Following in the footsteps of once pay-to-play or MMORPGs such as D&D Online and Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment is launching a free-to-play or F2P version of EverQuest II, which will be a completely separate from the existing game. What what?
Free to play is becoming more popular in the western massively multiplayer online role-playing game industry, and today it consumes its most high profile MMORPG yet. Free to play is the de facto monetization standard of MMORPGs in Asia and it looks like Western devs are feeling the pressure to switch.
SOE is calling the new service EverQuest II Extended. Rather than convert Everquest 2 to its new free-to-play model, SOE is splitting EverQuest II in half. There’ll be the regular subscription-based service that players are used to, and a completely separate free-to-play game, giving players limited access to game features, with the option to pay for more levels, characters, quest slots, races, and experience point enhancing items.
According to game producer David Georgeson, it’s those experience point enhancing items that are the reason for EverQuest II’s new split personality. “A lot of EverQuest II players didn’t want the sort of game-enhancing items you find in a free-to-play marketplace in the game,” he explains.
For a one-time $10 fee, the player can upgrade to Silver membership, which gives them access to an additional character slot, more gold per level, and access to the auction channel. “You won’t be able to use the broker system,” Georgeson explains, “But if you want to start up the trade tunnel from the original EverQuest, you can do that.”
By paying $14.99 a month, the same price paid by subscribers to the main game, players of EverQuest II Extended will get full access to nearly everything the game has to offer, though they will still have to purchase additional races and levels.