The lights are on
Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online led the way, but it looks like we're going to continue seeing some relatively big-name MMOs going free-to-play. The latest to join the pack? Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest II.
Though regular subscription-based servers will remain, Massively brings the news that SOE will be launching a beta for what they're calling "EverQuest II Extended" in August. On Extended servers, players will be able to adventure all the way up to level 80 and through the content of The Shadow Odyssey (the game's fifth expansion pack) without paying a monthly fee or even purchasing any software.
In addition to capping you at level 80, Extended servers will limit you to eight of the game's twenty-four classes and four of the game's twenty-or-so races. You'll have to pay microtransactions to open up access to levels 81-90 or pick new races and classes.
Confusingly, EverQuest II Extended will have its own subscription system separate from the one on live servers. If you play totally for free, you're considered a Bronze subscriber, and many aspects of the game will be limited. For example, you'll only have two character slots, you won't be able to equip armor that's considered "Legendary" or "Fabled," and you'll be restricted to carrying five gold per each level you gain (i.e. five gold at level one, ten gold at level two, etc.).
A one-time $10 purchase bumps you up to Silver, at which point much is still restricted, but at least you can learn Expert-level spells and skills. For Gold level, you'll have to pay $14.99 a month (i.e. essentially a regular EverQuest II subscription fee), but almost everything will become open and unlimited except for race access and the level cap. For a Platinum membership, you need to pay a whopping $200 a year, but you'll receive full access up through the most recent expansion pack and 500 "Station Cash" a month to spend on whatever you see fit.
You can see the full kind-of-confusing subscription layout on this handy chart from SOE.
By providing both free-to-play and regular subscription services, SOE is certainly trying something unique with EverQuest II, but things seem unnecessarily confusing. When you reach the point where you're paying $14.99 a month for a gold level membership to EQ II Extended, why are you still locked out from things you'd have access to in the regular game with a regular subscription? And why would anyone currently subscribed to EverQuest II want to pay the $35 fee to move their character over to Extended where they'll then be locked out of content?
Assuming there are a good number of you reading this who haven't touched EverQuest II, does this move make it more likely that you'll check it out at some point?
Never played EverQuest but it is great to know that people can play for free now (kind of).
I used to play EQ2, and upon reading the headline I was intrigued. But then I actually read the article and the membership levels, and I remembered one of the reasons I left - SOE.
I was a LVL80 raid monk, but based on the above, there is no way I would go back, transfer my character over, lose all my fabled gear and plat, and even try to play casual. I would just pick up my subscription and return to raiding.... Fail once again on SOE's part.
This seems complicated and shady. Also EQ2 had some unique crafting and I enjoyed the housing but I dunno..call me when EQ1 does a free to play!
wow, i was so excited when i saw the title, but with all the restrictions its not even worth the free play unless youre just really bored.
So does completely free mean you still have to purchase the game?
Wow sony really? I don't understand the restrictions, that's where you completely lost me. I'm getting FF14 most def. I hope that FF14 ends up being waaayyy better than this or I might consider switching to PC
I knew this was only a matter of time. More and more companies are going to adopt this hybrid model because it seems to be the best of both worlds from a profit stand point. However, one gigantic bonus that SOE is doing is giving F2P players their own server which means they won't bother the paying customers. I know that hybrid games (Turbine specifically) ends up injecting WoW-tards with no respect and little kids with foul mouths into the people who have been enjoying the game. With LoTRO, DDO, and no EQ2, there should be something for everyone to tide them over during the down times and when they need a break. Now, where the F--- is more news on Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3?
Never played EQ but it might be fun.
Smart move. This sort of thing should be available for any MMO... gives people a chance to really try stuff out without committing to purchasing the game only to find out it wasn't what they expected.
I wonder when Wow will be free to play
If they got rid of the silver, gold and platinum, I would try it. I used to play EQ2 all day long,