Word has sneaked out that Blizzard are introducing a new trial account type provisionally dubbed 'Veteran Edition' in World of Warcraft's update 6.1. MMO Champion turned up patch notes mentioning the Veteran Edition, leading folks to speculate away and some to start doomsaying about a free-to-play shift. Relax, it's all fine. Blizzard stepped in to explain it'll simply be a trial open to lapsed subscribers too.
Blizzard community manager Bashiok explained:
"We’ve always had this kind of weird limitation where if you’ve never played WoW we let you play as much as you want, albeit in a very restricted Starter Edition account. However, if you have ever had a subscription--but don’t currently have one--we don't even let you log in. In 6.1 we’ll effectively revert lapsed accounts into a Starter Edition "mode", with all of the same restrictions. The one difference being that your sub-level 20 characters will be able to join a guild if any of your other characters are still in that guild."
Bashiok also noted that 'Veteran Edition' might not be a name that stuck as it was largely intended for internal use, but now that it's made it out into the wider world who knows?
Lapsed World of Warcraft players may be heartened or horrified by this development. For those who would love to revisit their old characters and play tourist in Azeroth once more, it's doubtless wonderful news. Those who escaped WoW addictions may be less than overjoyed to hear that there's a new gateway drug inviting them back in.
There's a little more information gathered over on this WoWhead news post which includes various datastrings. The 6.1 update is live now in Public Test Realms, so it shouldn't be long until Warcraft veterans can revisit their old toons - for better or worse.
(Sorry about the lack of jokes, readers, but you've probably already heard every Warcraft gag there is to make.)