During our conference call with GamersFirst's COO Bjorn Book-Larsson, VP of Game Operations Joe Rush, Associate Director of Operations Joseph Willmon, Senior VP of Marketing and Public Relations Rahul Sandil, and Fallen Earth Lead Designer Marie Croall, we learned that GamersFirst will be taking over the Fallen Earth IP and converting the game's business model to a free-to-play model.
The important thing to note here is that the core Fallen Earth design team will remain intact, as GamersFirst isn't looking to change the game itself. Marie Croall's crew will be considered an extension of Reloaded Productions, remaining in North Carolina. The company promises more resources for the design team, hopefully allowing the game's already impressive development cycle to grow even further.
Just how free-to-play will it be?
There will essentially be four tiers of this new business model: completely free, plus the Silver, Gold, and VIP subscription levels. The subscriptions will offer reward points, much as the game does now, but with even more items to purchase with those points. Keep in mind that these may not be the official names of the subscription tiers on release.
Free: This is to be considered an unlimited free trial, by which players will be allowed to play the game from end to end completely free if they'd like. They just won't earn any reward points.
Silver: This tier will cost less than the current sub price (which is currently $14.99 a month) and provide the same content. All subscriptions (Silver, Gold, and VIP) will also earn enhanced XP gain.
Gold: This will cost the same as the current sub fee but offer more reward points and bonuses each month, which can be spent in the item shop. So you'll be getting more for the same price.
VIP: With this top tier (which will most likely cost more than the current sub fee), players will have the ability to share their VIP bonuses with everyone in their party in the form of a VIP "aura." So if one person in your party is VIP but the rest are free players, everyone in the group will still reap the rewards of this aura. These rewards are also stackable, so if you have a full party of VIP members, you can expect some crazy boosts for everyone in the group.
Also, the game will be a free download from the GamersFirst site, but the company will not be removing either the current stock of boxed copies being sold in brick and mortar stores or the Steam digital download. If you do buy a boxed copy, you'll get some sort of subscription compensation to equal things out. Details on this haven't been finalized yet.
What will be offered in the item shop?
This is something that hasn't been set in stone yet, but some examples given were items that decrease crafting time and the possibility of more cosmetic content.
Many of the items in the item shop will be available to purchase for both GamersFirst credits (something used for all of its games) and Fallen Earth reward points. This allows you to pay through game means or just outright with cash.
When does this new business model start?
There's no definite date yet, but the developers say it should be within the next few months if all goes well.
Will the game's development change?
Marie says that the current development schedule is on target and will remain intact. Past Alpha County, the team hopes to introduce more player-driven content with long-term features. This is something it has discussed previously (especially with progress towns) and is still aiming to deliver. With the added resources from GamersFirst, the development goals should be easier to reach, but the design decisions themselves will not be dictated by GamersFirst.
It's important to note that any of the details here can change before the new business model takes effect. As with APB: Reloaded's development, GamersFirst promises regular dev blog posts from Bjorn Book-Larsson to keep players updated on how all of this will progress. Stay tuned to Massively for more as the details are released!