Top News of 2011: Free-to-play model

Star Wars: The Old Republic is setting the world on fire, and uses a traditional subscription model. BioWare has seemed open to switching to the popular free-to-play model, if the market moves that way. They certainly wouldn't be the first to make the switch.

We saw a string of high-profile MMOs switching to the model this year, including Star Trek Online, EverQuest 2, and DC Universe Online. Smaller MMOs like Lineage 2 and Aion swapped as well. Even World of Warcraft offered a F2P model up to level 20.

The trend wasn't relegated to the MMO space, though. Team Fortress 2 switched this year, along with a version of Pixeljunk Monsters. Upcoming titles like the MechWarrior reboot and Scrolls have already announced F2P plans. Mobile games, including iPhone's Game of the Year, Tiny Tower, also adopt this popular money-making model. All this made 2011 quite the year for cheapskates.

[Image: The now free-to-play title DC Universe Online]

2011 was chock full of game releases and announcements, along with the highs and lows you'd expect from any 365-day period. Since we follow the news closely here -- it's right in the name -- now seemed like a good time to reminisce about some of the biggest happenings of the past year. These are the events that thrilled, frustrated, shook up, and baffled players in 2011.