In a PC Gamer interview Blizzard said that it may, at some point, consider making World of Warcraft free. Blizzard’s Tom Chilton said the company is open to considering different subscription models for the MMO based on a number of factors including external or internal competition in the MMO space. This could include the other secret MMO project the company is working on, serious competition from another company or a change in the space itself.
"At some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee," said lead designer Tom Chilton in a PC Gamer interview. "If another game comes along and blows us away it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee – or even further down the line, when we have another MMO out."
Blizzard is already experimenting with different subscription models in regions like South Korea, where World of Warcraft takes a back seat to its other game, StarCraft. The company recently announced that WOW subscribers would get StarCraft II for free as long as their WOW accounts remained active. Certainly a smart way to drive WOW subscriptions.
One thing is for certain; if Blizzard ever did decide to use some sort of free to play model it would have a dramatic and profound effect on the entire MMO space. When a game as good as WOW goes free it’s tough for competitors with lesser game experiences to expect players to pay a fee.