APB: Reloaded Developer Discusses Free vs. Premium Content Split

Reloaded Productions, which is owned by GamersFirst, will be converting Realtime Worlds and EA's APB into a free-to-play game for release in 2011 following its purchase of the game. As such, it will feature free (obviously) and premium accounts.

As development continues, Reloaded has gotten its first potential feature split between free and paid accounts in the realm of player-created content, which was easily the strongest feature of the original APB. Keep in mind, none of this is confirmed, but here is what we might see in the final game, as described by Reloaded's COO and CTO, Bjorn:

For APB we have another great feature (and challenge) that we have to take into account as we design the new Basic vs Premium accounts - the customization system. The customization system can generate incredibly complex objects that at runtime get pushed to all the other players in a session, which means that the more complex the customization, the more stuff has to be pushed to everyone in a particular game.

Bjorn suggests that premium players will be able to create complex creations above whatever cap is put in place and share them with other users, while free players will will not be able to share any content that goes over the cap. The system might also support being "Premium for just one month, create a lot of customizations that month, and then use those items later on (even if your Premium membership has lapsed)."

There are other issues to consider (for example; we clearly do want people to still make content for the marketplace, and also to be able to buy things from the marketplace, without circumventing the limitations set by the Basic/Premium structure). The solution to that issue might be to make customized items have some automatic price correlation to the complexity of the item, but if you are a Premium player you get a discount when buying complex items (non-Premium players would pay more for complex items).

It will be interesting to see what gets split across free and paid in the end because APB definitely didn't work as a retail game with a subscription model. It's a bit easier to imagine as a free-to-play game, but it will depend on how much content is locked away by charges.