City of Heroes goes free-to-play

Tom Hatfield

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Veteran MMO City of Heroes has announced that it will move to a free to play model later this year, coinciding with their Issue 21 update. The new model will see current subscribers known as 'VIP players' while others play for free, with micro transactions integrated through an in-game store.

Details within.

Producer Brian Clayton told PC Gamer that the team had been working towards the new model for "Well over a year at this point."

When asked how much content would be available to free players, Clayton said: "I think there are a few things we're going to set aside for the VIP subscribers, but the majority will absolutely be available." Taking the game's famous character creator as an example he said "I believe the percentage that free players will have access to is somewhere close to 70/75% of the costume sets and costume pieces."

City of Heroes will also include a loyalty system to offer subscriber like benefits to those who do not take out a subscription but do purchase a significant amount of in game items: "And in fact I think we're one of the few, or maybe the only, that will allow these… I call them premium players: players that sort of play a-la-carte, they pick and choose a few things that are very interesting them from the store but they don't actually become a VIP subscriber. These folks who have purchased enough things through the store they'll be able to sort of grow through our paragon rewards program and as they hit different tiers within that program, even though they're not a VIP subscriber, they'll be able to open up more of the initial limitations that are put on a free player."

Current City of Heroes subscribers will become VIP subscribers come the switch, but will begin accruing 'paragon points' from July 1st, which will be spendable in the in game store when it launches. VIP players will also get a new monthly version of the current veteran rewards system and their own server.

There will be some restrictions placed on free players though, with only two player slots and eight archetypes available. For example, while the mission architect system will be completely unlocked for VIPs, free players will have to unlock it (somehow, NCsoft declined to specify) in order to fully access it. Here's a full description of how the features break down.

Play for Free:

  • Play as a Hero or Villain for up to Level 50.
  • Play up to two characters (total).
  • Select from 8 character archetypes and over 100 power sets.
  • Play in 45 different game zones.

VIP Players:

  • Existing City of Heroes subscribers retain all benefits, including 12 character slots per server.
  • Receive 400 Paragon Points a month to use in the Paragon Market.
  • Experience VIP content, including the City of Heroes Going Rogue™ expansion.
  • Play on a VIP-only server.
  • Enjoy one free character transfer per month, priority queuing, and VIP customer support.

Returning City of Heroes Players:

  • Get everything that play-for-free players get.
  • Retain everything you already purchased or unlocked, including character slots, super boosters, expansions, Veteran Rewards, and Epic archetypes.

So what do you think readers? Will this shift inspire you to try out City of Heroes when the update lands?

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