From this post on NCsoft’s Dev Corner, Richard Garriot discusses NCsoft’s plan to build free to play console games.
PS3 NCsoft games would incorporate “traditional subscription models, micropayment systems and free-to-play games with membership options,” according to the CEO.
Elsewhere in the post, Garriot indicates we might see the first NCsoft PlayStation 3 game by Christmas of next year (2008) – a product that sounds likely to be a re-use of one of their existing IPs, i.e. City of Heroes, Guild Wars or Dungeon Runners. He notes that original IP console games will take 2-3 years (i.e. 2009/2010).
Garriot also suggests that NCsoft intends to start a new studio to handle console development, but more likely is that the work will be farmed out to existing studios, not a new one.
“…We are also looking at specific projects that we may house in other studios. This includes our Austin offices or our other currently existing studios. Console game development won’t just be at one single location,” he added.
Garriot hints that Xbox 360/XBLA is not NCsoft’s first choice for their F2P products due to the restrictive nature of Microsoft’s Live infrastructure. Aspects of my earlier post, The Economics of a Free To Play Console Game, may be relevant here as I examined the feasibility of doing a F2P XBLA game.