City of Heroes will be going free-to-play later this year! Following seven years of subscription-based service, the grandfather of comic book MMOs will be adopting a hybrid model with the launch of City of Heroes Freedom. Once the service is live, players will have three options: play through the available free content, return to the game and enjoy some premium perks, or pay a subscription to become a VIP member and gain access to exclusive content.
Of course, there will be a new Paragon Market in-game store where you can purchase costumes, powers, items and other services using Paragon Points. All players are welcome to buy as many points as they like, but VIP members will receive 400 bonus points per month as part of their subscription. City of Heroes subscribers will start accumulating these points starting July 1 to get them ready for the launch of the free-to-play version of the game. VIP players will also earn Paragon Rewards as part of Paragon's loyalty program.
Freedom kicks off with the release of Issue 21: Convergence, an update that includes the First Ward co-op zone, the Time Manipulation Power Set, the IDF and Defense Costume Sets, and the Underground Incarnate Trial Signature story arcs. Expect an increase in the pace of content when Freemium is released.
For more details on the free-to-play switch, check out the official FAQ. You can also view the side-by-side comparison of the free, premium and VIP plans after the jump.
UPDATE: Executive Producer and General Manager Brian Clayton has written a letter outlining Freedom and explaining why Paragon Studios chose this route. More developers will be posting Freedom details throughout the week, culminating in "Freedom Friday," which is when they'll answer questions from players on Facebook.