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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 3:19PM Thac0 said

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We can call them on how many different stages of playing require payment and dip into your wallet. Single Dippers (buy the box). Double Dippers (buy the box and pay a sub). Tripple Dippers (Buy the box, pay a sub and buy content from a cash shop) and then there are.. Payment Optional (no box fee and only a Cash shop). I think looking at it this way really shows you who 's games are looking to gouge you or not.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:13PM Ocho said

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What about games like GW? Single Dip, but then offer a cash shop for extras? Thats like Single Dip with a twist.

In either case, I don't think we'll see one game that has the same exact system as another game (unless they're made by the same company) for quite a while to come. There are so many variations on the Flex Pay model thats its hard to differentiate which is the best value, and I think they like the confusion. You play WoW for 6 months, thats $90. You play a Flex game for the same 6 months... well you could pay $90, or less, or even more depending on what you get and how the game lets you do it.

Cost = worth. Sometimes its really hard to give something away for free as people are suspicious, but charge $1 and people will buy it. A truly free game is a hard sell in the long run as its hard to convince people that something free has worth. Thats why I think the stigma against "free" games is there, imho.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 7:02PM eyeball2452 said

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I think that's the problem. How many times can a company charge you for the same product? It's the problem with MMO's who use a box + sub + micro-transaction system or console games that hold back content or recycle content and release it as DLC.

Basically, the issue is not defining the problem. It's recognizing it and adapting as a consumer. It's the same thing that the airlines do and basically, all the extra fees aren't good for the consumer in that industry either.

The author is right that Sony, NCSoft and Blizzard have been using hybrid cost models for a long time. That doesn't make it right though. Imo, they limit things, like the ability to easily play with a friend on another server and then nickle and dime you to xfer a single character to a new server or force you to start over and play longer. The companies have basically identified the addiction and have figured out where they can charge players extra who are either too addicted to the game to leave or don't realize all the additional fees they're paying.

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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 3:30PM (Unverified) said

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Thank you for that. From now on I'm calling them "Flex" and "Flat Rate." Free is such a misnomer, I think in part because it suits the developers to hide the hidden costs of spending money on RMT.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 3:52PM Dblade said

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Beau on HKO: "So, will the game stay on my hard drive? No, but not because it is a bad game"

Beau on Craft of Gods: "There is a difference between a developer attempting to do something and having it fail, and a developer that promises all sorts of wonderful things and then pulls the rug out as Kalicanthus has. "

Beau on Eternal Lands: "Will Eternal Lands stay on my hard drive? No. If I had the time, I think it might be a fun game. "

Beau on Earth Eternal: "As usual, the question of the week is: will it stay on my hard drive? Yes, yes it will. For a long time, I will bet. While there are some glaring issues with the game, the developers seem on top of things and progress has already been satisfying. I imagine the game in a year or two, and see myself still playing it. "

Beau on FOM: " Face of Mankind is your run-of-the-mill MMOFPS with your run-of-the-mill playerbase. You will die a lot, you will slowly learn bits of the game, and you will be told to GET ON VENT several hundred times."

Lots of rhetoric about the cash shop, but look at the reviews. One game you liked enough to keep in these examples, and it's a very content-lite browser game that is nowhere near any sub game out there. It's not just an indy thing either: you could go pick any F2P game out there and still have quality and balance issues that make it less than a sub game, especially at endgame levels.

Seriously, who here even KNOWS what new F2P games are coming down the pipe, or anticipates them? What F2P game is going to come out to draw attention over TOR or FFXIV? Maybe then I'll believe the sub model is dead. But now F2P games are cash runs: poorly made, poorly balanced.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:08PM Beau Hindman said

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Dblade:

All of your point is hinging on whether a game has X amount of players or not, it seems. Even then, I can promise you that right now there are FTP games that boast populations that outnumber many of the sub-based games that you might consider more "successful." In fact, I would challenge anybody to count down from WoW and notice the huge drop-off in player numbers from WoW to the next game down, and then continue on. You will see that there are no sub games that reach anywhere near WoW in numbers.

But there are FTP games that do, something Richard Aoshi pointed out in a column in Becketts recently (and there are other sources as well.)

Your two examples are games that have not yet been released. I will promise that there have been a great number of games that came into this world amid a lot of fanfare and hype...remember WAR or AoC? How about Champions Online or STO? Point being that players are always excited about the next big thing. Also, you are only giving two examples, not really an overwhelming number.

I understand your opinion, but opinions have no effect on numbers. And the numbers show that, despite what many readers here or other places might think, FTP is a very, very successful payment method. ( http://www.massively.com/2010/05/27/nexon-reports-last-years-revenue-up-56-percent/ ) And one that is still blurring with others! :)

This is exciting, like I said. This means that things will change. Changes in entertainment are always good, because the market clarifies mistakes very, very fast, making the creators pay attention even faster. If it doesn't sell, they won't make it. If FTP games were not entertaining and successful, then I would have never been asked to write this column and you would not be seeing all of the mention of such games here on Massively.

