GamersFirst acquired the post-apocalyptic MMO Fallen Earth and plans to convert it to a free to play model over the next few months.

GamersFirst is becoming a pretty big player in the MMO market by acquiring subscription-based that aren’t exactly paying the bills. The Irvine, California-based company had a few big ticket games under its K2 Network banner (War Rock, Knight Online) before it came to the rescue of APB last year. While the team is putting the finishing touches on “reloading” APB, GamersFirst went ahead with purchasing Fallen Earth from the talented but beleaguered team in Cary, NC who had been keeping that game alive. The 12 member creative team behind the shooter/RPG hybrid MMO will stay on the job, while GamersFirst will handle all publishing and backend business going forward, as well as appointing a couple of its designers to help the transition to free to play.

“When talks began with GamersFirst, we were hoping to find a way to continue supporting our dystopian wastelanders who roam our truly unique MMO,” said Marie Croall, content lead on Fallen Earth “Even better, the backing of an established global publisher also means we will share our game with millions of new players across the planet.”

The plans for the free to play conversion are as follows:

Once transitioned to Free2Play, Fallen Earth will give free players completely unrestricted permanent access to every zone and instance in the game. Several types of services, items and conveniences will continue being sold in the Fallen Earth store. Subscriptions will be replaced by a tiered membership system that caters to players of all levels of engagement, and each membership will include reward points that can be used to obtain store items for free on a monthly basis.

Current subscribers who maintain their subscriptions through the estimated five month transition period will collect significant rewards when the game completes the transition, projected for Q4 of this year. “Veteran Rewards” will include lifetime upgrades to a premium tier membership for the price of an existing subscription, as well as unique veteran-only items, the value of which will be determined by the number of months the player subscribed between June 2011 and the completion of the transition.

Fallen Earth received a lot of positive press, but it always seemed like the game was unable to reach the audience it needed to survive. Hopefully, the free to play transition won’t be too restrictive for core fans while allowing the shooter MMO mechanics to attract new players to the desert wastes of the American southwest, circa 2156. I, for one, have always wanted to experiment with the robust crafting system and the game’s integration with the proprietary mobile application. Maybe being able to try it for free will suck me into another MMO.

Ah, who’m I kidding? My soul belongs to Azeroth, and even then I can only play that about 5 hours a week, at best.

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