the competition is getting more fierce and creative. World of Warcraft still stands on top but that doesn’t stop Blizzard from considering what their opposition is doing. World of Warcraft Lead designer Tom Chilton comments on how companies have moved on to the free-to-play model,”I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. ” He goes on applying this situation to Blizzard, talking about the potential scenario of another MMO with a similar subscriber number coming along forcing them to drop their subscription fee, “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.”
While we all know that it’s highly unlikely that any MMO can compete to WoW’s 11 Million subscribers, it’s still a good thing to think about. There are a lot of MMOs of varying sizes and popularity that have adopted the freemium model and have proved somewhat successful because of it. Games like Dungeon and Dragons Online and Maple Story–while still free to play–have made a good profit off of micro transactions for small things like items, or costumes, and other things of the sort.
Tom doesn’t see this happening in World of Warcraft’s future, though. “We’re not spending a lot of time thinking about it”, and for obvious reasons, WoW is the most subscribed MMO in the market and it doesn’t look like anyone can take that spot except for– maybe–Blizzard themselves.