First of all, if you are a lifetime subscriber you get Gold for free. Essentially, you are in the same boat you are in now, and perhaps a bit better off. If you are paying a monthly fee, you can keep paying and play the game the same way. If you are not paying for Champions Online, playing F2P will be best for you. I think some people who are Gold will switch to Silver, as the restrictions would not be enough to keep them from enjoying the game.
So with those claims made, lets review what the main difference is for not paying a monthly fee.
As Silver your main limitations (or perhaps advantages) are:
- no customized power sets: You get Basic Archetypes (8), and purchasable Gold Archetypes (coming later, these are automatically available to Gold Members, it is more cost effective to do one time purchases for these). These are predetermined power sets. You can only customize where you spend your advantages. The Archetype examples they gave were "The Blade" or "The Brute". Since choosing if you are a Brick or a Striker is based on what advantages you choose, it is not exactly like picking a class.
- Only 2 character slots: You can purchase more. Gold members start with 8 and can not only purchase more, they can EARN (having a Gold account for over 200 days, and 1 for each character that reaches 40) more, which Silver members cannot.
- Need to pay for Adventure Packs: although like other F2P games, it might be better to be able to do the one time purchase. This will depend on the cost of the adventure packs.
- Not all costumes available at start: There are over 3,000 costume pieces available. There are then Gold Costumes that Silver will have to purchase, as well as Premium Costumes that both have to purchase. Again, it might be better to just be a Silver player and purchase these costume pieces as you need them.
- No Bonus Costume Slots: Except for the Super Group bonus, Silver members must pay for additional Costumes. Gold Members earn costumes at 15, 30, SuperGroup and by being a Gold member for 300 days (as well as purchasable).
- Only 1 bag slot: 3 more purchasable. This may end up being cheaper as a one time purchase.
- Not all Travel Powers Accessible: They have Basic and Gold Travel powers, this is once again a situation where the one time purchase is better.
- No Power tinting: Only Gold Members can change the colors of their powers. Not purchasable.
- Auction House limited: Silver members can only post 5 items at a time. Gold can post 10 at a time. The ability to post more at a time is available to both Silver and Gold members.
- Temporary Limitations for Chat, Mail and SuperGroup CREATION: for the first 20 hours there are some chats and mail can not be done and the rate (or amount) you can send is limited, and SG creation is not available for the first 20 hours of Silver Accounts.
- Forum limitations: Silver members can read all forums, but can only post in certain areas.
- Customer Service: Silver members only get Knowledge base type help. Gold Members get live support (they say free, but you are paying $15 a month for it).
- No priority Login: Only Gold members get priority login.
They are reworking the opening tutorial, and the progress and narrative of the first 10 levels or so into a more streamlined experience (their claim, I'll post about it when it happens). The other question is, if you still need to buy the game to start playing it (and if you get a free month of Gold). I posted the question in the forums, and I'll let you guys know if I get a response.
Are all these changes final? Actually no, they are going to start a F2P beta in November, and this isn't slotted to come out until the first quarter of 2011. Some things might still change, regardless of all that, is that as it is right now, if you don't care about changing the color of your powers, priority login and or making a customized power set, then Silver will be your best choice.
Got my answer pretty quick:
When Champions Free-to-Play launches, a retail copy will not be required. Players can download the client for free.
Because physical retail copies are still in circulation and digital clients will continued to be offered at places like Steam and D2D, we're going to try and price that client at $14.99. It will also still include 30-days of free gameplay, which will functionally become 30-days of Gold Membership. So, if you buy the box or a digital client when Champions Free-to-Play launches, you pay the same price as one month of Gold Membership and you get one month of Gold Membership out of it. That seemed like the most elegant solution.
To reiterate, a box will not be necessary. You can still download the free client and either play as a Silver Player free of charge or elect to subscribe and become a Gold Member.
I hope that answers your question.