Free-to-Play (F2P) is the thing at the moment. It is the thing that will save large, lolloping companies and will wring more money (or any money in some cases) from huge projects. Take for instance Cryptic's F2P version of Neverwinter, which goes into "Open Beta" on April 30, 2013.
In a now standard piece of sleight of tongue this testing stage is being heralded as a "allowing millions of players unrestricted access to the game world." Think of it as pre-opening night opening or maybe even a "theatrical preview".
Cryptic Studios Executive Producer and COO, Craig Zinkievich spins it up a notch with, "The direct response and support from the Neverwinter community during our Closed Beta Weekends have pushed us to make Neverwinter the best free-to-play MMORPG anyone has yet seen." This is, we assume, rather than "We were going to knock out a so-so game for the cash before hand.... "
He goes on, "On April 30, we go into Open Beta. That's when the world we've labored for years to build comes to life -- that's when every gamer can login and play what we've worked so hard to create. We could not be more excited."
Stop there weary traveller of the F2P market place and ask yourself... how can something that is Free-to-Play have an "Open Beta"? What's the actual difference?
In this case there appears to be an answer, "There will be no character wipes or restricted access after the start of Open Beta." Neat.
Also, "beginning 12:00 p.m. (PDT) on Friday, April 12, Founders will get the first opportunity to experience Neverwinter's professions system as part of a newly added 60-hour Beta Weekend..." good show!
Also, if you're in there then, you can "pursue four different professions: Leadership, Mailsmithing, Platesmithing and Leatherworking."
But wait! In order to get these things you must be a "Founder". You do this by getting a lovely Founderís Pack. This gets you include exclusive access to Beta Weekend 4, permanent in-game items that are unique to Founders, early access to Open Beta, and VIP perks."