Atari and Cryptic have confirmed that Champions Online players will soon have the option of playing for free following the launch of the Champions Online: Free for All update.
Though plans to offer a free-to-play option have been known since, a firm date has not been set until now. According to the Champions Online site, the Free for All update will allow Gold account members to either continue paying a monthly fee for access to virtually everything the MMO has to offer, or ditch regular payments for microtransactions in Cryptic's C-Store. Choosing to play for free will still allow players unlimited access to existing Champions Online content, with the exception of special Adventure Packs.
It's a genuine pleasure to be able to announce our release date for Champions Online(Champions Online Gold): Free for All," said Cryptic's CEO John Needham in the release. "On January 25, 2011, any gamer or would-be superhero can play within the ever-improving world of Champions Online for no cost."
Champions Online is the latest in a growing list of MMOs that have taken the free-to-pay path, including Lord of the Rings Online which recently made news for tripling its revenue after adopting the microtransaction format. Is this Atari's way of keeping up with the times, or a conveniently timed move to take back a bit of spotlight back from DC Universe Online? We're guessing it's a bit of both.