Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) originally launched the subscription-based DC Universe Online MMORPG on Windows PC and the PlayStation 3 console back on January 11, 2011. However as of November 2, the company introduced a free-to-play model (F2P) in addition to Premium and Legendary memberships, allowing casual gamers to enter DC's comic book universe with an option to upgrade to the other memberships.
Three days later on November 5, SOE president John Smedley said via Twitter that the MMORPG saw a 900-percent concurrent increase since the launch of the F2P model. The next day, Smedley claimed that the number was well over 1000-percent of DC Universe Online's pre-F2P concurrent numbers. "We're very aware of the long queues and other issues," he added, addressing lag issues stemming from the new model. "We're on it."
As indicated, the sudden influx of new users has bogged down the game's network. SOE reports that servers are currently being added to the DCUO infrastructure, and that actual paying subscribers -- those enrolled in the $14.99/m Legendary memberships, will be pushed to the front of log-in queues.
As for the actual increase in DCUO active members, Develop reports that 330,000 new players have joined since the switch to the free model, suggesting that perhaps as little as 30,000 active subscribers were running around in their virtual tights before the doors were thrown open to non-paying gamers. SOE previously stated that the decision to go F2P had nothing to do with falling subscriber numbers despite the seemingly low count.
"We are confident that going free-to-play will expand the action combat experience of DC Universe Online by making the game more accessible to every type of player so they can choose to play the game their way," said John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment. "With a portfolio that includes three successful free-to-play games – EverQuest II: Extended, Free Realms and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – we have extensive knowledge and experience to apply to DCUO and are thrilled to be taking the game free-to-play today."
According to SOE, free access allows gamers to play the base game including Gotham City, Metropolis, and all current raids and alerts outside of DLC packs. Making an in-game purchase of $5 or more automatically upgrades the player's account to Premium status which provides additional benefits like additional character slots, additional inventory slots and higher cash limits. Naturally the full-blown Legendary monthly subscription offers everything the game can dish out. However Free level players can purchase DLC packs, additional character slots, and more in-game.
To learn more about what all three plans have to offer, head here. SOE also provides instructions on how to download the game on the PlayStation 3 right here although console owners will need at least 25 GB free to install the game.