I’ve been raving about various free to play MMORPGs and MMO Games for at least 5 months now. I want to highlight in this post how far free to play has gone in the last 6 months. One of the biggest announcements came from Turbine when they announced The Lord of the Rings Online will go free to play in Fall 2010. This wasn’t that big of a surprise, as their other title Dungeons and Dragons Online had been a huge success as a free to play game. Seeing Turbine announce that Lord of the Rings Online will go free to play though is a MAJOR vote of confidence in the free to play space. Turbine is basically say, Free to Play is a VERY viable business model for high quality Western developed MMORPGs. The announcement that Lord of the Rings Online will be free to play actually shook the entire Western MMORPG world. Even the folks at Blizzard made an announcement saying they haven’t ruled out free to play for their World of Warcraft game. I suspect World of Warcraft won’t go free to play for a long time, if ever though.
A few weeks after the The Lord of the Rings Online announcement, Sony Online Entertainment dropped SHOOK the entire gaming scene by announcing that their major game EverQuest II Would go free to play. Like Dungeons and Dragons Online and a few other pay to play MMORPGs gone free to play, EverQuest II would have some restrictions, but it’s still fully free to play. This is a DOUBLE WHAMMY for the industry. It’s such a vote of confident for free to play that it is unbelievable. With two major pay to play games going free to play, I wouldn’t be surprised if Funcom announces that Age of Conan will go free to play or NCSoft announces Lineage 2 would go free to play. Heck. I’d love to see Aion go free to play too, but I don’t think that’s likely, yet.
In the last 6 months or so, free to play has gone A LONG way. Allods Online launched from gPotato and became really popular, really fast. Heck gPotato has been on a roll. Their other title Aika Online is quite awesome too. Many smaller game companies like OGPlanet have been expanding aggressively as well with games like Lost Saga, Zone 4: Fight District and NEO Online. The fact is, free to play is here to stay and it’s expanding very fast. Every time a free to play MMORPG shuts down, 5 more are launched to take its place. Aeria Games shut down Project Torque recently, but since then so many other games have launched. Gamigo actually has the game published in Europe as Level-R which will hopefully let North American players in when the servers do close for Project Torque.