'Champions Online' Joining the Ranks of Free-To-Play MMOs

Champions Online Free To Play

Champions Online is an epic superhero MMORPG that takes players from the shiny skyscrapers of Millennium City to the frozen wastelands of Canada. Starting January 25, 2011, players will be able to use their super powers to take on the myriad threats that lie inside of Cryptic Studios' comic book inspired universe, and it won’t cost them a dime to do so. Champions Online is going free-to-play. As a matter of fact, there isn’t even a required credit card input to play the free version!

Champions Online originally released back in September of 2009, and while it was by no means a bad game, it did come with its share of graphical and structural glitches. Even after Cryptic released a few updates the very next month, addressing some of those issues and adding content, Champions Online was still having a hard time maintaining subscribers. Given World of Warcraft's domination of the subscription-based MMO market, it was tough for Champions to compete, and a change was in order.

The free-to-play structure can be overwhelmingly successful, as proven by the recent example of Lord of the Rings Online tripling its revenue since adopting that model. Champions Online launched a beta last November, implementing a free-to-play strategy in an attempt to regain player interest, and it must have been quite a success.

Players currently subscribing to Champions Online for $14.99 a month are now considered Gold members, and will have access to most of the game's premium content and extra features, such as Adventure Packs. Anyone coming in new with a free-to-play account will have access to the full game (except for those Adventure Packs), and can purchase premium content from the game's C-Store, or upgrade to a Gold member status at any time for that same $14.99 price point. Players who once subscribed and have since given up on the game will find the characters they created still exist.

The timing of Cryptic's decision to make Champions Online free-to-play comes just as Sony Online Entertainment's DC Universe Online is finally being released for the PC and PlayStation 3. With two superhero MMOs on the market, each with a different revenue model (DC Universe Online carries a subscription fee), which game will consumers choose? We may not have a definitive answer for some time, but it could be a whole lot of fun finding out.

So Ranters, are you currently subscribing to Champions Online? Do you intend to try out the game when it goes free-to-play, or are you more interested in DC Universe Online? Do you think the move to a free-to-play model can be as successful for Champions Online as it was for Lord of the Rings Online?

Source: Champions Online, CVG

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