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SOE Converting Another MMO to F2P: Vanguard

By - Source: SOE, Andy Sites | B 14 comments

SOE's struggling MMORPG Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will get the free-to-play injection too.

Sony Online Entertainment is converting yet another subscription-based virtual world into a free-to-play MMORPG -- Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Andy Sites, SOE's Director of Development, made the announcement on Friday after he addressed the fan base with a thank-you for their support over the last five years.

The PC game originally launched back in 2007 with mostly negative reviews, initially selling around 242,000 copies. But over the next three years, the team would fight to stamp out performance issues, leading to more criticism. Eventually Vanguard's player base dwindled down to next to nothing, forcing SOE in July 2010 merge the three remaining U.S. servers into one, bringing the total worldwide number of servers at a meager two. Population reportedly didn't begin to pick up until last year after new content and two updates were released.

"We've had a dry spell of game updates over the past few months," Sites reports in his update. "That said, I'm happy to announce the drought will be coming to an end this week, with our first scheduled update since last December.  We plan to roll out game updates MUCH more frequently than years past, which will include general improvements, new content and more."

"A few weeks ago, we began ramping up the Vanguard development team with some familiar faces.  Our criteria was simple; we wanted the most Vanguard-knowledgeable, passionate developers," he continues. "While we plan to continue growing the team over the next few months, I wanted to briefly introduce a few of our team leads, including Salim "Silius" Grant (Creative Director), Todd "Hobart" Schmidt (Technical Director) and me, Andy Sites (Director of Development).  Fortunately, I am the only noob to the world of Vanguard, although having been part of the original EverQuest, EverQuest II, Free Realms, and Clone Wars Adventures teams, I've spent most of my career working on MMOs."

As for the game adding a free-to-play mode, he didn't provide specific details, only stating that fans can expect to see something similar to what SOE offers with EverQuest, EverQuest 2 and DC Universe Online. The company just recently added the F2P model to EverQuest after 13 years on the PC gaming market, and also just recently injected DC Universe Online with the F2P model at the end of 2011. EverQuest 2 and FreeRealms were the first of SOE's MMORPGs to support the freebie model.

Vanguard is expected to go into F2P mode this summer. Until then, fans should see additional game updates and more information about what the F2P model will offer sometime within the next few weeks.

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  • 0 Hide
    alidan , March 24, 2012 11:00 AM
    eq f2p kills any of the higher end content, however, everquest, the best part was the 1-60 gameplay, so its all good

    i dont know much about vanguard besides the dev team was fairly screwed, microsoft was original going to publish it but only if it went dx10 only, than they had to go back to soe, and were kind of screwed there too. if i remember right the team was old venerant the people who made eq. may have to check it out if they dont butcher it for f2p
  • -1 Hide
    Marcus52 , March 24, 2012 2:32 PM
    Quality leeches form MMOGs in the name of selling to players who have no standards. "Cool. I can play free!" is the cry, as currency leaves their pockets just the same - or more.
  • 0 Hide
    jalek , March 24, 2012 6:13 PM
    Broken in beta, broken in release.
    I tried it again last year, and was stuck inside a rock looking out within minutes.
    Still too high a price.
  • 0 Hide
    Raid3r , March 24, 2012 7:09 PM
    Too many of you denounce f2p's. There is tons of evidence out in the big wide world that proves money does NOT inspire development. I for one don't think this shifty 60 bucks for a limited play time, followed up by monthly payment, followed by "buy our expansion!?!?" is a reasonable or relevant business model. Nor have I ever. Talk about welfare, talk about over valued fantasy junk. Think about it. As you do, but on my end I will continue to rail against this horrible business model that I feel has disrupted a good thing.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2012 7:39 PM
    I actually loved this game on release, played it for a month, but could not get into it due to the lack of pollish on the game engine.
    Performance was the biggest issue for a lot of people and i think that really ruined the potential of Vanguard, but now it is released on F2P, i am quite interested in what it is going to do :) 
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , March 24, 2012 9:02 PM
    Raid3rToo many of you denounce f2p's. There is tons of evidence out in the big wide world that proves money does NOT inspire development. I for one don't think this shifty 60 bucks for a limited play time, followed up by monthly payment, followed by "buy our expansion!?!?" is a reasonable or relevant business model. Nor have I ever. Talk about welfare, talk about over valued fantasy junk. Think about it. As you do, but on my end I will continue to rail against this horrible business model that I feel has disrupted a good thing.


    i believe that the base game should cost money, and you should pay mothly, but expantions are a hell no, in most games that will cause people the be haves and have nots, where you need the expantion to keep playing.

