Irvine, Calif. — Blizzard Entertainment, the video game developer and publisher behind titles such as Starcraft and Diablo, announced Wednesday that their market-leading World of Warcraft will be free to play — up to level 20.

Called the World of Warcraft Starter Edition, the limited version allows players to try out the game at their own pace without the pressure of a free trial time period. The edition imposes some restriction on players, including a level cap of 20 and trade skills capped at 100 ranks. Blizzard considered making the game free last year, World of Warcraft’s lead designer Tom Chilton explaining that “at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee.”

The massive multiplayer online game will inform players who reach level 20 that they can continue but under even more restricted features, or they can upgrade to the full paid subscription version.

The news comes at a time when many game developers have announced adopting the freemium model, which involves free basic features but payment for additional features and capabilities, including NCsoft’s City of Heroes which made the change June 20.

World of Warcraft is generally accepted to be the world’s most popular MMORPG. In its most recent earnings call, Blizzard reported 11.4 million players.


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