Announcement: DDO F2P!

ddoComing out of left field, Turbine’s announced that later this summer, Dungeons & Dragons Online will change from subscription to a free-to-play model (called Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited).  A few of the salient details from their announcement:

  • “Launching this summer”
  • Play for free – no time limit or level cap
  • Additional content and items will be available in the DDO store for real-world currency (RMT).  You can also earn store points for “certain achievements in-game” (according to their FAQ)
  • You also can subscribe for $14.99/month for their VIP program — unlimited access to all premium content plus a number of exclusive benefits (extra character slots, shared bank, DDO store currency)
  • DDO Store has convenience items, premium dungeon packs, additional character slots, hirelings, potions, character customization and more
  • “Now players can download DDO Unlimited in minutes and immediately begin creating their own character”

IGN says that, “DDO is taking the new approach because Turbine felt it’s the right title to explore free-to-play MMOs and microtransactions.”

My thoughts?  As much as I’m generally not a fan of RMT MMOs — mostly because I haven’t met one yet that I really like and doesn’t make me feel like I’m mooching off the land unless I pony up dough — I think this is a terrific idea, for two reasons:

  1. DDO has long past its peak point of subscribership, and has to be limping along right now, possibly skirting the line of outright cancelation.  Going free to play means that it certainly will get a huge bump in players (including new players), and Turbine’s rolling the dice that all of that will translate into more income than a declining subscriber base and/or shutting down the game’s doors.
  2. Many people, including myself, have said that they like DDO, just not enough for a $15 or $10/month subscriber free.  $5 would have been tempting; $0 is downright enticing.

I’m sure that Turbine’s looking at the playerbase of Runes of Magic, Free Realms, Runescape and the like with not just a little envy, and could very well be testing the waters for a future title in development.

We’ve also heard good things about DDO’s revisions over the past year or so, including a much-buffed starter zone, so hopefully for Turbine that’ll mean a lot of very positive first impressions by folks who’ve yet to try this title.  My biggest concern is how much this move will cheese the game.  By their own admission, it’s designed to suck you in with lots of free content in lower levels and then put the “you know you want this!” squeeze on you as you level:

“Free content is widely available for low-level characters and becomes sparser as a character’s level increases.” (from the FAQ)

I’ve always thought that DDO is a cool casual game — perfect for quick dungeon crawls here or there, but not quite as demanding of your time as most major MMOs.  I don’t know what my late summer will look like, but the option to dive into DDO once or twice a week if the mood strikes — and without having to worry about cost?  I’m there.


13 thoughts on “Announcement: DDO F2P!

  1. Slurms June 9, 2009 / 1:54 pm

    I just commented over at Skar’s blog about this. Awesome idea IMO.

    Might have to share this with the guildies =)

  2. Regis June 9, 2009 / 2:19 pm

    I played the trial a long time ago when it was fresh, and although it was somewhat fun it wasn’t – as you said – fun enough to pay $15 per month. I think I will drag some friends in and we can try it out again when it becomes free.

  3. Werit June 9, 2009 / 2:32 pm

    I may have to play DDo some now, if my fellow bloggers are on there too.

  4. Tesh June 9, 2009 / 2:48 pm

    I’m looking forward to it. As I note on my blog, it might just be enough to plunk DDO in rarified company as an MMO I’ve actually spent money on.

  5. We Fly Spitfires June 9, 2009 / 3:13 pm

    I don’t really like how companies throw around the Free2Play term when actually they are still charging you yet just in a different way. Sure, you don’t have to pay but you’re still drasatically encouraged to do it.

    But you’re right, DDO for $0 a month will be very enticing. I’ll check it out.

  6. unwize June 9, 2009 / 3:16 pm

    Great move by Turbine. I’m happy to give it another try at that price!

  7. shadowwar June 9, 2009 / 3:42 pm

    I wanted DDO to be great when it first came out, but it was never enough to hold me. I haven’t payed any attention to it, other than to recognize it’s continual existence, since the first 3 months of it being out there. Is it worth playing now? D&D Rangers are what started me on my path to loving the class, and I would love to be able to play one online.

  8. Sharon June 9, 2009 / 11:10 pm

    Oooh! I was just saying that I wanted to give DDO a shot again to see how much it’s changed. This is a great move by Turbine, and definitely preferable to just shutting down the servers. If they do it this summer, it’s perfect timing, considering the current MMO lull.

  9. arbitrary June 10, 2009 / 12:04 am

    It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to take the game, I wish others would follow suit.

  10. Castamere June 10, 2009 / 8:28 am

    Great idea. Some of my former WAR guildies play with me and the wife in other games as a regular 4 man group in EQ2. DDO’s all about group adventuring and instances and would be perfect for our foursome.

    Definitely looking forward to it, and I’m not cowed by RMT programs so that doesn’t scare me off from the prospect.

  11. stavsx June 15, 2009 / 10:25 am

    i might be one of the only people here who actually still pay for the game maybe now i can finally explore dungeons with my friends without making them pay money

    that will be nice 🙂

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