EverQuest is taking a cue from EverQuest II and adopting free-to-play model for its thirteenth birthday. Starting this March, the long-running fantasy MMO will add a “free” tier to its subscription model, allowing Norrath newbies and veterans alike a chance to stop paying a monthly fee and enjoy a significant amount of the EverQuest experience for no charge.
Much like all free-to-play and subscription hybrids, playing without paying comes with some fine print. As detailed on EverQuest's updated subscription matrix, a free account will be limited in terms of abilities, coin limitations, social functions, and other features. The differences are small, however hardcore players will still find great value in sticking with the Silver ($5) or Gold ($14.99) monthly accounts.
“Anyone who wishes to start, return or continue to play one of the 'Best Games of All-Time' can simply download and play EverQuest on their terms,” wrote EverQuest producer Thom Terrazas in today's announcement, adding, “think of it as Free to Play, Your Way. Recurring subscriptions, non-recurring subscriptions, Silver or Free memberships, item unlockers, and more. The game will now be setup to be flexible so that *you* can decide how much to pay, based on how much fun you're having.”
To celebrate the switch, players will also receive a no-cost Welcome Package containing extra currency (Bayle Marks), the ability to summon a unique Mercenary, a few handy stat potions, a new bragging item, and a Weapon Ornamentation that will allow MMO'ers an opportunity to customize the appearance of their weapons.
EverQuest II went free-to-play in December 2011, and has since enjoyed a huge bump in success both in terms of new registrations and in-game sales. Terrazas said he's confident EverQuest and its players will also benefit from a similar transition, noting, “Free-To-Play is the best fit for EverQuest and we are looking forward to supporting the game and our dedicated fans for years to come. This is a great year for everyone associated with EverQuest and SOE. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what's coming in 2012.”