Sony Online Entertainment has obviously been inspired by Dungeons & Dragons Online's successful implementation of a free-to-play business model, as they've just issued a press release announcing plans to introduce their own free-to-play component in EverQuest II. The details:
SONY ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT LIBERATES PLAYERS WITH EVERQUEST® II EXTENDEDâ„¢
Gamers can now experience the world of Norrath without a subscription in the new free adventure service
SAN DIEGO, Calif. July 27, 2010 Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) announced today that a new free adventure service is coming to players worldwide with the release of EverQuest® II Extendedâ„¢. The critically acclaimed PC franchise has liberated more than five years of impressive, award-winning content to online adventurers, absolutely free.
Extended joins the highly successful EverQuest II live subscription service, and together, provide EQII players with a choice of either a subscription-based or free-to-play business model -- two distinct experiences operating in parallel, a first in the MMO industry!
(As the digital entertainment market evolves, SOE is focused on continued innovation in content delivery that best fit the needs of the growing consumer base,) said Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley. (Our goal with Extended is to offer players an alternative to our current subscription program that gives them the option to choose a program that best fits their play style.)
Extended provides access to premium subscription-quality content through free and optional paid membership levels. Powered by an all-new web-based download application, new and veteran players alike can experience the excitement and depth of EQII's content without a daunting installation or a massive download. Players can register within minutes, download the client to join other people in an epic journey, and launch into adventure in a fantastical online 3D world. Extended is the ultimate MMORPG experience. Excitement with every breath and adventure around every turn is now available for free!
(The very nature of an MMO is change, and the decision to create Extended was fueled by evolution of the industry landscape,) said EverQuest II Producer, David Georgeson. (By offering two services side by side we have given the power to our players to determine the program that best fits their game play style.)
Extended players will finally experience the vast depth of content only available in EverQuest II without a subscription, credit card or software purchase. Extended will include free access to all EverQuest II game zones through The Shadow OdysseyTM. Players will be able to purchase power-up potions, armor, classes, races, weapons, mounts and more through the marketplace.
Both EverQuest II and Extended players will enjoy a plethora of recent user-interface improvements designed to improve functionality and game navigation. Players will experience a new and improved character progression through the Golden Path while creating their own legend with the Storyteller adventure journal that visually displays quest exploration. Additionally, both titles received a graphics quality update that gives a more realistic immersive experience to fully enjoy the beauty of Norrrath.
The Extended adventure includes the recently added New Halas, the ultimate starting zone with premium designed content for players levels 1-20. Extended also gives players quick and convenient game access through the web-based streaming download application that lets players get into the game quicker than ever before. Extended will also feature multiple tiers of service upgrade options that allow players to customize their gaming experience to fit their needs. Details of these options can be found at http://eq2players.station.sony.com/_themes/default/images/extended/membershipMatrix.jpg.
EQII Extended is scheduled for a beta launch on or around August 17, 2010. For more information on EQII Extended visit www.eq2extended.com and the FAQ is available at http://eq2players.station.sony.com/free_to_play/extended_faq.
About Sony Online Entertainment
Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the globe. SOE creates, develops and provides compelling entertainment for the personal computer, online, game console and wireless markets. Known for its blockbuster franchises and hit titles including EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Champions of Norrath®, Untold Legendsâ„¢, PlanetSide®, and Star Wars Galaxies, as well as the recent kids' phenomenon Free Realmsâ„¢, SOE continues to redefine the business of online gaming and the creation of active player communities while introducing new genres on various entertainment platforms. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with additional development studios in Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, and Tucson, AZ, SOE has an array of cutting-edge games in development across various platforms and genres for audiences of all ages.