Neverwinter free-to-play microtransactions explained, full game available at no cost

Users who play Neverwinter, the upcoming free-to-play MMORPG from Cryptic Studios, will be able to access the game in its entirety at no cost, lead producer Andy Velasquez told Game Informer.

The microtransaction-based title will include items such as armor and weapons that the player can purchase for real-world money; However, in-game content such as missions and maps will "absolutely not" be based around a system of microtransactions, says Velasquez.

"You'll be able to access all of the classes without having to pay anything, and we will not be selling powers. It's not like you can just go to the store and buy a level 30 sword as a level 10 character. So we haven't talked too much in terms of the details yet but that's our high level approach," said Velasquez.

According to data studied by Velasquez, successful free-to-play monetization is aligned with "what makes a game that your users are going to like."

"You actually look at the data and you have to evaluate it: 'What are my players looking to do right now, what are they looking to buy, what could they want?' It's an interesting perspective because normally as developers you go into your think tank and think about what you want to make and all these cool things in your mind, so I think our games that have been free-to-play have gotten infinitely better because of their transition to free-to-play."

Neverwinter was originally announced in Aug. 2010 as a five-player dungeon crawl set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, but has since expanded into a free-to-play massively multiplayer title. Players will also be able to develop user-generated content for the game using the title's Foundry toolset to make levels and quests.

Cryptic Studios is planning to release Neverwinter early next year.

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