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World of Warcraft Drops Paid Expansions for a Subscription-Only Model

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World of Warcraft Drops Paid Expansions for a Subscription-Only Model

Some MMORPGs are free-to-play. Others require players to buy the game and its expansions but don’t need a subscription. Now, World of Warcraft is trying something a bit different.

Today is the last day of the Amazon Prime Day sale, and a metric ton of video games are available at low prices, including the behemoth that is World of Warcraft and all six (soon seven) of its expansions. Well, if you bought any of these items, you technically didn’t buy any game, just a fancy piece of cardboard you can put on a shelf.

According to numerous sites, including Polygon and PcGamesN, Blizzard Entertainment is abandoning World of Warcraft’s expansion model. Well, it’s still releasing the expansions — including the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion — and is showing no signs of stopping, but gamers don’t have to buy any actual games. From now on, all the expansions come “free” with a monthly subscription. It doesn’t matter if you want to ride across Northrend as a Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King, slay the dread black dragon Deathwing in Cataclysm, or give the space-time continuum the middle finger in Warlords of Dreanor, you can do it all for just $15 a month. You don’t even have to buy the base game anymore.

Blizzard has already removed all of the expansions from its online store and only presents gamers with three World of Warcraft purchases: the subscription, the Battle for Azeroth expansion (apparently its the lone exception to the “expansions are free with a subscription rule”), and the $60 Complete Collection that comes with 30 days of game time. Oh, and the $80 Digital Deluxe Edition. Amazon has already picked up on this and updated all the expansions to display the word “OBSOLETE” next to their titles and include the following description:

  • Customers DO NOT need to purchase this item in order to access the content in World of Warcraft
  • This content is now included for free to all players that purchase the base game
  • We only recommend purchasing this if you are interested in having a copy of the box as part of your gaming collection

This news, either by planning or sheer coincidence, coincides with the release of the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch that includes new character customization options (including the ability to finally create orcs who don’t hunch over, a godsend for chiropractors who play the game), new events, and an updated PvP system.

Despite World of Warcraft’s popularity, getting into the game was likely a daunting task for newcomers. Not only do the expansions add hundreds of hours worth of content to the game, but trying to buy them all is murder on the wallet. This new model, while it will probably annoy all the players who already bought the expansions, will lower the barrier of entry for new players.

The Battle for Azeroth expansion will be available August 14th.

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All you have to do to get my attention is talk about video games, anime, and/or Dungeons & Dragons - also people in spandex fighting rubber suited monsters.

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