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World of Warcraft Goes Free With Starter Edition

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the take-it-for-a-spin dept.

Role Playing (Games) 244

Stoobalou writes "Blizzard Entertainment has announced that its enormously popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft will be free to play for characters up to level 20. WoW has always offered free trials of one of the world's biggest multi-player online games but previous offers have always been limited to a set number of days. The new policy means that first-time visitors to Azeroth will be able to build an unlimited number of characters and classes up to level 20 at their leisure, although there will be some limitations."

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244 comments

Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36615656)

When I first heard about this, I was actually excited. I never really got into MMO's much (I did play some MUD's back in the day pretty addictively). I've tried out a few, like Eve Online and City of Heroes, but usually got bored with them after a while (Guild Wars was the only one I played for any length of time). People keep raving about WoW, and I've been tempted to try it out a few times. But paying $50, plus buying a bunch of expansion packs, *ON TOP OF* $15 a month?!?!? Christ, why don't I just give them my house too? That's a lot to go into an MMO, sight unseen.

But the more I read about how much they've gimped this trial, the less interested I am. No chat, no auction houses, no guilds (basically no social interaction of any kind, which kind of defeats the whole point of an MMO). If it were JUST the level 20 thing, or the skills cap, or even the guild thing, I could live with giving it a shot. But basically, they've stripped it of *everything* that makes it a MMO. That's a shame. I really would like to give it a try. And I'm not above paying if I get into it (I'm not a cheapass who pirates all his movies). But I don't think this ultra-gimped version is going to get me into it.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615688)

My guess is they did this because of the rampant spamming problems they used to have

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36615744)

Well, it would be nice to at least have some way to prove I'm *not* a spammer, bot, or gold farmer--and at least get access to chat and auctions.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

errandum (2014454) | about 3 years ago | (#36615836)

I'm sure they'd love to hear your ideas.

I'd say that whatever method you could use to "prove" you're not one, the spammes would use too :)

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36615876)

Well, at this point I'm going to prove it by not buying or playing the game.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 years ago | (#36616062)

My guess is they did this because of the rampant spamming problems they used to have

I'd guess that they would point to that as the reason, but the real reason is they don't want to give the milk away for free. It seems like you could pretty easily make sure the free players weren't spamming or gold farming. I'm not familiar with WOW, but it seems like you could do -something- that's between "Allow spamming" and "Block all chat."

How is not allowing them to use the auction house or guilds in any way related to spamming? Again, not familiar with WOW so maybe there is a reason, but it doesn't sound like there would be.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

second_coming (2014346) | about 3 years ago | (#36616242)

I'd say not allowing use of the auction house is related to gold selling.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616392)

Id be interested to see how a level 20 could farm gold. If you prevented EITHER buying OR selling, they would not be able to launder gold either.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

Tridus (79566) | about 3 years ago | (#36616812)

They were used for laundering. Gold seller bot gets gold. Gives gold to level 5 trial account. Level 5 trial account buys weird gray items thrown up on AH by players who are buying gold for absurd amounts of gold, which is how the players get the gold they bought. Transaction log shows a level 5 trial account as the one buying the bogus auction.

It adds more steps to tracking it down to then have to sort out where that account got the gold from.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (5, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 3 years ago | (#36616424)

No, they really do this becasue of the spammers and gold farmers. I played for on and off for about 5 years. Even with severely gimped trial accounts the problems with spam and gold farming are rampant. Originally the trial accounts were not gimped this way (they were level limited, but could chat and stuff), they were forced to do this by player complaints. Ordinarily I'd be more that willing to entertain corporate greed as the motivation, but in this case I can verify that it's a legitimate attempt to prevent abuse.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

morari (1080535) | about 3 years ago | (#36615692)

[quote]I've tried out a few, like Eve Online and City of Heroes, but usually got bored with them after a while (Guild Wars was the only one I played for any length of time).[/quote]

WoW is no different. It's just another glorified point and click, practically turn-based fetch-n-step quest machine.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616440)

If you think its "practically turn based", youve never done progression encounters or played in the arenas. There is a global cooldown (and Im not sure it would be feasible to make a game that didnt have some kind of GCD), but against good players it is nothing like a turn-based rpg. There are several "instant" moves which you have to be ready to react to at any time.

Not sure how different it is from Guild Wars, but the games tend to have mechanics that differentiate them; Warhammer had some interesting mechanics like the auto-balancing of under-leveled characters in battlegrounds, the ability to join a battleground with a brand new character and compete, several of the guild mechanics (which WoW promptly stole), etc. In fact, a lot of the cooler ideas that Warhammer had were promptly copied by WoW-- experience in BGs, Guild leveling, achievements everywhere (Warhammer gave you achievements and experience for things like "died 10 times to a bright wizard"), and probably several others I missed.

That might be the biggest thing that sets WoW apart-- each time a competitor fails to unseat it, WoW takes its uniqueness and adds it to itself. Its kind of the Borg of MMOs; each failed assault simply makes it harder to unseat them as reigning MMO.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 3 years ago | (#36615702)

I played a WoW trial once. A friend tried to send me some armor in the in-game mail system; because of trial limitations it never reached me, and he never got it back. It just disappeared. Also no voice chat, IIRC, and I couldn't do coop stuff with him (raids I guess?). I got bored with it 2 days into my 14 day trial and quit.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615886)

It has voice chat, and has for over a year now. Not like it matters too much. The trial limitations are there to combat vs gold sellers which are rampant as hell. As it is now they compromise paying people's accounts and then made random characters with random names "ofihsaojdfs" and spam everyone as much as they can there. I can see them wanting even more. But these trial accounts aren't even a trial, more of a benchmark demo, more or less.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 years ago | (#36616046)

But these trial accounts aren't even a trial, more of a benchmark demo, more or less.

