2013-7-25 UPDATE after business model explanation video appeared
Snail games also make a official page for the business model （but, it‘s in Chinese,again）
1、Pay for Save confirmed.
2、Save feature only including unique equipment and material loot, seems exp gain and level up progression will be unaffected by this Pay for Save feature.
3、Player can trade unique equipment and material, obtain items from trade and auction house won't need to pay for save these items.
4、If you don't pay for save, the save file will be deleted after 24 hours.
5、Game will automatic save for player, but it only happens every one hours (I'm not sure for this), besides this player still can manually save the game anytime he want.
6、Intrinsically, players are not pay for save, they are pay for loot, for all unique loot are locked in these saves, only after paid, they can save these loot in their inventory.
7、Player still can free to play this game without paying anything, high-level equipment can be rewarded from quests and professionals, they can also purchase some patchy gear from NPC merchant using basic game currency, or trade material for "black gold" from other players.
8、Black gold is special in-game currency, Snail games said they won't sell black gold directly to players, the only way to obtain black gold is by beat bosses or raid dungeons, black gold also being binding to Pay for Save feature, after some in game activities, player need to pay for save the black gold they obtained.
9、Black gold can be used in the auction, but will be charged a fee for every transaction. Players who don't want to pay for the game can only obtain black gold from auction.
10、Players can try their luck, roll a dice to see if they are lucky enough for a free save chance.
11、Beta test in July 30、August and October. Pay for Join beta confirmed.
This might be the most fanciful business model for a MMO.
The news comes from China Economic Times （link here but it's in Chinese）, an Economic newspaper, not related to video game——and this means it's more reliable than most video game media in China.
Judging from the writing style, Although I feel it's a promotion for related companies, at least it including some true information.
So let's begin: Black Gold Online （《黑金》in Chinese） is a MMO developed by Snail Games. And it will be co-published by both Snail Games and Shengda Games in China, the original report said it's " dual-core cooperation" but forget those fancy words, they just established partnership to publish this game together.
Besides those Blahblahblah insignificance promotion paragraphs, here's some meaningful numbers about the game:
Four banks, including Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Bank of Communications, give this project ￥600 Million （≈ $97,063,820）credit extension.
Shengda Games Vice President Guang Chen said they will spend ￥200 Million （≈$32,354,606）for marketing this game.
Finally we can talk about the business model for Black Gold Online: It's Free to Play but Pay to Save, the game will reward player automatic or player can earn some income in manual, after gameplay progression, player can choose save his progression or not. Only if player decide to pay for save, his progression could be saved, if player think recent gameplay is meaningless, he can leave the game and start over for free.
Seriously, I can't imagine it……
*Patch: Seems How Much should one pay for save is based on How long one have played in single play session. So let's envisage such situation: Player A grinding for 4 hours and earn a unique weapon at last, then he would like to pay for 4 hours game play time, after this his progression can be saved, if he didn't pay for it, the 4 hours progression and all loot will lost forever. Player B grinding (why all people are grinding? became my imagination is too limited) for 6 hours and got nothing precious from it, then he rage quit this game without paying anything, the game server didn't make a save file for him. If so, I feel the drop rate of unique items will increasing with play time. But even leveling up will cost money in such situation, and I feel this obviously won't be accepted by most players—— ultimately, it's about marketing and operating, so maybe they can handle it with confidence.
And Snail Games CEO Hai Shi said: traditional MMO business model always ruined game's fairness and balance, with currency inflation shorten game's lifespan. Pay to Save model could allow player only pay for meaningful time, and can say NG at anytime.
That's all I got so far, don't know if this will be the business model for western market.