We sat down with GamersFirst's Joseph Willmon and Fallen Earth's Marie Croall to talk about the post-apocalyptic MMO going free-to-play.
Today, October 12, is the day that Fallen Earth goes free-to-play! The two-year-old post-apocalyptic MMO is making the transition under GamersFirst, the company that recently brought APB: Reloaded back to life as a free-to-play title. Players will be able to choose from four pricing tiers, ranging from the free Scavenger membership to the $29.99/month Commander membership that includes a ton of perks.
We had the opportunity to speak with GamersFirst Associate Game Director Joseph Willmon and Fallen Earth Lead Designer Marie Croall to get more information on the free-to-play launch. Keep reading after the jump for the full interview!
ZAM: The player base has known about the transition to free-to-play for some time now. What has the reaction been?
Joseph Willmon: It’s been really cool actually because the players have been overwhelmingly positive about it right from go. I think that’s mostly though because we’ve been so up-front with them, and the fact that we brought Marie Croall and her Dev team over from Icarus Studios to create Reloaded Productions, Cary.
ZAM: What is the ultimate goal of transitioning to free-to-play, and how have you hyped the transition to potential players?
Joseph Willmon: Fallen Earth has always been an amazing game, but it’s never been able to get the sort of exposure it deserves. By making it free, we want to make it easy to get the game out there into as many people’s hands as possible. As far as how we’ve hyped the game, well, we’ve been making updates to our community via the Fallen Earth Blog, reaching out to our media friends like ZAM to get the word out and reaching out to former Fallen Earth players and current GamersFirst players with cool incentives like subscription discounts and veteran rewards like the new Spiked Chopper!
ZAM: How are you making Fallen Earth accessible to new players while still focusing on content for your loyal fans?
Joseph Willmon: The biggest thing is, of course, removing the barrier to entry by making the game free, but we’ve also made some big changes to the early game in the last few months. New players are going to find a much more cohesive experience when they first start out, introducing them to quest lines and systems that they would have had to look a bit harder for before. Really, though, Fallen Earth has always had one of the most helpful communities in the MMO world, hands down. There’s a Help chat system, and I have yet to see a question come through there that wasn’t answered both quickly and accurately.
Marie Croall: The key thing that people should come away with is that we’re not dumbing-down the game in a thinly veiled attempt to make it more accessible – we’re guiding new players into a new way of playing an MMO, re-introducing them to concepts that have been lost in the crop of current-gen MMOs, like exploration and achieving your own goals. And when we release new things, we’re not layering on new content for higher levels, but adding new functionality that can be enjoyed by the entire cross-section of Fallen Earth players. An example of this is the World Event system; it’s not in some new zone only high levels can go to, but a brand new system accessible by everyone in the game when across all zones.
ZAM: With a free game, there are usually concerns about farmers, spammers and other ne'er-do-wells flooding the game. What precautions are you taking to stem the tide?
Joseph Willmon: There’s always going to be an element of this, and in some ways it’s a sign of a successful game, but we’re trying to balance our ways of preventing it without putting in annoying restrictions. That said, there is a limitation on how many chips (Fallen Earth’s equivalent to gold) free accounts can hold at one time; this limit goes away if you ever pay for anything. For the most part we don’t really expect regular free players to run up against this limit – it’s not meant as an up-sell point – but it should be a pretty annoying barrier to farmers that are trying to amass large amounts of chips. Apart from that, we’re actually taking a risk by leaving open trading, auction house, and mail functionality to free players, because we strongly believe that the economy will benefit from their contributions. Apart from that, our GMs are going to be on alert and working hard 24/7 to keep this type of element from ruining the game experience of Fallen Earth.