World of Warcraft free-to-play to level 20

Blizzard has thrown away 10- and 14-day free trials of World of Warcraft and is now offering the base game for free, "up to a maximum character level of 20."

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Starting today, anyone with a Battle.net account can play any character they want to in World of Warcraft up to level 20 completely for free. You heard right. World of Warcraft has taken what could be the first step in a move toward going free to play. The new "trial" mode replaces the 10- 14-day free trials originally offered to new players and will now known as World of Warcraft Starter Edition. Players are free to reactivate dormant trial accounts for use with the new model or create characters based on any race and class from the base game, including The Burning Crusade races draenei and blood elf.

Starter Edition comes on the heels of new content for the 4.2 patch aimed at Cataclysm, known as "Rage of the Firelands," the patch adds, "a new raid, a legendary DPS staff quest line, the most diverse daily questing experience to date, PvP Season 10, user-interface enhancements such as the Dungeon Journal, and much more," according to the press release.

During Activision's last earnings call, a Blizzard rep said that subscriptions had fallen after the release of the last major expansion to the game. At the time, Blizzard stated it would release expansion content with higher frequency to cut subscriber churn. Allowing players to build to level 20 on their own time, may entice new customers into the world first introduced to the industry in 2004.

After World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the level cap for the MMO was raised to 85.

For those who get drawn in by the Starter Edition, Blizzard is also offering some new deals for buying the rest of the game when you're ready to go past level 20. Those who have purchased the original base game will be given all content from The Burning Crusade for free. The original game plus its first expansion, The Burning Crusade, are now available from the Blizzard online store in a special digital Battle Chest edition for $19.99.

[Update: Blizzard has added a list of limitations for the Starter Edition on its Support site:]

  • A level cap of 20.

  • A maximum of 10 gold.

  • Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.

  • Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.

  • In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.

  • Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.

  • Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters' friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.

  • Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.

  • Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.

  • Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.

  • Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.

  • Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers

  • RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 28, 2011 3:10 PM

    Garnett Lee posted a new article, World of Warcraft free-to-play to level 20.

    Blizzard has thrown away 10- and 14-day free trials of World of Warcraft and is now offering the base game for free, "up to a maximum character level of 20."

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:12 PM

      I think this is actually worse then the trial....you can get much higher then 20 in 14 days, even with casual play. .

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        June 28, 2011 3:15 PM

        6hours a day is cusual play?

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          June 28, 2011 3:32 PM

          If you're implying that 6 hours a day for 14 days is what it would take to reach lvl 20...well, you're just wrong.

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            June 28, 2011 5:29 PM

            It's probably takes less than 6 hours to get a character to 20

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 3:42 PM

        Not really since the old trials were capped at 20 anyway

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          June 28, 2011 4:06 PM

          Were they? I wasn't aware of that. I guess that makes this...better.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 4:06 PM

        Yep, this is much faster way for them to cycle trial accounts. Its smart on their part. 1-20 takes no time at all.

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        June 28, 2011 4:42 PM

        I think getting to level 20 takes like, 4-5 hours now if you don't know what you're doing..

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        June 28, 2011 4:59 PM

        ha, i got to level 8 or so in a month

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          June 28, 2011 5:07 PM

          How is that even possible? It's like 2 hours.

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            June 28, 2011 7:29 PM

            this is many years ago, in vanilla, maybe it was slower, then again, maybe i really only played 2 hours

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 5:10 PM

        The old trials were capped at level 20 so this is better in all wyas

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 7:43 PM

        I would argue it's better than the old 10/14 day trials as there's a lower barrier to entry for new players -- anyone who wants to try the game can do so without finding a trial pass. The point is to give people enough of a taste that they'll pay for more. Since the release of Cataclysm, those first 20 levels are a lot more compelling and enjoyable to play through than they used to be, so the new system makes sense.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:17 PM

      [deleted]

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        June 28, 2011 3:32 PM

        They've had a lot of restrictions on trial accounts, like not being able to whisper and such, but I'd imagine this would be a fairly full-featured experience. Curious what kind of limitations they'll have to prevent goldsellers from taking advantage, though. I guess not many, since they already worked their way around most trial account limitations.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 4:17 PM

        That bracket will be filled with alts loaded with heirloom gear now.

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      June 28, 2011 3:30 PM

      This is just the start.... Mark my words once the subscriptions start dropping.. people will be buying gear cards rather than time cards, and 1-85 will be free to play. I can see it already I play a hunter that is currently in very high end wrath gear. I quit playing with cata came out because I was uninterested. But if I could play free and just buy that one badass item I was always after Id probably log in a little more often.
      It also has to do with their audience growing up thing about it the game was targeted at 16-21 males who are now probably around 25-30 have real jobs wives and kids(yep thats why I dont play) If I could log in and dident have to play for 900 hours to get that one badass Id probably play alot more.

