Peteroglyph Games's upcoming real-time strategy MMO End of Nations will be the latest game to hop on the free-to-play train.
At a San Francisco press event yesterday, publisher Trion Worlds's VP of 3rd Party Development Dave Luehmann and Senior Vice President of Publishing David Reid confirmed that End of Nations would be available for free in its entirety, with no artificial level caps or restrictions.
True to the free-to-play model, the game will feature micro-transactions, which will allow players to plunk down money for new skins, cosmetic changes and "accelerators" that increase their in-game XP.
"It's not a pay-to-win type model," Luehmann stressed. "We want to have a contract with our players. It's about accelerators that can accelerate your curve through the game, but it won't make you a better player. That's not what we want."
Luehmann maintained that the game would favour skill and strategy over anything that can be purchased in the game's store. Advantageous units and other gameplay upgrades will be available for purchase with in-game funds, he said, but those funds can only be earned by playing the game and cannot be bought with real-world money.
There's a perception, said Reid, that free-to-play represents "the softening of what core gaming is all about". But he made abundantly clear his belief that End of Nations is "Not just a free to play game, but a AAA game for gamers."
Luehmann compared the game appealingly to the classic board game Risk. "Risk was a game that at its essence was kind of a free-to-play game," he said. "Not everyone needed to have a board. And, some people liked to buy the premium collector's edition." Luehmann also confirmed that End of Worlds will require an internet connection to play, and therefore feature no offline mode, though the co-op portions will be playable solo online.
Our own Brian Crecente played a bit of the game back in May and came away with the impression that it's "packed with unrealised potential". By offering the full game for free, we'll all be able to find out firsthand if Peteroglyph has been able to take End of Nations closer to realising that potential.