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Blizzard rejects free-to-play model for WOW

Blizzard rejects free-to-play model despite falling subscriber numbers.

Blizzard has rejected the notion that its premier title, the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) World of Warcraft, will be moving away from the subscription-based model to a free-to-play system.

Currently gamers pay around £8 a month to play the game as a form of subscription. However, many recent MMO titles are moving away from this means of generating revenue to instead make the games free-to-play while making money through selling in-game items.

In an interview with PC Gamer John Lagrave, one of the producers behind World of Warcraft, explained that the subscription model is still proving successful for the company.

"We’re very happy with the sub model – it works very well for us for various reasons. You churn through a lot of content very quickly on a paid-for game, and we think we offer great value in all the content we have for the player," he said.

"I’m not saying we’re never going to go to free to play, we do that with the trial right now, but we’re really happy with the subscription model. We’re doing very well."

Despite this, the game is losing subscribers at a significant rate. At the game's peak in October 2010 there were 12 million subscribers. By November 2011, this had fallen to 10.3 million.

The company acknowledged in correspondence with Eurogamer that the release of Bioware's MMO Star Wars: the Old Republic in December certainly had a negative impact on subscriber numbers too.

As a result, the 10.3 million figure from November is likely to be even lower now. Blizzard has not released any subscription data since then but the company has made 600 redundancies in positions unrelated to game development.

The firm is hoping that the upcoming fourth expansion to World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria, will reinvigorate subscriber numbers. Yet, whether they stay around for long will remain to be seen.

It may take a more forward thinking move from Blizzard in order to get subscribers back on board and for the world's most popular MMO to continue to thrive.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801322389-ADNFCR