...with a new service called Everquest II Extended - a free-to-play version that will run alongside their subscription servers.
Extended is not a replacement to the live subscription service and while the game content is the same, access and restrictions are different between the two. Extended is a gameplay option targeted towards certain players who are willing to play within a limited feature-set service with additional content purchase and upgrade options, rather than pay for the full service via a standard monthly subscription. The live $15 EQII subscription service is unrestricted full access to the game world for those accounts in good standing, a valuable service, just as it has always been. The EverQuest II Extended service has restrictions based on your membership level. Limited access to the EQII Extended world and certain content is free, while other content, access, and items are available only for purchase.
Definitely seems to be a bandwagon effect happening.