Atari and Cryptic Studio's superhero MMO Champions Online will be free-to-download and play from Q1 2011, with the game adopting a freemium approach to content and item unlocking. The MMO is the latest in a string of properties to take the move, joining Turbine's Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online as free to play. Just last month it was announced that nautical MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea would also adopt the payment model.
It's commonly seen as a way of lessening the burden of commitment on players, enticing new users into investing time in a game and encouraging them to make smaller payments for in-game items, areas and special abilities. It's also proven to be very successful with revenues from Dungeon and Dragons Online skyrocketing by 500 per cent after the switch.
"Transitioning Champions Online Gold 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," said Cryptic CEO John Needham. "By taking care of our current subscription-based community and welcoming the addition of new players through free-to-play, Champions Online Gold is poised to build upon its success and to establish a new leadership position as the first free-to-play superhero MMO."
The Champions Online Gold model will offer unlimited play with no time limits or level caps - with the beta for the new model beginning on November 9, 2010. F2P breakdown of who gets what.