According to a news story on RedlineChina, The9 -- publisher of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft in China -- is currently in talks with Blizzard to offer WoW as a free-to-play game in China.
This is rather surprising news to hear, especially after The9's Q3 sales report where the company had net revenue of $42.2m -- due almost entirely to World of Warcraft. That said, the company is also barely scraping by on profits because of increasing operating costs for the game. The increased costs are primarily due to the use of high-quality HP server farms to support its popularity in China.
So then, why would The9 consider a free-to-play version of World of Warcraft, possibly further crippling profits? Granted, free-to-play games are becoming increasingly more popular. Jun Zhu -- the company's CEO -- mentioned it during an interview with local media in China, so it will be interesting to hear how Blizzard responds to this.