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      June 28, 2011 3:35 PM

      Interesting method to gain subscribers. This isn't some obscure MMO. 55 year old men at work, people that I would never imagine being gamers, will casually bring up WoW in conversations once in a while.

      Guess at this point that they are just trying to retain sub numbers until their next big MMO.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:41 PM

      LOL, this is going to be funny, watch all of the gold farmers be on spamming non stop now. Unless they make a separate server just for this free to play part of the game then give free transfers LOL free transfers LOL...


      Wow graphics are so 2004,

      http://i53.tinypic.com/98yaf9.jpg - enough said.

      I am by no means a fan but but it is obvious.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 3:48 PM

        I'm not sure what you mean by the graphics look like they're from 2004. That's when WoW came out. They are from 2004. Or is that what you mean by it is obvious.

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        June 28, 2011 3:51 PM

        those models look pretty nice actually

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 4:07 PM

        that screen isn't even from wow

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          June 28, 2011 4:11 PM

          That's Scarn from DD in Rift. I'm pretty sure it's meant to show how shitty the wow graphics are compared to modern day mmos.

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        June 28, 2011 4:21 PM

        I dunno, that screen you posted isn't *that* amazing. Not that WoW has amazing graphics though, but it can look pretty epic IMO

        http://imageshack.us/f/714/firelands.jpg/

        • reply
          June 28, 2011 4:58 PM

          Anyone playing 4.2 right now? As with every patched, I'm tempted to try it. I think I re-sub a month or two for every other patch.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 4:21 PM

        Trial accounts are unable to chat in public channels. Those gold spammers use compromised accounts to do that, and will continue to do so.

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        June 28, 2011 5:09 PM

        wow's art style is much better than this generic rawwwr dragon

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        June 28, 2011 5:09 PM

        Trial accounts can't chat in public channels or send mail

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        June 28, 2011 7:44 PM

        I totally see clipping going on there. Also, WAY too many assets.

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        June 28, 2011 7:45 PM

        I guess you were so busy writing this compelling and well-reasoned opinion that you forgot to RTFA.

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        June 30, 2011 9:21 AM

        Graphics aren't everything. Too bad you don't get that. Same deal with Minecraft. World of Warcraft has a pretty nice art design for its style but you just want it to run on unreal engine 3 or something.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 4:24 PM

      I wonder what the limitations are. Can you use auction house? If so, things could get pretty crazy.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 4:27 PM

        Same limitations as before, for the most part.

        http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2743804562?page=1#2

        • reply
          June 28, 2011 4:43 PM

          From http://www.wowwiki.com/10-day_Free_Trial

          Maximum level of 20.
          Maximim of 10 gold .
          Capped at 100 in your two main professions,[1] or 150 in secondary professions.[citation needed]
          You can't create or join a guild.
          You can't whisper someone who has not added you to their friends list.
          You can't trade, either via the auction house, mailbox or player-to-player trading.
          You can't use in-game chat channels other than say, whisper, party, etc.
          You can't receive mail other than from Game Masters.
          You can't use voice chat.
          You can't use the paid character transfer service.
          You can't invite other players to a party.
          You can't join a party with a player above level 20.
          You can't use /yell.
          You can't use Real ID features.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 4:39 PM

      The beginning of the end for WoW?

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        June 28, 2011 4:41 PM

        no

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        June 28, 2011 5:09 PM

        Why would you possibly think that?

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        June 29, 2011 7:34 PM

        I don't think so. Their fan base is still huge they have new content coming out that people are interested in. And I am sure they already have the next expansion under way to bring people back into the fold.

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      June 28, 2011 4:40 PM

      do not want

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      June 28, 2011 4:43 PM

      I have Cataclysm and a lapsed subscription and it won't let me play.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 5:35 PM

      Added the list of limitations, directly from Blizzard.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 7:01 PM

      If I have a level 80 already can I log in for free and try out a worgen to level 20 or does this only work with new accounts?

    • reply
      June 29, 2011 7:31 AM

      sounds exactly like the trial subscriptions. so basically they opened the trial up without needing a referral and there's no time limit. although level 20 is only a couple of hours of game time.

    • reply
      June 29, 2011 8:17 AM

      it's only a matter of time before blizzard automatically creates complimentary accounts for everyone on the internet. you'll be hacked by chinese without having played the game.

    • reply
      June 29, 2011 11:32 AM

      lvl 20 was about where I got bored in the open beta. So you could theoretically play indefinitely, you just can't lvl up past 20. I wonder what else is restricted.

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      June 29, 2011 12:24 PM

      After playing LOTRO for so long I don't think I could go back to a normal monthly fee for an MMO. I'm more of a casual player maybe an hour a night or so if that and Turbines payment model is perfect for players like that. I always felt obligated to play WoW because of the monthly bill and got tired of it. I might go back if they embraced a more casual pay as play model.

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      June 29, 2011 7:33 PM

      it's out of fear. I know this sounds strange but its possible that TOR might actually have given them some pause for concern.

      Either way its a very smart move.

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