SOE announced back in March that Vanguard, the fantasy MMO step-child in their lineup, would be going free to play this summer.
Having been around the block with SOE titles moving from subscription to F2P at least twice before, first with EverQuest II and then EverQuest, it was probably easy enough to predict what was going to come to pass.
Both of those games ended up with a three tier subscription plan. (Yes, EverQuest II Extended had FOUR tiers, but that was clearly an experiment.)
At the bottom was “free,” which required no money changing hands. All you had to do was create an SOE Station account, download the client, and you were set to log in and go. Of course, there were some pretty severe restrictions on just what you could do with a free account. These were put in place both to encourage you to upgrade and to keep abuse from gold sellers and the like to a minimum.
At the top end there was the “Gold” subscription, which was essentially the old monthly subscription plan in a new wrapper. You could continue to give SOE $15 a month and get access to what you had before the transition.
And in the middle was the “Silver” tier where, for a fee of 500 Station Cash (which could range in value from $5.00 to 80 cents depending on various sales and incentives), some of the restrictions placed on “free” accounts were relaxed. You got a couple more character slots, the ability to have more cash per character level, and no restrictions on chat channels.
This “Silver” tier made a lot of sense to me. For an up front, one time payment, you were able to still dispense with the monthly fee, but got some benefits by essentially buying into the system. Doing so probably meant you were unlikely to be a gold seller or other nefarious character likely to commit acts that might get you banned. You had invested.
So I was somewhat surprised to see the Vanguard subscription matrix that was released today, as that “Silver” tier appears to be missing.
There is a FAQ up about the transition to F2P, which this time appears to cover most of the pertinent questions, but which makes no mention of the lack of a middle tier.
I wonder if that “Silver” level has proven ineffective in keeping the riff-raff under wraps, or if it ended up being too appealing to players, thus siphoning off potential dollars from players who might otherwise opt for a monthly subscription.
And this still leaves me wondering about PlanetSide? It will soon become SOE’s sole subscription-only title.
Smed says PlanetSide won’t be going away when PlanetSide 2 shows up.
When will it go free to play?