S2 Games has become the latest PC publisher to try its hand at the free-to-play model, transitioning its multiplayer action-RPG Heroes of Newerth away from a pay-to-download model starting today.
Free players will start with a basic account with limited matchmaking options, but can upgrade to an enhanced, "verified" account by purchasing in-game currency or through sufficient play time. Both of these account types will have free access to a rotating pool of 15 of the game's titular heroes, with the option to purchase more heroes for permanent use.
Over 500,000 current players with paid accounts will be transitioned to "legacy" status, granting access to all existing heroes in the game. Legacy players will receive free access to newly released heroes after a "short waiting period," or be able to purchase them for immediate use.
Marc Deforest, CEO of S2 Games, said in a statement the new model will allow 460,000 current active players players to "easily introduce the game to their friends," without alienating them from the game they know and love.
"We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the superior experience HoN delivers will remain untouched for our loyal fan base during and after the free to play transition," he said.
S2 highlighted that 40 percent of all active Heroes of Newerth players log in to the game every day, with an average of 30,000 simultaneous players at any given time.