EverQuest II Going Free-to-Play in December, Trailer and Interview

Sony Online Entertainment made a huge announcement today by way of a new producer letter on the official EverQuest II website - the game will be going free-to-play in December, thus combining the classic EQ2 and recent EQ2 Extended structure into one microtransaction-based service. Before we get into the details, have a look at the new F2P announcement trailer:

On membership and pricing changes:
The new membership structure for EverQuest II is simpler and easier to understand than the one we used previously, and we've adjusted the model so that Gold members in EverQuest II will get everything that current EQII subscribers do currently.

Here are the differences between the new EverQuest II membership model and the prior EQ2X membership model:

'¢ Gold membership in EverQuest II will provide access to all races and classes (except the Freeblood race and the Beastlord class) and is identical in all ways to the current subscription status on EQII Live servers.
'¢ The free membership level will be called "Free" instead of "Bronze."
'¢ Silver membership now costs 500 Station Cash instead of 1,000 Station Cash. (If you purchased a Silver membership in EverQuest II: Extended within the 60 days before the launch of this change, 500 Station Cash will be refunded to your Station Wallet.)
'¢ Players can no longer purchase a Platinum membership. Existing Platinum memberships will continue until they expire.
'¢ A matrix showing the details of the three new EverQuest II membership levels Free, Silver, and Gold is available here: http://everquest2.com/free_to_play/game_overview

So basically, you can play at the Free level (with restrictions), upgrade to Silver to remove a bunch of those restrictions. or sign up for Gold membership and remove *all* of those restrictions, depending on which expansions you have on your account.

And a little something from a new interview with executive producer Dave Georgeson on Massively:
Live players will be happy with the changes because there's no change to what they currently get with their subscription. If you're an EQII live subscriber right now, you'll become part of the gold membership, but nothing changes in your plan. Gold membership will now offer all races and all classes and will basically become the standard subscription plan that players on live servers are used to. You can buy gold plans in chunks, meaning that for the first time, SOE is offering non-recurring membership plans of one, three, six, and 12 months (they can be re-upped if you choose to keep playing). The silver plan is now reduced to a flat fee of $5 (down from $10), but the team won't be promoting that as much as the gold membership, and players who purchased silver in the last 60 days before launch for the original $10 will be reimbursed the difference. SOE will also reimburse gold players who purchased race packs in the last 60 days; the devs want to make sure that things are as fair to the players as possible. The platinum plan will be discontinued, but players who currently are on the plan will continue to stay on it until their time runs out, and then they will have the option of renewing under a different plan if they choose. In addition, players will be able to transfer across all the servers.

The Marketplace will be consolidated and offer the same things across the board for all plans. That means the "power" items currently on the Extended server will be removed, including mastercrafted gear, health and power potions, tradeskill components, self-rez scrolls, runes of devastation, and the wand of obliteration. Georgeson noted that this doesn't mean those items will never come back to the Market; SOE will seek player input on that through polls and feedback threads before making any changes. He added that player feedback will be even more important to the team after the transition to free-to-play because if the team isn't "making what the players want, that's a really good way to lose [them]." Players who currently have "power" items will be able to keep them, and since most of them are consumable, they'll eventually be gone from the game.