No more, superhero, as Sony Online Entertainment's "powing" DC Universe Online's monthly fee in favour of a free-to-play business model.
Beginning late October, players will be able to download a free copy of DC Universe Online for the PlayStation 3. The current subscription model will be replaced by three brand new payment tiers: Free, Premium and Legendary. All three levels "will provide access to open world gameplay and missions, general game updates and fixes to the game, with each level offering different game options and benefits".
Free players will be funded through micro-transactions for in-game items, character slots and DLC. Those that spend upwards of $5USD (including those players that have paid for subscriptions during the game's original release phase) will be upgraded to the Premium tier. Those players will "have more benefits available to them than the Free level player, including additional character slots, additional inventory slots, and higher cash limits". Content packs will still need to be purchased in-game.
Finally, Legendary players will continue paying the game's current $14.99USD monthly subscription, but will get "all DLC packs at no cost, more than 15 character slots, more than 80 inventory slots, the ability to form unrestricted-sized leagues, and many other benefits". So if you're serious about the game, you may as well pay. If not, go the micro-transaction route.
"When we launched DC Universe Online, we introduced a very different brand of massive online game driven by fast action combat to PC and PS3 gamers and with that, we discovered a new type of online gamer," said SOE's John Smedley. "Weve listened to our community, and weve determined that the free-to-play model is the best fit for DC Universe Online.
"Our philosophy embraces learning from our experience and as a pioneer in the free-to-play space with proven successful games like Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures, we believe this new model will expand the DCUO experience and offer more options that cater to every type of player so they can play the game in a way that fits them."
Speaking with IGN, the DCUO's producer Lorin Jameson said the switch to free-to-play was not down to dwindling subscriber numbers.
In terms of is it a result of a drop in subs absolutely not, he said. This is the right business model. If I can be honest, the game ended up costing a lot more than we thought it would, and this was our preferred business model from day one.