Level 20 is sufficient to get through the first few leveling zones and try the early dungeons (ragefire, deadmines, wailing caverns, stockades).

It cuts you out of guilds, world chat, and trading, but otherwise gives you what I would expect from a trial, a good overview of typical gameplay.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616432)

Little boy: Do not try and lose the armor, that's impossible. Instead, only try to realise the truth.

WoW (L)User: What truth?

Little boy: There is no armor.

WoW (LUser: There is no armor?

Little boy: Then you'll see it is not the armor that loses, it is only yourself. Loser!

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 years ago | (#36615704)

When I first heard about this, I was actually excited. I never really got into MMO's much (I did play some MUD's back in the day pretty addictively). I've tried out a few, like Eve Online and City of Heroes, but usually got bored with them after a while (Guild Wars was the only one I played for any length of time). People keep raving about WoW, and I've been tempted to try it out a few times. But paying $50, plus buying a bunch of expansion packs, *ON TOP OF* $15 a month?!?!? Christ, why don't I just give them my house too?

$15 a month for what (for most people) amounts to hundreds of hours of entertainment *per month* is a steal... But you are right, for casual users this is too far in the other direction, the likelihood of getting bored to death when all you can do is start a character and level them to 20 is pretty high. Why not just dust off Elder Scrolls?

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

Normal Dan (1053064) | about 3 years ago | (#36615806)

or casual users this is too far in the other direction, the likelihood of getting bored to death when all you can do is start a character and level them to 20 is pretty high. Why not just dust off Elder Scrolls?

The idea is to get the player hooked so he or she will buy the game to advance the character.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36615918)

And that's a pretty good idea. But the problem is that they've gimped a bunch of other stuff besides just the level. You would be playing such a stripped down version of the game that you really wouldn't be getting a taste of it. Even with Guild Wars (which was free to play all the way through), I had access to chat and trading (guilds too).

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 years ago | (#36616052)

Why not just dust off Elder Scrolls?

You don't even necessarily need to dust it off; Skyrim is coming out in November.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 3 years ago | (#36616164)

WoW and Morrowind have similar hardware demands which could today be called "casual". Skyrim looks stunning but I won't be playing it for a while.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 3 years ago | (#36616216)

Hopefully it's more interesting than Oblivion. Oblivion felt like a dulled-down Morrowind with prettier graphics. There was no compelling reason to explore the world.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 years ago | (#36616640)

To be honest, I'm not holding out too much hope. They're removing more of the magic skills, such as alteration, as well as hand-to-hand and adding dual-wielding and dragons (whoop-de-do). In other words, they're adding even more emphasis on stereotypical hack-and-slash warrior types, and further screwing over magic/stealth/weird players.

For example, in Morrowind, I could create a character that flies around naked and beats people to death with his bare fists. In Oblivion, he'd have to walk and might as well wear armor (because they removed levitation and the "unarmored" skill). In Skyrim, he'd have to use a sword or something, and what's the point in that?

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

enjerth (892959) | about 3 years ago | (#36616338)

$15 a month for what (for most people) amounts to hundreds of hours of entertainment *per month* is a steal...

Wow (no pun intended)! Hundreds of hours a month. Like maybe 200? Most people spend an average of 6 hours and 40 minutes per day playing WoW? I guess most people who play that game have ABSOLUTELY no life. Even if "hundreds of hours" means just 100, that's 3 hours and 20 minutes every day of the month. Most people who have a full-time job and a family (or any social life outside of "the box" of your PC screen) probably don't average more than 2 hours a day.

I guess, by your definition, a casual gamer is anyone who doesn't play 3 hours a day?

Casual doesn't mean you only play a game for an hour a day. Casual means you don't play regularly.

If you spend 6+ hours a day on a game, you're not a regular gamer, not a hard-core gamer... the game is practically your whole LIFE.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 years ago | (#36616860)

I think they should nix the $50 startup fee, then charge 50 cents per hour up to a maximum of $15.

But my guess is rather than "most people" playing hundreds of hours per month, most people actually play 0 hours per month, and just don't check their credit card statement very often, and they don't want to lose those.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

Sylak (1611137) | about 3 years ago | (#36615708)

It's basically a trial account with double the level cap and unlimited play time. The only reason they first implemented those limits to the trial accounts to begin with was because of the spambots and the gold farmers using trial accounts

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

cgeys (2240696) | about 3 years ago | (#36615710)

So you really did not read the article at all? Now it does have chat and auction houses. Besides, paying for the game and $9/month (notice the cheapest one is $9, not $15) is a lot cheaper than most hobbies.

What comes to this free trial, it might be a really nice opportunity to try multiboxing. Actually, that I will do this weekend.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36615820)

From the FAQ [blizzard.com] I read:

Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616482)

To be fair with the second point, theres a really good reason to prevent public chat:
1) Spammers would absolutely love this. No way to trace them (no credit card), and unlimited accounts to spam trade chat with
2) You REALLY dont want scores of trial newbies spamming in cities. Generally they dont have much to say anyways, as they will be able to buy precisely no gear that is advertised (too low level), contribute to no raids, and join no guilds; their contribution would end up being to conversations on the virtues of Murlocks and Chuck Norris.
3) Generally if you are on a trial, youre in with a friend, and will still be able to talk to them.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#36616020)

WoW has had chat and auction houses for years.

RTFA/RTFFAQ (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#36616262)

He's not complaining that WoW doesn't have those things - he's saying that the Free Starter Edition version doesn't include them, so you're missing out on a lot more of the game than just not getting above Level 20.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616186)

paying for the game and $9/month (notice the cheapest one is $9, not $15)

Nice try. The cheapest isn't a monthly fee. It's, what, an annual or bi-annual fee? It may workout to be ~$10/month but it isn't $10/month. It's $120/year. Which can end up being much more expensive for anyone who doesn't play consistently.

