World of Warcraft goes free with Starter Edition

Blizzard Entertainment has announced that its enormously popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft will be free to play for characters up to level 20.

WoW has always offered free trials of one of the world's biggest multi-player online games but previous offers have always been limited to a set number of days.

The new policy means that first-time visitors to Azeroth will be able to build an unlimited number of characters and classes up to level 20 at their leisure, although there will be some limitations.

Players will not be able to join guilds - an essential for players planning rise to the upper echelons - or accumulate more than ten gold coins which are used to buy supplies and items in the game's complex financial system.

They can, however, access the entire game including all of the quests available to paying punters of the same level.

Players can continuing playing for as long as they like once they have reached the Trial Edition's level 20 cap, but they will stop accruing experience points.

Progressing further towards the games current level 85 cap will require a paid subscription which starts at £8.99 per month.

Although WoW - which is so frighteningly addictive it has been dubbed World of Warcrack in some circles - has waned in popularity in recent years, it still boasts 11.4 million subscribers to the official game.

Although it is possible for experienced adventurers to reach level 20 in less than 10 hours, the free-to-play teaser is aimed at new players who might take months to get to the same point in the life-eating fantasy epic.

If you haven't got anything better to do with the rest of your year, you can sign up here.