Sony Online Entertainment, home of free-to-play MMOs such as Free Realms and Pirates of the Burning Sea, will be giving players of DC Universe Online the same opportunity to enjoy the game without the hassle of a monthly fee.
DC Universe Online was released on the PC and PS3 with a standard subscription rate of $15 per month. An update will be released which will give players the chance to forego this fee and to simply enjoy the game as is, including all the potential updates that may be released. Unfortunately, not everything in the world can be completely free and there are a few catches. The first is that all DLC packs will have to be purchased separately or can be obtained by upgrading to the next level of membership. Secondly, several components of the game are severely limited in comparison to the other levels of membership. This includes a limit on character slots, inventory slots, bank slots, auction slots, trading, and much more.
If this doesn’t suit your fancy, there is always the option of upgrading to the next best membership level: Premium Access. In order to get a premium membership, players must spend at least $5 using the in-game store or have a previous account from before the switch to free-to-play. Sadly, this level of membership still does not include free DLC packs and they must be bought separately.
To enjoy the greatest game experience, buy Legendary Access. This will cost $14.99 per month, the same as a monthly subscription now, or less if purchasing several subscriptions at a time. DLC packs are included in this price and players have less restrictions placed on what they can and cannot do. For example, there are no limits on the amount of in-game currency and the ways that players can chat with each other, whether through voice chat or text chat. Players with Legendary Access are able to form guilds while all the others only have the ability to join them.
For those that have already purchased Lifetime membership: there is no need to feel cheated. Lifetime members will automatically be given Legendary Access. It is also possible to get Legendary Access if one has a pre-paid subscription on a month to month basis (or has paid for several months in advance) that extends past the point when the game becomes free-to-play. After the pre-paid subscriptions ends, though, the membership level will be downgraded to Premium.
While this all sounds amazing, be aware that if one plans on downgrading that there may be some potential issues. If converting from the highest membership level down to Premium, limits will be set on the amount of character slots that can be open. Luckily, the player will not have to delete any pre-existing characters that go over the limits; instead he or she will be given the choice to deactivate certain characters until he or she purchases extra slots or upgrades again. This same logic does not transfer over to in-game items, however. If planning to downgrade, be prepared to lose the extra items in your inventory and bank that exceed the lower limits unless extra slots are bought to house these items.
Despite the logisitcs of it all, this is an excellent opportunity for all those that have been meaning to get into the game, but have been turned off by the monthly payments. As of now, Sony Online Entertainment has stated that this change will be in effect sometime in late October. When that occurs, a link to a free download will appear, but PS3 users should still be able to use their game discs.
As great as this is for the consumers, one must wonder what motivated Sony Online Entertainment to make this move. DC Universe Online has been out since January 2011 and has spent a short time on the gaming market before being added to the free-to-play category. Lorin Jameson, executive producer at Sony Online Entertinmanet, says that this change is surprisingly not due to a dwindling fanbase or mediocre sales. Actually, it was supposed to be the initial plan.
“This is the right business model,” he explained. “If I can be honest, the game ended up costing a lot more than we thought it would, and this was our preferred business model from day one.”
For more information about DC Universe Online and a more comprehensive breakdown of the different levels of membership, visit the official website at http://www.dcuniverseonline.com/free/.