Free vs. Paid is neither here nor there, and kinda depends on the mechanics of the game map - of which, none of us, except the FunCom Devs/Peeps, can speak with any authority.
FunCom have, in my opinion, always been very detailed in letting players know what could, would, and might come (though I imagine they have learned the hard way that the players do not always fairly reward this )
FunCom have stated on many occasions that there are system and performance issues expanding the current maps further. There may be gaps in the current three-region map that suggest ‘another map’ will go there, and that this ‘must be free’, but no-one has confirmed whether it is feasible or possible. If any new map was to go there, then I tend to think it should be as free as any of the current maps.
But, when the game first came out, open world games were different. Since then, with advances in technology (Unreal and the like), better world map mechanics are now more viable. I can say that, after more than 4,000 hours of play, I am certainly a lot more familiar with most of the current map than if I started playing this morning.
I will also say, (and there is nothing anyone, FunCom or otherwise, have stated to confirm any of this) that if there was some new development that made a full, open world game that for example included some randomness in the generation at game-start, that had an open-world map that was even more ‘real’ and that allowed villages, towns, dungeons, camps and communities to develop more open-ended - well, I would certainly pay for that as that would effectively be a Conan Exiles 2.0 and a complete new game.
As I said, this is all pure speculation on my part.
I love the Conan genre. I enjoy being able to have a server that other players can enjoy and interact on. I love being able to set up stuff, and have the players set up stuff that keeps the game alive and changing. read through all the excellent ideas in the ‘Wishlist’ forum FunCom are running. So many of those excellent ideas don’t seem viable using the ‘old’ tech that was about when the current version of Conan Exiles core engine was created. They could all be available in a newer version - and we all know that most games charge for a new Version of a game, don’t we?