Champions Online going free-to-play next year

Atari and Cryptic's superhero-themed MMORPG picking up hybrid microtransaction/subscription model in early 2011; beta begins November 9.

With Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft now over 12 million players worldwide, staying relevant in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game space has been no easy task. An increasingly common option for doing so, though, is switching to a free-to-play, microtransaction-supported business model. Recent converts include Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, as well as Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest II.

Even the penniless can soon fight crime in Champions Online.

Today, one more struggling MMORPG can be added to that list, as Atari and Cryptic Studios announced that their superhero-themed Champions Online would adopt a hybrid free-to-play/subscription model during the first quarter of 2011. A closed beta test for the free-to-play model is scheduled for November 9.

When Atari makes the switch over next year, gamers will be able to download Champions Online at no cost and play for an unlimited amount of time. However, those players will be able to augment their experience by purchasing premium content, including adventure packs, items, powers, and costume pieces. This content will be offered through what Cryptic is calling the C-Store, a Web-based and in-game marketplace.

Gamers will also have the option to continue paying a flat rate for Champions Online. Both new and continuing players can opt in to the $15-per-month subscription rate, which will grant them access to "most of the game's content" as well as other bonus features.

Champions Online was the first of two MMORPGs that Cryptic launched within a five-month period, having debuted in September 2009. Though it received more favorable reviews than its Star Trek Online cousin, the game failed to elevate Atari's full-year earnings out of the red. In August, Cryptic creative director and Blizzard North cofounder Bill Roper departed the company, with the studio going on to announce the Dungeons & Dragons-themed Neverwinter later that month.

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63 comments
Nintenddo
Nintenddo

The Box art reminds me MK vs DC unviverse

dre256x
dre256x

Say y not just release MMO's with Free to play as first choice, then add in a sub model as an option... The thing is the MMO market is becoming more crammed, and even if you offer something unique, its no guarantee it will be a hit and a hit for long.. Peoples patients with MMOs being released half finish, not enough content, and bug ridden is growing thin and all these small companies will feel it... Why do u think blizz is in no rush to release there next mmo... The best micro model i have seen so far in Guild wars option. Bioware will release a star wars MMO next year, and while it looks good so far, that too can be subject to going to free to play route too if its not successful over a period of time. I'm sure it too will have bugs, class balance issues, not enough end game to suit everyone. People will come and try it out but not all have the patience to ride through the bug till they are fixed and so on. The main miss conception people have of MMO's is that they should play like a finish game and not be too much of a grind... Just my 2cents

stu_gamer
stu_gamer

i stopped caring about this game when the xbox 360 version was dropped

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

@KotickIsGenius I think we can add The Old Republic to that list. Sins its sed to have slightly higher needs form the PC then WoW.

KotickIsGenius
KotickIsGenius

@SDSkarface I've never played Guild Wars 1, so your probably right about that, but it is listed as an MMO just about everywhere so...But I've been following Guild Wars 2 and it looks like a real MMO, from all the video's and news articles both here and at there web site it looks like there doing everything right. I guess we'll all have to wait for the reviews though. I agree with you about the FTP model...I've played many of the FTP MMO's and they're all lacking in quality. But Guild Wars 2 will not be FTP, they'll make all there money from the initial purchase, and following expansions. It's the only MMO I'm looking forward to playing.

KotickIsGenius
KotickIsGenius

@wexorian Wow is fun, but it's really showing it's age, I suppose that's why Blizzard is doing so well though, because it's really the only good MMO that you can play on an old PC.

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

@KotickIsGenius GuildWars isnt even a true MMO,its more like a 3d Diablo with just 5-6 players at a time. and the FTP Model is busted,its a sign of desperation and it ruins gameplay when anyone can buy stuff with real money instead of putting in the time and acquiring it in game,lets face it if you dont got time to play maybe you shouldnt be playing MMO's.

wexorian
wexorian

I love wow and playng every day but also playng othe mmo's nice if it will have free play i'l try, yes it's hard battle againt blizzard but keep going MMo creaters maybe you will ovetrhow wow :D

KotickIsGenius
KotickIsGenius

I'm glad to see this happen, seeing all these MMO's fail because of a greedy business model, maybe all these company's will finally get the message and see that nobody wants to pay monthly fee's anymore. Free to play with micro-transactions are just as bad....you'll end up with a bunch of 8 year olds running there mouths in chat. And not to mention the restrictions they'll place on the FTP people until you fork over the cash...it's just fail all around. I like NCSoft's pay method with Guild Wars 1 & 2, you pay for the game ands that's it.....play online as much as you want, no micro-transactions and no monthly fee's. Hopefully all the company's planing to release new MMO's will learn from NCSoft, but I doubt it.

Lpedraja2002
Lpedraja2002

@GodsPoison You have to remember all the additional factors behind MMO's. All those servers which people need to play cost a lot to maintain, plus you need customer support, hardware support, server maintenance, backup servers and whatnot. They need to charge a monthly fee to stay afloat and make a profit at the same time. But on the other hand you have games like guildWars which you was a much smaller scale version of an mmo but still you payed for the game once and received updates frequently.

