The executive producer on the game talks about DDO's Free-to-Play model, just in time for some new screens showing off Bloodtide Fortress in the upcoming content patch
Turbine unveils new images for Bloodtide Fortress, part of their upcoming content update for Dungeons & Dragons Online. And in conjunction with the screens, we offer up a quick chat we had with Fernando Paiz, DDO's executive producer.
DDO Unlimited is getting ready for its fourth content update coming next month, showing off some new screens for the Bloodtide Fortress, and while the images are impressive, it was even more interesting that we were able to track down executive producer Fernando Paiz to get a quick recap of the game through its many iterrations and what some of the plans are moving forward.
Paiz was at GDC to talk about Turbine's two-year-old free-to-play model at a panel discussion. He explained that Turbine had wanted to explore that option for two reasons:
1) The game had improved tremendously since launch, with the hand-crafted instances and expanded story line and the main barrier for new people to check out all the changes was the subscription. They found that the "gym membership model" happened a lot in MMOs, where you paid your membership fee, and still got charged whether you played the game a lot or a little. "Players feel a lot of pressure if they aren't playing X hours a month because they want to get their $15 a month value," he said. Turbine felt the free-to-play model was better for the casual audience and not forcing the commitment on them.
2) It was a business model that Turbine had been interested in exploring and they wanted to be at the forefront of the movement for Western MMOs. "DDO was a great fit for this type of model," he said. "Players that played D&D were used to paying money extra things ... a new rule book, a new campaign, miniatures."
Since moving to the new business model, DDO has acquired a million new players. Without giving out exact numbers, Paiz said Turbine has seen the active player base increase 10-fold and revenues increase 5-fold. The subscriber base has doubled as well.
The game does offer a subscription plan and microtransactions through the DDO store, but Paiz said that the F2P model allows players to experience a good one-third of the world of Eberron for free.
Paiz admits that he loves the combat system and currently plays a capped fighter. His favorite instance has been the "12-man hound raid." He said he has done it four or five times recently at different difficulty levels because "it offers some great loot."
He said he likes the way DDO is evolving, primarily because it makes the game more accessible to the casual player and more soloability if players want to play alone. "We still have a lot of growth to go, and we want to keep expanding," he said. "So far, we've stayed on one continent on Eberron, but there is no reason we can't explore other worlds."