World Of Warcraft Flips Freemium Tactic To Seek More Subscribers

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Credit: CalvinB

A few weeks after Twitter’s co-founder suggested services flip from time-based free trials to use-based ones, one of the world’s most successful online subscription services has done exactly that.

World Of Warcraft, for which over 12 million people pay €15/£10 ($15) per month and more in-game, is switching its limited, 14-day free trial game to a “starter edition” that offers the game’s first 20 levels free.

Free trials have been used by businesses for donkeys of years; “freemium” is now an established customer acquisition strategy for many web businesses.

But Evan Williams wrote on his blog last month about using a web service that limited his trial to 14 days: “Now I have the dilemma of deciding whether to subscribe based on a few minutes usage. It would be refreshing to see something that let me assess a product on my schedule. And, who knows, maybe more people would get into your awesome app eventually.”

World Of Warcraft has had few problems turning people in to paying customers. It’s wildly successful. But it will be interesting to see how this subtle change affects its conversions.

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Plus, the WoW model to is hook people in with game content that is only reachable the the highest level players. Nothing that interesting happens before 20th level and the more difficult and elaborate raids (effectively quests you complete with other players) are only accessible once you’ve reached a certain experience quota. What’s interesting is the depth of engagement ActiBlizz has to play with: a raid can take something like four hours and sometimes longer, often uninterrupted, and no one seems to question the effect this is having on their lives. 

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