The Xbox One is finally breaking into the massively multiplayer online gaming universe.
Publisher Perfect World Entertainment and developer Cryptic Studios announced today that the free-to-play MMO Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter will hit the Xbox One in North America and Europe sometime in the first half of next year. It will be a launch-day title for the Xbox One in China.
Neverwinter is an action-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer role-playing game) set in Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe. It was released as a free-to-play PC title in June 2013. Neverwinter will be free for all Xbox Live Gold members.
The announcement marks the first entry into console gaming for Cryptic Studios and the first release on the current console generation for Perfect World Entertainment. The publisher previously released an Xbox 360 version of the PC action title Torchlight.
Alan Chen, CEO of Perfect World Entertainment, offered this statement in a press release:
“Neverwinter is our premier title to bring to console players. Consoles are a perfect fit for action-oriented MMORPGs like Neverwinter, and we are thrilled to be one of the first publishers to bring premium free-to-play titles to leading next-gen platforms. Being able to bring Neverwinter to the Xbox One is a critical achievement for Perfect World. It is our first step taking our games beyond the PC market.”
The seasoned MMO publisher is a subsidiary of Perfect World Company Limited, which is headquartered in Beijing, China. The Neverwinter announcement came on the same day that Microsoft announced a Sept. 23 release date and 3,699 renminbi (about $600) price for the console’s China release.
“Our expertise in the Chinese gaming market and legacy of developing quality free-to-play MMORPGs made us perfect fit for Microsoft,” said Andrew Brown, General Manager of Publishing at Perfect World. “Our main focus as a publisher and developer of games is to deliver the best possible free-to-play gaming experiences to gamers on the platform of their choice. Supporting the Xbox One was an easy decision after their successful launch last year.”
Brown didn’t rule out a PlayStation 4 release for Neverwinter, but he said there was “nothing to announce at this time.”
Neverwinter’s expansion comes just a few weeks after the announcement of the Tyranny of Dragons expansion, which will release on August 14. The first chapter of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline for D&D‘s traditional tabletop game, which is also getting its fifth edition, is already available. This joint venture promises to put dragons back at the forefront of the D&D universe. For more information, check out GamesBeat’s two-part interview session with Neverwinter lead producer Rob Overmeyer and D&D brand manager Nathan Stewart here and here.