What is Starter Edition
The short version? Any World of Warcraft account that does not have active game-time. Active game time is the first month free with a boxed copy of the game (once you have created an account with the included serial number), or similarly time included with an online purchase of an upgrade from Starter Edition to the full game, a subscription, or time from game tokens bought from other players in game.
The History of WoW's Trial Accounts
- Almost from the start WoW had trial accounts, which were largely responsible for the game's popularity, due to giving everyone a chance to try the game before purchasing. These early trials were however time limited. Additional limitations like not being able to form parties, or use public chats were added when gold sellers started to use trial accounts to spam players with advertisements.
- During July of 2011 Blizzard expanded their trial version of the game, that had been limited to just 10 days of play, removing the time limit, and renaming them Starter Edition accounts (S.E.). This change also reactivated any existing trial accounts that had completed their 10 days of play time.
- In February of 2015 they further expanded Starter Edition to include any other account that was not subscribed, allowing players who had previously bought the full game - who would have been prevented from accessing any character on their account unless they had an active subscription - to play any characters of level 20 and under without a subscription.
'Veteran Edition' is the unofficial name given to an upgraded accounts with a lapsed subscription. Blizzard only use the term 'Veteran' internally (eg. in game code), and consider any account without a subscription to be Starter Edition, as the limitations put on these accounts are mostly the same. Almost all of these limitations have been put in place in order to prevent free (or easily affordable) accounts from being abused for the purpose of Real Money Trading (RMT), restricting the account's ability to both communicate and trade with other players, although they also serve the purpose of incentivizing players to upgrade their accounts, at least to Veteran status, to improve their game experience.
While the limitations do restrict both chat and forming groups between players, there is however an addon which allows S.E. accounts with it installed to use a custom chat channel, and to request assistance from players in the channel with subscribed accounts, in order to make groups. As the only players with whom the addon's users can communicate are other players who also have the addon installed, the potential for its abuse for RMT is neglibile, and Blizzard have made no attempts to end its use.