Aion is going free-to-play in Europe in February 2012, with a switchover in the U.S. likely soon after. NCsoft that Gameforge, a German free-to-play publisher, will handle Aion‘s free-to-play launch and all future updates in Europe.
“NCsoft and Gameforge started talks in early 2011 to discuss opportunities to collaborate in the free-to-play market,” said executive product director Volker Boenigk. “This is a great step to take for both companies and we certainly hope that it is only the first project in a long and successful relationship.”
Boenigk says the gameplay will remain much as it is, with most of the changes coming to the interface. “Most of the changes that had to happen were on the technical side,” he said. “Switching a game to the free-to-play model is a significant effort, as is transitioning an already live game to a new publisher.
“Aion will raise the bar of what players can expect from a free-to-play title, not only in terms of game content and quality, but in terms of graphical fidelity and visual beauty,” Boenigk continued. “The developers at NCsoft have put a great amount of effort into maintaining the engine and updating it with improved visuals while also maintaining moderate hardware requirements.”
“By introducing the free-to-play model, we hope more gamers in Europe will be able to experience the epic story of Aion,” added NCsoft’s chief strategy officer Songyee Yoon. “NCsoft welcomes the partnership with Gameforge, with its long MMOG experience in the free-to-play sector and its excellent knowledge of the free-to-play market.”