After the wild success of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft we have seen a lot of similar titles try to get in on the action, none of which have even come close to dethroning the king of the MMO genre. Some have made lasting impacts on the gaming community, many lived a short life, and others like Star Trek Online and Age of Conan have found a niche of fans to keep them going by employing an entirely new price model: free.
Now, DC Universe Online is also going free-to-play.
Two weeks ago it was announced that Star Trek Online is going to become free-to-play and it wasn't long before that that Age of Conan announced went free as well, while at the same time, re-branding the MMO. We have yet to see the effect of the free-to-play to model on Star Trek Online's popularity, but it is safe to say that it helped out Age of Conan: Unrated with 300,000 new subscribers joining after going free.
Now your favorite superhero-based MMO has announced that it to will dive into the world of free-to-play. Sony Online Entertainment has announced that in late October 2011 DC Universe Online will become free-to-play with three different subscription options for players. All different subscription levels are available to both PS3 and PC players. The three levels are: Free, Premium, and Legendary - All of which will give the player access to the world and missions along with updates and fixes for the game. The three different subscription plans with offer different options and benefits to player.
- The "Free" level will allow new players to create two characters and explore all the world has to offer, currently. Including raids and alerts, Gotham City and Metropolis. You will be able to join a league. Along with the ability purchase downloadable game packs/updates, extra character slots, powers, etc. through microtransactions. Along with other benefits.
- The "Premium" level gives players more benefits than the "Free" level, obviously, and gives you things such as additional character & inventory slots, and higher cash limits. In order to be worthy of the "Premium" level you have to have had spent at least $5 USD, which includes new players and former paid subscribers, on in-game items.
- Lastly, the "Legendary" level will set players back the typical $14.99 a month subscription fee. With the "Legendary" level, you will have access to all the game's DLC for free, more than 15 character slots, more than 80 inventory slots, and the ability to create an unrestricted-sized league.
More information regarding DC Universe Online's move to their new tiered subscription service can be found here at the DC Universe Online website.
Will DCU succeed in dropping the subscription fees? The most apt comparison would be to Cryptic's Champions Online which lives on after going free-to-play back in January. They followed in the footsteps of Lord of the Rings Online which, believe it or not, tripled its revenue after employing the free-to-play model.
With so many MMOs offering players a chance to play for free, will games like Star Wars: The Old Republic survive by charging expensive monthly fees like World of Warcraft is able to do?
DC Universe Online is currently available for the PS3 and PC.