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There's some interesting news in the mix today for Cryptic Studios' Neverwinter. While the studio originally stressed when it revealed the game last year that it wouldn't be an MMO, it sounds like that's exactly what it will ultimately be when it is released next year.
Cryptic's plan has apparently changed a bit, according to IGN. The game is now being built as a free-to-play MMO with a particular focus on action, which the developer compares to Nexon's Vindictus.
The game will use a modified version of the engine that powers Cryptic's Star Trek Online and Champions Online, both of which are free-to-play (not yet for Trek, but soon). In an interesting twist, the plan is to make all content pack releases free as well. The studio based the decision on the fact that similar releases for other F2P MMOs sell in smaller and smaller numbers with each new offering.
Revenue streams for Neverwinter will instead come from consumables like potions and XP buffs, pets and cosmetic items. It sounds like a difficult model to sustain, since the plan is to eliminate premium-only game content limitations and fund continued work on Neverwinter purely through what amounts to an online shopping mall.
The shift in business models is the reason Neverwinter won't be making its originally planned 2011 release, not that any of us were expecting it to at this point. Cryptic plans to get the game out to the masses sometime in 2012, so expect to hear more on the actual content in the coming months.
Source: IGN UK