With the cost of living rising across the globe, finding ways to save money on entertainment like gaming is more important than ever. If you‘re interested in playing World of Warcraft‘s Shadowlands expansion but don‘t want to pay full price, this guide will explain multiple methods to get access for free or at a major discount.
Can I Really Get Shadowlands Without Paying?
The short answer is yes! While the latest WoW expansion does require purchase normally, there are a few legitimate ways to get Shadowlands at no cost if you time it right and are willing to put in some effort. As a fellow budget-conscious gamer myself, I‘ve used a combination of the following tricks to play new WoW content without forking over money:
- Taking advantage of limited-time free offers from Blizzard
- Using WoW Tokens purchased with in-game gold to pay for subscription time
- Looking for deals from third party key sellers during seasonal sales events
- Completing recruitment rewards to earn free subscription time, then using that time to purchase Shadowlands
- Entering giveaways and contests from fansites & streamers to win expansion keys
The most important thing is being patient and keeping an eye out for promotions or discounts. Act quickly when offers pop up, as they often have short time limits or limited stock available!
What Exactly is Included in Shadowlands?
Before we dive into getting it for free, let‘s quickly go over what content and features you gain access to by purchasing the Shadowlands expansion:
- Level Cap increased from 120 to 60
- New zones: Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, Revendreth, The Maw
- Covenants and Sanctum progression systems
- Torghast, Tower of the Damned instanced activity
- New dungeons and raids
- Legendary item and crafting systems
- New PvP battlegrounds and arenas
- Unlocking Allied Races Dracthyr Evoker
Having Shadowlands opens up the full breadth of WoW‘s current endgame content and prepares you for the upcoming Dragonflight expansion. You‘ll also be able to level alts to 60 and unlock new cosmetic rewards. Let‘s look at some proven methods for getting all this great content without paying Blizzard‘s $40 asking price.
Method 1: Watch for Free Base Edition Giveaways
The first and easiest method is keeping an eye out for special limited-time giveaways directly from Blizzard. Around the time a new WoW expansion is nearing release, Blizzard will often make the previous expansion free for a certain window of time.
For example, from September 2021 until early 2023, Blizzard gave away free copies of the Shadowlands Base Edition to all lapsed WoW accounts with a previous expansion attached. This promotion ended once the Dragonflight pre-patch went live. By claiming your free Base Edition key during the promo window, you unlock Shadowlands permanently!
Be sure to follow Blizzard‘s social media pages and check the official WoW site around expansion release periods. Snap up any freebies the second you see them advertised! These promotions are designed to lure back returning players and hype up the new expansion.
Method 2: Cash in Your In-Game Gold for Tokens
Dedicated WoW players have mastered the art of making tons of gold through farming, professions, playing the auction house, etc. Here‘s a clever way to put that gold to use:
You can use your hard-earned gold to purchase WoW Tokens in-game. These Tokens can then be redeemed for $15 of Blizzard Balance. With that balance, head to the Blizzard Shop and purchase a month of game time.
As long as your subscription is active, you can then buy Shadowlands at full price. This allows you to leverage your efforts in Azeroth into saving real cash on expansions! With some grinding, you can farm enough gold for multiple months of subscription time.
I‘d recommend having at least 300,000 gold ready before attempting this method, as WoW Token prices fluctuate rapidly. But with dedication, you can churn out enough in-game wealth to unlock Shadowlands without spending actual money.
Method 3: Snag Shadowlands CD Keys on Sale
Another route is buying a digital Shadowlands key from a third party reseller instead of directly from Blizzard. Sites like CDKeys.com regularly offer WoW expansions at a discount compared to Blizzard‘s prices.
For example, you can often find Shadowlands keys in the $25-30 range on these key reseller sites. That‘s $10-15 in savings off the $40 Blizzard charges. The keys usually come in the form of a digital code you enter on your Battle.net account.
A few notes of caution however:
- Make sure to buy from a legitimate reseller with lots of positive reviews. Scam sites do exist!
- These key sellers are not officially authorized by Blizzard, so use at your own risk.
- Shop around between sites to find the best deal on Shadowlands keys.
- Watch for sales around the holidays when resellers tend to discount codes.
As long as you purchase from a reputable seller, this method can unlock access to Shadowlands at a nicely discounted price point.
Method 4: Recruit Friends for Rewards
Blizzard offers a Recruit a Friend program that lets you earn free game time and other bonuses for getting friends to start playing WoW. You can recruit up to 10 friends per month, with the following rewards:
- 1 month of free game time for every 1 recruited friend (up to 10 months)
- Free character boosts, mounts, pets, and cosmetics
With 2-3 months of free time earned through successful recruits, you‘ll have an active subscription to purchase and play Shadowlands. Having rewards like character boosts can also help you quickly gear up and experience Shadowlands content.
The downside is this method requires convincing new people to try WoW. But if you have friends already interested or want to give it a go, the recruitment program is a nice way to play Shadowlands on Blizzard‘s dime.
Method 5: Enter Contests and Giveaways
The final method is a bit luck-based, but still worth trying. Various WoW fan sites, streamers, gaming publications, and bloggers frequently run contests and giveaways with expansion keys as prizes.
For example, popular WoW Twitch streamers may do Shadowlands key giveaways when a new raid or patch drops as a way to celebrate and engage their audience. Or gaming sites may run contests like "share your favorite WoW memory and be entered to win Shadowlands".
It helps to follow WoW personalities/sites so you see giveaways the moment they‘re announced. Have your notification alerts on and be ready to participate right away. With some good fortune, you may just win a free Shadowlands key through this method!
Final Thoughts on Getting Shadowlands for Free
While buying the latest WoW expansion is usually required, hopefully this guide has outlined some creative ways to get Shadowlands at no cost. The keys are taking advantage of limited-time promotions, leveraging in-game efforts, and pouncing on discounts or giveaways when they appear.
I wish you the best of luck unlocking Shadowlands for free. Having the most current expansion opens up so much more of WoW‘s great content. Feel free to let me know if any of these methods worked for you or if you have your own tips to share! May we all continue enjoying Azeroth on a budget.