GU 57 went up on to Test earlier, and there are some interesting reports coming out of it. EQ2Wire reports that anyone trying to use the Auction House receives a curious error message:
You must upgrade to at least a Gold membership in order to purchase items from the broker.
The assumption is that this is a sign that Everquest 2 is going Free to Play, in a similar fashion to DDO, with multiple tiers of membership. I can’t think of any other explanation that would be plausible for that message to be occurring.
Last year I went out on a limb and forecast that EQ2 would inevitably have to take this step.
I do not think that having both extreme RMT AND a mandatory subscription charge is sustainable. I’d be happy for the RMT to go away, but I think that is not the way the MMO winds are blowing these days.
Given the success of Free Realms, I have a feeling that EQ2 may be making the leap to being Free to Play, supported by RMT, with an optional subscription like Free Realms and DDO have. The streaming technology used by Free Realms has been adapted for use in EQ2 (and was responsible for the dreadful memory issues many people experienced after Live Update 53), and will be enabled at the time of the next expansion to make for a smoother new player experience. We have been promised that there will, at that time, be a great influx of new players, and I doubt that’s going to happen just because they get to start in Halas. My prediction is that Everquest 2 is going F2P. Feel free to poke fun at me if I turn out to be wrong.
I got the timing a bit wrong, but then Halas didn’t make it in time for the Expansion either!
There is, apparently, a big announcement coming from SOE later today. I’ll be watching like a hawk. Whether this is going to work or not depends very much on the exact capabilities of the F2P accounts. If they are too heavily restricted then F2P is just a glorified trial which leads to subscribing. DDO takes the other route, making F2P with the occasional purchase a viable long-term option. That some level of accounts are being barred from the AH entirely is not a particularly great signal, but it depends exactly what a gold account is. If it is equivalent to a DDO subscription then that’s terrible, but if it is equal to a DDO Premium account (One that has bought points or subscribed at any point in its history) then that’s not so bad. Even so, even DDO accounts that have never paid a penny are still allowed to buy from the AH and post a single item for sale on it.
I’ll be back later, once we know what the score is. If it is done right, then I’ll support this move