Ultima Online: 20th Anniversary and Endless Journey (Free-to-Play)

Over the weekend, a number of fans of the game gathered in Herndon, Virginia, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ultima Online:

On behalf of the entire UO Team, we want to extend a very special thank you to all of our players, past and present, for your continued support of Ultima Online as we celebrate 20 years of UO!

The Anniversary party was a huge success and it was such a pleasure to meet everyone. We have over 700 photos to sift through and will post those here and on social media so you can check them out!

For all of the winners of the castle raffle, I have emailed everyone with a valid email address. If you have not received an email and you were a winner, please contact me.

We also want give a very special thanks to In10se BBQ for an amazing meal and a very big thank you to the Spawn family for making the amazing mugs and decals. We also want to thank Larper’s Lounge for donating the prizes for the costume contest.

You can check out a drones-eye-view photograph of the BBQ luncheon over at the UO website.

Now, this next bit of news came as a surprise to some, although for others it would have served more as a confirmation. That was certainly the case here; there’s been an article in draft state since…spring, I think…in which Deckard (another of the editors, albeit an infrequently seen one) talked about this forthcoming change.

Be that as it may, the announcement that shook things up the most at the 20th anniversary celebration was the revelation that Ultima Online would be getting a free-to-play mode:

We were also very excited to announce the next major stage in Ultima Online’s history with Endless Journey coming Spring of 2018. You can check our preliminary FAQ page about the Endless Journey here. We look forward to sharing more information about the Endless Journey and what’s next in Britannia in the coming weeks and months.

You can find out more about Endless Journey over on — of course — the UO website:

What is Endless Journey?

Ultima Online: Endless Journey is a way for players to experience the core features of Ultima Online without a paid subscription.

Who is eligible for Endless Journey?

New accounts and previously paid veteran accounts that have been closed for at least 120 days are eligible for Endless Journey.

What do I get with Endless Journey?

Endless Journey accounts receive complementary access to all Ultima Online expansions through Stygian Abyss. Other expansions can be purchased and applied to an Endless Journey account. Endless Journey accounts have access to Ultima Online’s core features and can enjoy exploring Britannia, training character skills, making friendships that will last a lifetime, and much more!

Of course, as with all free-to-play offerings, Endless Journey has a few significant limitations to it. Notably, access to the bank is disabled (although items can be kept in a vault, which must be rented for in-game gold). Endless Journey accounts are also barred from owning houses; they may only access public housing. EM rewards, holiday and promotional rewards, ships, and vendor placement are also not available to free players.

To gain access to these features, of course, you need only upgrade your account to a subscription. So it’s not really a true free-to-play experience…the word “demo” comes to mind, actually. Still, it does give players the option to dip their toes in the waters of UO for free, for longer than a couple of weeks, which isn’t nothing.

And it’s worth highlighting that all UO expansions through to Stygian Abyss will be available within Endless Journey, which means that a huge portion of the game’s content will be accessible for free.

Ultima Online itself, of course, needs little introduction; it is rightly lauded as the grandfather of MMORPGs, and still sets a considerably high bar in terms of the sort of in-game interactivity it affords its players. Its influence on the MMO industry is undeniable.

Hopefully, the move to a free-to-play(ish) model will bring a few more people — and, ideally, future subscribers — to the game. I might even download and install the game client for myself, to finally check out this game two decades after its first release.