I can't help but wonder how many of today's crop of MMOs will manage to last 13 years. Running expenses are surely so much higher than they were in dear old EverQuest's day. The major precursor to the dark age of grinding and number keys that we know so well has indeed managed a baker's dozen-sized lifespan, and while its days as a subscription game are not yet numbered, it now also wears a free to play coat on its aged frame.
There are three broad options, should you wish to check out granddad:
free-to-play, which offers some basic, low-level stuff and the option to buy additional chunks of game, character slots and whatnot.
Silver, which costs a $5 one-off fee and gets you access to more stuff as well as retaining the option to buy yet more.
Gold, which costs $15 per month and lets you do whatever, whenever.
There's a faintly bewildering and evasive breakdown of what it all means here. The small print is probably the most illuminating stuff there, though:
The FREE access requires payment if you wish to upgrade your membership or make purchases in the in-game Marketplace. The Silver Membership can be purchased via a onetime Station Cash transaction (Silver Pack Item) available for $5.00 USD or 500SC in-game. Gold membership is available for $14.99 USD per month.
All membership levels are granted full access to game world through the EverQuest House of Thule expansion. The Veil of Alaris™ expansion must be purchased separately.
The four free races included with FREE and Silver Memberships are: Human, Erudite, Barbarian and Gnome.
The four free classes included with FREE and Silver Memberships are: Warrior, Cleric, Wizard, and Rogue.
Levels are limited by the expansions owned. The House of Thule expansion will allow for a maximum level of 90. Level 91 to 95 requires the purchase of the Veil of Alaris expansion.
OK? OK. Also, existing subscribers are being granted 500 of SOE's cross-game currency Station Cash per month as a thank you/sorry gesture.
The transition will happen in early March (which is when the 13th birthday is due), and there's some enthusiastic words from EQ's smiley producer here, of which the below is a sample:
"We're excited to be expanding the EverQuest experience by making the game more accessible to every type of player so that you can choose to play the game in a way that suits you best. Anyone who wishes to start, return or continue to play one of the "Best Games of All-Time" can simply download and play EverQuest on their terms – think of it as Free to Play, Your Way. Recurring subscriptions, non-recurring subscriptions, Silver or Free memberships, item unlockers, and more. The game will now be setup to be flexible so that *you* can decide how much to pay, based on how much fun you're having."
What if I'm having more than $15/month of fun? Did they think of that in their fun quantifications, huh?