Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DDO Goes Free to Play, Sony to Follow?

DDO just went free to play. Subscriptions are optional, but still have benefits. So you have a free tier where you can play the entire game from level one up to the cap. As you level up you'll find more and more adventures and areas locked unless you pay, but you can still play the game without paying. And they are introducing Turbine Points, which are a microtransaction system like Sony's Station Store.

Free Realms and Runes of Magic have proven that this model is attractive to players. And now with AAA titles like Dungeons and Dragons Online getting into the freemium game, who is next?

I have a suspicion that it will be Sony, with EverQuest II.

They have been hinting for a while of major plans in the works. They are adding lots of new content to the low level areas. They are adding content like Research Assistants that reward people for nothing more than subscribing (which most players don't want -- but would probably enjoy as a "premium" feature for subscribers in a freemium game). They are going to great lengths to finally fix the graphics engine (why bother in a game this old?!) We have the Station Store that no one asked for, which makes the most sense in a game where people aren't already paying you. And they have taken a rather sudden and unexpected interest in simplifying the more complex game mechanics (such as the spell naming conventions), which is a lot of work for very little gain, given that the current player base are already accustomed to the old names, and a game this old doesn't normally get a large influx of new players.

By going with a freemium model, EverQuest II just might gain that influx of new players that would justify all of this work.

At least that's what I'm hoping... I'd love to see new life breathed into my favorite game (at the moment :) ) by adopting a freemium model.


Chris F said...

I hope so.

I tried EQ2 but didn't get captured into the game. Tried a trail afterwards, too. It's hard to get into a game when it feels more of the same, especially when you are stuck paying a premium for it.

If its Freemium, (I like that much more than F2P, which has such negative connotations to it) I will definitely give it another shot - and more often. I won't feel shackled by the sub fee to see if I want to stick around - I can take it in at my own pace.

Same with DDO. I beta tested and bought that game, but at release didn't have a $14.99 value. Now Turbine has a chance to win my business back, I can take in their changes and see if it sticks. If it doesn't, they still get the added benefit of me being on their servers for awhile, which at least gives the impression to other players the game is well populated.

It's a good move. I wish more would do it.

Corwin.EoL said...

Very interesting. I BETA tested and played DDO from launch and it was an interesting game. Though it got awful boring really quick. I think it was the lack of wide open spaces to explore. I'm not sure how going F2P will affect it, I hope it's for the good.

I just might reinstall it to see how they plan on doing it. I'd expect Asheron's Call to go F2P, and possibly LOTRO to follow if it increases revenue for DDO.

I'm extremely leary of F2P. It has a possibility to nickle and dime you to the extreme.

Yeebo said...

I suspect that DDO went ftp because it simply hasn't been doing well. It's had less than 100K subs for most of it's life. On top of that, with 4th edition being the current PnP standard, a license for 3.5 in an obscure setting isn't as attractive was it once was. Turbine has little to lose by experimenting with the business model.

But agreed, it's a good move that is likely to pay off for them.

Lars said...

@Corwin - http://www.massively.com/2009/06/10/ddo-goes-f2p-an-interview-with-turbine/ Here they explain their thoughts. LOTRO will likely not go free to play. D&D is easier to free to play because the game is 99% in instances. They lock those down, similarly to how certain instances in EQ2 were locked unless you owned the adventure pack. LOTRO on the other hand has wide open spaces. That you walk slowly through. Hard to partition that unless you have immersion breaking shimmering walls that pop up "Thou Shalt Not Pass [unless you pay 50 Turbine Points]". Besides, LOTRO seems to be doing fairly well.

I'll try DDO when it goes F2P (I guess it isn't F2P YET - only when the next Module is released). I don't remember what my characters were called or what server they were on, but we should hook up in game when that happens. :)

Chris F said...

I'll join you too Lars - I have a Paladin of some sort of some level on some server. =)

Corwin.EoL said...

Thanks for the link Lars. That makes sense about LOTRO.

I'll be joining you also. Though I don't plan on being a VIP.

I had a couple characters, I think my main was a Fighter. Though I don't think any are over level 8.

Lars said...

Awesome. :) Now if only we knew when the freemium doors were opening.

Corwin.EoL said...

BTW I expect DDO will only be a distraction at most. Just started back in EQ2 and I have big plans for my characters there.

Though this could be good for my kids to create their own characters and play DDO, seeing that I've used up all my characters slots in EQ2. :D

Corwin.EoL said...

I signed up for Beta for kicks.

Tesh said...

I'm definitely interested in DDO now, and I think I'd also jump into EQ2 if it went with a decent model. I lean to the Wizard 101 Access Pass model (which it sounds like DDO is leaning toward); areas are locked behind one-time fees, and once purchased, those areas are open forever. (It's a bit like Guild Wars, actually, just broken into smaller discrete chunks.)

The Puzzle Pirates model is excellent, too, but that would take more work than just going with the GW/W101 model.

Anonymous said...

I tired eq2 recently. Its pretty fun. If it went f2p I would play it and probally spend some money on it.

As it is I like lotro more and am looking at Aion.

Anonymous said...

was in eq2 beta and enjoyed it. Bought the game and got two druids (fury) to level 40 or so, then the lure of wow took me over.
Always had a soft spot for EQ2 though but can't justify the cost when I know I won't be playing it 'full time'.

I would sign up in a shot if it went F2P and almost certainly put money into it. It's more than SOE are getting out of me at the moment!