Days after launching its Power & Prestige
expansion for Pirates of the Burning Sea
, Flying Lab Software announced that the MMORPG will switch from a subscription-based model to free-to-play.
Published by Sony Online Entertainment in North America and Europe, Pirates of the Burning Sea
is a sailing/swashbuckling-themed online game set in the early 18th century and centered around three nations: England, France, and Spain (players can also join a Pirates faction).
Flying Lab intends to retain an optional subscription option known as the "Captain's Club", which offers more character/structure/dockyard slots, XP/loot/faction bonuses, and discounts for virtual good purchases. All previous subscribers will automatically have access to the slot upgrades.
Gamers who play Pirates of the Burning Sea
for free will be able to level their characters to their max rank (50) without a time/trial limit. All players will also be able to take advantage of an in-game Treasure Aisle store, where they can purchase buffs, pets, and items via microtransactions.
The developer says it made this decision in late 2009 as a way to reduce the barrier of entry for new players, allow users to spend as little or as much as they'd like, and provide less hassle for gamers that rotate through several titles and constantly cancel/re-subscribe their paid MMOs.
Flying Lab's decision continues a growing trend of Western susbcription-based MMOs adopting the free-to-play model or elements, previous examples including EverQuest II, Dungeons & Dragons Online, The Lord of the Rings Online, Global Agenda
, and Alganon
"... all of the necessary tech is completed and is in testing, and we’re very close to starting the countdown," says Flying Lab game designer Jason Gettel. "We’re excited as can be about it, and we’re looking forward to writing the next chapter of Pirates of the Burning Sea