RPS: So, tell me about the state of play and the expansion.
Mersky: In 2006, we launched. In 2009, we introduced Free2Play, the first game to do that. We only did it over here in North America, Codemasters elected not to do it in Europe. It was a huge success. Last year we brought out localised versions in French and German. DDO went from being off the radar to being the number 2 or 3 most played MMO in North America in 2010. The game was just fine as a service but Free2Play changed everything, it went to being right up there with World of Warcraft and LOTRO.
RPS: So you’ve had a true double-blind test there, comparing the European subs-based model and the American Free2Play model. How did they differ?
Paiz: We had more than a five-fold increase in both concurrencies, meaning concurrent players, and revenues. I think leading the charge probably helped, because I don’t know if every game gets that result. We also doubled our subscriber base at the same time and we signed up millions of new players. For DDO, it was a game-changer.
RPS: Is the Underdark under the whole of the Forgotten Realms?
Paiz: The Underdark is a huge expanse, it’s a whole realm in itself, an underworld beneath the overworld of Faerun, so we’re not going to Neverwinter, as you may know there’s another MMO in development. We’re going to a few other locales in Forgotten Realms. We’re going to land at a town called Eveningstar in Cormyr. Our players will be able to travel from our world, all the way to Eveningstar, venture into the Underdark and eventually see one of the Drow cities in there and face Lloth and her followers. It’s a pretty epic story for us. It kicks off with Update 13, our next major update that comes before the expansion. It has a series of quests, a free adventure pack, that kicks off the storyline that sets up the expansion.