S2 Games' popular fantasy action-RTS game Heroes of Neweth has now joined the many other previously released commercial games that now offer a free-to-play option. The developers announced their new business model for the game on Thursday that will allow anyone to download and play Heroes of Neweth free of charge.
The game was first launched in May 2010 but cost $30 to purchase and download, although S2 Games did open up the full game to be played for free for limited time periods until this week's announcement. The Heroes of Newerth web site has posted up an FAQ page about the permanent change to the free-to-play business model. Free players will be able to play the game online with 15 heroes that will rotate over time. There's also a second level of player called Verified that happens if players reach level 5 in the game or purchases the in-game Gold Goblin Coins. Verified players can also participate in matchmaking with other Verified players. Both Free and Verified players can purchase additional in-game heroes.
The players who spend $30 on Heroes of Newerth before the switch to the free-to-play model have now become the third level of players, called Legacy. They will get free access to all of the game's heroes, including all that are released in the future, along with access to all of Heroes of Newerth's gameplay modes. From now on the new players to the game will not be able to get access to the Legacy level of player. Last May, S2 Games announced that the game had over 420,000 active players.
This is just the latest game in the past few months that has announced a switch to a free-to-play model. Other games that have done so include Valve's Team Fortress 2, Funcom's Age of Conan and NCsoft's City of Heroes (which hasn't yet switched but will do so later this year). Blizzard recently announced that its mega-popular MMO, World of Warcraft, is offering a trial version of the game that lets players play as long as they want through level 20.