Sony Online Entertainment recently announced to the EverQuest 2 community that it will be merging the free-to-play version, EverQuest 2 Extended (EQ2X), with the subscription-based EverQuest sequel. Starting in December, there will be just one client and three membership models: free, Silver and Gold.
"Part of caring for our customers is listening to you and hearing what you have to say. Additionally, we need to be aware of changes in the industry, changes in player expectations, and larger economic trends in general," said EverQuest 2 executive producer Dave Georgeson.
The move to combine both MMORPGs was likely fueled by the recent membership boom with DC Universe Online after SOE injected the superhero MMORPG with a free-to-play model on November 6. The company said a million new players on the PC and PlayStation 3 platforms combined had signed on -- over 1000-percent of the pre-F2P concurrent members at day one. The F2P model has even generated a 700-percent increase in daily revenue (47-percent PC, 53-percent PS3) since its launch.
"More than 85-percent of daily log-ins are returning players," claims SOE president John Smedley. "DCUO player base is growing at 6-percent a day."
But the EverQuest 2 producer indicates that combining both EverQuest 2 games is more of a social thing. Honesty, we were confused as to why SOE launched a separate free-to-play EverQuest 2 game in the first place.
"We've listened to your concerns about the complexity of the subscription structure, how the separate forums between EQII and EQ2X divide the community unnecessarily, that the Live Gamer servers are under-populated, and that many people want more flexibility with payment options so they can better manage their personal budgets," he explained in an open letter to the community. "We believe the key to meeting your expectations is to provide more flexibility and to deliver what you want when you want it, whether it's basic game content, full subscription access to the game, or something in-between."
"So in early December we're going to change things to be 'Free to Play. Your Way,'" he added.
According to Georgeson, there will no longer be an up-front fee for downloading and installing EverQuest 2. Fans no longer have to buy the software in order to use it, and game content through the Sentinel's Fate expansion will be available to all players without charge. The EQ2 and EQ2X servers will merge into one complete network, and will operate as a single game with a single membership structure.
EverQuest 2 just celebrated its seventh anniversary, originally launching on November 8, 2004. As with the original EverQuest, the game required fans to purchase the software up-front and then pay a monthly subscription fee to continue playing. But in July 2010, SOE decided to jump on the free-to-play bandwagon by introducing a separate, standalone EverQuest 2 service, Extended, funded by micro-transactions and optional subscriptions.
SOE has not officially announced the actual re-launch of EverQuest 2, but gamers can check out the three membership plans here. The $14.99/month Gold plans offers everything whereas the Silver account is a step up from the base free service after spending $5 on an in-game item.
So far there's no indication that the original EverQuest will adopt the F2P model. SOE previously stated that there were no plans to change the current subscription model.