Especially since you skipped the GP's obvious point of never getting into MMO's much and not real excited to drop several Xpac's worth of money to *try* the fully featured game to see if he'll like it. W(hy)TF would he drop $120 on a subscription to try a game just to get a cheaper monthly rate? When he stated it's a good chance he won't stick with it based on his experience.

The way you talk makes me think your a politician.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

Nos. (179609) | about 3 years ago | (#36615778)

I was of the same opinion on the $50 startup + $15/month. I had been playing Guild Wars for quite some time, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Most of my regular gaming group was moving over to WoW and I finally gave in and got a trial from a friend of mine. The difference was incredible. Far more developed game play and polished interface. There's a massive community developing addons that further make the game more enjoyable. In the end, I felt that the monthly fee was worth it for a few months. The first few months, I didn't really see the point of a guild, and to be honest, it doesn't provide that many advantages if you're in a relatively casual one like I am. I still do most of my leveling solo. When I do daily heroic dungeons, I generally do it with a public group, not my guild. There are more serious guilds out there, but that's not really my preference.

For anyone that hasn't tried WoW, and is curious, why not give it a shot. If you don't like it, all you've lost is some bandwidth and time. If you do, you've been sucked into a monthly fee like the rest of us... nothing to be ashamed of :)

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 3 years ago | (#36615804)

Actually, the first thing I thought of when I read the headline was that this would be a boon for the gold farmers. But since they can't do any money laundry with these starter characters, this is actually an improvement on what the starter toons were able to do previously.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#36615952)

No chat, no auction houses, no guilds (basically no social interaction of any kind, which kind of defeats the whole point of an MMO)

Allow that, and it'll be spam bot hell for the paying players.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

jiriw (444695) | about 3 years ago | (#36616862)

Well ... I dare to contend that. It didn't happen with LotRO.
A Free to Play player there can reach the level cap entirely without paying a single cent (although it will be a helluva grind because you basically have to level on monsterkills and the epic questline or you have to do every deed in the areas you have full access to on, on at least three characters to get all the 'virtual currency' for free to buy off the most annoying restrictions and all quest packs)
They have (limited to one message every 5 seconds or so) use of all the chat channels. Goldselling is prevented by a 2 gold per character level cap (which is sufficient to be able to do almost everything in game except buy a house or a special reputation horse mount or the expensive stuff on the auction houses) They can buy on the AH what they can afford but not sell on it.
They can unlock quest packs and all the other stuff that differentiates them and subscribers by single payments of a 'virtual currency' (Turbine points) which you can buy with hard cash OR by actually playing the game. And if you spend real money(tm) at least once (subscribe for a month, for example, of buy virtual currency once) most of the restrictions on your account are broadened or completely lifted. (5 gold cap, ability to sell 5 items on the auction per character, no more chat restrictions, etc.)
I think that kind of restrictions give people plenty of ways to play for 'free' and still be a contributing character, unlike what I read about the WOW Free to Play options. Also I have alts who level through the starter areas at the moment and do not notice an increase in goldselling and chat spamming. I do notice an occational ninja-fellowship-invite and the odd 'rude' player but not noticably more if you keep in mind how many more people are actually playing in those starter areas nowadays.
In the kin I'm in (the second oldest on that server; Iluvatarian Knights, Gilrain) there are a couple of free to play players and they start to notice some really annoying restrictions only when they are already half way to the level cap. Then they can decide if it's worth their money to skip a bit of grinding or start an extra character and get enough 'virtual currency' that way to pay for quest packs. Also it opened the way for those of us willing, to experiment with a second account without immediately spending for a second subscription. We also have a multiboxer in our kin who has (beside a couple of subscriptions) a free-to-play multibox account group. He runs great barrows with six rune-keepers for the fun of whatever multiboxers percieve as being fun (it's not my thing :P ).
Each of them have different reasons not to pay for a subscription. It might shock you how many people can't get a creditcard (or simply can't afford to spend any money at all) and thus can't easilly subscribe but have tons of free time to spend on a game. Underaged, people with low income, people with variable income, people paying off debt (who don't have access to their own bank accounts), people who don't have access to their own accounts for other reasons (which can be plenty), people in countries with a 'difficult' financial relationship to the USA, people in countries with an alltogether 'difficult' relationship to the USA. And then there are ofcourse the people who very much like to play ... a few hours in the month, when they have a day off between working and raising their kids. They are never gonna pay a whopping 15 dollars/month for a subscription but they might once in a while invest in a quest pack. And lastly there are also people who are not willing to pay anyways on principle.
I don't know what Turbine made after making LotRO free to play, but the rumours say it's a tidy sum and it did make the servers and especially the starter areas a lot more lively.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616198)

You do have to pay in terms of losing large chunks of your life, real world social skills, outside interests, etc.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | about 3 years ago | (#36616298)

They should at least allow friends to interact. There's a good chance a person was introduced to WoW by a friend, and I'm sure they'd love to be able to chat with one another during the trial. Thats pretty much a showstopper for me.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616406)

From the FAQ:

"Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters' friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first."

So if they add you as a friend, you should be able to chat away.

Plus this phrasing:

"In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper." ... makes me wonder if private chat channels will be allowed.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616492)

They do. To quote what several others have quoted...

In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.

In other words, they simply cant spam the global world chats. Oh the horror.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616340)

Try LOTRO instead, if you're looking for a MMORPG. Free To Play. You can get into your mid 20s without spending a cent maybe even the early 30s. There are some restrictions but nothing as bad as what you said.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

Liambp (1565081) | about 3 years ago | (#36616610)

Yup I second this. There are several top quality fantasy mmorpgs now available on free to play (read pay as you go) models. Lotro is good, as is Dungeons and Dragons online, Age of Conan or Everquest 2 are also available. Runes of magic also has it followers but it is generally considered a tier below the four games I have mentioned.

