Pay to Play Gone Free to Play
There are many pay to play games out there that have had enormous success when they transformed themselves into free to play titles. Most of more successful MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Eve Online will likely never go free to play – but titles like Warhammer Online and City of Heroes which are in decline, may go free to play one day. The games below originally launched as pay to play MMOs but are free to play today. All of the games below still exist – meaning I haven’t included any games that have gone free to play and shut down (ex. Shadowbane / Fury). The games below are in no particular order.
Dungeons and Dragons Online launched on February 28, 2006 by Turbine, the company behind Lord of the Rings Online and Asheron’s Call. The game remained a pay to play MMORPG with a $14.99 monthly fee up until September 9, 2009. Since going free to play Dungeons and Dragons Online has enjoyed tremendous success – as the game now has more players than ever. Plus, the game’s publisher Turbine, is reporting record revenues from the game.
2. RF Online
RF Online, or Rising Force Online, is a sci-fi and fantasy MMORPG mix that launched on November 21, 2006 with a $14.99 / mo subscription fee. The game was both developed and published by CCR International but only went free to play in late 2008.
ArchLord launched on October 3, 2006 with a $14.99 subscription fee in North America through the game’s publisher Codemasters. The game never managed to catch on and went free to play in January, 2007. The game has managed to stay alive since and is still around today. The game is actually being published by Webzen now rather than Codemasters though.
4. Rose Online
Rose Online, or Rush on Seven Episodes Online, is an anime inspired MMORPG by Gravity. The game launched as a pay to play MMORPG in North America on December 1, 2005 and went free to play somewhere in 2007-2008. Gravity likely made Rose Online free to play to try and put a stop to the number of free ‘private servers’ which were popping up all over the internet.
Like Rose Online, Ragnarok Online went free to play largely due to the fact that Gravity, the game’s publisher and developer, was tired of dealing with all of the ‘private servers’ taking away business from their game. The iRO free to play server is titled ‘Valkyrie’ and is completely free to play. There are a few key differences between the Valkyrie server and the regular pay to play server, most notably slower experience gain and limited access to a few specific features in the game.
The Chronicles of Spellborn, also called TCoS for short, launched on April 23, 2009 as a pay to play MMORPG with a subscription of ~$14.99 / month. The game’s developers went bankrupt in June 2009 and Acclaim, the game’s publisher in North America announced that they would redevelop the game as a free to play title. Since going free to play – TCoS has opened up to many more players.
By, Omer Altay