"Why didn't you love me? Sure I'm a crappy MMO, but I deserve better!"

Following in the footsteps of Dungeons & Dragons Online, Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online, Bill Roper’s superhero MMO Champions Online (which was originally to be set in the Marvel universe but Marvel pulled their license for some reason) is going Free-To-Play. F2P is the dubiously successful Korean model of making some (or all) of your MMO free to play (no monthly subscriptions) but either gating players away from content unless they do pay, or charging small fees for useless trinkets or vanity customizations. It works for some games, and not for others. Sony’s minigame playground Free Realms has had moderate success with the model, while D&D Online has seemed the most comfortable with it, the studio reporting that “things are going well”.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has the scoop on Champions Online’s changes:

Champions: Online, the spiritual successor to City Of Heroes, has announced that it will move to a free-to-play model from the first quarter of 2011. This also involves a new closed beta test that starts on the 9th November, mostly aimed at current players, with a possibility of outsiders being let in too. There’s more super-details underneath the sentence I’m super-typing right super-now.

There are some “new features” being added, according to Cryptic Studios:

“With the Free-to-Play launch, Champions Online is adding a new way to define your hero: Archetypes. These hand-designed character progressions are built to be simple but exciting. They’re based on the superheroes you know from comics. They make it fast and easy to get in and play Champions Online. When you play a Archetype, you don’t choose which abilities you acquire over time; instead, you advance similarly to class-based RPGs. Of course, all players will still retain full control over how their character looks using our costume editor. Players interested in complete control of their character can opt to create a custom class. Doing so gives players access to the same unparalleled character customization available in Champions Online today. Custom classes are available only to Gold Members.”

It’s likely that Star Trek Online will go the same route eventually. Read more [here]

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