When Dungeons & Dragons Online converted to a free-to-play business model, it was back when I was first working as a writer in the industry, and it was a pretty big deal. And let’s be real here, that conversion is a big part of why that game is still running right now. Nor is it alone in that field; I don’t think we’d still talk about games like Star Trek Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic if they hadn’t transitioned to a free-to-play model a while back.
We still barely talk about games like WildStar and Champions Online, but at least they’re still here. That counts for something. But that seems to be the other side of things; sometimes a free-to-play model is bailing out water when the boat is half-submerged. Free-to-play certainly didn’t save LEGO Universe or City of Heroes. Some games convert and then go on functional maintenance mode for all eternity, and some games convert and still die off.
That may sound morbid, but it’s fascinating to me in the context of questions like whether or not Warhammer Online could have survived if it actually went free-to-play. So let’s talk about that. Are free-to-play MMO conversions saviors or signs of doom in your eyes? Do they indicate a move with the times, or do they tend to make you feel a game is floundering?