First it was Dungeons and Dragons Online. Then it was the Lord of the Rings Online. And now we know Everquest and Everquest 2 will be going down the path of free-to-play as well. It was a massive money maker for DDO and promises to be a huge money maker for both Lotro and EQ2. But how free is free to play? If you want to reach max-level, create a guild, or complete the main quests, you’re going to need to drop down some cash in these games. Both Lotro and EQ2 are putting hard maximums on the amount of gold a free player can acquire and both are restricting classes. In EQ2, if you win the roll for some rare armor, you best reach for your Visa card so that you can upgrade your account and be allowed to wear it. It seems to be part of the business model to create a game where you eventually feel forced to pay cash in order to participate in end-game.
DDO has set the stage with a potentially lucrative business model that encourages players to play free until they are hooked enough to spend massive amounts of money, but it’s only the beginning. All the MMORPG companies will be watching these two titles to gauge their success, including SOE. If both these titles are a financial success, expect to see all of SOE’s other titles, as well as the rest of the MMO market, follow the trend.