World of Warcraft's next major patch may add a new kind of account to the game. The data for Patch 6.1 includes references to a "Veteran Edition" of the MMO.
Like the free Starter Edition, this Veteran Edition comes with a number of restrictions. Veteran Edition owners have a cap on how many levels and how much money they can earn. Veteran Edition accounts' communication is also limited; they can't send unlimited tells, whisper people who haven't added them to their friends list or use other public chat channels. They're also unable to sign guild charters or use the Looking for Group feature.
These rules suggest that the Veteran Edition is another type of free trial. Otherwise, it wouldn't have all those social restrictions. The whole idea behind those limits is that they prevent gold farming companies from creating scores of characters and spamming public chat with advertisements all day.
Unlike Starter Edition players, though, Veteran Edition players can join guilds as long as they have other characters in that guild. In other words, this is an account type designed for someone who already subscribed to WoW. It's a new way to entice players back into the game.
It's unclear how a Veteran Edition account would treat older characters that the player created while they were a subscriber. Will they be able to use them to a limited extent? Or will those characters be off-limits until the Veteran Edition player resubscribes?
Maybe it comes down to the character's level. The Patch 6.1 data compiled by MMO Champion doesn't mention how high the cap is for Veteran Edition characters. Perhaps Veteran Edition players will be able to create new characters up to say, level 60, or play any existing characters at or below that level.
I'd imagine the level cap for the Veteran Edition is at least higher than it is for the Starter Edition. Level 20 only lets players see about two newbie zones and visit the capital city. That might not be enough to coax back a former subscriber.
I wouldn't be surprised if they let Veterans advance up to level 90. That's the current cap for WoW players who haven't bought the next expansion Warlords of Draenor. All of the previous expansions are now included with the base game. Former players already bought WoW and individual expansions at some point so I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard just lets them have all the other expansions for no additional charge. Yes, Blizzard would miss out on the $20 that the WoW costs now but there's a chance these returning players could then buy Draenor for $50 and start paying the $15/month subscription.
Now that WoW is ten years' old, there are literally millions of former subscribers out there. It's a huge amount of players that once showed an interest in WoW. Blizzard is smart to put some effort toward trying to woo them back. They formerly offered a Scroll of Resurrection that allowed current subscribers to give free game time to former players but retired that promotion in February. This Veteran Edition sounds like their replacement for the Scroll.
In an effort to ease former players back into the game, Blizzard also offers a free boost to anyone who buys Warlords of Draenor. They can choose one new or existing character to get an instant lift to level 90 along with a set of appropriate gear. This makes the character able to start the level 90+ content of Draenor instantly. Blizzard also sells these boosts separately for $60 apiece for anyone who wants to raise up additional characters.
You can try out many of the features of Patch 6.1 on the Public Testing Realm. Blizzard hasn't announced when the update will be officially released yet.