Turbine: Pay-as-you-go hybrids are the future of MMOs

Dungeons and Dragons Online will become a free-to-play MMO this summer when Turbine launches the free digital upgrade, “Eberron Unlimited.” The reason why Turbine decided twist the game’s model was left unexplained in the press materials announcing the move. Good news: I recently snatched the opportunity to talk with two of DDO’s producers and Turbine’s director of communications and asked why.

And the answer isn’t complicated. Turbine believes the pay-as-you-go model or a hyrbid of it is the future of the MMO space and they’re looking to get in on the action with a feature-rich title. Thus, DDO gets a new model.

“The answer is a combination of things: one is that we’ve been looking at this business model for a long time as a company, strategically, as far as this is something that we know that we want to experiment with,” executive producer Fernando Paiz told me. “We believe that the future of the MMO industry includes some form of pay-as-you-go scheme or hybrid models, and for this game we’ve opted to do a hybrid scheme.”

Follow me below the fold to get the rest of Paiz’s response and look for the full interview tomorrow afternoon. In it, the Turbine crew addresses my questions about Eberron Unlimited’s content, the possibility of DDO on different platforms, and they tell me why DDO: Eberron Unlimted will be the best free-to-play MMO.

“As we started looking into that, one of the things that we came to realize is that we felt that DDO was already a very good fit for this model,” he continued. “We’ve talked about how we really see this as a natural fit for the IP, even. Going back to the days of TSR and the original D&D where you would buy the rules book and you might play a couple of adventures there, and, then, at some point, you and your group would go and buy a new module, and then you’d adventure with that new book.

“And, then, maybe you’d enhance your experience with going to buy some miniatures or different things like that. And really the player had that ability to do that when they and their group were ready. In some ways, we’re emulating that original business model for the IP and bringing it to the online game.”

Interesting, stuff. Turbine did their homework, that’s for sure.

Brad BradNicholson