Thanks for the comments!

Beau
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:28PM Thac0 said

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Who is the target demographic that is giving all this money to F2P games? I seriously want to know because its not the readers here form what I can tell and Not most gamers like myself.

It is my assumption that these games are played by tweens and teens and they nickel and dime their parents credit cards to death before the parents even figure it out because of the low amounts but higher frequency.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:40PM Thac0 said

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I would like to know what demographic these F2P games have that keeps forking over money to them. Its not the commenters here and its not gamers like myself.


I have a feeling its tweens and teens with mommy and daddies credit cards. The micro transactions are easy to miss on your statement too. Also younger gamers with less sophisticated tastes in games will put up with all sorts of garbage and think its great, because they haven't been exposed to anything better.

Also using the argument that F2P games have more players so they are better is silly. Gone with the Wind has sold the most amount of tickets of any movie at something like 283,100,000. Does that mean its the best movie ever and all of them should move to the Gone with the Wind style of movie? silly.....
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:41PM (Unverified) said

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@ beau

I think his point is not so much how many people are playing these games but that you are saying these games are serious contenders to subscription models while, after reviewing seven, you claim you will only play one. Also, potentially, he may be calling you a hypocrite.

Personally, I think there is a distinction between buying a name change or a server transfer and buying an item from a cash shop. The item in the cash shop requires no interference from an outside source. Buying from a cash shop, in terms of man hours, is the same as buying from an NPC vendor after the initial investment of creating the item. Paying to have your name changed and your server transferred might require a GM or something to make sure the transfer goes smoothly. Maybe not. And maybe that cost in man hours is minimal but it arises for each instance. Maybe the $10 or $20 is excessive, but that's another argument.

Another argument is that your assertion that these changes are more game changing than anything you can buy in a cash shop is arguable, if not wrong. Tell me how changing your name or server impacts how you perform in game? Certainly you will concede that name changes don't. Server transfers give you no benefit that the people already on the server you're headed to didn't already have and the benefit you may be gaining doesn't impact the people on the server you've left because you don't play there any longer. The issue people have with cash shops is that people with more money will have an advantage over people who don't THAT THEY PLAY WITH. Isn't this ultimately why people don't like gold farmers or power leveling?
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:41PM Thac0 said

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oops double post, my bad i thought the first one didn't work.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 6:37PM Dblade said

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I'm not calling him a hypocrite. I like Beau's work on this a lot and think he is a lot more honest a reviewer than many people. I also like reading his columns, and he is one of the few people that champion F2P while playing the actual games. He writes very well on the subject, and a lot better than others. Plus, anyone who has the guts to play Hello Kitty Online you have to give cred, let alone admit about it on a problog.

I don't think though it's a conscious thing. I made the point mostly that out of many of the games he did take the time to play and review, he found most weren't worth keeping on the hard drive. I think ultimately that's a good description of the F2P industry, and its level of quality. It's the same whether released or not: you could go play nostale or flyff instead of indie games and I think it wouldn't change much.

@Beau:

Yeah, I know F2P is profitable. I also know they count a lot of player accounts, although since F2P counts any account when they do and not monetized ones, its harder to compare. But lets take Nexon: would you argue that Maple Story is an excellent game because so many people play it? Does anyone but the young (and by young I mean really young, not teens) players find it exciting and entertaining?

On change, yeah I think you are right. That's why I protest a lot I think, because I see a point coming where it might change fully. However not all change is good. I don't see this pricing model driving good games. I guess this ties into the original point: without honestly good games, and not F2p grinders or transitions from failing and undersubscribed games, I don't have faith the model can be done well.













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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 6:41PM Dblade said

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Sorry for the whitespace on the last post, this is what I get for writing while docked in spaceport.

ThacO it's kids. The demograhic of a majority of F2P games are kids and teens. It's like Pokemon: something that became popular with a generation and is now driving development. I'd say 9-18 for most.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 6:51PM Randomessa said

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“What F2P game is going to come out to draw attention over TOR or FFXIV?”

How about Guild Wars 2, a product whose quality is assured due to developers who have previously delivered on such. A product that will be free to play after purchase, whose current incarnation’s cash shop sells such mundane items as four (4) cosmetic costumes, and extra character slots and storage slots (with 13 characters and multiple armor sets I have never felt the need to buy extra storage slots). Now, if your qualifier is that the game must draw attention OVER TOR or FFXIV this may be difficult, if only due to the age and incredible popularity of these two franchises; however, in that case, what PAY to play title could possibly draw attention over these other than one which uses a similarly well-known and beloved franchise?
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 6:53PM Beau Hindman said

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Dblade: I hate to take issue with tiny details, but "he found most weren't worth keeping on the hard drive" is technically true, but should not be used as proof that I dislike more than I like. Like I pointed out, out of the 7 I have reviewed so far for that column, I liked 4 of them, yet only 3 stayed on my hard drive. That means I liked the majority, but had to delete one for easons beyond disliking it. If they come off my hard drive (as did Hello Kitty) then that does not guarantee a a"bad" status. That only guarantees that I might not have time to dedicate to it, or that the game was not my style. Remember, the point of the column that you are referring to is to keep moving to new games, and space is also an issue.

