EverQuest free-to-play launch dated for March 15

The free-to-play launch of EverQuest will come almost exactly 13 years after the pioneering MMORPG's original release, SOE has revealed. It first arrived on March 16, 1999 with a $10 monthly subscription (gradually raised to $15), and will go F2P on March 15, 2012. How time flies!

As is customary for MMOs switching from subscriptions to free-to-play, there'll be tiered membership with optional monthly subs. And, naturally, there'll be an in-game microtransaction store, selling mounts, clothing, items, mounts, clothing, experience gain boosts and other for real money via Sony's Station Cash virtual currency.

"With no up-front costs or required membership, we might see a new player or two along the way, and more people is always a good thing!" producer Thom Terrazas said last month.

EverQuest II actually went free-to-play first, with a separate F2P service in August 2010, which was joined with the subscription servers in December 2011. EQ2 had a huge spike in players, but Sony avoided revealing exactly what impact these freeloaders had upon actual profits.