Wurm Online is a cult fantasy MMO that’s entirely player-controlled: the community is responsible for almost everything that occurs. It’s a premium MMO with a monthly subscription, but developer Code Club AB are releasing a new version of the game: Wurm Unlimited, that comes without the subscription. But unlike, Tamriel Unlimited, which replaced The Elder Scrolls Online’s subscription forever, Wurm Online and Wurm Unlimited are two different versions of the same game that will exist side-by-side.
The key difference between the two is that Wurm Online will carry on as a subscription MMO as usual, whereas Wurm Unlimited is a pay-once deal, and allows the players to host their own private servers and remain separate from the rest of the playerbase. The two games don’t overlap - there’s no crossplay at all. This means, essentially, two player bases for the same game.
Wurm Unlimited’s host-your-own-server feature allows players to modify the overall experience, such as being able to reduce the grind of the game. It's a version of Wurm that will cater to differnt kinds of players that already reside in Online, such as players who don't want to abide by the rules, enjoy a more relaxed experience, or exist in a world kept private for just a group of friends.
Wurm Online’s player base has been very vocal on the game’s forums, voicing concerns that two versions of the game will split the community and reduce the population of Online as people migrate to the more relaxed environment of Unlimited. There’s also concerns that the private servers of Unlimited could be used to develop and test hacks that will then be brought over to the Online game.
Addressing some concerns, Wurm developer Rolf said: “Some people will migrate to the private servers of course. Some people will return for various reasons. New people will hopefully come - people who haven't discovered the game or tried it and quit for whatever reason. The idea is that these people can explore the game in a more relaxed fashion. We can only guess what the net amount is but chances are very good that it is positive. What we do know is that we lose a lot of newbies. We have 5000 premium customers left today from several hundred thousand who have tried the game and quit after a few minutes for various reasons. And several million who have never heard about Wurm and never will unless we do something like this. Releasing only the client on Steam would be "just another MMO client people don't care about". This is actually offering something to people.”
Wurm Unlimited will be available on Steam from October 21st.
Thanks to Fattox for the tip.