Editor-in-Chief Chris "Pwyff" Tom sat down at a roundtable interview with SOE's Dave Georgeson to talk about what this Free-to-Play transition means to loyal players.
I tried to think of a witty way to bring this news to the masses, but after an hour of pondering terrible opening lines (EverQuest II now Free-To-Quest… 2!), I think I've finally settled on just telling you straight: EverQuest II is going free-to-play.
There. I said it.
Regardless if you're playing EQ2 or not, when one of the industry's most well-known MMORPGs declares that going free-to-play means "only good things for everyone involved," this certainly qualifies as very big news for all. I got the chance to sit down at a roundtable interview hosted yesterday by SOE's very excitable Dave Georgeson to discuss EverQuest II's new free-to-play shift, which is set to be released in early December, alongside the launch of the Age of Discovery expansion pack. Read on for more details!
In terms of their overall focus for EverQuest II, Dave notes that SOE really wants to give players "as many options as to how they can pay - or not pay - for their game." Dave argues that the industry is shifting away from traditional business models, calling the subscription / expansion approach a "pay and hope model." In other words, in more traditional subscription-based business models, developers have been releasing massive game-changing expansions, hoping that players will enjoy all of the new additions. Conversely, players who purchase the new expansions are also hoping that the expansion will be good. If players discover that they don't like the new content or the new level cap, they've still made the purchase! By going free-to-play, Dave says that SOE will be more dynamic in reacting to player demands, and they will be forced to constantly produce quality content if they want players to reciprocate.
SOE is also hoping to make the transition for current EverQuest II players as smooth as possible. In order to accomplish this, they're aiming to simplify everything down to two tiers: the Gold Tier and the Free Tier. All current EQ2 Live Subscribers will find themselves transformed into Gold Tier players in this new shift, but Dave stresses that "we're doing nothing to make ripples, and we're doing everything we can to make sure those ripples don't start." Free players won't find much change in the shift, and SOE plans to discontinue the Platinum membership, although anyone who still has a Platinum membership will be allowed to keep it for the duration of its subscription length. Also, when EverQuest II goes F2P, it will adopt a store very similar to the current EQ2 Live Marketplace as opposed to the EQ2 Extended one. This means players on the EQ2 Extended servers should stock up on Self-Rez Scrolls and the like, because these items will soon be gone from the Marketplace (but not your inventories!)