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616582)

i guess they figure if you have a guild/friends to chat with then you don't need to demo because your friends have already convinced you (and they can give you their discs to install) and save you the hassle of installing ~12 discs to get to the current patch level (incl all expansions)

@ level 20 you really don't need access to the AH because you won't have too much shit to sell and will get drops often enough to keep you "geared"

oh, and the REASON they deny you social interactions is so the gold farm spammers don't have a way to bug paying characters with an unlimited supply of free toons.

I believe part of this deal is the original game + the first expansion for $20 bucks AND that includes a month of game time (that isn't gimped). if you have friends who play and you want to check it out that's a pretty good deal. you will have to pay full for the last 2 expansions - but you don't need them unless you want to level past 70.

as a recovering WoW player.. I can tell you they make it super easy to cancel your sub - no worries about that

Re:Yeah, but they gimped it so bad it's worthless (3, Interesting)

orn (34773) | about 3 years ago | (#36616666)

A better solution might be to just create a level 20 server. Have the full game on there, including all the normal features. But no one on the server can get above level 20. Then, if someone decides to join, give them a free transfer to another server of their choice.

The only problem I could see is if the economy on the trial server is broken... transferring goods between servers would throw the economies out of whack if the incoming server's economy is broken... but I can't think of any reason why it would be...

The first hit... (5, Insightful)

trunicated (1272370) | about 3 years ago | (#36615664)

...is always free

Re:The first hit... (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 3 years ago | (#36616022)

Beat me to it! MMOs always gave off the addictive drug stink to me, this just proves it further.

Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (2, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 years ago | (#36615752)

My one friend claims he can get to 85 in a day.

Besides, this really isn't news, its more like an advertisement.

If Slashdot.org got paid for this, great... If not, get this off my Internet.

Re:Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#36615920)

My one friend claims he can get to 85 in a day.

He must already have his own personal guild to carry him there.

Re:Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#36615930)

Well I haven't played WoW since the vanilla days and I know they've simplified and sped things up alot since then, 85 in a day still sounds extremely far fetched in the old days (IE when the cap was 60) I would say a week and a half to 2 weeks is more par for the course for someone who already knows all the tricks, best leveling areas etc... 1-2 months realistically for someone new to WoW. I would more realistically say, assuming a fairly typical 3-4 hour a night playtime, you would reach level 18ish on day 1, hit the cap by day 2 (note that is assuming a player who picks up things at a decent speed but does not know the best leveling routes in WoW yet). Your point is still valid just exaggerated.

Re:Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 3 years ago | (#36616282)

Who the hell would mod this insightful? It's a flat out not possible even with bots wearing all BoA + dual boxing RAF.

Re:Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616542)

The first player from 60 to 70 in BC was 27 hours non-stop, with an entire guild carrying the guy. I think it was similar for WotLK, and I imagine it would be from 80 to 85 now; that ignores the few days it would take to get up to 60 (at least 1-2 hours to get to level 15). Looking online, I see that a number of folk's fastest times hover in the 4-6 day time span; I havent seen any under 4 days.

Basically, sounds like BS if he means "1 day without recruit-a-friend and solo".

Re:Isn't this is worse then 4 days? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 3 years ago | (#36616774)

My one friend claims he can get to 85 in a day.

I would be a bit skeptical. When the last expansion hit, you had players who had play-tested the beta and hit the ground running to go from 80 - 85 in ~5hrs. 1 - 80 in ~19hrs might be possible. But in any case - we're talking experienced players running a strategy as efficiently as possible.

When I run new characters for fun, I hit 10 in about an hour. Usually hit 20s on the 2nd day. But I've been playing since the start. I understand the mechanics of the game. And occasionally, I gift my lowbies with gear. I would expect casual players just starting out to get a good several days if not weeks of poking around before they hit the cap. More so if they try out different character classes.

As for advertisements - bah. You might not have noticed, but occasionally /. talks about games and has been talking about WoW in various ways since before it was first released. Arguably, before it was even WoW.

Just another gimmick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615784)

Sadly, they have dumbed down the game so far that your average dog can now play. Of course this lets all those people with no morals and no common courtesy in which makes the game unbearable.

Re:Just another gimmick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616374)

Head on over to Everquest then, it's over 10 years old and not very popular, but has absolutely tons of content.

It's not dumbed down too far yet, but not as brutal as it used to be, raids of 54 instead of 100+, easier experience than the old days, and now you can hire mercenaries which helps one to be able to build groups very easily. No more sitting for hours hoping to get a group.

The majority of the people with no morals or courtesy have headed on to other realms, they tend to like an audience.

Re:Just another gimmick (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 3 years ago | (#36616780)

I wasn't aware that hardcore playing required common courtesy or morals.

Just like ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615786)

... niggers with crack.

"Unlimited number of characters..." (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 3 years ago | (#36615792)

"Unlimited" meaning "10" in this context. :p

Re:"Unlimited number of characters..." (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#36615826)

What? They can take DNA samples over an Ethernet cable?

Re:"Unlimited number of characters..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615862)

Unlimited for the very low values of the infinity !

Re:"Unlimited number of characters..." (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 years ago | (#36615890)

Actually 50, unless they changed it. 10 is the maximum per realm.

The Gold Limitation Sux (2)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#36615908)

Why the limitation to only 10 gold coins? That seems stupid. It would seem to me that given that you can have unlimited characters under the cap anyway, that the more gold you accumulate, the more you're going to want to go out, spend it, become well-equipped, and then break through the cap and rise in the game. That means $$$ for Blizzard, so why the gold cap?

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#36615946)

Why the limitation to only 10 gold coins? That seems stupid. It would seem to me that given that you can have unlimited characters under the cap anyway, that the more gold you accumulate, the more you're going to want to go out, spend it, become well-equipped, and then break through the cap and rise in the game. That means $$$ for Blizzard, so why the gold cap?

