DC Universe Online, Sony Online Entertainment's massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the world of DC comics, will alter its subscription-based scheme and introduce a free-to-play option in October. PC and PlayStation 3 players will be able to download the game and play for free, with the option to purchase slots for additional characters, character powers, and downloadable content.
Sony Online Entertainment executive producer Lorin Jameson told IGN the change was "absolutely not" due to a drop in subscribers. Though Jameson wouldn't talk subscriber numbers, he said the game's paying population was up since a game server merge in August. "This is the right business model," he said. "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." This might mean the game's player base wasn't growing as fast as Sony wanted, despite becoming Sony Online Entertainment's fastest-selling game upon launch back in January.
Sony Online Entertainment says players who spend $5 or more on in-game content will qualify for Premium access, which nets them more inventory space--more than the two default character slots--and higher cash limits. A subscription service will also be available for $15 a month, the same price as players currently pay, which opens up Legendary access. This will give players all the downloadable content packs, plus benefits including more than 15 character slots, 80 inventory slots, and the ability to form player leagues of any size. For more information on DCUO's new access levels, see dcuniverseonline.com/free.
DC Universe Online's new business model will resemble that of free-to-play fantasy MMORPG Free Realms, another PC and PS3 Sony Online Entertainment title. Free Realms has found some success with a tiered service and optional purchase of in-game content, hitting the 10-million player mark last year, well before its launch on the PS3 in March. "We are really seeing the benefits of free to play, and we really like it," Jameson said. "Needless to say, we're paying close attention to it and maybe looking to make some surprise moves a little later."