Sony Online Entertainment's high-fantasy MMO Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is going "free-to-play" later this month in an effort to keep the game afloat. The term is kind of a misnomer, however, as Vanguard will still require a $14.99 monthly subscription fee for access to the full game, while free-to-play users will have much more limited experience. In terms of release, we're still "several" weeks out, but July has been confirmed as the month of release.
What exactly can free to play gamers expect in terms of limitations? Sony has set up a matrix for comparison, but here are the significant differences:
- 6 of 19 current races (additional races can be purchased)
- 7 of 15 current classes (additional classes can be purchased)
- Limited access to items: common-tier only, no uncommon, rares or above
- Gold limit of 1 platinum, 15 maximum quests in log, and four characters per account
- Half the standard bag space and 1/3 the bank space
- Buy, but can't sell on the AH; join, but can't create a guild; receive, but can't send mail
- No access to Caravans, Brotherhoods, Housing, Fishing, or customer support
- In-game advertising
If you can suffer the limitations, then Vanguard will soon be open for all players to freely explore and level to 55 (the maximum). How Sony will manage this mixture of free-to-play, premium content purchases and full subscription rates will prove interesting. It's also concerning that they're going free-to-play just as The Secret World is being released, with Guild Wars 2 on the horizon. Still, I'm sure they're working their hardest to keep Vanguard fun and enticing.
Just a quick editorial note, but I personally think free-to-play systems like Vanguard is implementing are misrepresenting the game. The extremely limiting nature actually creates a negative experience for new players, rather than an attractive one. Being limited to only common items seems especially restrictive and punushing. Such is the nature of the beast when you're basically just advertising subscriptions still, and not fully embracing the free-to-play methodology.
Expect news on Vanguard's full free-to-play release in the coming weeks.