Neverwinter was being turned into an MMO. According to lead producer Andy Velasquez, the game was actually "almost ready to ship" when the decision to transition the game was made.
According to Velasquez, "The change from CORPG to a full action RPG F2P MMO is a change that just made sense for us. Perfect World wanted to go big. Expand everything. Do more. Do better. Take your time. Really blow it out. Pushing into 2012 allows us to make these changes. Transitioning into a full-featured action RPG, free-to-play MMO allows us to reach a whole new audience of people. Never underestimate barriers to entry. With a free client, anyone can play. Try it. Where's the harm? It's better for the game, better for us, better for D&D and infinitely better for fans and gamers. With Neverwinter, we're going to prove that F2P does not describe a type of gameplay -- it only describes the fundamentals of a business model."
Velasquez also reassures that the game won't suffer from the change. "A ton of effort is also being made to make sure that we produce an authentic D&D experience," the developer promised.
Fortunately, the one thing that Neverwinter fans expect, user-generated content, will still be available, and will still have rich and deep tools to work with. "The Foundry editor itself, the content browser, the ability to review other user's custom content, and the ability to launch UGC content are all accessible from within the main Neverwinter client, in-game," stated Velasquez, "So, players won't have to worry about maintaining a separate executable for content creation, or going to some forum to find out what the good content is, or trying to figure out where to save certain files to be able to play someone else's content. The Foundry is seamlessly integrated into the client and quests created with The Foundry can be seamlessly integrated into the world."
Neverwinter will be following the 4th Edition D&D ruleset, and states that his team is working closely with Wizards of the Coast, noting, "We have direct lines of communication with them for our art, design and marketing departments and we speak with them on a weekly basis."