DC Universe Gains 300K+ Users Days After Going Free

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.

  • Goldengoose
    Guild wars 2
  • digiex
    Did the increase in user base actually translate to the increase in revenue?
  • wildkitten
    And no article on the Activision Blizzard conference call yet?

    Not sure about F2P models. Many of them you actually sink more money into then a subscription game. Guild Wars seems to be the only company who got the F2P completely right. None of their microtransactions are manadtory to play the game. They are purely cosmetic, or in the case of skills and pets, they can be obtained freely through normal game play. The only important thing you can buy is extra storage tabs, and at the most that's $60, if you have only one campaign, $40 is you have all four releases. Hopefully they don't leave this model for GW2 and other MMO's will follow it as it has been successful for ArenaNet.
  • danwat1234
    I prefer to play half-life2 with cinematic mod 11..
  • sayakbiswas
    This is good news, it shows a good trend.

    i have pondered a lot about the F2P model, overpriced games (Cost Of Duty, Bulletstorm etc), piracy........and how to make the game developers an income.

    Heres my 5 cents as a pc gamer ...

    1) 60$ for a game!!! (that sometimes lasts only 5-8 hrs) . Thats absurd. A game should actually be long enough so that you can actually start liking it. (Think of the amount of time you spent playing STALKER and GTA 4) I got those PC games for 9.99$ in my country one month of launch in my malls retail store. I live in India.

    2) Single Player is always going to be pirated more and Steam has grown to be solid alternative/control system that i like.

    3) about Multiplayer........casual and competitive gameplay have merge together. Thats the thing steam does with CS. theres a great rift, the core players only mostly play cs 1.6,CSS, Dota and Starcratf 1,2. Also i'd love to see more games like All Points Bulletin. Think GTA IV, but add in NFS Most Wanted style Multiplayer racing in the streets. Its possible with mods, why not just add it to retail. You can charge them Monthly for a cheaper fee like 5-10 $(make it cheaper than their mobile/internet cost)......and go for a debit card transaction.....A lot of college students have the money but not a credit card. U'll get a Huge playerbase. My other multiplayer game wouldbe would be something like STALKER, but completely MMOFPS. To make it more competitive u can have custom 5v5 rounds with diff game mechanics. u fight for money,assassinations, bomb sites,rescue hostiges etc...

    4) Free 2 Play......here's my idea. Take the aforementioned APB type multiplayer game, make it f2p. The only catch is, u can play only 5-6 hrs a week, then it cost you something.

    5) Piracy is not that bad any more, the pirating kids are getting jobs now and startlng to pay for the games now. I pirate games and keep on playing it......modding it if possible,without anyy drm and stuff.if i like a game, If i like like a game i just buy it retail and keep the box on the shelf. I've started to buy on steam recently.

    /ran out of beer...

  • sayakbiswas
    edit: 3) casual and competitive gameplay have 'to' merge together.

    ps: how to edit posts???
  • bv90andy
    In other news: GM reports that all their cars got sold out in 20 minutes after they started giving them for free.
  • kira1912
    "4) Free 2 Play......here's my idea. Take the aforementioned APB type multiplayer game, make it f2p. The only catch is, u can play only 5-6 hrs a week, then it cost you something. "

    -if you're gonna restrict players this tightly might as well stick to p2p model. casual mmo gamer are like very little in numbers compared to hardcore mmo players.
  • gsxrme
    wrong kira1912. We have full access to everything. We're just limited to how much ingame $ we can have and Character slots and item slots. nothing more.
  • Ichy
    Free 2 play could turn out to be the best business model. Why? Well take a look at APB; mentioned by Sayakbiswas, Combat Arms, League of Legend, Heroes of Newearth or Global Agenda on steam. The games are free to play. In some cases you can purchase the game to receive benefits; this is the case with Global Agenda an fps type mmo and HoN; HoN had to be purchased at one point but later became free to play. All of these are from little companies that are making big splashes in the casual gamer market. They make there money on micro transactions, where people purchase points to buy items, Character/weapon Skins, or game Boosts (xp gain as an example).

    Some times these purchase are permanent some have expiration dates, but they don't cost a whole lot. What this does is set the players mind frame as "OH look "X" is only $.99 for 10 days I'll try it out!". Once the 10 days are up, a player is more likely to purchase the more expensive version. The model ensures that the Enthusiasts will still spend around $15 a month on skins and boosts while still allowing the casual player the game experience, and in most cases the casual player will buy boosts, but not on the same scale as the enthusiasts.

    Something else to note, some of the biggest games in history were games that you paid a base amount of about $50 bucks for and had free to play multiplayer. Starting with the old: Doom, Quake, Halflife, Diablo, Starcraft, Unreal and CS. I include CS last because it was originally a mod for the Halflife engine that was free until valve got a hold of it around beta 1.6 and turned it into its own game.