Yep, the free-to-play bug has bitten yet another [formerly] major MMO and will have Aion going F2P as of February 2012
Aion, which was developed by NCsoft and has been available outside of Korea since 2009 has suffered a steady deline in player numbers over the last quarter. It seems many players refer to the native lands of Atreia as “deserted” The nearly 40 man crew responsible for the game have been very forthcoming as to why the change from a subscription base to a free-to-play model is happening and are the primary source for such information.
Another recent addition to the free to play model, DC Universe, has seen a 700% revenue increase since the addition of a free account to the account types a player can choose. The free model is very basic (stripped down) but allows players to purchase additional character slots, DLC, etc…The want of players to be able to get all of the content is, no doubt, the cause of the revenue increase.
Aion, unlike DC Universe and some other MMO’s which have introduced a free to play model will not be holding on to subscription accounts, however. Once February hits, they’re dropping all subs and the monetization is being handed over to Gameforge. Players will be able to purchase a “gold pack” however which will allow them to get into instances faster and the company will also continue in-game microtransactions.
I wonder if Star Wars : The Old Republic’s imminent launch has anything to do with the drop in players in this and other MMO’s…I tend to think this is the case. SW:TOR, which will charge players a paltry $14.99 per month, officially launches on the 20th of this month.
Stay tuned and we’ll give updates if anything changes with Aion.