Blame it on World of WarCraft. Blame it on the price of oil. Blame it on your momma. Whatever the cause, one clear trend is emerging in the early 21st century, at least as far as PC gaming goes: "Free" is the new $60. Free-to-play games are nothing new, of course, but what is new is that some of the biggest game companies on Earth, who got big precisely because of the money they charged, are now experimenting with the model.
Exhibits A and B: Electronic Arts with Battlefield Heroes and Sony Online with the kid-oriented Free Realms. Exhibit C, now, is Square Enix, which is jumping into the free-to-play pool with Concerto Gate, an MMO that has nothing to do with its Final Fantasy games but stands a good chance of appealing to its legions of fans anyway, especially because, yeah, did 1UP mention it's free?