    i dont know the overhead for serve costs on an mmo and would love to know.
  • 0 Hide
    Raidur , March 24, 2012 9:28 PM
    alidaneq f2p kills any of the higher end content, however, everquest, the best part was the 1-60 gameplay, so its all goodi dont know much about vanguard besides the dev team was fairly screwed, microsoft was original going to publish it but only if it went dx10 only, than they had to go back to soe, and were kind of screwed there too. if i remember right the team was old venerant the people who made eq. may have to check it out if they dont butcher it for f2p



    If you like the 1-60 gameplay check out "Project1999". It's a private EQ emulation that started off completely classic, zero expansions, no maps, with actual boats, etc... How EQ is supposed to be played.

    They released Kunark a few months back raising the cap to 60, on schedule with how SOE did it back in the day. The developing team is simply amazing and the community is rock solid and active.

    I play almost every day, check it out!
  • 1 Hide
    scannall , March 24, 2012 10:05 PM
    Vanguards biggest problem was that it launched in a very bad beta state. And by the time they got it straightened out it was too late. There is so much good about that game that it really pissed me off that they launched it so early.

    I'll likely go back and play it more since it is going f2p, as there really is a lot of good stuff in it.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , March 25, 2012 5:49 AM
    RaidurIf you like the 1-60 gameplay check out "Project1999". It's a private EQ emulation that started off completely classic, zero expansions, no maps, with actual boats, etc... How EQ is supposed to be played.They released Kunark a few months back raising the cap to 60, on schedule with how SOE did it back in the day. The developing team is simply amazing and the community is rock solid and active.I play almost every day, check it out!


    project 1999 if base eq, level 1-50... i don't think eq was good back than, though i played it religiously because that was really it, there was nothing else good like it at the time. i believe the game opened up and became very good around the 5th expansion, planes of power. it removed the stiff, and i mean VERY stiff penalty go death in the game, i believe added the first instanced raid content (guilds didn't compete over the same content anymore) and made travel in the game fun, instead of tedious and costly as it was before.

    it may be fun to go back and play all that content again like it was before... but... i just cant see myself doing it without friends who would be dedicated.

    last time i played eq before the seeds of distrcution expansion, i had to wait in pok for 6 hours trying to get a group, and i was the best non raid melee dps you could get. i just cant go back to that. it would take either a dedicated group, or mercs...
  • 0 Hide
    airborne11b , March 25, 2012 8:02 AM
    Vg launched about 6 months too early according to brad mcquad *eq and vg head dev*. But it wasn't out of greed or stupidity, it was because they ran out of funding. Had they had the funding, the release would have been great, which would have meant better reviews/fan reception, more sales, more money, and a lot better of a game. This is, however, the reality of most games that try to be revolutionary. Not enough time/money to put their ideas into a working game.
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    utgardaloki , March 25, 2012 1:35 PM
    Vanguard is by far the most fun I've ever had in an mmo. The world is huge both horizontally as well as vertically. You can go anywhere and it's generally instance free.
    More than anything Vanguard feels like a real world more than any other game I've played. It feels more organic in its layout where other mmos feel very artificial and organized - if you're going to enter this valley or section you need to go through this narrow passage or portal and the game goes to a loading screen. This imho takes away from the open world experience and it often leads to enemies knowing where you are.
    But in Vanguard you can travel for kilometres before entering say a large valley from any direction by foot, mount or flying mount. If you can levitate or someone has given you a buff to levitate and your character having aquired skills to run fast enough you can levitate in from a very high mountain far away and travel safely high above others' sight into said valley. The guild regroups on the other side of the valley unknowingly to your biggest enemy guild who is on the other side of it doing their business. Scouts from your guild are spying on the enemy from the mountain side above them telling our guild where the enemies are and what they're doing. Then we all sweep in, most on the ground while some druids (starfall FTW) and sorcs levitate in pounding them from above with some powerful long reaching AOEs crashing their party as well as goal to keep them from evolving further. Or they spot and take out our levitators early before landing much of a hit and we fail misserably.
    Or you want to get to an area where there are some very valuble mats you or your guild might need but can't due to for instance the char's fighting skills not being up to snuff. Then just get there by rented flying mount avoiding the enemies and pvp. If your flying mount is making you too visible you can ones again, levitate in which makes you more of a dot in the sky rather than a big blob. I had a levitating ring and once in the clouds above the location I would take it off causing me to fall fast rather than slowly giving others little time to spot me. Then right before I was to hit the ground (and die) I'd put it on again and land safely. Especially our biggest enemy guild really didn't want us to get our hands on too much of those mats so when ever anyone of them cought wind of us the cavalry would show up and ruin it all. Once there I was stuck but as long as I managed to steer clear and hide from roaming pve and pvp I could port back to my binding location when done. It might sound like mmo business as usual but trust me. In Vanguard these kinds of things are often very exciting, hard, might take a long time and are very awarding when you manage to pull it off. The world is so big and open (keeps you out of sight) and free and it gives you the tools to go about your business most any way you choose.

