Eurogamer recently had the chance to talk with Blizzard's president and co-found Michaael 'Mike' Morhaime at this year's BlizzCon, with most of the interview's questions dealing with World of Warcraft and the recently announced Mists of Pandaria expansions for it. Customary excerpt:
Eurogamer: Sony Online Entertainment boss John Smedley recently said that he thought Star Wars: The Old Repubic would be the last large-scale subscription-funded MMO. Do you agree with that analysis?
Mike Morhaime: I think it is a very difficult market to compete in, I think it's very expensive to make these games, especially if you're expecting people to pay a monthly fee just to play the game. And so there are very few companies that can compete at that high level with those types of budgets.
Definitely if you're not charging anybody, they're going to be a lot more forgiving about the experience they have. They haven't paid anything. So in terms of developers entering the market, I can understand why a lot of games might choose to go free-to-play.
For us, and even for EA with the Star Wars game, I think that the value that you get for the $15 a month is just unmatched. I don't think you can get that amount of entertainment value anywhere. I'd put the $15 up against anything.
Eurogamer: The conversation surrounding free-to-play often begins and ends with the business implications of it.
Mike Morhaime: It absolutely does, yeah.
Eurogamer: Do you think there's enough talk about it from a design perspective?
Mike Morhaime: I don't think that there is at all. I think that there's an underlying, a fundamental assumption right now, that the less you charge, the more money you make. Which isn't true. And it doesn't necessarily make for a better game. I mean, everybody likes free... I think that definitely, players have seen a lot of really great quality free-to-play experiences, but I'm not sure it's the best model for us right now.