Blizzard clarifies World of Warcraft free-to-play 'Veteran Edition'

In the World of Warcraft forums, a Blizzard community manager has briefly confirmed and explained the new, free-to-play "Veteran Edition" of the popular MMORPG.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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The Veteran Edition discovered in the World of Warcraft patch notes for 6.1 is a real thing that developer Blizzard will be implementing.

It's not, as rumours had suggested, the first step in a full free-to-play rollout, but a free-to-play mode similar to the trial Starter Edition for users who already have accounts.

"We've always had this kind of weird limitation where if you've never played WoW, we let you play as much as you want, albeit in a very restricted Starter Edition account. However, if you have ever had a subscription -- but don't currently have one -- we don't even let you log in," community manager Bashiok explained in the Blizzard forums.

"In 6.1 we'll effectively revert lapsed accounts into a Starter Edition 'mode', with all of the same restrictions. The one difference being that your sub-level 20 characters will be able to join a guild if any of your other characters are still in that guild."

These restrictions include level and money caps -- a level cap of 20 out of a possible 100 levels, and a maximum of 10 gold, after which players can continue to play the game, they just cannot accrue any more experience or gold.

Like Starter Edition accounts, Veteran Edition accounts will also have restrictions on communications: no whispers to any character not on the player's friends list, no shouting, and no inviting players into groups.

When patch 6.1 rolls out across the game, all lapsed accounts will become a "Veteran Edition" account, Bashiok said, although the term "veteran" was never intended to be anything but a way to label the account type internally.

"It's unlikely to be a term we use to any great degree externally," Bashiok said. "It will simply be the default state for accounts that don't currently have an active subscription."