Transitioning to a free-to-play model has become fairly common for MMOs, with Aion being the lastest title to make the switch, which will happen in Europe next February, thanks to a partnership between NCSoft and German publisher Gameforge. Here's the press release:
Aion changes Business model to free-to-play in Europe
NCsoft®’s successful fantasy MMO switches to free to play model and teams up with Gameforge for its operations in Europe
Karlsruhe/Seoul, 14.12.2011 – Gameforge, Europe's leading provider of online games, and NCsoft®, the world’s premier publisher and developer of massively multiplayer online games, today announced a new and free to play business model for Aion, the online role-playing game. From February 2012,players will be able to download the full version of the game for free and play without any subscription costs. Aion will be launched in the UK, France and Germany first and will be accessible to play across Western Europe.
Aion is one of the world’s most popular and numerous awards winning MMOGs including a very loyal fan base in Europe. Songyee Yoon, Chief Strategic Officer from NCsoft® commented that “by introducing the free-to-play model, we hope more gamers in Europe will be able to experience the epic story of Aion” and added that “NCsoft welcomes the partnership with Gameforge with its long MMO experience in the free-to-play sector and its excellent knowledge of the European market.”
Aion is set in the world of Atreia, which has been continually expanded and constantly improved in cooperation with the community since 2009. Now adventurers not only have over 3,900 quests, but also countless new dungeons, new PvP arenas and lots more. Another popular feature is the Miols: intelligent pets that have been recently added to the game. They provide, amongst other things, additional backpack slots whilst independently collecting all loot found in the game. The new unique mentor system eases new players into the game, as higher level players are rewarded for helping beginners. Mentors receive medals which they can swap for equipment items, the ‘students on the other hand receive experience points as well as loot from shared adventures.
Update 2.7 added a host of new content to the atmospheric and visually stunning game. A new PvP arena challenges players seeking a fast-paced thrill in the Crucible Coliseum, and for those more PvE oriented there’s a new raid in Padmarashka’s Cave waiting to be conquered.
Gameforge’s Executive Director Alexander Rösner also welcomes the collaboration: “In Aionwe have received a flagship title for our MMO sector which perfectly complements our current portfolio. We have worked hard with NCsoft® to develop a fair free-to-play model for new players as well as the current community. In the future we will of course continue to develop new content and extend it, working in close cooperation with the players.”
About Gameforge Gameforge is Europe's leading provider of online games. The company - based in Karlsruhe, Germany - currently offers 20 games in more than 50 languages and has more than 300 million registered users world-wide. Their portfolio includes two types of games: Client-based massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), including Europe's most successful MMO, Metin2, as well as 4Story and the European version of Wizard101; and top-quality browser-based games such as the award-winning Ikariam and OGame. Gameforge currently has approximately 600 employees at their locations in Karlsruhe and Berlin. In 2010, Gameforge won the "TOP JOB - Employer of the Year" award and was named one of Germany's best employers in 2010 by the Great Place to Work® Institute.
About NCsoft® NCSoft is a leading developer and publisher of online games. A gaming powerhouse with global reach, the company was founded in 1997 in Seoul, South Korea. Today, NCsoft is home to numerous industry-leading franchises, including Aion, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, and Lineage. NCsoft also publishes casual games in some regional markets. With offices in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, NCsoft games entertain and delight players around the world.
Should you be in need of any additional information, the official website offers an extensive FAQ that covers just about everything from the way the free-to-play model will be implemented, to the additional benefits players with a previous subscriptions will obtain and more.