The team said that alpha testing is imminent and will be followed by beta events leading up to launch, still set for sometime in 2014. While fans can sign up on the site for a chance at a key, Trion said that soon-to-be-revealed founders packs will guarantee beta access.
ArcheAge will be adopting a hybrid F2P model including an optional subscription. This subscription will be necessary if a player wants to own his or her own house in the game, as the "limited real estate" will be earmarked for paying customers only.
Trion addressed its level of control over the title in its relationship with developer XLGAMES and indicated that the Korean 1.0 patch changes will not be coming to the West: "We work with XLGAMES to understand and new features that are added to ArcheAge in the East to determine how well they will be accepted in our regions, and then offer feedback. XLGAMES has been fantastic in addressing that feedback as best as they can. In situations where a feature is added that we don't think will be appropriate for our audiences, we work with XLGAMES to modify or remove that feature from our version."
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]
Update: ArcheAge Community Manager Scapes contacted us with additional clarification on how the housing limitations will work -- specifically, how free-to-play players will indeed be able to own land in ArcheAge. Here's the full text:
Let's clarify how free-to-play players can own land in ArcheAge! In case you're not familiar with ArcheAge, there's an inherently high value on real estate for building houses and farms because the areas where they can be built are part of the open-world environment and not instanced. This means that these areas are intentionally limited in size and quantity and do not scale with a server's population by design.Many thanks for the extra info!
Since ArcheAge is a free-to-play game, there's a risk that malicious users may attempt to use multiple free accounts to claim the best real estate simply to deny access to that space from other players. Requiring Patron status to claim land removes this risk. Free players can still gain the benefits of houses and farms by way of guild-, family-, or friend-owned property (the family system is a special permissions-granting friends list).
Now, about the Patron Program. In ArcheAge, this optional account status grants players the ability to claim land and pay in-game taxes on their buildings as well as other gameplay benefits. It can be purchased either as a single payment for a Patron Pass which grants a set duration of Patron status, or as a recurring subscription which grants ongoing Patron status.
Additionally, we are planning to make a tradable, in-game item version of Patron Passes. This means that players who are industrious or creative entrepreneurs in ArcheAge will be able to trade with players who have purchased the Patron Pass item in exchange for in-game currency, goods, actions, services ... whatever the market will bear!
I hope this helps clear up what we were communicating (albeit a bit indirectly) in the FAQ, and we'll have more details on how Patron Pass item trading will take place in ArcheAge as we finalize this feature. As for right now, we'll go back and update the related questions with clearer wording.
Looking forward to seeing you in-game soon!