The Cryptic Studios superhero MMO, Champions Online, will be operating under a new business model in 2011. Atari has announced that the MMO will be switching to a free-to-play model in the first quarter of next year.
For those who have wanted to join the legion of crime fighters in Champions Online, next year all you will need to do is download the game and start playing. No subscription will be required. In this free-to-play model, gamers will be able to purchase items, services, and premium content to customize their gameplay options. Straight from the Xbox Live naming model, those who partake in the soon-to-be optional subscription will be classified as Gold Members while the more financially conscious members will be designated Silver Members. Silver Members will able to play all of the content, with the exception of the Adventure Packs.
Characters created in the world will be designated as Silver or Gold. For those cancelled their subscription and may want to come back as a Silver Member, like myself, your characters you created are still there, untouched. However, you'll need to convert your superhero to Silver. Cryptic Studios has yet to determine how character conversion will actually work.
With the new model, Cryptic Studios is introducing a new way to define heroes in the game: Archetypes. The Archetypes system is a new way to progress your character. Instead of choosing abilities over time, gamers will be progressing like they are in a traditional class-based role-playing game. The hand-designed hero progressions will be based on and inspired from superheros from comic book lore. This system will be implemented to make it easier for people to get into the game and quickly find their path to becoming successful in Champions Online. Gold Members will have the option to create their own custom classes.
Champions Online going free-to-play is an interesting move. The phrase "free-to-play" instantly increases the potential for the success of a MMO. Free-to-play means pick up and play. Gamers will at least give it a try to see if it's for them. Also, as more high quality free-to-play games are released to the masses, the standards for a game requiring a monthly payment have increased. People are always looking to get more for less. Champions Online has had its share of issues and has lost subscribers. This new model would be an excellent way to recover some players and gain even more.
I will probably jump back in as a Silver Member. The free-to-play beta begins November 9th. Does this news of the news model make you more inclined to give Champions Online a try?