Massively multiplayer title Anarchy Online is to be offered for free to new players, with publisher Funcom dropping all subscription fees for new sign-ups for the next twelve months in a unique promotional effort.
Players who sign up to the science fiction themed MMORPG before mid-January will be able to play for free until the start of 2006, although existing players will continue to be charged subscription fees unless they start new accounts.
The unusual move seems to be designed to encourage new players to try out the aging MMORPG title ahead of the launch of Funcom's new products in the future, but it's not quite as catch-free as it sounds - players who get hooked on the game will still have to pay for expansion packs, which aren't covered by the deal.
"We feel very confident in the unique features and heralded qualities of our game," according to Anarchy Online project director Ole Schreiner, "and are now openly inviting everyone playing [MMORPGs] to find out what Anarchy Online is all about, completely free of commitment."
"This unique move will allow us to test important new business models prior to announcing future online games," according to Funcom CEO Trond Ame Aas - which tends to suggest that the company may be considering using a subscription-free model for its future titles from the outset, with revenues instead coming from other sources such as expansion content.