Blizzard: F2P not the best model for WOW
Value from a subscription "unmatched".
A free-to-play business model isn't right for gargantuan MMO World of Warcraft right now, Blizzard has said.
So confident is Blizzard in the value offered by the £9-a-month subscription fee that boss Mike Morhaime has described it as "unmatched".
Games that have switched to free-to-play recently include Age of Conan, Star Trek Online, Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online.
Some analysts believe this shift puts pressure on Blizzard to follow suit with World of Warcraft, which has seen subscriber numbers stall in recent months.
But Morhaime is defiant.
"For us, and even for EA with the Star Wars game, I think that the value that you get for the $15 a month is just unmatched," he told Eurogamer in an interview published this morning.
"I don't think you can get that amount of entertainment value anywhere. I'd put the $15 up against anything.
"I think that there's an underlying, a fundamental assumption right now, that the less you charge, the more money you make. Which isn't true. And it doesn't necessarily make for a better game. I mean, everybody likes free... I think that definitely, players have seen a lot of really great quality free-to-play experiences, but I'm not sure it's the best model for us right now."
Sony Online Entertainment boss John Smedley recently said that he thought Star Wars: The Old Republic, due out this December, would be the last large-scale subscription-funded MMO.
Responding to the suggestion, Morhaime told Eurogamer that he understood Smedley's point.
"I think it is a very difficult market to compete in, I think it's very expensive to make these games, especially if you're expecting people to pay a monthly fee just to play the game," he said.
"And so there are very few companies that can compete at that high level with those types of budgets.
"Definitely if you're not charging anybody, they're going to be a lot more forgiving about the experience they have. They haven't paid anything. So in terms of developers entering the market, I can understand why a lot of games might choose to go free-to-play."