EverQuest may not have been the first MMO ever made (Ultima Online, Meridian 59, and The Realm Online can all give it smug looks), but in many ways, it was the game that started the MMO boom. While Ultima Online had been successful before it, EverQuest went on to take the spotlight and set the bar that every game after it tried to achieve before World of WarCraft was released. Although largely a graphical evolution of text-based Diku MUDs, you can trace back the gameplay systems of the vast majority of modern MMOs not just to WoW, but also to EverQuest. Released thirteen years ago, it is certainly an old game, but there is also something historic about it. Many MMO gamers these days have never played it, but soon they will get a chance to travel back to that game that inspired so many others that they have played. In March, EverQuest will be going Free to Play.
The model that Sony Online Entertainment will use is roughly the same as EverQuest 2 when that went Free to Play. It is also very similar to what Turbine has done for most of their games, and generally what the bulk of Western Free to Play games are doing these days. A large portion of the game will be completely free to players, but with the option to unlock certain systems, more inventory space, and other features. Players who spend at least $5 on the game will receive additional benefits, and the option to pay the old $14.99 subscription fee remains. That, of course, unlocks the most features and provides a steady stream of points to spend in the cash shop.
It is a little strange to think about a game like EverQuest dropping the old subscription model. It has retained a very loyal playerbase for an incredibly long time and the amount of content that the game has had added to in over thirteen years is nothing short of staggering. It has been updated, patched, revamped, and carried along into a more modern age of gaming, but it is also still a very old game. Yet, at the same time it seems like a very natural move, more so given the recent trend of SOE becoming very pro-F2P. There are no doubt a lot of old EQ players out there that will jump at the chance to explore the old, familiar setting just to see it all again. Then there are others who may have never tried the game before that would like to see what all the hype had been about.
Mostly though, we’re just curious to see how many new players will happily enter into this grand old world… and then promptly fall to their horrible deaths from the deadly heights of Kelethin’s walkways. If you’re currently playing and you need to, for some reason, pass under Kelethin, we recommend bringing a strongly reinforced umbrella come the F2P launch.