In my last MMO Times post there is a link to an article about Blizzard reporting the WoW subscriptions dropping to 5.5 million. The main point of the article isn’t about this drop in subscriptions but Blizzard’s announcement that it will be the last time they will disclose subscription numbers. This seems to have started a whirlwind of conspiracy theories. One theory in particular is that WoW is going Free-2-Play:
With @Warcraft not reporting subscriber numbers in the future, I'm making a call: WoW is going free to play, soon.
— Adam Holisky (@AdamHolisky) November 3, 2015
If you recognize Adam Holisky, he’s one of the bloggers for Blizzard Watch (formally WoW Insider) but that doesn’t mean he has some inside knowledge. I think he’s just making an educated guess as to why Blizzard decided to stop reporting subscription numbers. There isn’t, to my knowledge, any evidence that gives this hypothesis any credence but if it were to happen he will have the right to say “First!”.
I’m doubtful that Blizzard will actually make WoW Free-2-Play. I’ll be honest, as much as I think it would be nice not to have to continue paying that subscription fee, I’m more of the opinion that WoW should continue with the subscription model. I’ve played games that started as a subscription and switched to a F2P model and you wouldn’t believe the trolls and troglodytes that swarm the servers. If you think the trolls (that pay to be there) are bad in Trade Chat in WoW, imagine what it will be like when they don’t have to pay money to make your life hell.
If Blizzard did make WoW Free-2-Play I can’t imagine it would be the only model; I can seem them going with a F2P model and a paid subscription model (much like other titles are using). I would almost want strict public channel and auction house rules such as a “Trade Channel” a F2P account cannot enter or an auction house that is separate from those with a subscription, because we already have people that make it a goal to ruin the economic value of the auction house by intentionally undercutting the lowest buy-out.
Blizzard has adamantly said they will not go Free-2-Play, but Bioware said the same thing and less than a year later changed their minds. Granted WoW has had a 10 year run, more than any other MMO game out there and leaking subscriptions is just part of the life cycle of any game. It could be that instead of trying to compare WoW to their other games, they are just going to report the overall health of Blizzard and Blizzard titles as a whole.
It’s an interesting theory and definitely a “watercooler topic” but I’m not going to hold my breath.
/For The Alliance!