In a not totally unexpected move, Sony Online Entertainment announced that starting in October the highly popular DC Universe Online MMO will switch to free-to-play.  The MMO will begin a three tiered system that will serve as the revenue stream for the game.  The move comes just seven months since the game came out in stores.

Both PC and Playstation 3 players will be able to download and play the game for free and have the ability to boost their account by in game microtransactions.  The tiered system breaks down like this.

Free
New players will now have access to the current gameplay in DC Universe Online (including Gotham City, Metropolis, and all current raids and alerts), with the ability to create two characters, join a league and many other benefits. Free level players will be able to purchase downloadable game packs/updates, additional character slots, powers and more through microtransactions.

Premium
Any player who has spent at least $5 (including former paid subscribers and new players who have purchased $5 of in-game items) will qualify for the Premium access level. Premium level players will have more benefits available to them than the Free level player, including additional character slots, additional inventory slots, and higher cash limits. Downloadable adventure packs, additional character slots, and more can be purchased in-game.

Legendary
Maximum features and benefits are included at this level. Loaded with enhanced additional features, Legendary access will be available for a $14.99 monthly fee and includes all DLC packs at no cost, more than 15 character slots, more than 80 inventory slots, the ability to form unrestricted-sized leagues, and many other benefits.

 

SOE executive producer Lorin Jameson had this to say.

“I don’t know about you, but my credit card statement every month is this amalgam of s*** of MMOs that I’m too lazy to cancel.  What we want is to offer people a way to not worry about that.  In terms of ‘Is it a result in a drop in subs’ – absolutely not.  This is the right business model.  If I can be honest, the game ended up costing a lot more than we thought it would, and this was our preferred business model from day one.  We are really seeing the benefits of free to play, and we’re really liking it.  Needless to say we’re paying close attention to it and maybe looking to make some surprise moves a little later.”

 

That was basically all they had to say for me.  Come October, I will be downloading and playing DC Universe Online.  Since I first heard about it I have been dying to play.  The only thing stopping me was the $14.99 a month fee.  If you’re like me, you avoid playing MMOs because of the monthly fee required to play them.  The trend over the past year or so has been many of the popular MMOs going to a free-to-play model that allows players the flexibility to pay for only what they want and still be able to play the game without a monthly fee tacked on.  Earlier this summer Cryptic, the makers of Star Trek Online made the announcement that it would also be switching to a free-to-play system by December of this year.