Daily Archives: April 5, 2018

Ultima Online Adds a Free to Play Option

In an item of note today, Ultima Online becomes the last of the “big three” MMORPGs from the late 90s to jump into the free to play pool.  EverQuest went to FreeVille back on its 13th birthday in 2012 with the SOE “Free to Play Your Way” campaign while Asheron’s Call went free… back in August 2014 I think.  It was at some point after they decided bringing back Asheron’s Call 2 was a good plan, but before they turned them both off for good early last year.

Welcome indeed

While the plan was announced a while back, today with Publish 99 Broadsword, the minders of the game since 2014, have added a free to play option called the “Endless Journey.”

This new option will be available to new accounts as well as any previously created account that has not been subscribed in the last 120 days.  I guess that is one way to keep people from just unsubscribing when you add a free option, though I am not sure banishing current players for 3 months if they want to go down the free path is necessarily sending the right message.

There is, of course, the usual list of things that free accounts can and cannot do.  In the case of UO, the list is pretty long.

You’re going to have to click on this to make it readable

This list is also part of the Publish 99 release notes linked above, but I thought I would take a snap shot of the day one version in case it changes at some future date.

I really know very little about Ultima Online, having never played it, so I cannot speak to whether the restrictions on the Endless Journey option are going to really push people to subscribe after they have tried the game.  But I do know from experience that when you go free to play with an MMORPG the plan is to drive people to subscribe, get people to buy from the cash shop, or both.

Either way this does make it a bit more likely that Ultima Online will be my choice for my 2018 goal of playing one of the early MMORPGs I have never tried.

Battle for Azeroth Coming August 14th

Blizzard announced the launch date for the next World of Warcraft expansion this morning.  Battle for Azeroth is slated to go live on August 14, 2018.

From the Blizzard site

Of course, we knew the expansion was coming some time this year.  The usual cycle dictates about every two years and when the pre-order came out the time frame was given as on or before September 21.

That would put the time between Battle for Azeroth and WoW Legion as 728 days, not the shortest time between expansions, but well shy of the longest stretch.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 728 days

I personally had picked August 28 as the launch date back in my predictions for the year.  Being off by two weeks will cost me 4 points when the accounting comes, but still not too far off.  Either way, I’ll have time for a bit of a break before the pre-launch patch comes online and kicks of the starter events for the expansion.

We shall see if the late August launch will give Blizzard enough time to clear the decks and make WoW Classic a prime talking point at BlizzCon a couple of months afterwards.