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Age of Conan MMO goes free-to-play
Fri, 17th Jun 2011
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Publisher Funcom has announced that it is introducing a free-to-play business model for its swords and sorcery massively multiplayer online game, Age of Conan.

Later this year, players will be able to experience Age of Conan: Unrated at no cost, without the need for a credit

card or subscription. Players can still opt to pay for a premium subscription, and will then have access to more character slots, classes, locations and other content. Players will be able to transfer between the two plans.

Using micro-transactions with Funcom Points, free-to-play customers will be able purchase content within Age of Conan: Unrated. Funcom Points are the in-game currency. In a similar way that Microsoft Points work on the Xbox Marketplace, buying batches of Funcom Points will reduce the number of credit card transactions (and currency exchange fees).

Funcom points will enable players to purchase armour, weapons, Khitia access passes, character boosts and other services normally only available to premium subscribers. This gives players the opportunity to limit the level of investment in the game. One of the main bugbears of subscribing to MMOs is the fun-sapping, nagging feeling that you must play the game continuously because you are continuously paying for it.

Age of Conan joins a growing number of MMOs that now offer player some form of free access. Sony has provided players with Everquest II Extended free-of-charge for almost a year. Valve's Steam subscription service has just made MMOs Global Agenda: Free Agent, Champions Online: Free for All, Spiral Knights and Forsaken World all free-to-play.

There has never been a better time to dip your toes in and have a go on an MMO. Having enjoyed spending many an hour in the past hour battling though Conan’s Hyboria, your correspondent will be downloading Age of Conan: Unrated as soon as it launches. Watch this space.