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Word has come down the pipe that Soe’s flagship MMORPG, Everquest 2, will soon be moving to a free to play model.  While at first this may sound like great news, this is not the traditional “free to play” model that many of us are used to.

Citing the current player’s objections towards the “game enhancing items” that come with a free to play model, SOE has opted to travel a different road.  Instead of a standard micro-transaction system, Everquest 2 will adopt a model where player’s on the free to play will have to pay to obtain more levels, characters, quest slots, races, and experience point enhancing items.  This new model will be called Everquest 2 Extended and will not affect the games current subscription model.

From John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment…

“As the digital entertainment market evolves, SOE is focused on continued innovation in content delivery that best fit the needs of the growing consumer base. Our goal with Extended is to offer players an alternative to our current subscription program that gives them the option to choose a program that best fits their play style.”

Here is where it gets confusing, EQ2 Extended will work on a tier based system.  Bronze players will have quite a few limitations to contend with as they will have limited races to choose from, only be able to participate in a limited number of quests, have only two character slots, and be capped at level 80.  If players get tired of only being able to carry 5 gold around in their pouch per level, for a one time fee of $10.00 the Silver tier is available which opens up the auction house, another character slot, and increases the amount of gold a player can carry.  Still not satisfied?  Players also have the option to jump up to a full subscription at $14.99 a month which removes all restrictions of the lower tier models.

Along with EQ2 Extended’s multi-tiered pay model, comes the ability to buy platinum, gear, weapons, and exp. enhancers which will conform to the more traditional micro-transaction model.

Sounds to me like EQ2 Extended is going to act as “test bed” for upcoming SOE MMORPG pay models.  EQ2 Extended will be launching sometime after this years Sony Fan Faire.

Everquest II Extended Membership Plan

Source: Kotaku