While struggling MMORPGs used to simply shut down when subscriber numbers dropped, the rise of the free-to-play model has seen many hold on to eek out a living. Add NCSoft's Aion to that list, as the publisher announced today it'll switch in February 2012--but, for now, only in Europe.
"In the last few months the lands in Atreia have become more and more deserted," NCSoft explains. "We want to reinvigorate the world of Aion and attract new adventurers to the towns to take to the skies as Daevas."
NCSoft is teaming up with German publisher Gameforge to run the free-to-play Aion in Europe. Come February, subscription fees will stop being collected, and excess fees refunded.
As is typical for F2P MMOs, freeloading players face restrictions on character slots, chat channels, and more. Those who've previously subscribed gain 'Veteran' status--which F2P players can also earn--will be privileged, with more slots and fewer trade restrictions. Or you can cough up some money for 'Gold' status, gaining more experience, shorter instance waiting times, and more perks.
Curiously, North America is sticking to the subscription model. "This only affects the EU game service," lead community manager 'Phenteo' posted on the NA forums. Don't be too surprised if it follows suit, though, especially as people are rarely happy paying for something others get for free.
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