Next up on the list of subscription games moving to some variation on Free-to-Play… EverQuest II. This despite a denial just last month that this would happen.
And, no, it’s not April 1.
At a glance, it looks like this will closely follow the DDO model. Sort of. Looking deeper, it looks like SOE is launching an additional server or two on which it’ll be possible to play via microtransactions, with play on the existing servers staying pretty much as-is, save that they’re going to allow folks to transfer existing characters from traditional servers to the microtransaction ones.
The selection of features available to “Bronze” (i. e. free) players looks both annoyingly limited and amazingly broad at the same time. Free players will be limited to 4 races, 4 classes (exactly which ones are not yet announced, that I could find,) 20 quests, 2 character slots and 2 bag slots, can’t start guilds or send in-game mail, and don’t have the full array of social commands… but at the same time they’ll have access to the entire game up through Shadow Odyssey, which is a lot of game to get for free. Some of the limits will be extendable via microtransactions, and you’ll be able to step a lot of things up via a one-time $10 purchase.
You’ll also be treated to “In-game Popup Advertising,” which sounds like it’ll be very annoying if it happens regularly during play, as opposed to, say, showing up once when you log in.
At any rate, I consider this big news and will stay firmly on top of it. If nothing else, it looks like once this launches I will be sticking around in EQ2.
UPDATE: The Alpha F2P client is available now right here – although this may only be for current subscribers.
Available F2P races are Barbarian, Human, Halfling and Half-Elf. F2P races are the two “basic” types from each archetype: Guardian and Berserker, Wizard and Warlock, Templar and Inquisitor, Swashbuckler and Brigand.
UPDATE 2: This is looking more and more like the launch of an entirely separate EQ2 service which will run in parallel with the existing subscription service. It’s not so much “EQ2 is going F2P” as it is “They’re launching a new iteration of EQ2 that’s F2P.”
UPDATE 3: Announcement and FAQ here, including the matrix that breaks down the various subscription levels.
UPDATE 4: Interview with EQ2 Lead Developer Dave Georgeson here. Much crying on the EQ2 Forum thread on the subject.