You heard right: World of Warcraft, the game that brought MMOs into the collective consciousness (though for good measure, one ought to credit Everquest, Phantasy Star Online, and all of WoW's other predecessors), World of Warcraft is trying its hand at this "free-to-play" business -- sort of. Unlike the model of Team Fortress 2 , in which revenue is gained from the purchase of in-game content -- something that will be immediately familiar to those who have downloaded "free" titles from the App Store or Android Marketplace -- WoW's approach is a sort of infinite preview. Non-subscribers will be able to play through the game, but their level cap will be set at 20. Any number of characters can be leveled to the cap, giving potential customers a chance to explore the various classes, get a feel for the world, and hopefully -- fingers crossed, casting little-boy prayers toward heaven, hopefully -- entice players to pay the monthly fee for WoW, in all its unbridled glory.
Should you feel inclined to discover what all the hubub has been about, simply follow this link to get started. Blizzard's servers had been experiencing technical difficulties earlier in the day, but appear to be functional as of now. If you like what you see from the free-to-play version, you can purchase the game, along with the Burning Crusade expansion, for $20, plus a $15/month subscription fee. I for one will not be joining in this venture; having lost a good six months to Lady WoW's hypnotic gaze, i will steadfastly refuse her advances -- however tempting they may be.