Anno 1404 is a game that exists. You can buy it, and you can play it – even cooperatively, or against your friends. Despite the fact that it’s something that exists, Ubisoft have announced a free-to-play game, entitle Anno Online, which offers a 2D isometric play-style based on the Anno 1404 dynamic.
In Anno Online, instead of gathering all the materials you need to, say, build a cathedral, excited players can now use their wallets to skip several days of waiting. Players will also have the benefit of lesser graphics, and the developer taking things out of the game in order to support the real-money free-to-play model.
The game will be browser based, which gives players the benefit of nothing in particular over Anno 1404, other than saving some hard drive space. Social features haven’t been extensively disclosed, but being a social game, we’re expecting the same level of uPlay or Facebook tie-in’s, such as asking friends for materials and resources.
Cautious gamers needn’t worry, since most purchasable items will only be cosmetic. In 1404, if you wanted some extra flare for your town, you needn’t look further than a few slabs of stone, let alone your wallet.
The games art style mirrors almost exactly 1404, although this is 2D drawn art, and not 3D, such as in 2009’s hit.
Why. Why stab a hole directly into your wallet, or face days on end waiting for things to build, when the fantastic Anno 1404 is already available and waiting for a relatively small cost. You can probably bag yourself Anno 1404 for the cost of two gem packs, if that, and you needn’t worry about developers sneakily trying to make you reach for your wallet during every play session.
In my opinion, this is just another abhorrent, shameless cash-in that serves no purpose, built with no love, to tap the Anno demographic for more cash.