Editor-in-Chief Christopher "Pwyff" Tom sat down with Lineage II's Associate Producer, Nico Coutant and Executive VP of Publishing, Matt Turetzky, to get the finer details on their new "Truly Free" model
ZAM: One problem that every MMORPG has had in making a business model shift is that many older, loyal players tend to feel slighted after playing for hundreds of hours through months of subscription fees. Will there be any rewards for veteran Lineage II players, or are you hoping everyone will be on equal ground going into this new shift and new expansion?
NCsoft: We've actually been rewarding active players with a ton of never before experienced events and free items over the last few weeks when we first teased that we were making a transition to a new business model. We'll be continuing these sorts of efforts through November as well. Finally, any remaining game time is converted to NCoin at launch, so veterans will also have prepaid funds ready to spend on L2 Store items.
ZAM: It seems there will be the traditional microtransaction items of EXP boosts and quick revives, but can you shed some light on some of the unique items that may be on sale in Lineage II's microtransaction store?
NCsoft: We are actually going to be very careful and selective with the items we are selling in the store. The store will launch with a very restricted list of items, and that will grow over time as we gather feedback from our players.
As you know, Lineage II has a renowned PvP system, and we want to make sure the L2 Store won't create an imbalance on that front. Therefore, the majority of L2 Store items offered relate to game progression. For example, one of the unique items that we will be selling at launch is a Coupon that you can exchange for a time-limited pet that will greatly help you in PvE, especially if you are a solo player.
ZAM: Do you have any ballpark figures as to how much certain microtransaction items will cost players?
NCsoft: Most consumable items are priced around $1 or lower. The most expensive items will be cosmetic, such as Agathions (cosmetic pet) and Hair Accessories, which can range from $3 to $15, depending on whether they are a limited time use or permanent.
ZAM: When games go free-to-play, there is a very small community of players who simply want to see how far they can get without paying a cent. Will there be any opportunity to earn microtransaction currency without making a purchase, and will players be able to compete even on the highest tiers of content without using the microtransaction store?
NCsoft: Players will find that they can play from level 1-99 without paying a cent, but we hope they'll find attractive and useful items in the L2 Store that will enhance their Lineage II experience. There are no opportunities to earn NCoin in the game, but some microtransaction items will be tradable. Also, as we've already noted, we're really focused on making the L2 Store items focus on game progression, so highly skilled players will still be able to hold their own.
ZAM: Finally, with City of Heroes announcing a free-to-play mode and now Lineage II adopting this free-to-play model, do you think this is a stronger model for all of NCsoft's titles, or is this a concept that will be applied on a case-by-case basis?
NCsoft: We are always evaluating the best business models for our titles on a case by case basis and will continue that trend going forward. Each title has unique attributes that we consider as we work to optimize their relative positions in the market.
ZAM: Those are all the questions we have for now! This is great news about one of the industry's most respected MMORPGs, and we're looking forward to see how this Goddess of Destruction expansion and a new free-to-play model will do for the Lineage II community! Thanks!
NCsoft: As you can imagine, we've been working on this reveal for quite some time now, and are very eager to see the player response. We are excited about the opportunity provided by the Truly Free model to introduce Lineage II to a whole new generation of players. You can find more details at www.lineage2.com/truly-free. Thanks!
Editor-in-Chief, Christopher "Pwyff" Tom.