Limiting the usefulness for gold farmers.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616058)

The ironic thing is that this isn't going to stop gold spammers.

First, the /tell command is available. This means that it is trivial to just whiz through player list (gleaned either by logging who is talking in chat channels, various /who commands executed, or just seeing what player characters are nearby.) An account ban would mean nothing for the spammers -- they just fire up a new free account, give the char another random name and are back in the fray.

I liked it when it took at least $10.00 to have some type of account. This way, it would cost spammers something to start blasting through names with /whispers. Now, they can just create accounts and even if the anti-spam code boots them after 20 repeated /tells, the spammers are ahead and are making money.

WoW doesn't need F2P. It is understandable for other MMOs to use this tactic because they don't have the player base. However, Blizzard should not go this route, or if they do, limit the F2P accounts to just a few servers (ones created for this purpose.) When someone ponies up the cash for a full account, offer them the chance to move their characters to another server.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (1)

Dewin (989206) | about 3 years ago | (#36616182)

First, the /tell command is available. This means that it is trivial to just whiz through player list (gleaned either by logging who is talking in chat channels, various /who commands executed, or just seeing what player characters are nearby.) An account ban would mean nothing for the spammers -- they just fire up a new free account, give the char another random name and are back in the fray.

As a trial account, you can only whisper someone who has you on their friendlist.

Most of the trial restrictions (with the notable exception of level) are to hinder goldsellers and other sources of spam. e.g. not being able to trade (and the 10g limit) means you can't filter your stash of illicit gold/stolen equipment from hacked characters through 20 trial accounts. Similarly with the auction limitations -- goldsellers could buy/sell their own auctions to move money around otherwise.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (2)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about 3 years ago | (#36615958)

Well free accounts = free laundering money to resell for actual cash. I can see why they restricted it.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36615980)

free trial, no $$$, you must have ZZZ'd through TFSubjectLine.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (1)

rmp135 (2291928) | about 3 years ago | (#36616070)

I wouldn't be surprised if this was to deter gold farmers from creating hundreds of free accounts.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616322)

I don't play WOW, but know gold farms are a serious issue. Peeps in low income parts of the world basically have jobs playing games for hours on end (botting all they can), getting gold built up, then selling online for real money.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (2)

dave562 (969951) | about 3 years ago | (#36616324)

10 gold is a lot of gold for a level 20 character to accumulate. Most of the low level quests only give a couple of silver.

Re:The Gold Limitation Sux (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 3 years ago | (#36616564)

If you can't interact economically with others all you need gold for is the in-game money sinks. For that 10g is a lot under level 20.

Is pvp enabled? (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 3 years ago | (#36615934)

I bet level 19 twink pvp becomes real popular lol.

Re:Is pvp enabled? (1)

stonedcat (80201) | about 3 years ago | (#36616076)

I was just thinking the same, but they'll probably restrict you from gaining honor or something so as to make it totally worthless.

Re:Is pvp enabled? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 years ago | (#36616120)

Any trial account twinks would be severely limited by the lack of heirlooms and inability to purchase BOEs on the auction house.

PVP now gains XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616382)

so lvl 19 twinks don't stay that way for long.

Re:PVP now gains XP (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 years ago | (#36616578)

They also added the ability to shut off XP when they added that.

Like any drug... (5, Insightful)

Gavin Scott (15916) | about 3 years ago | (#36615996)

...WoW's users are building up a tolerance. Players are consuming new content at an ever increasing rate, and with the latest expansion Cataclysm, which took the better part of two years of development effort, many users have consumed the content and quit (again) after only six months or so.

An increasing number of people appear to be becoming tired of the same old recurring end-game structure of 10/25 player raids and working week after week on the next boss fight mechanics in order to slowly replace all of their equipment from the last tier of content with gear from the current content which will eventually get replaced again in the future.

The subscriber base has dropped significantly since it's peak shortly after the Cataclysm release, and Blizzard are now trying lots of things like giving away free copies of the original version of the game, allowing their "refer-a-friend" program to work up through level 80, and now the unlimited free trial period offer here.

Ultimately though the problem is that Blizzard has not been able to think outside the box enough to invent new and compelling *kinds* of content, and their players are increasingly unimpressed with the same cycle of leveling/raiding.

It is likely at this point that WoW has seen its peak in terms of subscriber base and relevance in the gaming world. I think they will always be able to maintain a subscriber base measured in millions, and may well run indefinitely, but if they want to grow again they need to get some fresh talent into their design group.

G.

Re:Like any drug... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616188)

Being one of the many it seems that rushed at Cataclysm then quit a few months after I totally agree with your point's. We hit a wall with the raids and I got tired of trying to find competent groups for raids. It was great up till the raiding. Less issues with gold farmers was nice too. Great post!!!

Thank you
Duska

Re:Like any drug... (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 3 years ago | (#36616332)

The raiding is fine and the mechanics (for most fights) aren't really that hard if you have a competent guild. You're problem was constant pugging.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

kwr760 (2100464) | about 3 years ago | (#36616224)

With 11.4M users and $15/month -> $2B/year. I wish I could think and produce inside that box. Funny how people criticize what I have to assume is the most profitable computer game there is.

Re:Like any drug... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616398)

What does it cost to maintain servers?
What does bandwidth for that much usage run? It's not a fixed rate I imagine.
Infrastructure to support the servers is a bitch too.

Sure they are still making gobs of money, if I remember right around $20Million/month after taxes but I see this plan to pull people in a sure sign that subscriptions are falling and people are moving on to other games. They are reaching out in an attempt to find more people and increase their base. I see this as the start of their decline, no matter how much money they are riding in from their cash cow. Eventually cows die.

Knowing that, blizzard will figure out how to make steaks in the end.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

shermo (1284310) | about 3 years ago | (#36616416)

I agree with your overall point, but a large portion of those users are Asia based, and they pay per hour rather than a monthly fee. Also, paying 6 monthly drops the price to about $12 or so.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616428)

I think what caused it was the fact that you levelled to 85 in cata, and then it became a true grind.

