Duncan Jones' Warcraft movie is only around four months away, slated for release on June 10. The latest expansion for Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Legion, is expected to release a few months after that, on or before September 21.
Now, word has gotten out that Blizzard is looking at a way to turn the movie into a direct marketing tool for the game. Dubbed the "Ultimate Movie Edition," it is a version of World of Warcraft that would give moviegoers free access to WoW and its current expansions in advance of Legion's release in September.
News of the plan first broke on Reddit, where user fatsocks revealed that he'd gotten a survey from Blizzard with details of the Ultimate Movie Edition. When suspicions of a phishing attempt arose because of a notable typo in the survey, a certified member of Blizzard's customer support team posted in the thread to confirm that it was a legitimate Blizzard survey. He also noted that the typo had been corrected for future mailings.
It's worth noting that the survey merely says that Blizzard is considering the offer, not that it will actually be available when the film releases. There is also no word of what the in-game item provided by the Ultimate Movie Edition would be, though it could be assumed that it's a movie tie-in of some kind. The month of free game time is a pretty standard introductory offer for MMO games, and Blizzard obviously hopes that at least some of the moviegoers will stick around as new subscribers once that month of game time expires.
It will be really interesting to see how this plays out now that the idea is out in the wild and Blizzard has confirmed it as being under consideration. Fan pressure might help it to become reality, especially as people who read about it now might be disappointed if it doesn't come to pass. A game with five expansions for free certainly sounds like a good deal, especially to those who aren't familiar with WoW or who quit playing previously. If nothing else, Blizzard will likely watch online communities where the offer's being discussed to see whether there's a positive reaction to the idea.
Some might be turned off by the idea of players getting free access to expansion content, of course; it could be similar to the backlash that some players had when Team Fortress 2 first went free-to-play. That died down pretty quickly, however, and the Ultimate Movie Edition won't have as much of a lasting effect as that move since it only comes with a month of free game time anyway. If Blizzard does move forward with the special edition, it will likely be positive for the WoW community as a whole - as any bump in subscriptions resulting from the special edition will help to support the game that current players know and love.
Warcraft is set to hit theaters on June 10, 2016. World of Warcraft: Legion doesn't have a set release date yet, but Blizzard anticipates it to be released on or before September 21.