Age of Conan going free-to-play, 'Unrated'

By Alice O'Connor, May 25, 2011 7:00am PDT

Mere days after the third birthday of Age of Conan, developer Funcom has announced that the MMORPG based upon Robert E. Howard's fantasy stories will be relaunched under a free-to-play model this summer. On top of that, it's planning a burst of good, old-fashioned sex and violence for all to enjoy.

With the launch of Age of Conan: Unrated, as it'll be called, all and sundry will be able to download and play the MMO completely free. Age of Conan will become funded by an in-game item store, selling "exclusive content such as weaponry and mounts" for real money, and optional "premium" subscriptions. Funcom says these subscriptions are the same as the current regular subs, which cost--now, at least--$14.99 per month.

As is typical for free-to-play MMOs, non-premium members will face a number of restrictions. An FAQ explains that free players will have fewer character slots, be only to play certain classes, be blocked from Sieges and certain dungeons, be stuck riding slow mounts, and suffer various other annoyances that are generally tolerable when you haven't paid a single penny to play.

Going 'Unrated' will also let Age of Conan reaffirm "its position as the sexiest and most savage MMO in the world," Funcom says. The team plans to create new content that's "even more true" to Howard's original stories and their "barbaric, brutal and sexy setting."

A number of high-ish-profile MMOs have made the switch from regular subscriptions to a free-to-play model in recent years, including Dungeons & Dragons Online, Global Agenda, The Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest II, Champions Online, and, soon, Hellgate: London.

Funcom separately announced yesterday that it's also working on new content based upon the upcoming movie Conan the Barbarian, set twenty years after the fantasy flick.

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