Sony Online Entertainment has jumped on the free-to-play MMO bandwagon with the announcement of EverQuest II Extended, a version of the currently subscription-based RPG that offers separate servers and a business model reliant on micro-transactions.
The move follows that made by Codemasters with Lord of the Rings Online
changing to a free-to-play model. You can win a Beta key plus 5000 in-game points in our competition
Players will not be able to transfer the entirety of their characters from the paid experience to the free one - SOE is treating Extended
almost like a completely separate product. The game even has its own servers, away from the paid players. Having said that, monthly subscribers who want to transfer their experience points over to a freeplay character can do so for the sum of $35.
There are other restrictions. As a free player, you will be able to explore almost every area in the EverQuest II
world, except that of the most recent expansion pack Sentinel's Fate
. Unless you purchase that expansion pack, you also will not be able to level up beyond the 80 mark. Eight of the game's 24 character classes are available, along with four of the most popular races.
Free players will also receive no game support from SOE, instead the online FAQ recommends the self-help knowledge base to answer any queries or problems they may have with their experience. "Customer service is only provided to players who have made a real money transaction in EQII Extended or at least have a Gold membership." Bummer.
You can purchase items that will "immediately enhance your in-game experience" using Station Cash (EverQuest II
's virtual currency). These are labelled 'NO-TRADE' and can't be sold off or traded with other players. A lot of items and functions are apparently locked to free players unless they use Station Cash to buy them, or if they purchase one of many subscriptions.
A Silver Subscription is a one-time purchase that offers one extra character slot, better chat options, extra inventory capacity and allows you to create guilds. A Gold and Platinum subscription is also available, tuned to the Extended
experience - the latter costs a whopping $200 a year though. EverQuest II Extended
is currently in Alpha, and soon to be released in Beta. You can check out the FAQ on what it means for your subscription-based experience here