World of Warcraft free to play ?

It seems like the subscription-free bug has been catching on lately. Turbine experimented by rolling Dungeons and Dragons Online over to free-to-play, and saw their players (and revenue) jump appreciably. Now Turbine is taking the next step by rolling their triple-A MMO, Lord of the Rings Online, over to the same model. We've also recently seen Hi-Rez Studios take Global Agenda over to a somewhat similar model to Guild Wars -- buy it once, play it forever. What might we see go subscription-free next? Could it be World of Warcraft?

According to
Tom Chilton, Lead Designer on Blizzard's current kong-sized-gorilla, World of Warcraft, the company has thought about free-to-play as a potential model for their flagship MMO. But we'd warn you against celebrating just yet: Those thoughts have been more along the lines of intellectual curiosity -- a "down the road when we're not on top" type of thing. While many companies are working hard to improve their portion of the market, there just haven't been any fabled "WoW killers" as yet, poised to bean the Blizzard-spawned giant in the head with the proverbial well-aimed rock. Until that time comes -- even if they wind up unseating WoW with another monster of their own creation -- we're unlikely to see Blizzard dropping those lucrative monthly subscription fees.