Anarchy Online tries free model

Funcom throws down the gauntlet; game and subscription completely free until 2006, with registration by mid-January.

In a move true to the anarchists' credo, game publisher Funcom has removed all fees for its massively multiplayer online role-playing game Anarchy Online.

"We feel very confident in the unique features and heralded qualities of our game and are now openly inviting everyone playing [massively multiplayer online games] to find out what Anarchy Online is all about, completely free of commitment," stated Ole Schreiner, project director for Anarchy Online, in a statement.

"This unique move will allow us to test important new business models prior to announcing future online games," said Trond Arne Aas, president and CEO of Funcom.

To qualify for the offer, gamers need only register an AO account with Funcom before January 15. After registration, gamers will have free access to the game until 2006. Those already registered with Funcom need only reregister to qualify for free play. Credit cards are no longer necessary to register.

The offer is not good with any of the AO expansion packs, and upgrades to expansion packs will require a monthly subscription. The original game is downloadable from the game's Web site.

Anarchy Online forgoes the typical MMORPG fantasy world of elves, orcs, and dwarves in favor of a science-fictional setting. The game was released in 2001 and has seen three expansion packs, Shadowlands, Notum Wars, and Alien Invasion.

For more information on Anarchy Online, including our full review of the game, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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