Freedom for Paragon City
This was the biggest MMO news for me in a while – City of Heroes adopting a hybrid payment model, rebranding as City of Heroes: Freedom. There are also some notes from executive producer Brian Clayton.
Unlimited, Extended, Free for all, Unrated and now Freedom. There seem to be a common theme to add some element of awesomeness to the game name when the payment model changes.
I am quite happy to see that City of Heroes is changing in this way; it also seems to be something they have worked on, in some way, for quite a while (more than a year). While no date has been set yet, Issue 20 has been out for 2 months now, so likely Issue 21, which includes this change, will be around in perhaps 2 months time.
They have also done a good move in order to keep subscribers until the change is in effect – subscribers can already from July 1st earn points to use to buy stuff when the change is put in place. My subscription is up for renewal on July 1st and I have been on the fence if I should take a brief break or not – have not played the game much lately. With this announcement I might still keep the subscription running.
The new issue itself has a number of new things coming; new zone, new missions, new trials, new powerset (time manipulation !?!) and a new starting experience. I am really curious what this time manipulation powerset is about – perhaps be able to reverse effects on team players simply. I do not quite expect Braid-like manipulation, even though it would sound cool to do.
A new starting experience sounds like a great move also. It also seems that everyone who will be a subscriber (aka VIP player) will get access to Going Rogue also, even if they have not bought the expansion. Froob players will need to pay though.
There is an element of content-gating in what is provided to the non-VIP players in the player choice comparision; although a bunch of things still seem to be purchaseable. It seems a bit better than some other games at first sight, but there is not a lot of details yet.
What seems to have caused some controversy and debate on the forums is the VIP server part. Some people seem to be a bit annoyed that they might not be able to move all characters and super group bases there and get away from the scum-of-the-earth players, which they seem to fear will flood the servers one this happens. Others are concerend that the froob players have not enough options to communicate and interact with other players and have no intention of moving to any VIP server.
Myself, I am in the latter camp. I would welcome more players to join the game regardless of how much the pay – it is not the payment model itself that makes the community. If it is flooded with trash it is because either the game is becoming much more popular and/or the game company let things go out of control. If the payment model itself would be the only reason for getting bad/annoying/obnoxious people into the game, then World of Warcraft would be a sanctuary for all mature, kind and friendly players where everyone sings kumbaya and hugs each other – this is is perhaps the game that is least likely in shorter term to adopt a hybrid payment model.
Now, if Cryptic can do a similar announcement before July 17th for STO and Trion something along these lines after summer for Rift, then I will not have any subscription-only games to consider renewal for…
Edit: The June Producer’s letter for City of Heroes also talks a bit more about these changes.