Saturday, January 20, 2007
Playing WoW on your cell phone
World of Warcraft runs on PCs, and on no other platform. Blizzard often gets asked whether they will port it onto one or several next generation consoles, but they always say that the idea is interesting, but not something that will happen in the near future. The interest lies in the fact that more people own a console than own a PC capable of playing WoW. The problem lies in the fact that people would expect the same experience on every platform, and that is by no means easy. But what if you could play *parts* of World of Warcraft on another platform, a portable one, like your cell phone?
Imagine it is your lunch break at work, or you are traveling, and you have a bit of time, but not the hardware and connection to play World of Warcraft. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a mini-version of WoW on your cell phone that would only allow you to log into the game, chat with your friends and guild mates, and do some activities with your character that don’t require a 3D interface? For example buying and selling on the auction house, sending and receiving mail, and managing your inventory would all be very much possible on a cell phone, without requiring much data volume nor graphics capabilities.
For the players that would be convenient. For the game company this could be an additional source of income. Blizzard sells the “WoW cell phone client” for $5, and does a deal with the cell phone company that gives Blizzard 5 cents for every minute that somebody connects. Given the millions of players, that could quickly add up to quite a large pile of money.
Spinning the idea further, some people would certainly use the cell phone WoW even when at home, because it allows their characters to access the mail box, bank, and auction house without being in a city. That adds even more additional income. People spend crazy amounts of money on cell phones, for useless things like logos and ring tones, it would be only logical if MMO game companies would want a piece of that pie.
Realistically speaking the idea is probably a couple of years ahead of its time. World of Warcraft might never get there. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years some other game introduces this feature. Making additional money with very little development effort might well prove irresistible to game companies.