Item malls that offer players the ability to purchase items or item upgrades degrade the gaming experience. We've been over this before -- letting Mr. Moneybags deck out his character at level 1 so he's 10x more awesome than everybody else is a major downer to people who don't have the money.
While I've pored over the text that Turbine is released, it doesn't appear that they will be offering items like weaponry or armor. They will be offering "items of convenience" to the players. My best guess is things like potions, perhaps portals, resurrection scrolls, things such as these. Even though these are low powered items, they can still annoy you when Moneybags can teleport all over the place and you're left walking and taking the slow route.
This con is, however, offset by the fact that points can be earned by actually playing the game. It sounds like they are attempting to make the cash shop available for everyone, not just the Moneybags of the world. This will be interesting to watch, as no other developer as truly tried this in the American market.
"I could easily see some players offering up items in the auction house above the amount that a free player's wallet could hold."
I could easily see some players offering up items in the auction house above the amount that a free player's wallet could hold. This is going to inconvenience the player further because it's going to restrict how the player can interact with the auction house and interact with the vendors in the world.
Another two bites out of the pro pile are the fact that free players rank lower than DDO VIP subscription players in the login queue and free players don't get access to customer support. This means that a constant influx of DDO VIP players could easily keep bumping free players back in the login queue, should the server become overpopulated. While I don't exactly see this happening, it could become problem should the lines really get backed up. I know I wouldn't like to see that my place in line as number 27 get jacked backward to 30 or 35 just because a few subscribers chose to log in.
Lastly is the fact that free players are stuck with the online knowledge base and the forums as their source of aid should they encounter problems. I can foresee some free players attempting to play the game, getting stuck on some odd technical problem, and then becoming unable to solve it simply because the knowledge base doesn't have their problem on file. You're going to inevitably lose some people over this, just because they don't want to deal with the frustration of attempting to make a free game work. It's a free game, so if it doesn't work, just move onto the next game.
The bottom line?
The final thoughts for all of this is you should weigh it for yourself. If you want to save some cash and you like Dungeons and Dragons, then this might just be the experience for you. If you're looking for a second quality MMO to have as a side-game, then this might also be what you want to pick up.
If you're someone who's easily frustrated by limitations, however, then you might not enjoy this experience. Some of the stuff, like decreased auctions, gold storage, and chatting capabilities might hamper gameplay just enough to turn off some people.
But, don't take my word for it. Judge the game for yourself when it hits free to play status later this summer.
|Turbine has just announced that Dungeons and Dragons Online will be moving to a free-to-play business model, and we have the inside scoop. Be sure to read our complete coverage of the changeover, and look for more info as DDO Unlimited approaches launch.|