The big news surrounding Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest franchise occurred earlier this month, when the storied massively multiplayer online role-playing game maker announced EverQuest Next, a working title. The third flagship installment in SOE's MMORPG universe, Next is a reimagining of the land of Norrath, telling all-new stories in locations that will be familiar to the franchise faithful.
However, that isn't the only notable development out of SOE. Last month, the publisher said that 2004's EverQuest II would soon offer a free-to-play option in addition to the game's standard subscription fee. Today, SOE announced that EQII's free-to-play scenario, called EverQuest II Extended, is now available, and players can sign up for access through the game's official Web site.
EQII's new business model breaks the game's payment plan up into four tiers: bronze (free), silver (one-time, $10), gold ($15 a month), and platinum ($200 per year, available August 31). At the lowest three tiers, players are limited to four races, of 19 total. Bronze and silver memberships are limited to eight character classes, out of a total 24 options. A comprehensive breakdown of what each payment level offers is available on SOE's Web site.
EverQuest II Extended is the latest in a string of MMORPGs that have transitioned to the free-to-play model. Two other recent examples are Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.
For more on EQII, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.