You are also forgetting this column, in which I try to point out what is generally right in the world of FTP/freemium games, as well as lists I have made that detail how many I *do* have on my hard drive (I posted a picture a few articles ago.)

Beau

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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 7:59PM breezer said

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Basically your frame of mind is elitist. You are saying subscription games are necessarily "better". Your main argument seems to be based on how the games are "balanced", by which I'm assuming you mean class balance, by which I'm assuming you are indirectly ousting Allods Online from any arguments since it is the only recent "AAA" F2P MMO which happens to have notorious balance issues.

You know what other game has notorious balance issues that are so bad that I, for one, have cancelled my subscription twice? World of Warcraft.

Balance in MMOs is a myth.
I'd also like to add that, while F2P games in general have lower production values, they also tend to offer more unique gameplay experiences. Case and point: Atlantica Online. It's an extremely unique, extremely well received game that you would never find from a western developer with a western payment plan.

The idea that subscription style games are necessarily better is utter hogwash.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 10:20PM Dblade said

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@Beau: If you are taking them off, they aren't worth keeping, especially since you aren't paying a sub for them. If the only real reason is that you don't have real life time, or you never planned to keep it, I wouldn't mention it. If you like the game, and it's a good game that's enough: you don't need to mention you aren't playing it due to real life or other factors. My two cents, at least.

Yeah I also remember that column, but you aren't reviewing those, so no idea if they are on because they are any good or half of them are just things you tried once or keep to meet people.

@Randonmessa

Guild Wars is stretching F2P. Its been debated a lot on here what exactly it is, since you have to buy the box, and then you get 100% free play. B2P was the term? It's unique.

As for P2P, Rifts is drawing a lot of attention. The Secret World is. Tera is. Now tell me which F2P game with a cash shop is. The only real one is Vindictus that I can think of.

@breezer

Play one of them to endgame. Then tell me WoW is unbalanced. Cash Shops in ANY F2P game screw up endgame play because they usually force people to spend a lot of money. That's because they need you to subsidize all the people who freeload.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 3:52PM Pingles said

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I think it is also important to bear in mind that once you participate in a subscription game that the game and your characters are no longer available to you unless you continue to pay the subscription.

Even though you bought the game box it is only a rental.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:01PM Wisdomandlore said

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I don't mind F2P games. From DDO's launch, I thought the subscription model was a terrible fit for it. And as an avid LOTRO player since CB1, I welcome the transition and hopefully subsequent revival of the game. However, I have to question you on several points:

'While many would tell you that free-to-play is also an indicator of low quality, that theory has been proven incorrect not only by several years of high-quality offerings, but also by the recent inclusion of many games that were once subscription only and are more than likely considered to be "AAA" titles.'

I think you're stretching the limits of what "high-quality" means, unless there is some mystical F2P game I've never heard of. Runes of Magic, for example, is a mediocre WoW-clone. I'll admit is has a ton of content, but IMO it's only good by comparison to other F2P games. It can't stand up to most P2P games. The same is true for Mabinogi, Perfect World, etc.

'count up the mind-boggling number of free-to-play games in existence that do not simply exist, but are enjoyed by more players than many of the subscription-based games that some consider more legitimate. '

I could also count up the mind-boggling number of party games and exercise games on the Wii. That is not an argument that this is a good trend. 95% of F2P games are derivative grind-fests...not that the mainstream P2P industry has had a better record lately.

'Like dial-up modems, the subscription-only plans are fading fast.'

I really have to disagree with you there. Smaller developers and niche titles will switch over to F2P and thrive alongside the P2P titles. However, there will always be AAA titles, and the majority of those titles will be subscription based. Those consistent monthly payments are the only way to support the kind of massive development costs a game like WoW or SW:TOR requires. While these games may have cash shops, if it requires a sub, it's still P2P. There's no way around that.

What I think the trend points to is that people want choice, whether it's F2P or a Lifetime Subscription. I'm still waiting for a Western developer to introduce the ability to pay by the hour, like many Asian games.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2010 4:12PM Thac0 said

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I do have to chime in here again and agree with a lot of these posts. Most F2P games suck and thats why they have a bad reputation. Its not that they are F2P at all, if they were good games people would play them the stigma comes from all the really terribad games that are F2P and that is what that payment method is synonymous with now.

Posted: Jun 23rd 2010 1:52AM Zensun said

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You referred to NGE as "the notorious series of tweaks and changes."

Erm, clearly, you didn't live through the event. NGE was anything but a series of 'tweaks and changes' - it was a complete rewrite of the gameplay and invalidated much of what players had accomplished over the prior years.

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