I'm trying to think of a real world analogy to express why it won't work, and I think I found one.
In Atlanta, there are two major interstates that intersect and merge in the center of the city, I-75 and I-85. For the 1996 Olympics, the city put in HOV lanes for all the buses and groups who'd be coming into the city. After the Olympics were over, they left the lanes in place, and those cars with 2 or more people in them could continue to use the lanes freely.
Fast forward to the budget shortfall of 2010. The governor was faced with three choices to raise revenues on the roads: Raise taxes, impose a toll for everyone on those interstates, or impose a "freemium" model that turned the HOV lane into an optional toll lane. When surveyed, people were vehemently opposed to the tax increase (of course) and generally negative about a universal toll for everyone.
So the state made the option for the "freemium" model and spent millions of dollars and DOT resources into putting together the optional toll infrastructure.
Six months later, the project has been declared a total and utter disaster by the people of Atlanta
, although the city is swearing that with 100K passes in the wild, their system is a success.
(Compare this with the nearly 300K passes issued for the Georgia 400, the toll highway that runs from North ATL down to the heart of the city.)
It seemed like a great idea on paper, but the city is bleeding money on it every day because people don't want to pay the exorbitant rush hour traffic fees, and don't need to pay the low traffic hour fees since, well, there's no traffic. (If I wanted to cruise the length of I-85 from the ATL airport to my highway, 316, at 1am, I'd have to pay about fifty cents. But why bother? I can go 75 MPH in the rightmost lane at 1AM!) Instead, normal commuters are now crammed into one less lane on an interstate. It's added a half hour to the commutes of a lot of people because of the traffic jams. At $6 a day for back and forth during rush hour, the majority of people who live in the suburbs just don't want to bother. That's $120 a month!
Putting XI on a free to play model would have the same risk and probably the same outcome. Getting 100K additional subscribers would be a fantastic coup and could be touted as a success for the devs, until they discover that only 10% of those people are paying them any money at all, and most of those that are are only paying a few dollars here and there each month.
I'd rather they devote the type of time and labor it'd take to implement a F2P system into, you know, actual content instead and leave the current monthly sub fee model as it is. Edited, May 6th 2012 4:07pm by catwho