P0T
P0T

Too bad this game sucks, as the last few Cryptic games have.

luckjon
luckjon

Eve Online is the only MMO you need.

RossRichard
RossRichard

This just goes to further prove, lifetime subscriptions for an MMO are a losing proposition.

Swampthing
Swampthing

The only game to beat Duke Nukem Forever in development time by over a decade... and now it's going free to play. This one just never offered anything different enough from City of Heroes. Honestly, I'm surprised that CoH didn't go free first.

GodsPoison
GodsPoison

Why not just do a one time charge for the damn game and then let it go from there? Thats what i never liked about MMO's you buy the game then you keep paying so you can play it.

Dingalingaling
Dingalingaling

I'd still play it, if only so that I could use travel powers instead of just doing the tutorial endlessly.

steveroger
steveroger

Absent doing this they would have to shut the doors. A whole different class and crowd of players will enter the game. I am just not interested in the free to play genre. I tried them out a few years ago and it is just plain annoying to download and try to enjoy when everything that game is intending for you to do is buy, buy and buy.

clee
clee

You know, this actually annoys the heck out of me. I don't like micro-transactions that much. I'd rather they keep the 15 bucks a month model, but oh well.... Edit: oh didn't see that other part about also having the monthly subscription, but that "most of the content" part worries me now....

spiritualchemy
spiritualchemy

The key phrase in this article is "two MMORPGs that Cryptic launched within a five-month period". When companies like Blizzard, Bioware, Sony and Arenanet take enormous resources and time to polish an mmo, what gives Cryptic the idea that they can create two simultaneously? It's destined for mediocrity at best. This free-to-play experiment is a futile effort. DC Universe Online will crush this game.

NColdhardt
NColdhardt

Hrm... I honestly never, ever heard of this game. *Alt + Tab back to WoW*

warrner11
warrner11

@SilentCard thus the oncoming F2P option

noirsake
noirsake

just "most of the games content" for the users who pay the $15 monthly fee? Seems kind of unfair to me

dre256x
dre256x

So what will happen to those who paid life time subscription... Will that still be valid?

SilentCard
SilentCard

It's not half as good as City of Heroes/Villains, but still, free is better than nothing.

BloodMist
BloodMist

Trust me, even for free, this game isn't worth even trying.

eeeyyyooo1
eeeyyyooo1

I've played champions for a couple of months and it started out cool but.. i felt like I was playing a solo game and didn't need a group for anything.

testfactor888
testfactor888

I gave LOTRO a shot when it went F2P and am addicted. Subbed 3 days after trying it and loving it. I did not like Champions Online when I tried it when it first came out but I will give it another shot when it goes free to play

magicalclick
magicalclick

Cool, I want to make a beefy guy, but, I am too cheap. Finally I can do it now.

stevo367
stevo367

I played CO for the first month of its release and was very unimpressed. The character creation was its best asset by far but that alone can't make a game good. There was never any real reason to team up, i found the interface rather clumsy and unintuitive, and i thought the flying mechanism was rather dumb in its implementation. COH did a far better job with travel powers. I knew it was a matter of time before CO either folded or went to the "free" model.

ToTs_00
ToTs_00

This seems like what all the failed MMOs are doing these day.

Seifer-fx
Seifer-fx

Really hate Free to play MMOs, normaly very bad quality and have awful communities. Not to even mention the microtransactions...

Barighm
Barighm

Apparently this game was way cooler, and felt more like X-Men Legends: the MMORPG at first, but then all the beta testers complained that it wasn't WoW-like enough, so they changed it and everyone said the game sucked. I hear DC Universe Online won't make the same mistake.

XanderZane
XanderZane

I'm staying away from micromanagement. I don't really have the time to play this game fully anyways.

Rob_101
Rob_101

Hope they do this with Star Trek Online as well.

Ryking
Ryking

I've got a question to all those that play free-to-play MMOs, can you only get the good weapons and gear if you pay money for them? that's my biggest fear with microtransactions

maitkarro
maitkarro

Finally, I can play it again, hope my char is ok.

seattleguy15
seattleguy15

final fantasy 14 is the worse mmo ever!!!!!!! i know off topic

Crumblet
Crumblet

I paid 200 bucks for the lifetime subscription, so I would'nt have to pay 15$ a month. FFFFFFUUUUUUUU---. ...I guess it doesn't really matter, I never play this game anyway. It sucks.

Kid2812
Kid2812

´´for i am the destroyer of worlds´´ i swear i heard that in a comic before. this looks bad, really bad. the only way i could consider playing this is if my PS3 was kidnapped by my boredom and even then i could just play S4 League lmao

Death_Blade_182
Death_Blade_182

Oh the irony, just yesterday I downloaded the demo and thought of buying the game... Heh, I guess I'll now wait for next year.

shakmaster13
shakmaster13

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who saw this coming.

firedrakes
firedrakes

really its just like city of hero game. one thing hellgate game had was you felt like a dam.... did i just do that

James00715
James00715

I bet Star Trek Online is next. FTP/Subscription seems to be the future now.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

Yeah. It's basically an old school, convoluted, not very fun MMO with superhero character skins. F2P doesn't solve core design problems. It just lowers expectations far enough for people to put up with them.