Pretty much everyone who reads Techdirt seems to be sending over the story of how Turbine has changed the business model for Dungeons and Dragons Online
, going away from charging people $50 for the game and then $15/month to play, to a model where you can play for free
and there are additional benefits to actually paying. And, so far, it seems like a massive success. Many more people are playing than before... and many of those who would never have paid (or played!) at all are realizing that there are good reasons to pay for some things within the game. While these sorts of situations can be a fine balancing act (if the company gets too focused on trying to convince people to pay, it could make the free stuff annoying), it appears that Turbine has done a good job finding a sweet spot -- making sure that if you just want to play the game for free, you can absolutely do that and it's perfectly enjoyable all the way through. Putting money into it just gives players certain additional benefits that they feel is worth it. Suddenly, paying the company money becomes a reasonable per transaction situation, rather than an ongoing chore. While it's still early, it should be worth watching to see how well this particular business model experiment goes -- but the early indications suggest that it's yet another example of how "free" can work as a part of a business model.