Korean gaming giant NCsoft recently announced it will abolish the subscription “Pay-to-Play” business model for its oldest and more profitable game, Lineage. Starting on 2 May, Lineage will officially enter the Free-to-Play era in South Korea while the old top-up system will be removed on 24 April. All outstanding purchases will be refunded to players. NCsoft has also showcased a new item, Einhasad’s Favor, which increases experience points (EXP) and drop rate by 100% for 30 days, although no pricing has been given. This is a dramatic change as just 6 months ago, NCsoft maintained that Lineage will never go Free-to-Play.
Last month, Lineage underwent its largest update in 21 years, bringing the classic MMORPG to near-modern standards with new functions, updated graphics, and the highly-anticipated 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution. Known as the “Remastered” update, Lineage did well and got up to 10th place in the internet cafe rankings. According to the financial report for Q4 2018, Lineage brought in around 10.8% of NCsoft’s global sales despite running only in Asia countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. There are industry analysts who claims that sales of Einhasad’s Favor will be equals to a monthly subscription, although there are different views on how it will affect the in-game economy. Only time will tell.
Note: NCsoft did not specifically say Lineage is going Free-to-Play, but mentioned that all players will be able to enter the game without a monthly subscription voucher from 2 May.