In a surprise announcement, Naughty Dog released today a free-to-play version of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception's multiplayer for all PlayStation 3 players to try. The experimental version of the title will allow players to progress through levels 1-15 and all unlocks therein, and then offer cheap ways to increase the cap. In addition, a new Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Game of the Year Edition is available, as well as a ton of new DLC for multiplayer.
Talking with Polygon, Naughty Dog game director Justin Richmond stated this is just the first step in Naughty Dog's plan going forward:
"This isn't just an Uncharted thing or a Last of Us thing; it's sort of going forward, whatever we do. I think this is going to be a 'how it works'; there is going to be a component that is digital-only, or a component that is free-to-play ... that is something that we'll see what happens. If it's a complete disaster maybe we will rethink it. But right now we're very excited for it. I think this is something that is going to pave the way for stuff that we are thinking about for the future."
To see Naughty Dog, of all companies, turn towards a free-to-play option for their multiplayer is rather... well, flabbergasting. They're known far and wide for their single-player experiences, but perhaps this decision marks a turn where Naughty Dog recognizes the profit to be made in the free-to-play arena.
I recall playing through Uncharted 3, trying out the multiplayer and then putting the game back in its box, to be recalled as a fond memory. I might have been the only one though, as Naughty Dog claims over half a million players are partaking in the game's multiplayer each month. With the title going free-to-play... that number will surely surge.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception's free-to-play multiplayer is available now on the PlayStation 3 store. Increasing max rank from 15 to 25 will cost $5 and unlocking the rank completely will cost $20. The Game of the Year edition is also available digitally and costs $40 total. If you haven't tried one of the best games of 2011, well, here's your chance.