World of Warcraft is something of a modest success, we'd say. Unlike a number of other MMOs, it's not exactly about to sink amidst a sea of same-y competitors. We doubt, then, that we'll be seeing “World of Warcraft Spits in Face of Death, Goes Free-to-Play” any time soon. However, if you're a penny pincher hoping to step into the shoes of a giant cow person without the aid of some, er, rather questionable costume-based life choices, there's still hope. WoW may not be F2P, but this is definitely the next, next, next, next best thing.
Blizzard's given WoW's trial program a fairly significant boost, increasing the time limit from “a couple weeks” to “forever.” Now titled World of Warcraft: Starter Edition, the trial client still stops character growth dead in its tracks at level 20. Your avatar won't suddenly poof out of existence or anything, but he/she will pretty much be standing still on the level treadmill until you insert a coin or two to continue.
Also, you can't just prance around Azeroth like you own the place. There are some restrictions in place, and they don't exactly scream “take everything on this silver platter; we have suddenly developed an awful allergic reaction to money.” Click through the link for a full FAQ, but in a nutshell, you can't join guilds, group up with people over level 20, speak on public chat channels, or trade in any way, shape, or form.
Still though, it's evidence that Blizzard hasn't entirely lost track of the mortal MMO realm beneath its ivory tower. And hey, beggars can't be choosers. Plus, the Burning Crusade expansion now comes free with WoW's $20 standard edition, so Blizzard isn't evil. Hell, you might even consider this a humanitarian act, considering the apocalyptic spat of addictions that will almost certainly spring up the second WoW removes its subscription fee from the equation.