World of Warcraft's Tom Chilton says Blizzard is no longer opposed to the free-to-play model.
For those of you subscribing to the conspiracy that Blizzard have been "dumbing down" World of Warcraft for the casual market, well, it may not be such a conspiracy after all, as World of Warcraft's lead designer Tom Chilton has admitted that "casual-centric" features introduced in Mists of Pandaria have proven to be very successful, and are necessary for the game's survival.
"We would have been in bad shape had we not done that," said Chilton, referring to Pandaria's casual focus. He then tried to appease his hardcore fanbase by explaining that keeping things the same as the golden days of vanilla WoW wouldn't have been a good move. "People who played vanilla always say 'if it had stayed the same, I would have the same fun now as I did then.' But that's not true. Audiences always evolve."
He did acknowledge a lack of "new experiences for the hardcore audience," stating it's something that will be focused on at a later date and is likely something that will be introduced through future expansions. But hardcore audiences are a fickle folk, so by shunning them with Pandaria, Blizzard may have lost them forever.
For now, it seems that Blizzard is no longer opposed to re-inventing World of Warcraft as a free-to-play title, with Chilton telling us that "For Blizzard it makes sense [to go free-to-play] at some point. But a lot of the risk is in making that transition. You hear stories about developers going free-to-play and getting double the number of players, but you don't always know it works out that way and how long it stays that way. We really don't know what the rate is before people drop off and lose interest."
What do you guys think? Has World of Warcraft's recent casual focus brought you back into the game, or turned you off it? Would switching to a free-to-play model get you back in?