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SOE answers Vanguard free-to-play questions


With the recent announcement from Sony Online Entertainment that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will be going free-to-play sometime this summer, questions immediately began to surface. How will it effect current players? Will it be anything like the other free-to-play titles that SOE runs? Well, we were as curious as anyone else, so we fired off a few questions to SOE in the hopes of snagging some more insight into the transformation.

We received our answers from Andy Sites, Director of Development, and the ever-familiar Salim Grant, Creative Director.

It's an exciting time to be a Vanguard player, but will putting a free title on a game that has struggled in the past make any difference? Time will tell. In the meanwhile, click past the cut to check out what SOE had to say!

Vanguard screesnhot
Massively: We don't know much about the transition yet, barring the information that was released on the official forums. Is there anything more that you can give us that shows what is unique about this free-to-play conversion?

Andy Sites: As I mentioned in the Producer letter, the groundwork for our free-to-play offering has just begun. We plan to roll out more information once we're ready. The team is excited to provide more information, but we want to make sure everything is solidified before announcing all of the exciting details.

You tried the Live Gamer market before, and it didn't seem to do well. Will the new free-to-play model learn from those lessons? If so, how?

Sites: Live Gamer and our new free-to-play model provide different types of services. Specifically, Live Gamer provides players with the ability to buy and sell virtual goods with one another. By taking Vanguard free-to-play, we are expanding the game experience and making it more accessible to every type of player so they can choose to play the game on their own terms. As for lessons learned with previous free-to-play implementations of other SOE MMOs, we believe that innovation is driven by experimentation, so we are absolutely taking notes and working to provide players with the best free-to-play experience possible.

Do you think the hardcore gamers will respond positively to this change? What would you say to those fans that have been around since the beginning?

Salim Grant: Absolutely. I think that our previous success with free-to-play shows that this can breathe new life into a product. Thank you for your dedication to Vanguard!

Vanguard screenshot
Are there plans to sell actual items in the marketplace like boats or weapons? (Please say boats.)

Grant: The details of what we will sell are not yet final, but it is not out of the question that we would sell boats. There are no plans to sell items of power, so if we sold a weapon or armor, it would be something that is meant to be used cosmetically.

Will the change affect housing or will there need to be a housing reset?

Grant: All the plans have not been worked out so at this time, I cannot confirm whether a reset of plots will be necessary. We will investigate and make a decision once we get deeper into the implementation stage, so stay tuned!

"I can say that in just the past few weeks, the team has already quadrupled in size, and we're continuing to bring new developers on-board."

You are also talking about continuing to develop the game, but will the development always favor high-level combat players or will non-combat systems like diplomacy get some love?

Grant: We have tried to give all three spheres something with each update, so there is no reason that this cannot continue.

Can you tell us how many new devs will be added to the team? Are they part time, borrowed from other projects, or fully dedicated to Vanguard?

Sites: Well, without giving exact figures, I can say that in just the past few weeks, the team has already quadrupled in size, and we're continuing to bring new developers on-board. We plan to begin hosting Developer Spotlight pieces in the next few weeks to introduce individual team members, so stay tuned for more updates.

Why would players want to return to Vanguard for this free-to-play conversion? What will be different for them if they have not played in a while?

Sites: I feel the most intriguing reason is simple: Players will not have to make the financial investment that most MMOs require before deciding to continue playing or to move on to something else. This will allow them to dip their toes back in and see if it's a good fit. With our reinvestment in growing the development team and commitment to more frequent game updates, I think many players will be very happy with what they see.

We'd like to thank Salim and Andy for taking the time out to talk to us! We look forward to hearing more news about Vanguard, a game that seems to just keep going and going. Keep an eye on Massively for more details.

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