June 29, 2011 at 1:31 PM ET
As they say ... the first hit is free.
In an attempt to woo more "World of Warcraft" players into the fold, the folks at Blizzard Entertainment have decided to make the first 20 levels of the massively popular online fantasy game free to play.
You know why? Because they know that once you've had a taste of Azeroth, you'll keep coming back for more ... and more ... and more.
But if you want to keep coming back for more, you'll need to buy the original game (now priced at $20) as well as the expansion packs. Oh yeah, and you'll have to pay the $12 monthly subscription fee.
The good news is, "World of Warcraft" players can reach level 85 and there's a whole lot of action and adventuring to have beyond those first 20 levels, which really just represent an introduction to the game. Though, it's worth noting that if you want to remain at level 20 and also don't mind living with certain limits on things such as voice chat and how much gold your character can carry, you can keep playing for free.
For a detailed look at what you get (and don't get) with this new 'WoW' Starter Edition, check out Blizzard's FAQ here.
"WoW" — which offers players epic battles, adventures and exploring in a world known as Azeroth — has been enormously successful and currently boasts nearly 12 million monthly subscribers. Blizzard has offered shorter-term free-to-play offers before, but this far more extensive offer — one designed to bring in as many new players as possible — comes just as the game's publisher (Activision) is gearing up to face some serious competition.
That's right, there's a new massively multiplayer online game on the horizon — "Star Wars: The Old Republic" — and it boasts light sabers.
Many game industry observers are predicting that "Star War: The Old Republic" — created by renowned developers at BioWare and published by Activision's rival Electronic Arts — might just be the so-called "Wow"-killer.
In-Game editor Todd Kenreck and I got a look at "Star Wars: The Old Republic" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this month and the game — which features fully voice-acted dialog and a strong emphasis on story telling — is certainly looking good. More importantly, "The Old Republic" gives many a game and sci-fi nerd the chance to do something they've always wanted to do: Live out their very own "Star Wars" saga.
Will that be enough to trump "WoW" — something no other massively multiplayer online game has been able to do?
An official launch date has not yet been revealed nor has the pricing structure for "The Old Republic." But here's betting an epic battle of the MMOs is not far off in our future.
(Thanks to VentureBeat for the heads up.)
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