Age of Conan Goes Free-to-Play

| 1 Jul 2011 16:57
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Age of Conan, the fantasy MMO in which players take on the role of an Austrian bodybuilder hacking and slashing his way through the Californian political milieu, is now free to play.

That's a joke, of course. Age of Conan is not about Germanic muscleheads or politics in the Golden State. But it is free to play - I wasn't joking about that! Much like World of Warcraft's toe-dipping into the F2P waters, however, there will be a few strings attached.

The game will be open to all players at no charge and no obligation, with various optional items like weapons, armor, access passes and "Premium services" available to purchase individually through the in-game store. AoC fans will also have the option of keeping up their subscription, which will grant unfettered access to the game's full range of content and features.

Free accounts will have other limitations imposed upon them. Only two character slots and four character classes will be available and while all players will have full access to the original Hyborian Adventures content, free players will be limited to the "Gateway to Khitai" zone in the Rise of the Godslayer expansion. Sieges, alternative advancement, offline levels and veteran points will not be available and the personal bank space will only be half the size of subscribers; subscribers will also get a ten percent discount at the in-game store.

There are clearly a few drawbacks but it's still a ton of gameplay for zero dollars, which is a pretty tough deal to beat. Casual MMOGers can bang around the Hyborian badlands on their own terms, die-hard fans can still roll around in it to their heart's content and the curious but commitment-phobic no longer have any excuse not to sample the game's delights. Free-to-play is the future, kids! Get all the details at ageofconan.com.

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Eventually the whole F2P gambit won't be enough and it'll be right back to the arms race of quality and features that they should have been focusing on in the first place. I'm glad that games have the F2P option to avoid fading into the aether, but doesn't anyone else have more confidence in subscription-only games? Personally, I think a game that can survive on subscribers alone is likely a better game than the mass of perpetual going-out-of-business sales that comprise the F2P market. With subs, they have to focus on making the content match the investment; if players don't think they're getting their money's worth, they leave and then the game goes F2P. With F2P games, they only have to be just fun enough to keep people paying for cash shop items. Instead of the launcher advertising in-game or RL community events, they're hocking the latest vanity item. Or maybe that's just Champions Online.

I have no problem with F2P as a concept, but I don't think every game should be expected to cater to people with no money or who avoid subscriptions "on principle" or whatever. That would be like expecting a Porsche to sell at the price of a Kia, saying that "more people would drive it," as if every schlub owning a Porsche was even the goal.

edit: I do realize however that some games are good, but just don't have the market presence or come out at the wrong time. I'm betting some of these typical fantasy MMOs that came out during WoW's reign were probably pretty fun and full-featured, but just had trouble making a splash and getting to that crucial tipping point. I'm not saying every F2P game is bad and every sub-only game is good, I'm just venting and generalizing somewhat to convey my thoughts on this.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Android2137:
Is it me or is everyone hopping onto the "let's make it free now!" bandwagon that Valve started? Mind you, I'm not complaining, but I am curious.

TBF, it was around a long time before Valve got to it.

Yeah but I think he's talking about the fact that after Valve did it,other AAA game developers are doing it too.

Every time I've tried to play I came away liking the game. The lack of auction house access for trial users always pissed me off though. If F2P players don't have access then I wont waste my time. I can't seem to find any info on this on their site either.

Android2137:
Is it me or is everyone hopping onto the "let's make it free now!" bandwagon that Valve started? Mind you, I'm not complaining, but I am curious.

TBF, it was around a long time before Valve got to it.

Is it me or is everyone hopping onto the "let's make it free now!" bandwagon that Valve started? Mind you, I'm not complaining, but I am curious.

AoC makes my computer cry. No free gaming for me.

Tried it once and while I liked it, my graphics card didn't and just couldn't display some things correctly. If I got a new card, I'd definitely give it another shot.

So, TF2, WoW, AoC... is another game going F2P every few days now? I could live with that. Which one could be next?

I'm downloading it now. I always wanted to try it out, my mate said it was great fun. Now that it's free I have no excuse not to try it.

im surprised this didnt happen sooner. i liked this game but the community sucked big time. no one wanted to do quests, everyone was either afraid of other players or would spend all their time ganking new players. also the spiders scared me.

i wonder how many people will even be able to play this though. when this game first came out, i had to spend like $600 upgrading my pc

Do these "Premium services" come with happy endings?

SteelStallion:

Korten12:
Playing it now - though for some reason all of my character text in my character selection screen are squares...

You downloaded the wrong language or have the wrong language selected, did that for me too because I had some Russian patch.

How do I change it?

Huh. I have so many MMOs this summer. Mythos, WoW free trial, Hellgate London... And now this.

Cool, I guess.

Gildan Bladeborn:
Hmm, I've always thought Age of Conan seemed vaguely interesting, but my strict "I will never pay a monthly fee to play a game under any circumstances" stance threw up an insurmountable barrier to entry that even extended "free trials" couldn't overcome, but doing away with mandatory monthly fees entirely might just convince me to give this one a shot...

Yeah, I'll probably be downloading this once I return to the homestead. For Crom!

Khorne is pleased with your avatar.

This is actually a good move for them I think. LotRO did the same type of model and it's worked very well for them.

somonels:

Gildan Bladeborn:
Hmm, I've always thought Age of Conan seemed vaguely interesting, but my strict "I will never pay a monthly fee to play a game under any circumstances" stance threw up an insurmountable barrier to entry that even extended "free trials" couldn't overcome, but doing away with mandatory monthly fees entirely might just convince me to give this one a shot...

Yeah, I'll probably be downloading this once I return to the homestead. For Crom!

I have a similar disposition. I advise you hit you Youtube tube gameplay videos first, as the download size was infamous.

Well part of the reason I thought the game seemed interesting is that I've seen some of those videos, but I'm not at all worried by ridiculous download sizes - that's what unlimited bandwidth, fast download speeds, and ludicrous storage capacity I'd have to really work to fill up are for!

I appreciate the heads up though.

Gildan Bladeborn:
Hmm, I've always thought Age of Conan seemed vaguely interesting, but my strict "I will never pay a monthly fee to play a game under any circumstances" stance threw up an insurmountable barrier to entry that even extended "free trials" couldn't overcome, but doing away with mandatory monthly fees entirely might just convince me to give this one a shot...

Yeah, I'll probably be downloading this once I return to the homestead. For Crom!

I have a similar disposition. I advise you hit you Youtube tube gameplay videos first, as the download size was infamous.

Hmm, I've always thought Age of Conan seemed vaguely interesting, but my strict "I will never pay a monthly fee to play a game under any circumstances" stance threw up an insurmountable barrier to entry that even extended "free trials" couldn't overcome, but doing away with mandatory monthly fees entirely might just convince me to give this one a shot...

Yeah, I'll probably be downloading this once I return to the homestead. For Crom!

Anarchy Online has been free to play for years. Funcom knows how to set up their F2P market well. Age of Conan didn't have that good of a following when it came out but A LOT of people went over from AO to try it out and people said they liked it but since it had the monthly fee attachment a lot of people stuck with AO which is onto its 10 year I believe in the next couple of weeks.

Already downloading, I'm pretty excited to play this game. Although, I need to find something else to do, to lessen the wait of those 25 gb download. Damn, this is the heaviest game I've downloaded yet.

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