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World of Warcraft now free for 20 levels

The highly addictive online role-playing game replaces its 14-day trial period with a level-capped trial system. New patch, Rage of the Firelands, also goes live.

World of Warcraft Rage of the Firelands
Blizzard Entertainment

Rejoice, World of Warcraft n00bs. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is now free to play for up to 20 levels. That means players can now take as long as they need to get familiar with the game before they have to pay a subscription fee.

The game's developer, Blizzard Entertainment, has eliminated the prior free 14-day trial period in favor of the new beginner system, which it's calling World of Warcraft Starter Edition.

The move is brilliant considering that WoW, which was first released in 2004, is known for immersing users in a deep game world. The limited trial seemed too short a time to get acclimated to the rich virtual landscape.

Although the trial subscription had its limits, WoW remains wildly successful, reaching 12 million subscribers in 2010. Will the new trial model help increase the MMORPG's user base?

According to GameSpot, the new starter edition does come with some restrictions: "Players will [now] be able to amass just 10 gold, have their trade skills capped at 100, and will be unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player."

The addictive game also got an update today with the release of patch 4.2, or Rage of the Firelands (video below). It includes various user interface tweaks and new content such a new raid, new quests, and the beginning of a new player-versus-player season.

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