SOE has rolled out an unusual promotion for EQ2 (regular and F2P) in which subscribers will receive access to a new vampire playable race if they remain subscribed from mid-December through February and purchase the upcoming expansion.
EQ2 last received additional races in paid expansions during 2007 and 2008. Though it is theoretically possible that this race is 100% exclusive to this one promotion, the more likely guess is that it will be available in the station cash store after the expansion goes live; creating a new race seems like a bit too much work to put into a pre-order bonus. If the vampires do end up in the store, anyone who does not qualify for this promotion will be required to pay extra for a new race that, in almost any other game out there, would be included in the $40 expansion box.
The decision to turn this into a loyalty promotion is a clever trick that appears to be working. Current players won't be out of pocket any additional money (unless they were planning on suspending subscriptions for the uneventful final months of the current expansion), and won't care if disloyal former subscribers need to pay extra. By the time the 2012 expansion arrives, the precedent will have been set that SOE can task the dev team to work on major features that can carry a separate price tag from the annual expansion, which will presumably remain at its current price even as its features get split off into the cash shop. Time will tell whether SOE offers the same "free" deal a second time.
P.S. SOE has previously commented that they feel that the $7.50 price tag on EQ2X race packs is in the neighborhood of what they would charge for an individual race. As of now, I'm betting that it isn't worth paying $30 for two months of a subscription I wouldn't be using to qualify for the race for "free", and I'm prepared to do without the vampires if my guess is wrong.
P.P.S. In other news, Feldon reports that EQ2's test server has a change that removes the need for player crafted spell upgrades for use of the spell upgrade research feature. He notes that this change could be intended to drive demand for "spell research acceleration" consumables currently available in the EQ2X cash shop. Having spent time leveling spell upgrade crafting professions on both Live and F2P servers, I'm not thrilled with this potential change.