Curious about how a subscription-based MMO makes the transition to a free-to-play model? It's not as easy as one might assume, and Pirates of the Burning Sea
was no exception. In a recent devlog
, PotBS's Misha
takes us behind the stage to look at the logistical details and hurdles that had to be taken for this jump between business models.
While the team had been mulling over a microtransaction model from the beginning, it was only after a lot of discussion with SOE
that the publisher showed the team a way this could be implemented. Following that, the team had to tackle several tricky issues, such as expired trial accounts, boxes still in the stores and all of the subscription types it had in place.
Next, the team ran the system through quite a bit of testing to iron out the snags. "Those who helped us test F2P in the early days will recall pets on their own little boats in the midst of battle, trying desperately to help out. You could zoom in and see a pig or chicken standing in a commanding position overlooking their hardworking crews. This bug is one of my favorite ever, and I'm still a little sad that we fixed it."
It wasn't just the software that needed to be tested but also the physical setup. At one point, Misha writes, "For whatever reason, we were suffering hardware failure after hardware failure."
While the F2P transition was slated for Thanksgiving 2010, it failed to hit the date. "We hit a major issue on our side and SOE hit a major snag on their side. So, no Thanksgiving F2P. On the one hand, we were really discouraged that we hadn't met our target. On the other hand, we were incredibly glad we had tackled these issues before we went live,"
she writes. Eventually Pirates of the Burning Sea
"soldiered through it all" and made it to the live servers, much to the team's delight.
For a full rundown of this saga and the true tale of commanding pigs, head on over to Pirates of the Burning Sea