Fantasy slash-em-up TERA took a jewel-encrusted sword to its subscription model earlier this month , adding itself to the slowly swelling ranks of free-to-play MMOs offering a fairly heavy chunk of content for no cost. It's safe to assume publisher En Masse Entertainment seeks a smooth transition, and as part of that process, Associate Producer Patrick Sun told MMORPG.com the studio won't bog down free players with paywalled account and content lockouts.
"When we first started looking at different business models, we looked at what was out there and quickly realized there's no one way to provide a free experience to players," Sun said. "Especially today, there are so many great free titles in the market; just being 'free' isn't enough to get people excited about your game."
Sun's primary hurdle is addressing concerns naturally arising from free players soured by how other MMOs treat them, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic's considerably limited content for non-paying members.
"The other challenge was combating the stereotypical image a 'free' MMO brings," Sun explained. "Even personally—when a game claims to be free, I immediately question it: 'Okay, but when will you force me to pay?' A lot of gamers probably feel this way as well. A lot of the competitor models we looked at involved taking something away from the game and putting it up behind a paywall of sorts. For TERA, our primary goal was to make sure the free user wasn't treated like a 'free user.'"
TERA goes free this February, and you can take a look at a comparison chart of what each tier of membership provides. Only small differences exist between free and veteran (formerly subscribed users), but Sun's remarks appear accurate in leveling the amount of access for all players. So long as I get to keep swinging a goalpost-sized sword at rotund, anthropomorphic kittens (yes, really), I'm glad for the change.