Anarchy Online - History - Release

Release

Anarchy Online officially launched to the public on June 27, 2001 in the United States and Norway and on September 28 of the same year in the rest of Europe. In addition to being distributed as a retail box from physical and online stores, Anarchy Online was one of the first MMORPGs available via online digital distribution.

During its first month of release many stability, registration, and billing issues hurt public perception of the game. Some gaming reporters said it was the worst launch of an MMO in the history of the genre. Funcom spent about 6 months fixing the game, particularly the beginning experience. The company then took the "fixed game" on a press tour to convince reporters to give it another try, even though reviews and scores had been printed months before. At the same time, the company needed to build subscribers, which was very difficult given the reputation of the game. Funcom introduced the first "free trial" of the game and gave out returned boxed copies for free at the 2002 Game Developer's Conference. Some gaming publications told their readers about the improved game, although they did not change their original scores. By the end of that year, Anarchy Online had recovered from the launch woes and won the MMO of the Year award from PC Gamer. The company went on to create expansions, including the Shadowlands expansion in 2003 that earned several Editor's Choice awards.

Two months after its release in August 2001, Funcom began offering free trial subscriptions, now common practice for other games in the MMOG genre. New players were able to sign up for accounts that remained free for a limited number of days. This required them to supply some personal information, including a credit card number. After their trial period, players could either cancel their accounts, or keep them to continue playing the game at the cost of the monthly subscription fee.

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