Two notable, and completely unexpected changes have come with the release of Patch 4.2 yesterday. The first, is that Blizzard has announced when you buy the vanilla version of the game you will now receive access to The Burning Crusade expansion. I discussed this some time ago saying it was something Blizzard had to do if it wanted to draw in new players (edit: for some reason I can’t find said post). Anyone who didn’t have the game had to shell out far too much money if they wanted to play Cataclsym. So, throwing Outland, the Blood Elves, and the Draenei in with the initial purchase is well approved by me.
The other change? World of Warcraft now has a free to play aspect. New trials can now play as much as they want, though they can’t level past 20. There are other restrictions such as unable to join a guild, gold cap of 10g, and an inability to use the mail, auction house, or player trade features. I can’t speak for everyone but I really didn’t see this one coming. I talked about Free-To-Play WoW before and how I thought it might work, but even that was under the premise that the game was in its twilight stage. This is definitely a smart move as well for Blizzard. New players can do what many do and roll one of every class and really get a feel for the game. Also, trial accounts can PvP. I don’t think they can do it indefinitely because of the 10g cap and the fact turning off xp might cost more than that (off the top of my head, I think it does…I’ve never tried). Even so, you’re going to see an increase in the low level battlegrounds, I would count on that.
Blizzard also did it right with the limits of the trial accounts. I’ll be the first to admit that if new accounts could have had mail and or a guild (with bank), I would have created a new account and got to work to putting all my current bankers on a new account. You can bet I wouldn’t be the only one. I also like that new accounts can’t whisper someone until that existing account has whispered them first. Nor can they post in channels. This should curb some of the gold-spamming. It’s still not going to be perfect, but it is leaps and bounds above the pre-4.2 status. Then again, these two upgrades