EverQuest producer Thom Terrazas said on Monday that Sony Online Entertainment's (SOE) former flagship MMORPG is (finally) going into free-to-play mode in March -- probably March 16, exactly thirteen years after it went live for Windows-based PCs. The news arrives after Sony introduced a free-to-play model for the game's successor, EverQuest 2, in December 2011 which experienced a 40-percent increase in log-ins as a result.
"We're excited to be expanding the EverQuest experience by making the game more accessible to every type of player so that you can choose to play the game in a way that suits you best," Terrazas said in a community letter. "Anyone who wishes to start, return or continue to play one of the "Best Games of All-Time" can simply download and play EverQuest on their terms – think of it as Free to Play, Your Way. Recurring subscriptions, non-recurring subscriptions, Silver or Free memberships, item unlockers, and more. The game will now be setup to be flexible so that *you* can decide how much to pay, based on how much fun you're having."
As noted, EverQuest becomes an official teenager on March 16. To celebrate, Sony will host additional events within the game starting that week and leading up to the Special Birthday. New items are currently being introduced within The Plane of Knowledge to give existing members a taste of what's to come. Other changes and additions include a revamped EverQuest.com website once the F2P model goes live, and an improved Map system.
"Also at the free-to-play launch, all players will receive a Welcome Pack containing items to add to your gameplay experience," he said. "You'll be able to summon a unique Mercenary to fight by your side and we're including some Bayle Marks to help pay for the services of your newly summoned Mercenary. A couple of Experience Potions are also included to help you increase your experience gained while adventuring. For all the collectors that like to show off all the great wares to your friends, we're giving you an item to display in your home and add to your collection. And finally, you'll be able to customize the appearance of one of your weapons with a Weapon Ornamentation - also included in the Welcome Pack. So be sure to check the claim window for your free gifts."
Terrazas added that the EverQuest development team will host a Community Webcast on Thursday February 2, 2012, covering the F2P details. Until then, it's easy to assume the classic MMORPG may feature a three-tier structure similar to EverQuest 2, offering a basic free account, a silver account providing extra perks once players spend $5, and a full-blown monthly subscription granting access to everything EverQuest has to offer.
Since its launch just before Y2K, EverQuest has seen eighteen expansions in its lifetime, ranging from The Ruins of Kunark in April 2000 to Veil of Alaris in November 2011. The franchise has also produced a large number of spinoffs including Champions of Norrath for the PlayStation 2, Lord of EverQuest for the PC, and EverQuest Hero's Call for Pocket PC.
Seriously, how long has it been since you've played the original EverQuest?