EverQuest Next was first announced as a free-to-play MMO. However, developer Daybreak Game Company indicated in a new interview that the business model could change.
"Free-to-play is definitely something that we're focused on here at Daybreak and it's something we've been talking about for a while with regards to EverQuest Next and Landmark," senior producer Terry Michaels said at around the 16:40 mark in the Q&A video released by Daybreak (via MassivelyOP). "The reality is that we constantly question what makes the most sense for a game. Not every model for monetizing a game fits with every game type."
Added Michaels: “Right now we believe that they’re going to be F2P games, but we’re not willing to say absolutely that’s what they’re going to be at this point in time.”
Lead designer Darrin McPherson then chimed in to reiterate the point: “We do not want to lock ourselves into one thing. We want to make the best game possible."
It's hard to imagine EverQuest Next not being a free-to-play title. Over the past few years, Daybreak Game Company has steadily moved all of its games toward a optional microtransactions, optional subscription business model. Most MMO developers have done the same. Only a few games, such as WildStar and World of Warcraft, still require a monthly fee.
Daybreak's uncertainty over free-to-play might be due to their recent acquisition by an investment firm. The company, formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, was purchased by Columbus Nova three weeks ago. Their new owners then laid off many employees a week later. One of the departing employees was Dave Georgeson, director of development for the EverQuest franchise.
One point of contention might be whether or not there's an initial purchase price. PlanetSide 2 can be downloaded and played for no charge. That's great for attracting new players but maybe Daybreak will be tempted to ask new players to pay for a copy of the game and ensure that they'll make more money off the bat with the game.
EverQuest Next is powered by the Forgelight Engine seen in PlanetSide 2. It's said to have destructible environments and custom character classes. The development team said in the past that they want to ditch the the conventional MMO "trinity" of healers, tanks and damage dealers.
Still, we know a lot less about EQ Next than we do about Landmark, a related game also set in the EQ universe. Landmark, currently in closed beta, lets players collect resources and construct buildings. Daybreak has said in the past that players' creations in Landmark could appear in EQ Next as well.