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It’s been a little over a year since the superhero MMORPG Champions Online appeared to tepid reviews and limited consumer interest. There have been several free updates to the game during the last year that have improved gameplay substantially, and developer Cryptic Studios have made the game available for trial in a variety of ways, including a time-limited trial on Steam, and the current system in which players have unlimited play-time in a very restricted demo zone. It was announced today that they will switch to a free-to-play model in early 2011, with a closed beta starting November 9th.
The new model will let players download and play for free in a significantly larger area of the game than the current demo. Additional content will include “Adventure Packs, items, powers and costume pieces” which can be purchased using real-world money. Players can also continue using the $14.99 per month subscription model that is described as giving access to “Most of the game’s content”
This sort of monetization plan has been quite successful for other MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online, who reported drastic increases in both subscribers and profits after adopting the “Freemium” model. No word has been given on whether or not Cryptic’s other MMO, Star Trek Online might see a similar change. We’ll have coverage of the alterations to the game, and a full review of the free content when release day hits.