For those who have known World of Warcraft from its beginnings, it's difficult to believe that the world's top MMORPG title has been around for more than a decade now...during that time, it has evolved and changed in ways no one could've predicted back in 2004. These changes have touched most aspects of the game, beginning with its core demographics and wrapping up with its monetization model and the free-to-play elements that have been added along the way.

Demographics-wise, the changes have indeed been more than obvious: a massive split between recreational players and the dedicated hardcore has occurred, and the developer has sought to provide attractive and rewarding content for each of the two player-types, as both are equally important from the perspective of the business-model.

Despite the best efforts of the developers though, the aging process of the game was most visible in the declining subscriber-numbers. Expansions never failed to rally the base, generating spikes in these statistics, but the overall trend cannot be ignored. Still, Blizzard have thus far managed to keep the game afloat, which -in light of the fact that it is still the highest-earning MMO - is something of an understatement. Also, with Warcraft, the movie coming out, scores of players never before exposed to the lore are likely to descend on the servers again.

Over the years, WOW has adapted to the needs and wants of its players, so it now features a number of things that would've been inconceivable back when it first went online.

The character boost token is one of these elements: back in 2004, something like that would've been seen as fundamentally detrimental to the very scope of the game. Nowadays, it's just a way to allow players to catch up with their friends, so they can play together in a much more meaningful and enjoyable manner.

The WOW token is another good example in this sense: it allows players to pick up a monthly subscription token for real money and then to sell it for in-game gold. What this means is that players can actually buy game-time for in-game currency. The WOW token is not a move towards free-to-play, but it does break with an important business-model tradition: paying players can now go back to non-paying status without any problems, while remaining active in the game.

Philip Thalberg works for Gosugamers, the best spot for eSports and everything regarding competitive gaming. 

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