In WotLK, after a few patches, you could fire up the dungeon finder, and unless you ended up with a pickup group full or psychos, you could end up getting to a decent gear level in a few days after getting to 80. Then, one could start doing raids, normal and heroic.

Cata, the risk/reward is far worse. Most pickup groups will leave you with a 200 gold repair bill. Even if you actually get the dungeon finished, you likely won't get anything useful, and the points earned are not really that much.

It also takes a higher level of gear to survive in cata, causing a catch 22. In WotLK, you could step into heroic healing the second you hit 85, and perhaps got a few blues. Cata, you really have to run as DPS until you get a set of purples. Elsewise as a healer, you will NOT have the mana to keep a group alive, and as a tank, you will be squashed flat.

Also, replay value in Cata sucks. The path is so linear, and you have to get all the xp zones unlocked. At least in WotLK, you unlocked the Sons of Hodir, then unlocked the flight paths around Icecrown, and was done. With Cata, you have to grind the same old boring quest arc so you have flight paths, the ability to swim without drowning, and towns to visit.

Cata was supposed to make WoW "challenging again". It didn't. I never thought I would say this, but Cata is to WoW what Gates of Discord was to Everquest -- the expansion that caused people to go elsewhere. RIFT or EQ2 are great places to try, and have plenty to do without lining up to deal with boneheads in order to get to a basic gear level so you have a chance at a raid slot.

Re:Like any drug... (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 years ago | (#36616682)

Really? Interesting, because I had the exact opposite experience on pretty much all points.

Cata, the risk/reward is far worse. Most pickup groups will leave you with a 200 gold repair bill. Even if you actually get the dungeon finished, you likely won't get anything useful, and the points earned are not really that much.

Unless you are 100% with 359 level gear or higher, a single repair bill will run you 20-50 gold. I'm geared for heroics and basic raiding, and that's what a semi-clean run costs me. Tanking kinda sucks, because even if you do everything right, you're still hit with a fairly significant repair build. But the only way to get to a 200 gold repair bill is to wipe so often that you have to repair multiple times. Which brings me to the next point....

Cata was supposed to make WoW "challenging again".

It did. It's possible you ran with a high-level guild that downed Illidan and the Lich King, and are used to the type of fights in end-level raids. At that point, I can see that there isn't much transition to Cata in terms of difficulty. But for semi-casuals like me who managed to gear up through lazy questing and BGs, WotLK heroics were an absolute joke. The only problem was keeping the DPS from going ape-shit right from the start of every fight. But the fight mechanics were trivialized by even mid-level purples. Cata, on the other hand, requires you to know the fight. You have to pay attention, know who is in charge of what and when, and DPS has to watch its aggro. Running heroics was actually fun, as long as the group paid attention. They didn't even have to be good - just be able to follow instructions and know their character. Once you got the gear to run heroics, the only thing that mattered was team work and communication.

Also, replay value in Cata sucks. The path is so linear, and you have to get all the xp zones unlocked. At least in WotLK, you unlocked the Sons of Hodir, then unlocked the flight paths around Icecrown, and was done. With Cata, you have to grind the same old boring quest arc so you have flight paths, the ability to swim without drowning, and towns to visit.

Complete nonsense. You can get to heroic dungeons by doing only 3 out of the 5 new zones. And the quest lines are actually fun! Yes, Sons of Hodir was a pretty nifty zone. As was the Argent Tournament. But WotLK was a much, much bigger grind than Cata, and the fun quests were few and far in between.

If you have trouble getting a raid slot because of gear, you have no clue what you're doing, or are used to outgearing dungeons. Raid level gear is attainable after a few heroics, some craftables, and the weapon from Tol Barad.

All in all, Cata is the single best expansion for the casual gamer. By a mile. I actually had fun getting to heroic level gear. I couldn't say the same about WotLK.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#36616450)

Actually, doing so could well be deadly. It has been done before (DAoC, I'm looking your way!), with devastating results.

Of course, feeding the same formula to the same people forever will not work in the long run, with varying definitions of long. Blizzard did a lot of things right with WoW and that's why it is simply the most successful game ever. I won't go into lengths what went right and how a lot of companies tried to copy the success and FAILED badly because they ignored the most important cardinal rule: Release it when it's at least done insofar that it's mostly playable (let's be honest, most MMOs released today are at best a very early beta). But I digress.

The formula of WoW is, as you correctly identified, "gather stuff so you can slay the tougher monster so you can gather better stuff". That's it, in a nutshell. And every expansion the old stuff is turned into worthless junk and the tough encounters are softened up so the late comers can catch up. That's (together with the "release when finished" part) is basically what made WoW such a success. It's not the eye candy or the (snicker) interesting quests, it's simply that they exploit our millenia old "hunter and gatherer" cravings.

Changing this formula because people walk away from it because they're sated would be damaging, though. Because, well, people gone are gone. If they left the game, not because they are simply "done" with it but because they're fed up with the formula that drives it, they won't come back for the next expansion, expecting the game to be the same. OTOH, the people that stay now like this formula and changing it might alienate them, too.

WoW has done one thing right so far (where many "big players" eventually succumbed to the temptation to get the "lost" players back): They did not change the basic scheme. People like it when things they love are predictable and stay the way they are. Easy to see with every change in gameplay, it rarely is well liked by the ones that got used to the "old" style and now have to relearn everything. Do it too often or too radically and people will just toss the game.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

epine (68316) | about 3 years ago | (#36616738)

When your business model is to convince people to surrender their marginal economic energies to *rent* the job of grinding away at the accumulation of a fictitious fiat currency, there's only so many ways to skin the cat.

