Trion Worlds’ massively multiplayer sci-fi shooter Defiance will be going free-to-play this summer. For players on PC the game will become free on June 4th but PS3 users will have to wait until July 15th, no news yet on the Xbox 360 version. New players will be able to join their friends in the game and play the entire campaign based on the eponymous SyFy original series and experience the entire current map, missions, and end-game content completely free.
When Defiance originally hit the shelves last year it sold for $59.99 and has seen several DLCs since then. The game launched as a buy-to-play title with a box price and DLC, but the road to free-to-play has been a long one. As the SyFy original TV show played out Trion World’s slowly reduced the box price of the game with it falling to $10 in July 2013, a mere three months after its launch date.
Even before going free-to-play Defiance has digital content available for purchase via DLC adding missions, weapons, and virtual items as well as allowing the purchase of premium currency. A model that exists in many free-to-play games (and still works out extremely well for Blizzard’s pay-to-play World of Warcraft.) The pricing of DLC and in game premium currency is expected to stay the same.
When it launched, Defiance represented an interesting cross-media experiment by tying an MMO to a television series. The game, while technically adept, however proved to be something of a social failure with a buggy UI, broken chat, and poor voice communication systems. Trion Worlds has since corrected many of these problems, but many of the underlying issues still persist.
The SyFy original Defiance was renewed for a second season and this will likely keep the game alive even through the rigors of migrating to a free-to-play model.
Defiance producer Trick Dempsey said that cross-promotion with the TV show will be a strong part of the video game presence as well as further crossover missions that add context and lore to the show. To tie in the game in with the show, people who watch on SyFy will even receive time-limited codes that will provide unique items and special bonuses.
Trion Worlds other well known offering to the massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming industry Rift, saw a similar path to free-to-play. Rift started as a $60 box price and a $15 monthly subscription in 2011 and eventually became completely free-to-play in 2013.