Sony Online Entertainment has announced plans to release a new massively-multiplayer online game that won't require you to pay a monthly subscription fee.
The announcement was made at the Austin Games Conference in Texas by SOE president John Smedley, who declined to reveal a title or any of the gameplay details.
But he did confirm that the game will be based on a business model pioneered by Chinese and Korean MMOs that earn revenue from the sale of in-game items and extra levels, rather than monthly fees.
So players will hand over actual money for virtual tools, characters, weapons, items and levels - probably via a service similar to Sony's recently launched auction site, Station Exchange, which allows EverQuest II players to sell items.
The MMO will be launched next autumn on unspecified platforms - which could include the PSP handheld and perhaps the PlayStation 3, if it's out by then. More details of the game will be released shortly.
This isn't the first time that a major MMOG publisher has launched a subscription-free title in the west; Korean company NCSoft launched Arena.Net's Guild Wars worldwide earlier this year, and plans to release its first paid-for add on pack in early 2006.