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.
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.
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.