    By the time of it's release though it was also the buggiest game I've ever played not to mention many broken quests. The developers were constantly keeping the comunity up to date on the development leading up to its release stating that though the game was finished they badly needed more time and money to iron out all the bugs. The project was very ambitious and after many years in the making it had to be released due to lack of funding even though the developers were very clear about the game needing several more months of polish. It didn't take long before people started to flee the game. Once the bugs were more or less brought down to an acceptable level the damage was already done.
    I stopped playing it in the end since there were too few to fight or team up with.

    If you haven't tried it yet you really should once it goes f2p.
  • 0 Hide
    Raidur , March 25, 2012 7:00 PM
    alidanproject 1999 if base eq, level 1-50... i don't think eq was good back than, though i played it religiously because that was really it, there was nothing else good like it at the time. i believe the game opened up and became very good around the 5th expansion, planes of power. it removed the stiff, and i mean VERY stiff penalty go death in the game, i believe added the first instanced raid content (guilds didn't compete over the same content anymore) and made travel in the game fun, instead of tedious and costly as it was before.it may be fun to go back and play all that content again like it was before... but... i just cant see myself doing it without friends who would be dedicated. last time i played eq before the seeds of distrcution expansion, i had to wait in pok for 6 hours trying to get a group, and i was the best non raid melee dps you could get. i just cant go back to that. it would take either a dedicated group, or mercs...


    IMO PoP took a lot of the exploration and travel fun out of the game. Then it just became a pok>get buffs>group MMO.
  • 0 Hide
    ablesyilaij , March 27, 2012 8:07 AM
    It's a private EQ emulation that started off completely classic, zero expansions, no maps, with actual boats, etc... How EQ is supposed to be played.
  • 0 Hide
    thegh0st , March 27, 2012 5:50 PM
    meant to add a comment yesterday - I couldnt agre more with scannall & utgardaloki

    Vanguard is an excellent game and one of the best MMO's there has been. Sure it is definitely missing the polish that WoW has, but most MMO's are missing the target there.

    True OPEN world is just awesome. Mounts at level 10 was so wonderful. And as mentioned there is nothing like casting levitation and walking off a cliff/mountain down to some far off destination. Checking out Khel in the distance (I think was the port city) from a side trail on a mountain was just awesome. And bam, levitate and aim for the city! Just a cool feeling and site making your way there as you slowly lose altitude.

    Crafting in Vanguard, oh wow. You actually NEED skill to make something in this game. It's not click and make or I gotta make 200 of these to get one thing to critical. Sure gathering you needed some luck to get the rare materials but that didn't seem the same was waiting on a critical to hit. And group gathering, heck that made it fun at least. You and a buddy could farm an area for materials for both of you and loot and experience even if you don't have the same crafts.

    Also, the brotherhood system. Best grouping system ever and to this day I don't understand why other games don't offer it.

    Shaman class in Vanguard, well, all I can say is to this day it is the most well rounded class in any MMO I have played. Like maybe 3 things you couldn't do in some form. Maybe was 4 or 5. It's been a while for me. But you could shape shift, play caster as a healer or damage dealer with DoT's, you could play melee, cast lots of buffs (levitation, underwater breathing, etc.), you could summon to dungeon areas, resurrect players, and I'm sure I am missing a couple of things.

    Don't forget houses & boats though boats were (might still be) more of a novelty.

    Oh, and before I forget. For Christmas, everyone that makes it to the main city on the Thestra continent actually gets a FREE MOUNT. A reindeer mount! (Randolf if I remember correctly) And no matter what your level is(or was) during the Christmas event he CAN FLY! So everyone at the time gets to fly (so cool let me tell you). And after the Christmas event he loses his flight until next year but you get to KEEP him and still have a ridable mount to use. And he isn't some cheese-nut skin like in WoW. He is an ACTUAL mount. As far as I know none of that has changed but it could have.

    I am probably forgetting some things but it is definitely a game to check out even if it wasn't free. But heck, when it is there is no excuse not to.