Soren posted his thoughts on moving the game to free-to-play on his blog. Here’s an excerpt:
I’ve had a long-running love–hate–fear relationship with free-to-play games; indeed, I even made one! However, after they did end up either eating or expanding the industry (depending on one’s perspective), it is clear now that there are different types of free-to-play games and different reasons to use the model. Our model is the simplest, dumbest available. Multiplayer is free, and we are developing new DLC and retrofitting old DLC to be mutually exclusive so that players can buy whatever parts of the game they like. The most obvious purchase is the base game itself, which unlocks all sorts of things, but there are other attractive options which can be bought and played without the base game:
Blue Chip Ventures, a series of scripted scenarios and challenges that help teach the game
Limited Supply, an alternate version of Offworld which takes away the market in favor of resource puzzles
There’s even a cosmetic-only set of skins for special buildings called Conspicuous Consumption. (See, we were thinking ahead!)
I’m very curious to see what will happen. In the two hours since the free version came out, our player base has already quadrupled. Hopefully, multiplayer games will now always be available for budding tycoons.
Players can now see their Masquerade name while when playing in Masquerade mode
Some colony classes have had their resource price minimums lowered. In the Daily Challenge mode the best move was sometimes just throwing down a large number of mines or quarries on an easy to access resource, and because the resource would never drop below $30 a player could just sell that one resource until they had won. This change to address that situation and encourage more interesting strategies.
Increased precision of the server game timer.
As expressed by the community recently, extra claims can be extremely powerful. In fact, this reward for founding late was so strong that many players would only found without it in the most dire of circumstances. Early claims are being adjusted so that in games of 4 players or less everyone will receive an extra claim eventually.
Last four players to found now all receive a free claim (last to found on HQ2, then HQ3, HQ4, HQ5) regardless of number of players in the game
Several small changes are being made to Black Market items to add consistency and bring costs in line with the power each item brings. Spies and Holograms will now have a cooldown, preventing a player with an early lead from taking them all cheaply to get a significant advantage. Meanwhile, Return a Claim and Core Samples have had their cooldowns reduced to encourage their use.
Return a Claim Black Market item can now be purchased when in D Debt
Changed Black Market cooldown for Bribe a Claim to 90 seconds (up from 60)
Changed Black Market cooldown for Holograms, Spies, Return a Claim, and Core Sample to 30 seconds.
Pirates now steal 200 resources
Pirates and Magnetic Storms are more likely to appear
Patents are receiving some small adjustments, focused on making energy slightly more accessible and bringing Transparent Aluminum’s power down.
Energy Vault now produces 2 backup Energy (up from 1)
Transparent Aluminum now costs 60 chems (up from 40)
Perpetual Motion now costs 40 chems (down from 60)
Nomads now receive the correct Black Market time when founding
Infinite Challenge Leaderboard now properly updates when played from the Ranked Queue
Geothermal Borehole Auctions will no longer occur on maps where no Geothermal Vents are present
Overflow bug and formatting fixed for very large amounts of cash
Players can once again see number of players in FFA queue while in the 1v1 queue
Fixed an error with “Infinite Win (Io)” Achievement
Fixed border color artifacts on Medium and Low Rendering Quality
Stock Markets and Rival Businesses Aren’t Your Enemies Here. In “Limited Supply,” your main goal is simple: survive.
New Scenarios Experience over a dozen new missions, each with their own challenges! Each new scenario has unique rule sets and locations that will take you on a fun and exciting journey as humanity settles on Mars.
Changing Environment As you progress through the scenarios, you will face different restrictions on what you’re able to buy and sell. In order to survive, you’ll have to constantly re-evaluate your strategies and adapt to each new location and challenge.
Evolving Technologies In a normal game of Offworld, you’d build up your business so that you could buy out your competition. Instead, you’ll need to meet a list of objectives set by the colony. As you progress, the tech you have access to becomes more advanced – but, so do the colony’s requests!
