Disney reveals Pirates online plans

Ad-supported mode will make upcoming game free for those who don't mind walking the plank with a Prius or PowerBar somewhere in the mix.

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If you had to pick an existing franchise to build a massively multiplayer role-playing game around, it doesn't get much bigger than Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was the top-grossing movie of 2006, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End could very well claim that honor this year. Not surprisingly, Disney Online has been working on an online game that will let players create a pirate character, adventure alongside hundreds of other players, and interact with virtual versions of Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner, and other characters from the movies.

With the game's launch set sometime this spring, Disney Online today revealed that the game will feature a free, ad-supported mode of play as well as a traditional subscription model.

Consumers will have two options when Pirates launches. The basic access plan will give players access to many of the game's features for as long as they like, and there will be no subscription fee for the basic mode. Instead, the basic access will be supported by some type of contextual advertising that's not in the game itself.

No advertising partners were announced today.

At this point, it sounds like the basic access mode will run inside a bordered window, with the ads bordering the game. If users want to gain access to all the content in the game, as well as run without ads, they can choose the advanced subscription mode.

Disney Online has announced that Pirates will have a $9.95 monthly fee.

Given the popularity of the movie franchise, particularly among families and kids, Pirates is being positioned as a much more user- and family-friendly style of massively multiplayer game. For example, the game's system requirements will be very low, to ensure that vast percentage of the movie's fan base will be able to play the game on their systems. The graphics aren't cutting-edge, but they do have an animated cartoon style to them, which should certainly appeal to the teen crowd that Disney Online is aiming for.

Players will be able to pursue a wide variety of quests in the game, with the overall goal of trying to become the most notorious pirate of the Caribbean. Activities will include sword fighting, card playing in taverns, ship battles, and much more. The game features locales from the movies, as well as some created for the game. In addition, a new villain, Jolly Rodger, makes an appearance leading an army of the undead. Players can also expect to encounter Davy Jones and his crew throughout their adventures.

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