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Born Free

Eurogamer: This week, Funcom's Age of Conan became the latest MMORPG to embrace the free-to-play, or freemium, business model. From this summer, the game's basic content - a fairly expansive experience in itself - will be available for free, with expanded content and various items purchasable for a price. The existing subscription model will also remain available, satisfying current users - but it's fairly clear where Funcom sees the game's future growth prospects.

In the massively multiplayer sphere, freemium - a horrible crime against the English language, but arguably a more accurate term than free-to-play - has emerged as the rival business model to subscription gaming. Originally adopted by Asian MMO operators, most notably those in South Korea, the model has more recently been embraced by several major western firms - to the extent that it's now being retrofitted to existing subscription-based titles, like Age of Conan.

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