Turbine applies a March 4th update to Asheron's Call, the studio plans to move the game into maintenance mode -- with benefits.
Producer Severlin dropped the news on the forums today: "Once this next update is in the hands of the players, the updates to Asheron's Call will be limited. We intend to fix critical bugs and continue maintenance and support on the game. While there is always a chance we will put out a small update if time permits, players should have the expectation that updates will be limited to maintenance, bug fixes, and perhaps balance iterations of February content such as the new Coliseum."
Severlin elaborated that "this change of focus is necessary for the company." Asheron's Call is perhaps best-known for its monthly story updates that have gone out since the game went live in 1999.
The good news is that Turbine says there are no plans to close the game and will be working to make both Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2 free in the near future: "We are working on a date in the not-to-distant future where all active accounts will be able to play the game for free. Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2 will be a gift to our loyal players."
Also, Turbine is starting an initiative to allow player-run servers by the end of the year. "Our intent is to help these players build a community so these processes can be created and distributed to people interested in running an Asheron's Call game," Severlin said.
[Thanks to Padre for the tip!]