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DC Universe Online Interviews: The Free to Play Interview

By William Murphy on September 21, 2011

MMORPG.com:

The first thing people will say is, "We knew DCUO was meant for F2P, why wait to make the change now?" What exactly do you say to those who have been expecting this change, often times with negative connotations?

Lorin Jameson:

We've listened to our community and have determined that the free-to-play model is the best fit for DCUO. Giving players choices is the theme of how we're moving forward as a company - it's really about Free to Play. Your Way - meaning that the decision is in the players' hands so they can play the game on their own terms.

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MMORPG.com:

As a fan of the game, I can see how easily DCUO will work for the F2P model. Adding power sets, costumes, alerts, raids, duos... all for little chunks here or there. But will we have to pay a specific fee for an alert? Or for a duo? Or will a certain fee get us a "pack" of content, similar to the Updates you've been releasing every couple of months since launch?

Lorin Jameson:

We will be offering DLC expansion packs for DCUO on a regular basis. These will contain a variety of new game play, including additional powers or weapon types, new raids, duos, and more. Once a player purchases a content pack, they can enjoy it whenever they want without additional fees. Even better, players who are at the Legendary level will be able to access all DLCs for free when subscribed.

MMORPG.com:

Can you explain in depth about the $5 "Premium" membership? Is that a one time fee, and what exactly does it buy?

Lorin Jameson:

It is pretty straightforward. If at any time as a Free access player one has accumulated purchases in the store equal or greater than $5.00, those players will earn Premium access. Players will retain this Premium level permanently with no further requirements. Any item players purchase from the store qualifies to be counted versus the $5.00 requirement so go ahead and choose what you find the most valuable and then reap the rewards of the Premium access level.

MMORPG.com:

A lot of folks will say that the PS3 and subscriptions can never work for an MMO, and will point to this conversion as a reason. Given the changes with EQ2 (a AAA PC MMORPG) and now DCUO, do think the end is at hand for subscription based MMOs?

Lorin Jameson:

At SOE, free-to-play is a big part of our future and something we're focusing on very heavily. As mentioned above, giving players choices is the theme of how we're moving forward as a company. We think there will continue to be successful subscription online games, but believe that they will eventually become the minority.

MMORPG.com:

Making the game F2P is going to open the door to a lot of "riffraff"? How is SOE prepared to deal with those who bring down the experience for others? Are there plans to separate F2P players from Premium or Legendary players?

Lorin Jameson:

We have had a lot of experience with free-to-play games with Free Realms, Clone Wars Adventures, and EverQuest II Extended, and have not seen a trend towards inappropriate behavior in general. We will, of course, be watching closely and will make sure that we deliver a great world for all of our players.

MMORPG.com:

Please, please, please... tell us there are no plans to gimp PvP by making the best gear purchasable. If you do this, baby Green Lanterns everywhere will cry.

Lorin Jameson:

Definitely not - it wouldn't be fun or competitive if that was the case. While we do sell some items now that make things like repairing more convenient, it does not change the balance of the game or hinder anyone from achieving the highest level of armor, etc. It is important that they co-exist and enhance one another so that what we're selling layers on top of it for a better play experience.

MMORPG.com:

When is this scheduled to happen? And beyond the switch, when we will start seeing more and more content purchasable in the store? New powers, new items, and the like? Will they be added as they come, or on a certain update schedule like before?

Lorin Jameson:

We are targeting late October for the Free-to-Play launch of DCUO. We will give a more solid date once we have passed through all of the approval processes with our partners at SCEA, SCEE and DC. We plan on releasing our mini-expansion DLCs on a regular basis with our next one scheduled to ship before the end of the year. We plan to put new powers, weapons types, and the higher end raid and other content in these DLCs. Of course, we will also be adding new, free updates between DLCs that will enhance every player's experience in the game.

MMORPG.com:

You've stated that this was the goal for the game since day one and that you never wanted it to be a subscription title. Why did it launch as one then, and what took so long for the change?

Lorin Jameson:

In today's world, business models are morphing and the key to evolving is to be flexible and deliver what players want. We've listened to our community and have determined that the free-to-play model is the best fit for DCUO moving forward. By adjusting the business model, we are expanding the DCUO experience and making the game more accessible to every type of player so they can choose to play the game in a way that suits them best.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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