Trion Worlds has announced that End of Nations, the studio’s upcoming MMO/RTS hybrid, will be free-to-play. The news marks a change of direction for Trion and follows the continued success of the studio’s well-received MMORPG Rift, which uses a more traditional monthly-fee model. “Being able to offer a premium game such as End of Nations for free sets us apart in this industry,” said executive producer Dave Luehmann.
But like many “core” gamers, some at Trion didn’t always feel so enthusiastic about free-to-play titles. “As I’ve looked over the years, I’ve seen gamers and people in the games industry alike, becoming terrified of what they see with social gaming, casual gaming, and mobile gaming – and the “softening” of what “core” gaming is all about in favor of a free-to-play business model,” explained senior vice president of publishing David Reid in a Q&A session.
What Reid says makes sense. Rewind a few years back to the days when free-to-play titles carried even more of a stigma than they do today with one to two-year late ports of generic MMOs arriving non-stop from Asia. However, since then, we’ve seen the free-to-play model work – and work well, bringing us better titles with higher production values that are damn good fun.
Above: Trion believes that releasing the End of Nations client for free will help ensure that thousands of players will be taking part in the game's 50-plus PvP battles
“With End of Nations, we think we’ve got something really interesting where it’s not just a free-to-play game, but it is a AAA game. There’s no apologies whatsoever,” continued Reid. And make no mistake, End of Nations does seem very promising.
End of Nations’ world will feature MMO-like persistency mixed with impressive 50-plus player battles. These multiplayer battles, singleplayer campaigns, and a co-op mode, will all be available for everyone to play whenever they want and for as long as they want - and if lots of players don’t spend a dime on micro-transactions that might actually be a good thing for End of Nations.
“I think in a well constructed free-to-play game, players who choose to never give you money, should still be able to have a lot of fun and add to the experience,” said Luehmann, which cuts to the core of what so often deters us from giving any free-to-play title a chance. According to Trion, the company is very much against the idea of being able to “buy your way to the top” with micro-transaction purchases and “velvet rope” designs that lock players out of premium content. Instead, Trion Worlds is looking closely at other successful free titles out there, keeping its eyes on movers and shakers, like League of Legends and World of Tanks, games that focus more on keeping things fun with the option to buy cosmetic and convenience items – not nickel-and-diming you with “pay-to-win” fees.
While no specific release date has been announced, End of Nations is expected to launch later this year. For more on the game, check out our most recent hands-on preview with the unique RTS and the official End of Nations website.
Aug 11, 2011