Tuesday NCSoft and Paragon Studios announced that the popular superhero-based MMORPG City of Heroes will be moving to a hybrid model that supports both subscription-based and free-to-play. Renamed as City of Heroes Freedom, the transition is expected to take place later on this year.
"Freedom is about getting more content into the hands of our players, whether they are subscribing or playing for free," said Brian Clayton, Executive Producer at Paragon Studios. "To do this, we’ve looked at City of Heroes from the ground up and focused on three ways to enhance the experience by giving our players more choices, greater rewards and the best content we've ever produced. And for the first time ever, players can choose to enjoy more than seven years of content for free."
As with other MMOGs going "hybrid," there will be additional perks for subscribers and limitations for those who's rather not shell out a monthly fee. Free-to-play gamers will have a level cap of 50, full access to the Hero and Villain zones, and the option to choose specific pieces of content they actually want. Players that decide to subscribe will get all current subscriber benefits as well as new VIP exclusive benefits, content and services.
As an added perk, NCSoft said that it will be giving all current City of Heroes subscribers 400 Paragon Points every month starting July 1, and will keep doing so up until the MMOG's re-launch. These points can be used to purchase costumes, items, services and consumables available via the in-game Paragon Market and will be available to use on the first day of launch.
So why is City of Heroes going free-to-play? "Simply stated, it's the right time," NCSoft answers in a FAQ. "We've been planning this transition to Freedom for well over a year now. We believe this opportunity is the best way for us to provide more value to our devoted player base than ever before, as well as grow our leadership position in the super-powered hero online gaming space. Over the past few years, MMO players have been enthusiastically embracing "choice". By making the transition now, we're putting our stake in the ground as a leader in the industry, helping to define the future of the MMO gaming space."
NCSoft also said that Issue 21: Convergence will launch alongside City of Heroes Freedom and contain a new co-op zone, a new giant monster, a new Power Set, two full costume sets and the Underground Incarnate Trial.
In other MMOG news, the LEGO Group announced that its own LEGO Universe will be going hybrid too this August. The free-to-play portion will offer a limited selection of game content, including two adventure zones and one player property area for building their own virtual LEGO models. Paying members will have access to all areas in the full game, along with membership benefits such as competitions and community events.
"The LEGO Group remains committed to success in the digital space and to LEGO Universe," said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President, the LEGO Group. "We see LEGO Universe as a key element for our digital play division, and are adjusting the business model to make the game more accessible to players, without the immediate obligation to purchase or subscribe."
LEGO my EGGO. Sorry, couldn't help it.