Speaking at the Game Developers Conference in Paris yesterday, Blizzard's vice president Rob Pardo revealed that World of Warcraft was originally conceived as a subscription-free game supported by advertisements, Gamasutra reports.
During a keynote interview - where he also virtually confirmed Blizzard will announce a new game this Saturday - Pardo told the audience: "When we were first going to make World of Warcraft, we wanted to make it free and advertising-supported."
However, he explained, the developer had to acknowledge the sums didn't add up. "We didn't want to charge a subscription, but as we researched market conditions, we realised that wouldn't support us." [What a shame, they must have thought - Dep Ed.]
Gamasutra has a full account of the conversation with Pardo, Blizzard's game design guru. Worth a read if you're trying to stop yourself thinking about Diablo III this lunchtime.