Blizzard should develop and release a free to play MMORPG. Even though Blizzard has the #1 pay to play MMORPG – World of Warcraft, they currently have no presence in the ‘hot’ free to play space. Let’s face it, free to play is here and growing. With the success of games like Runescape, MapleStory and Runes of Magic, the free to play space has proven itself to be a profitable and rapidly growing industry. This is an industry that Blizzard currently has no foothold in. Blizzard could keep its three main franchises (Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft) as premium pay to play games, and could develop several new franchises solely for free to play audiences. It’s a shame that the biggest video game company in the world (Activision Blizzard) has no presence in the rapidly growing micro-transaction space. I feel that Blizzard has an obligation to shareholders to at least try to make something happen in the space.
If Blizzard does nothing, other major developers will win the space. Electronic Arts has already seen enormous success in the free to play business with Battlefield Heroes and BattleForge. Though Battleforge isn’t nearly as big as Battlefield Heroes, it’s interesting to see a major Western developer bring their premium franchises into the free 2 play market. Electronic Arts also made a stab at the lucrative browser strategy MMORPG market with Lord of Ultima – a game that aims to compete with the enormously popular Evony. Electronic Arts isn’t the only traditional developer trying to make it big in this space. Sony released Free Realms in 2008 and the game has since experience explosive growth. The game has over 4 million registered users!
I know a lot of Western companies today are publishing Korean MMORPGs. Outspark for example publishes Secret of the Solstice and Fiesta Online. AeriaGames publishes Twelve Sky 2, Grand Fantasia, Megaten and various other titles. Even Chinese companies like EnjoyMMO have their games self-published in the United States (Destiny Online and Magic World Online). But even with all of these publishers, there are very few free to play games developed by Western firms.
What do you guys think? Wouldn’t it be neat if Blizzard made their very own free to play game?