It's quite possible Blizzard planned this out long ago. I don't know why this is painted as a reactive move. Surely they surmised at the outset that eventually the mania would crest. Their server capacity charges are likely far less now than when the game originally rolled out. Parameters change.

The big pharmaceuticals employ similar strategies when drugs go off patent. One is the expansion pack reformulation of the same stupid thing, at three times the price. The other is to make pacts with the generic manufacturers to roll into generic status with a progressive price decline, rather than cold turkey last year's wonder drug 12 tabs for a dollar.

Or is is more likely that the purveyors of WoW are just as myopic as the Warcrack addicts on the grounds that it takes one to snow one.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36616608)

It is likely at this point that WoW has seen its peak in terms of subscriber base and relevance in the gaming world.

You could be right.

However, this has been stated over and over for the past 5 years, and each year WoW continues to grow. Currently they STILL have over 10million subscribers, and though one chart indicates that theyve lost some over last september (11.4 million vs 12mil), it is absurd to claim they have lost relevance when they are still by far and away the biggest MMO out there.

Fact: *WoW is dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616710)

It is official; Netcraft now confirms: *WoW is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *WoW community when IDC confirmed that *WoW subscriber base has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all MMOs. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *WoW has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *WoW is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent fat, cheeto-stained basement nerd comprehensive MMO test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *WoW's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *WoW faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *WoW because *WoW is dying. Things are looking very bad for *WoW. As many of us are already aware, *WoW continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Icecrown is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its obese, socially-awkward player base. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time loser clans Arcane Union and Blood Legion only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Icecrown is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Agony leader Craxon states that there are 7000 users of Doomhammer. How many users of Proudmore are there? Let's see. The number of Doomhammer users versus Proudmore users is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Proudmore users. Aszune users are about half of the volume of Proudmore users. Therefore there are about 700 users of Aszune. A recent article put Earthen Ring at about 80 percent of the WoW market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 users of Earthen Ring. This is consistent with the number of bespectacled, antisocial virgins hanging out on Hellscream.

Due to the troubles of Azeroth, abysmal sales and so on, Cushbridge went out of business and was taken over by Hellscream, who run another troubled server. Now Kilrogg is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *WoW has steadily declined in market share. *WoW is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *Wow is to survive at all it will be among MMO dilettante dabblers. *WoW continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *WoW is dead.

Fact: *WoW is dying

Re:Like any drug... (1)

luther349 (645380) | about 3 years ago | (#36616760)

this is always the first hint of the game abought to go fully free. game has free tiral then free trial becomes without a limit then all of a suddion they rebomve the caps and limits and wala free game. i would assume when the game does go free the first 20 levels would still have those linits in terms of un able to spam hehe it was a issue back in the day why they made the trials like that.

Re:Like any drug... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 years ago | (#36616798)

I actually think subscription numbers may have peaked a lot earlier than Cataclysm. They stopped announcing active subscriptions sometime during Burning Crusade (at the time, they were around 12-13M, as I recall). Since then, they've been pretty much mum on the subject. Cataclysm may have been a local maxima (all indications seem to point towards it having brought back a number of players), but in terms of reaching the subscriber base they had a few years ago, I doubt it. WoW is on the long decline now.

WarCrack (3, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 3 years ago | (#36616024)

The first 20 are always free, kiddies...

Re:WarCrack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36616816)

Can I have the same deal on whore crack please?

My first thought was (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 3 years ago | (#36616172)

My first thought was that they're doing this in response to Age of Empires Online having a free version when it releases later in the summer. I imagine a lot of WoW players were also Age of Empires players. Not that AoEO is as nearly as in depth or detailed as WoW, but it could pull a noticable amount of playing time from WoW to itself.

Re:My first thought was (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 3 years ago | (#36616856)

If anything this is more of a response to the rather poor reception and sagging numbers Cataclysm got.

TF2, now WOW? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 years ago | (#36616286)

Did something happen at E3 to convince people of the wisdom of giving more of your aging game for free to get new income? Did WOW see that more people are excited about TF2 since it went free and realize maybe they could hook some new players if they followed suit?

Maybe XBOX live will give a little bit more functionality to the free "silver" membership? The two things I'm assuming most people use paid live for are netflix and multiplayer. Someone at MS should consider making the lesser-used one available to free memberships with some limits. You can watch one netflix movie a week or play 1 hour multiplayer? At the very least, make it work with paid hulu plus accounts.

Probably not though. According to wiki, xbox premium can work with twitter, but not the free one. I guess someone thought twitter on xbox would be a good thing to reserve for the gold members, so that to me says whoever is in charge of that is a moron.

Re:TF2, now WOW? (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 3 years ago | (#36616848)

I think WoW realized that if they change the existing trial program slightly (you now have longer then 10 days to reach level 20, not much else changed from something they've offered for YEARS) they can generate headlines and publicity without particularly doing anything.

And going by this post on Slashdot that acts like this is something new and shiny, they succeeded. In reality it's the existing trial without the 10 day limitation. But hey, minor details like facts should never get in the way of a good story.

Just a little ball of crack (1)

gubers33 (1302099) | about 3 years ago | (#36616430)

"And if doesn't even hurt the crack babies" This is Free Wow Trial is just a gateway drug to more terrible things like a monthly subscription, nightly raids, and a pasty complexion.

Appropriate targets (3, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | about 3 years ago | (#36616568)

For those who don't like this policy:

1. It exists because of spammers. Vent your anger at the spammers, not Blizzard.
2. It exists because spamming for gold sales works (otherwise people wouldn't bother). Vent your anger at gold buyers, not Blizzard.
3. It exists because of guild-looters (people who join guilds, strip the guild vault, and sell the profits). Yes, guilds should manage themselves better; trusting people on the Internet without direct experience to demonstrate that trustworthiness is idiocy. But a looted guild bank generates a lot of direct costs to Blizzard (GM tickets) and indirect costs (people who unsubscribe because of the negative feelings this gives about the game).
4. Freeloaders don't get a vote. Someone on a trial account isn't contributing anything; the purpose is to let the person decide if they want to get the privileges that others pay for (and in the process contribute in a positive way to the multiplayer environment). Trial accounts aren't for YOU, they're for Blizzard as a sales tool. Paid accounts ARE for your benefit (as well as Blizzard's). You're just being given first-hand information (for free) on whether you'd enjoy the game.

