Ok - so - we have just enabled the next 35,000 people to enter the Beta.
You will be getting your notices in the next hour or so, but you are already permitted in to the game with your GamersFirst accounts. Have great fun in San Paro this weekend!
The second item I want to address head on is the peculiar outcry over the leased-weapon expiration for weapons bought using virtual in-game money. So, I will be VERY frank about it. We have done this for two reasons (1) it actually LOWERS the amount of in-game cash (virtual in game money - which really equals TIME spent in the game) that you need to spend in order to try out every single weapon and find your favorite gun. In some cases it lower this "cost" (ie time spent) substantially before you get a chance to try the guns (as in the item now costing tens of thousands of in-game cash instead of MILLIONS as it was before), and (2), we are (and always planned) to use leased weapons (for real cash) and premium account access as a way to monetize the game - but not before you get a REALLY fair chance to TRY these weapons and features completely for FREE!
Also we are NOT saying there will not be permanent weapons in the game. There WILL be permanent weapons in the game. There will even be permanent weapons you can buy for REAL CASH too. Just NOT NOW while we are trying out game balance and watching player behaviors. And since the GAME IS FREE, we feel somewhat entitled to running various tests in Beta that we think will give us the required information before we come back with a new permanent weapon system both for in-game cash AND for real world cash. This will clearly let us design the best system to keep the game alive for the long term.
How much will permanent weapons cost when they DO get re-introduced, both in terms of in-game cash and real cash? Not sure yet. Again - the overarching goal here it to make it so that first time APB players can pick up the game and try almost all of it RISK FREE for NO MONEY. The second goal is to let people with large amounts of free time on their hands basically play the game long term FOR FREE by grinding (or potentially for some REALLY low nominal initial charge like $2 to get some base items that will give you a pile of items that will suffice to sustain you along with some grinding). The third goal is to let people who want LESS of a grindy experience buy a premium account (for something like $10-$15 a month) which REDUCES the amount of grinding substantially (but since they have TRIED everything FREE, you know what you are getting in to and will never be a "surprised" consumer), and the final goal is to let people who engage with the game long term (ie probably someone who ends up spending "retail-like" amounts of north of 50 USD / 40 EUR / 30 GBP or similar) have a really great long-term experience in the game, not too dissimilar from the experience you would have if you bought a retail product (but with far less risk since you have actually gotten to try EVERYTHING before you ever paid for ANYTHING). All this seems quite fair, given the enjoyment we hope you will have.
In the end, the GREAT news for everyone; if you install the game now, and don't like the game play (or the monetization system as it exist right now) - then simply DON'T BUY ANYTHING right now. That's ok (though our Dev Team won't really feel your loving support if you don't upgrade your account). However - it's perfectly ok if you are not ready to buy premium now, or lease a gun (OR BUY a PERMANENT GUN when that option is available), since we will just presume that at some point in the future, when we have added other features you like, you will then jump in to the game and become a PREMIUM PLAYER when you are having fun! For example; maybe you love racing cars and blowing things up? Great - when the racing system is added, then maybe this game is for you? At that point we hope you come back and re-engage with the game. We have seen this time and time again with our other F2P games, people make an account, and 12 months later return and suddenly become really engaged with the game when it's been updated to match their tastes.
Sounds like a heck of a deal to me! A game which will continue being updated, get new features, get more items, get new game modes (Mad-Max style racing anyone!), and you can continue to try it out casually until you find something that grabs your attention. ONLY AT THAT TIME are you ever likely to convert to a paying player.
I think the confusion is that often console and traditional PC gamers feel their games are "free" (since after making the initial purchase it all "feels" free, when in fact you already spent a lot of money to buy it in the first place, often before you could ever try the game out).
Well, here is the perfect alternative model. Try some weapons. Try some customizations. If you like the direction of things, or just want to expand what you do, then go Premium. If you feel this will be great longer term - then go get some serious permanent items (of course, ONCE they are actually available that is). If you don't like things this very moment, then we invite you to hang around for free, chat with friends, try out new tactics, and wait for future updates that might be more to your taste :) !
Nothing is set in stone anywhere in this game and APB will continue evolving along with the behavior of its players. So enjoy it! And support us (by going premium or buying an item) if you enjoy what we are doing! We clearly would appreciate it as that type of support since it will let us continue working hard to bring you an even better product in the future, and turn APB into the amazing virtual world centered around your custom tastes that we know it can become!