Unique Challenges This DLC breaks the core rule of Offworld Trading Company, which is “buy what you want, when you want (as long as you’ve got the cash).” Each scenario has a different ruleset that restricts what resources you’re allowed to buy and sell – even essentials like food, water, fuel and oxygen! Failing to maintain a steady supply and manage your resources effectively could mean catastrophe for the colony – and for you.
A New Way to Play Instead of the head-to-head “buy or be bought out” combat in a normal game of Offworld, this DLC lets you experience the game through a series of puzzles needing to be solved. There is no stock market, no competing businesses – your only competition here is Mars itself.
Friend Invites– Steam users have the ability to invite friends into their lobbies from within the lobby screen and users in single player games can see and accept those invites. People can send friend requests in the game by clicking a user in the lobby, or right clicking their name in the players panel.
Added a new Campaign Victory Screen
Improved the lighting environment on Mars.
Showed how many resources founding an HQ produces in chat
Removed the learn to play tooltip since the sub buttons have the real descriptions
Reducing the height of the Team labels to make more room for chat
Added rollover text for Learn to Play buttons
Added a perk icon for the Io extra claim
Showing order modifiers when auctioning a tile next to the colony
Colony consumption help on mouseover is back
Can now scroll through all played maps in Infinite Challenge
Added Jovian Eclipse banner message
Daily/Infinite Challenge screen will now tell you what the version is of old replay files
Added logic to change a lobby name if the owner changes.
Adjusted research row colors to contrast more
Split learn to play and practice challenge into two screens
Changed Io Campaign light priority.
Darkened defeated characters on the campaign victory screen and adding a hover effect
Added animations for Found HQ buttons and special tabs
Lowered opponent’s debt in tutorial 5.
Tweaked tutorial handicaps.
Auto-pausing no longer happens in the Infinite Challenge
Elites now start with one extra share.
Perks available are now sensitive to buildings made invalid by colony classes.
Fixed camera controls close button getting squished on higher resolutions
Fixed some of the jarring camera movements in the tutorials
Fixed black screen after playing Practice Challenge.
Disabling animators control of visibility so they don’t compete for visibility when setting a UI object invisible.
Fixed long tutorial text sequence in Tutorial 2 where before it listed every module type.
Fixed an issue exiting a Practice Challenge goes to the Practice Challenge screen.
Improved handling missing unit assets in mods.
Fixed tooltips on Campaign resume.
Fixed sorting order of dropdowns in the in-game options screen.
Converted resource assets to use assets instead of concatenated strings.
Converted the asset path global strings to asset types.
Fixed lobby rename logic.
Fixed a sorting error bug on team names in the player list.
Fixed Campaign planet text alignment
Fixed logic issue that prevented someone set as an observer in a lobby from being changed to be on a team.
Fixed back button on practice challenge preview.
Fixed how HQ world works so it stops adding extra world audio components.
Readded the Daily Challenge to practice challenges and fixed issue where practice challenges don’t show
Fixed scenario grouping.
TextButtons now have the abillity to specify what RectTransform their tooltip should use to position itself
Fixed issues with Nomads and founding bonuses.
Fixed text outline when font-size changes.
Fixed Robotic character art in Found Tooltip.
Fixed some issues with campaign mode selection.
Fixing goal panel null reference exception.
Fixing HUD chat size.
Fixing show chat screen all hotkey.
Fixed which maps show up in lobby screen depending on location.
Fixed handicap mouseover on lobby screen.
Fixed error on missing campaign faction background art.
Disabled pixel perfect on pie slices so they don’t go askew.
Set up overlay on frozen order buttons.
Fixed shrinking chat avatar.
Fixed the issue where the infinite challenge screen is totally blank for new players.
Fixed chat/event log overlapping other UI components.
Fixed default selection of missions in the campaign character select screen.
Fixed an issue with the campaign mission toggle order.