Typical "entitlement" attitude. Nobody is "entitled" to free games. Be glad you're being given anything, because you're not owed anything. Think games should be free? Write and host your own, and learn firsthand about just how badly people behave even when what they're being handed is free.

WoW destroy lives (1)

Dunge (922521) | about 3 years ago | (#36616612)

Reading this article just as I was raging over my potatoes roommates who just played all day long instead of cleaning up the apartment for moving tomorrow as they were supposed to. WoW doesn't even have good gameplay, doesn't bring fun, it just exploit some human mind flaw.

Gold spammers (1)

feddas (1979736) | about 3 years ago | (#36616764)

Gold spammers are why there's no social aspect to the free version. Previously people utilized the multi-day trails to spam chat. So it makes sense Blizzard restricts this so playing customers don't have to be spammed.

I tried a multi-day trail. I'd end up on a quest where multiple people were camping a mob to complete the quest. I was unable to ask them if they'd group for the quest, so that we could all complete the quest on a single mob respawn. The only way to interact with other players is through the WoW defined emotes, which do not contain a /wantToGroup.

The multi-day trails did have the ability to join guilds. This gave them a taste of the social aspect. I don't know why they'd remove the ability to join a guild as a paying account is the one initiating the trail accts invitation to the guild. That paying account can easily boot the person if they're a gold spammer.

I understand the need to control RMT, but... (2)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about 3 years ago | (#36616784)

As a longtime WoW Player - relatively casual mind you. I've never beaten an expansion's end-game raid content during that expansion (ie. I went to the Sunwell for a tour when I made 80) - though I disagree with their limitations, I can probably inform non-players on why they are so strict

0. Level 20 - Goes without saying, this is a nice chunk of the early game. If you want to go higher, you'll like the game enough to subscribe..hopefully
1. 10 Gold Limit. WoW has a copper/silver/gold scheme, and 10 Gold is a lot of money for a level 20..who's not a second or later alternate character being "fed" by a max-level character with thousands. This limit I actually agree with - it ensures that Chinese reps that sell gold for real money can't use these characters to make "free" delivery mules as the only people buying gold are buying it by the thousands or ten thousands.
2. Trade Skills Capped at 100 - This is sort of the "crafting" (Blacksmithing, Cooking, Fishing, Mining, etc...) equivalent of being capped at level 20. There was a time when certain blocks of trades were level-limited anyway so you couldn't have a crafting-only mule (ie. to make Artisan level items of 225+ skill you needed to be over level 45)
3. Unable to trade - This is probably again to keep Chinese from using these characters to sell expensive high-end items for real money. You would pay on their website, they log in on one of their low level characters and give you the item you bought. Personally, I think this is far too restrictive. Rather, I would like to see them include all these trade formats but only limited to "Item levels" (in game, mostly hidden ratings on items) viable to level 30 and below. That would enable your friend to give you a set of level 15 armor, without allowing you to hold Furor's Compendium of Dragonslaying or the Battered Hilt (two old items that were often sold for tons of gold as they started the quest for the user to pick up an excellent Epic weapon).
4. No public channels - Again, blame Chinese Real Money Transaction/Farmers/Hackers. They already spam public channels (such as the Trade channel that exists in all major game cities) but have actually been cracked down on quite a bit. This is far too draconian a restriction as the public channels are a great way to make friends, get answers, and generally open a new player to the MMO community. (And if you're on a PVP server, you get the bonus feature of being called a 'gay scrub faggot' whenever you speak too!)
5. No whispers outgoing - Yes, again with China. Since they started getting banned by players reporting their spam in public chat, they started whispering individual players they saw speak in chat at some point. If you get a whisper/tell from low level with an incomprehensible name, that seems like "do u remember me?" or "hi friend do you have time I have great deal for you", you're being offered paid services from this gray-market industry. The restrictions are not too bad here so if someone whispers to you, you can talk back.
6. No party invites - Not sure the idea behind this one. Partying is an integral experience and there's no reason after going through 10 levels or so that a new player wouldn't feel confident enough to start their own or run one of the low-level dungeons. I guess you can be invited to others - not sure how the gadget that auto-finds you dungeon groups factors into this - but I see no harm in having trial players offer parties to others.
7. No parties with those over 20 - Okay, this is to keep from being "powerleveled", (Someone with a much higher level kills everything for you to gain experience). To my knowledge this doesn't work any longer because the XP calculation is miniscule if there's a greater than 5 level disparity in members. I guess its to keep them from killing everything so you can finish quests unusually quick. No real problem here.
8. No VOIP - Most players use external VOIP so this isn't a big deal, but there's nothing its even really helpful to have VOIP for around level 20 anyway. I guess they just want to save bandwidth?
9. Full accounts prioritized - Understandable. Paying people are ahead in the login queue.
10. No character transfer - Since character transfer at player discretion costs money, I don't see why they are limiting this. I assume it means for the "realm horribly overpopulated so we'll give you a free transfer to another for anyone who wants to go"
BONUS - No REALID features! This is a feature not a limitation. RealID is Blizzard's handy way to chat between Battle.Net games...provided you are willing to let your friends see your full first and last name and know what you're playing at all times. Hell, it should be OFF by default for all accounts.

Hope that helps. Personally, I think it shouldn't be so controlling especially the public chat, but Chinese gold farming companies have basically ruined it for everyone.

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