"Champions Online" has had a year to see what works and what doesn't work in its current system, but Cryptic Studios has decided to starting offering a new free option for unsubscribed players in 2011. "Dungeons and Dragons Online" and "Lord of the Rings Online" have also chosen such paths, so Cryptic's definitely not venturing into unexplored territory. Still, it will mean new choices for the MMO's customers.
"Transitioning 'Champions Online' to the free-to-play model is a great opportunity to reach a whole new audience of PC gamers that view subscription fees as a barrier to entry," Cryptic Studios CEO John Needham said in a press release. "By taking care of our current subscription-based community and welcoming the addition of new players through free-to-play, 'Champions Online' is poised to build upon its success and to establish a new leadership position as the first free-to-play superhero MMO."
And don't go panicking if you invested in "Champions" early on by dropping $200 for their lifetime subscription. There's a nice little visual aid on the game's official site that explains what paid accounts will get access to versus what free accounts will be able to do.
In the meantime, a closed beta test for the new system will be set up with a start date planned for November 9, 2010. Some current players will be invited, but Cryptics says a few noobs may be able to gain access at some point.
Do you think Cryptic's making the right call by bringing in a free-to-play option for "Champions Online"? Have you played it all recently? Share your responses with us in the comment section below.