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MMO News Roundup: Last week on Massively

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Sometimes, you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? It's not all WoW, all the time! Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all of the other MMOs around -- past, present and future.
The Secret World no longer requires a subscription
Early last week, the urban fantasy MMO The Secret World has officially dropped its subscription fee. Effective immediately, you only need to purchase the game itself to play. Subscription-free players are not restricted from accessing any content or gameplay features.
Turbine brings back Asheron's Call 2
Though Asheron's Call is still running, Asheron's Call 2, which launched in 2002, closed its doors in 2005. Now, nearly 7 years later, Turbine is bringing Asheron's Call 2 back. The game is currently in beta phase, and to access the game, you need to be an Asheron's Call subscriber.
EVE Online breaks the 450k subscriber mark
Between the recent launch of the Retribution expansion and a relaunch in China, EVE Online has accumulated more than 450,000 subscribers. EVE developer CCP partnered up with TianCity to bring the sandbox back into the Chinese market. According to a CCP press release, the game's business in China has surpassed expectations.
Did SWTOR make things worse by going F2P?
Star Wars: The Old Republic has caught a lot of heat over its approach to F2P gaming. With severely restricted gameplay for free players and exorbitant prices in its cash shop, The Old Republic may have done more harm than good for its game -- a surprise misstep in a market that has seen great success with F2P games in the past.
Massively's week in review
Don't let WoW Insider do all of the talking when it comes to Massively's best content of the week. The Massively staff themselves have picked out what they think is the best content their site has to offer in their own weekly roundup.

Filed under: MMO Roundup

WoW goes free-to-play through level 20

Welcome! It's a good day to be one of the few remaining human beings who isn't playing World of Warcraft. While previously players who set up a new trial account were limited by 14 days of playtime and a level cap, Blizzard announced today that players on any trial account are able to play the game forever for free. The catch, of course, is that players are capped at level 20 until they upgrade. You can try out any of the races and classes available up through The Burning Crusade expansion, including the blood elves and draenei, with no time limit and no limit on characters created.

If you do get the hankering for more WoW thanks to the trial, you can get the digital Battle Chest, which includes classic WoW and The Burning Crusade, for $19.99 (as soon as the Blizzard site works again, anyway).

Trying out WoW for the first time with one of these trials? Have a friend who's just starting out and needs a push in the right direction? Check out WoW Rookie, our resource for new or casual players, with topics like: For a full list of the restrictions placed on endless trial accounts, check after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Breakfast Topic: Would you pay for extras in a F2P WoW?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Lord of the Rings Online went free-to-play. "Free" is a questionable term, since they charge you for a fee for features you can technically live without but are still fairly important; things such as the gold cap, the ability to gain rested XP, and certain instances and PvP options require a fee. You get an enhanced version slightly above a trial, but you are still limited in what you can do in the free-to-play version of the game.

While playing a game, I want to play the whole game, have the entire experience, and not feel as if I have been shortchanged by being on a limited version. Personally having purchased some of the Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age DLC, I would still have to pay for the added functionality. Not being able to fully advance my character and see large amounts of content would irritate me more than the cost would. Not being allowed to make use of content would make me feel like I was missing out.

I want the choice of whether or not I do this instance, raid, or battleground. Could you imagine attempting to zone into Icecrown Citadel and seeing a message that says, "Requires a V.I.P. membership"? WoW has sold us a few items for extra money that are not required, but not having a Lil' XT or a sparkle pony doesn't affect your game functionality.

LOTRO offers things like more bag spaces and removing the gold cap and even priority login for those with V.I.P. accounts. So if World of Warcraft decided to follow the LOTRO model and go semi-free-to-play, would you just play the free portion? Would you pay for the V.I.P. portion? Would you buy the other nickel and dime upgrades they have on top of that? Or would you quit WoW altogether, feeling as if Blizzard had shortchanged players by making us pay for things like bag space, PvP and raid availability?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Tom Chilton can imagine a future where WoW is free-to-play

PC Gamer posted an interview with Tom Chilton where he discussed the possibility of World of Warcraft eventually going free-to-play. He clarified that there are no active plans for this now, but he can imagine a future where it would be possible.

As massively multiplayer games become more mainstream, a common tactic to compete with WoW is to make the games free to play while charging microtransactions for in-game content. It makes games more accessible, and in theory can make publishers enough revenues that they can be profitable. If enough games break even this way and WoW starts losing momentum and market penetration, instead of shutting down, it would only make sense for Blizzard to keep the game available for the residual income. The original EverQuest is still live, for example. Instead of leaving vast empty realms populated by a very small number of nostalgic gamers, however, making WoW free-to-play could keep it residually profitable for longer.

While WoW will undoubtedly lose the majority of the market share some day, this day is not close. Warcraft is past the red-hot growth phase of its life cycle; however, it's still the largest player in the market. Chilton acknowledges that there's no reason for Blizzard to make this change while this is the case: "We're not spending a lot of time thinking about it. It's not something that's a reality for us in the near future."

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

PAX East 2010: Turbine on renting vs. owning in the MMO market

Blizzard's presence at PAX East 2010 was even smaller than I was expecting, with two or so Community reps there to oversee the StarCraft II tournaments going on. Boston-based Lord of the Rings Online developer Turbine, though, had a very large demo area which saw a lot of traffic over the course of the three-day event. Con-goers could stop by and demo LotRO, as well as Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and hobnob with the Community reps and developers present.

With the WoW-specific news at the event registering somewhere between "literally nothing" and "nearly nothing" on the newsy scale, I decided to stop by Turbine and ask them a few questions about their MMOs. I ended up speaking with their Design Director, Ian Currie.

"I'm from WoW.com," I said, "so obviously I don't normally do a lot of reporting on your games. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever even played DDO, and I've only played a little bit of LotRO."

Currie smiled and said "You really don't know what you're missing, then, do you!"

"Apparently not," I acquiesced, "but maybe you can help fill in the blanks."

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Filed under: Events, Interviews

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