It's all change in the Age Of Conan. First he was promoted to replace Leno, then Leno screwed him over and they tried to bump him back to midnight, but no, he cried, and now his show on TBS is going grea... Oh wait, I made a comedy mistake that about no one outside America will get! Of course I mean Funcom's MMO, Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Huge changes are afoot, including turning free-to-play, along with a name change.
It's now to be called Age Of Conan: Unrated, which does seem a bit like when a teen gross-out comedy comes to DVD, and tries to boost sales by restoring a scene with boobs in it. I mean, a lot like that, since they're saying it'll be,
"savage, sexy and brutal"
But more significantly, it's taking on what I believe the young businessmen call a "freemium" model. It's a "hybrid business model allowing anyone to freely roam the vast lands of Hyboria either as free players or premium subscribers with access to extra content."
What this means is, those playing for free will get a limited version of the game, both geographically and personally. The not payers will have access to just four of the character classes (another eight available to the payers), only one of the "adventure zones", non-premium dungeons, just two raids, no sieges, half the personal bank space, two character slots (premiums get 8), no "alternative advancement" whatever that might be, basic mount training, no "Offline Levels" nor "Veteran Points", and not receive the 5% discount at the shops that paying customers will see.
Alongside this, new stores are being added so both classes of customer can purchase additional bits and bobbins to boost their game. Free players can gain access to various pieces of premium content by buying passes, so for instance if you're after a siege, or access to a premium dungeon, you can get yourself access for a fee. This is all through the game-breaking concept of Funcom Points, designed to reduce the need for weeny credit card transaction fees (they say - but will likely mean you also buy a larger number of points, I'm sure), which will eventually be sold in-game in certain shops, but currently can be bought at the registration page.
They really are planning to be ruder, too. Which is, as they point out, true to the works of Robert E. Howard. Which means it will use "even more of the barbaric, brutal and sexy setting that is Howard's Hyboria. Funcom is already in the process of developing new locations, monsters, equipment and storylines for ‘Age of Conan: Unrated’."
And of course there's a new Conan movie coming up, which the game will be creating new content for as well. All these changes are happening "soon".