Age of Conan flat out bombed with the majority of the MMO community when it launched a few years ago. Since then Funcom has maintained development on the game and is finally turning it into a “hybrid” model. I say finally because I am surprised it took them this long. You all know my stance on games becoming hybrids: It’s like moving to Florida to retire and stay warm until you die or people forget about you. Duh, games that offer free versions see a spike in players. It also gives the developers a way to generate more money again. Bottom line, quality suffers under the heavy hand of business.
Craig Morrison said this in an interview:
“Then you have the fact that the industry is changing, and a model like this really is the best way to drive more traffic to the game. We have gotten very positive feedback on all the improvements made to the game by our loyal players, so this is the opportunity to take the game and re-present it to MMO gamers who may have tried it years ago and wouldn’t otherwise give it a second chance… and that is good for everyone involved!”
The industry is not changing. A few feeding at the bottom have developed a way to milk more cash out of an otherwise dead cow. The key here is that players did try it years ago and absolutely would not give it a second chance. If it wasn’t worth playing when it cost money then it’s certainly not worth playing when it’s free; that’s my slogan and one I find holds true. You may try a game again but you rarely see players get back in and really play unless the game changes drastically (DDO is an example of a game that flat out failed and came back F2P to do well). Games going free/hybrid do so for a reason. There is absolute zero goodwill involved here folks. They’re not thinking to themselves how wonderful this will be to give people a free option. It’s to make money. Motivation is key here because motivation influences the path of development.
Subscription MMO’s that are good games and remain good games even when they are old do perfectly fine. Going hybrid is a method for dealing with failure before or after the fact. This is why we never see AAA quality MMO’s launching hybrid or F2P. The subscription model isn’t going anywhere since it still works for the good, quality games.
So for Age of Conan, I’ll pass. It’s still Age of Conan when it’s free.