World of Warcraft is now free-to-play—sort of

On the heels of Valve and Team Fortress 2, Blizzard has decided to open up its hugely popular MMO World of Warcraft to cheapskates by making it free to play—at least, free enough to lure in newcomers who haven't already forfeited their social lives.

As PC Gamer reports, Blizzard has established a new trial system that involves letting users partake in the massively multiplayer online game as much as they want, with a handful of limitations. The official Blizzard FAQ page lists those limitations as:

- A level cap of 20.
- A maximum of 10 gold.
- Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
- Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
- In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper. - Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.
- Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters' friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
- Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.
- Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
- Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
- Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
- Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers
- RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.

Now, World of Warcraft Starter Edition won't force you to whip out the ol' credit card as soon as you reach level 20. Blizzard says you're free to keep playing as long as you want—your character will just stop leveling up. Players who want to upgrade can do so either online (which will purportedly let you resume playing "in minutes"), or by grabbing a boxed copy at their nearest brick-and-mortar store.

World of Warcraft Starter Edition can be downloaded through this page for both Windows and Mac OS X. You'll have to sign up for a account first, of course.

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