Sony Online Entertainment has announced that EverQuest II will be going free-to-play this December, but it might be more accurate to say that more content from the long-running MMORPG will become free with cheaper and less restrictive subscription options for paying players. Under the current EverQuest II Extended membership plan, players can already access large portions of the game for free as bronze members, with options to access more content by paying for silver, gold, or platinum memberships.
“Basically, if you boil it way down, all we’re really doing is making it a lot easier for people to pay however they want to pay,” says EverQuest executive producer David Georgeson. “That’s the whole point of the conversion. We still have recurring subscriptions. Those are still available. But there’s also non-recurring subscriptions, which is new to the MMO industry as far as I know.”
You can see a detailed rundown of the expected adjustments to EverQuest II’s membership matrix on the second page of this article, but Georgeson quickly sums up the major changes for EverQuest fans. “EverQuest II Extended had bronze, silver, gold and platinum [plans]. We are now calling “bronze” free. Name change only. No differences. We’re only charging $5 dollars for silver membership instead of $10. That’s the only difference. And on gold memberships, the only difference is that now gold members will have access to all race packs instead of having to pay for them individually. And the fourth and final difference in the matrix is that we don’t offer platinum anymore,” explains Georgeson, adding “The worst thing that can happen to you is that you will get more than what you were paying for before.”
When asked about refunds for platinum members, SOE responded, saying “No refunds are needed. Platinum users…stay as Platinum. We’re not offering Platinum to new users, but existing Platinum users stay Platinum and keep all their perks. They can even re-up on the Platinum membership if they so desire, once the sub expires…but if they ever drop Platinum for any reason, they can only become a Gold member thereafter.”
“You decide what it’s worth,” says Georgeson in regards to the upcoming EverQuest II conversion. “If it’s really good and you like it a lot, there are payment options. If it’s only okay, then you can play it for a while at a lower cost. If you don’t ever want to pay a dime, that’s your prerogative, because the more people that play – regardless of whether they pay or not – it’s good for the game. The more people that are in the game, the better off you are.”
Above: An early look at the new membership matrix for EverQuest II
News of EverQuest II’s additional free content follows many successful conversions to a free-to-play model, including DC Universe Online’s recent transition. According to Georgeson, the traditional monthly fee model for MMOs won’t be an industry tradition for much longer. “I call that pay and hope,” says Georgeson in regards to the monthly fees. “That’s the player perspective. Basically, you pay (you don’t have a choice but to pay) and then you hope that the content will be good for the money that you put out. And that’s just not the way the world should work anymore. And that’s not the way the world’s gonna work.”
SOE plans to roll out the EverQuest II conversion later this December. Meanwhile fans of the original EverQuest can look forward to the November 15 release of the series’ 18th expansion, Veil of Alaris.