With the possibility of a item shop coming to the game do you think that free to play is far behind?
While the only ting we have seen so far is something that increases the experience gained by 100% and we can not even be certain what that means we have to wonder what else could come. Even if we are all just guessing, it is something worth talking about. Being the one "in game" item shop thing we have seen does not have a cool down or a timer we can guess it is not an item. Being it is a tracker it would seem it is something that is either ticked on or ticked off.
It has a lot of people wondering if this means and item shop is coming and while this post is about that I would like to point out a few little things.
This was found on the PTR, the same place that made us think we were getting tri-spec last patch and notice how we do not have tri-spec. Another thing is we do not actually know what the reference to in game store is. It could mean it is something you buy with some sort of points, like valor or conquest, or it could be another gold sink attempt like the BMAH was. It very well might not mean that an item shop where you pay cash for items is coming. However, if it does, that usually means F2P is also coming.
I think if anything blizzard will attempt to break the mold and continue to be a subscription game with an item shop. Trying to get the best of both worlds, money from each side. With over 8M subs at $15 each that means they make over 120 million a month. I really can not see some company ever saying "lets throw away 120M a month of guaranteed money and see what we can make with an item shop." Sorry, just do not see that happening. As long as large numbers keep paying that monthly fee it is still way too profitable for them to change the mold.
However, it is not so profitable that they would not want to find a way to boost those numbers by becoming a subscription game with an item shop. If they could keep both running they can make more than 120M a month. Also with an item shop added if they ever need to go the F2P route everything is already in place and people are already used to it, so there would be no uproar as if WoW is dying. It would just be the same old item shop we have all been made used to and no more subscription. It would be viewed as a good thing.
What would happen is something like this.
Over the next few years we get the item shop that sells all sorts of goodies. We already have mounts and pets and maybe this experience boosting thing coming. They would begin to add tons of other things from trangsmog sets, to item store only sets (not for current level of course), dying sets, maybe even some things that would be considered quality of life stuff like access to portals in the main city that others do not. All types of little things would appear in the store, all cheap, ever expanding.
If and when subscriptions fell low enough that they wanted to go full on with the item shop they would announce something along these lines. "As a thank you to all you players that stayed with us and as a testament to the success of the item shop we have decided we are able to remove the monthly fee to play wow and continue to provide you with the excellent content you have become accustom to with just the proceeds from it."
People will cheer, it will be a huge hit all around the forums and net because the item shop will have become something we were used to. It did not offer anything that gave real advantages in game so no one really had much of an issue with it. You would see people making posts about how this will return warcraft to is glory days and how 12M players would soon be considered low because people would flood to wow being it was now free and all the older players would come back, even if only as part time players, because it was free. All of this would be true of course.
Then some time later it would start. New item shop additions like the purchase that increases your valor cap for the week by 100%. The raid reset option so you could reset your personal lock out for the week so you could run it again and get loot again. Then they would release special item shop tabards that you can craft yourself by uploading an image to be on it, for a fee of course, and this tabard would increase all reputations gained while wearing it, so it would not be just cosmetic. Then there would be the paid radical change so you can give your orc every man for himself. Then the ability to pay to make a certain race that would not be in game except for people who paid to make the character. Then the paid only class. Then more and more would come and people would start to cry, it is now a pay to win game.
When just a few months earlier they were calling blizzard the best company in the world for giving them the game for free.
Do I think this is all going to happen this way? I can't be sure, no one can. Do I think it is possible? Absolutely.
This might just be a little test, as they say, for certain regions that can't buy stuff from the outer game for some reason. It would not be the first time that there have been differences between regions. The US/UK do not have separate 10 and 25 man lock outs, others do. You can't get the dead mans party achievement in china or even see bones for that matter. So perhaps it is indeed innocent and just a way to allow people in a certain part of the world to purchase something that no one else can just to see if it works as intended. That is entirely possible.
But one region getting a 100% experience boost only? Now that is what I am suspect about. That is something everyone will want, or might want. Why give something like that only to people in one zone that need an in game shop to buy stuff? They could very well be using one region as a testing area for a much wider release of the in game shop to all come the next expansion or some time shortly thereafter.
Nearly everyone you speak to will agree on some level that the free to play model is the model of the future for warcraft. It will go that way, some day. Even the most die hard against the idea realize that will have to happen some day. Just not right now, not when there are over 120M reasons per month not to. But it will come. Some day. And this is blizzard taking a proactive roll in preparing for it. Even if you don't notice it.