EverQuest II originally launched in 2004 as a purely subscription-based game. However, in 2010, Sony Online Entertainment essentially bifurcated the game, offering one edition with a subscription-based model and another as a free-to-play version. However, that schism will soon be resolved, as SOE announced today that those two separate entities will soon become one.
EverQuest II's free-to-play relaunch is set for early December. As part of a press debriefing, EQ franchise executive producer Dave Georgeson said that the biggest change is that there will no longer be any upfront fee, as downloading and installing the game will be free.
The Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum account levels first introduced with EQII Extended are being reduced to just the first three. While each tier's offering will be largely the same, the paid levels will either be reduced in price or expanded with additional content.
Free (previously Bronze) will be the base level. Silver will now be assigned to any player that pays a one-time $5 upgrade payment (down from $10), and Gold will retain its $15/month price. In a departure from the previous offering, the new Gold level tier will offer full access to all races; no more individual purchases will be required. All tiers include "full access" to world content, but some expansions and adventure packs will still require purchase.
To quell potential fears that current players may have regarding the new pricing, Georgeson said that any prepaid subscriptions will be refunded the difference based on the new pricing structure. This includes full recompense for race packs that Gold subscribers may have previously purchased.
The relaunch will introduce a few new features as well, including a new Dungeon Maker system that allows players to create their own dungeons for other players to run through. For more on EverQuest II, check out GameSpot's latest coverage.