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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 1:13PM (Unverified) said

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Great article Beau. I like your point about how F2P is opening the market more for Indie games. That is something I hadn't considered before and I believe is one of the strongest points in the whole F2P vs Sub discussion.

What I would love to see next is the resurrection of MMO's that didn't survive the old payment plans. Games like Earth and Beyond, Matrix, Tabula Rasa and others I think could thrive on a F2P model.

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 12:50PM pcgneurotic said

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The thing that still kills me is, "..without that subscription, many players would be turned off."

In almost every aspect of our lives, free or cheap are two of the most important ideas. 'Free gift!' 'Cheap rates!' 'Free parking!' 'Cheap fares!' 'Free! Cheap!'. We're always looking for a bargain or a reward for paying even a tiny amount. We complain about surcharges and taxes, even to the point of boycotting or rioting or acting illegally to circumvent them. We download films and albums instead of buying them from the shops.

So why the exception for online games? Why do we demand to be charged repeatedly for something we already paid for once? Why do people shout 'Subscription cancelled!' when a company offers to cancel it for us anyway?

I was shocked by the response from some of the EQ2 community when SOE announced EQ2X. 'If they make this game f2p, I'm quitting!' they cried. 'Ma family an' me have 10 accounts for us and all the yong 'uns, an' ah sure as heck am gonna cancel every last damned one of 'em if they take away our subscription fees!!'

What is this?

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 1:30PM Brianna Royce said

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In the real world, there is always a set of luxury goods that people like to be seen paying huge amounts of money for... ridiculous expensive perfumes, jewelry, cars, clothes, private jets, even meals. Not everyone prides frugality over status (which is why words like "cheapskate" and "dumpster diver" have such negative connotations). I think Beau was suggesting that people believe a subscription fee conveys a certain amount of status to a game and a subscriber -- not necessarily justly.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 1:38PM Beau Hindman said

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Well, and there are just players that prefer the method of payment. I can't blame 'em, I've enjoyed subs for most of my time in gaming.

I think newer developers here are enjoying the ability to continue to have the sub option alongside the FTP option (blended model) -- I don't enjoy it, myself. Honestly, though, this has everything to do with my status as an airhead. I simply cannot keep up with subscriptions anymore.

Beau
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 4:07PM Samael said

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@Brianna Royce

Yeah in the real world people do pay a lot of money for luxury items. But saying that the only reason why people buy expensive cars, or expensive clothes or hell even expensive meals, is as a status symbol is going a bit too far. I have seen this in school and I have been noticing this all around, people treat it as a crime to be rich or to have a taste for the finer things in life.

You know why people pay more for a BMW than lets say a Toyota? Because the BMW is usually the better car, specially if you like to actually drive, and not treat your car as simply an object that goes from point A to point B. The same with meals, if you can taste the difference then you will know that you cannot get that taste anywhere else. The same goes for clothes, a shirt from GAP is not the same as a shirt from G STAR. And these are before we even consider the intangibles.

It always rubs me the wrong way when someone says that luxury items are just a status symbol. It just screams jealousy. I am not rich, but that does not mean that I think all things that I cannot afford are just status symbols.

@Neurotic

No free and cheap is not always the top priorities. And when F2P says free, it really isn't. You have to pony up some cash at one point or another. The only difference I see between sub and F2P is that sub lets you know what you are going to get and how much money you have to spend, F2Ps on the other hand will lure you in for a bit and then when it really counts will ask you to pony up more than you would have for a sub game. That is why I do not like them, but good for you that you like and I hope there are games that we can both enjoy.

@Beau

I do not know why you do not like the blended option, but it is much preferable to an F2P model. The only thing is I realize, that I have completely stopped playing LoTRO after it went F2P. It lost all its appeal, and I do not find my self logging in at all. Constantly being reminded that there is a cash store and we should spend points there gets tiring after a while. Oh well, there are always other games to look forward to I guess. Well hope you find your gaming Nirvana.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 5:57PM Pingles said

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"No free and cheap is not always the top priorities. And when F2P says free, it really isn't. You have to pony up some cash at one point or another. The only difference I see between sub and F2P is that sub lets you know what you are going to get and how much money you have to spend, F2Ps on the other hand will lure you in for a bit and then when it really counts will ask you to pony up more than you would have for a sub game. "

Do you realize that the vast majority of F2P players NEVER pay a cent? One study found it to be 70+%. Free to play is actually FREE for most players. I have played Runes of Magic for over a year and don't even have a cash shop account. I plan on setting one up just out of Guilt!
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Posted: Oct 14th 2010 6:24AM BGExorcist said

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Do you realize that the vast majority of F2P players NEVER pay a cent? One study found it to be 70+%. Free to play is actually FREE for most players. I have played Runes of Magic for over a year and don't even have a cash shop account. I plan on setting one up just out of Guilt!

I quit after 3-4 months, when I hit the pay requirement in the game. Its just not that fun to try to grind your ass of for weeks just to achieve what someone did for 10 minutes by adding his credit card number. And the game stoped for me, because you cannot progress if you dont pay :) Same as all F2P
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 2:19PM Bhagpuss said

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How I pay for an MMO just has to be the least interesting thing about it. F2P/CashShop/Subscription/Hybrid Model, really, why does it matter?

I take each MMO on its own merits and play it or don't accordingly. Yes, F2P is a lower barrier of entry, but not lower than a Free Trial for a Subscription game. If I want to go on playing the game after it isn't free, then I'll pay a sub or a one-off fee or buy content as I need it or whatever. It really makes no difference. Whatever the company prefers, that's fine, just make good games.

I'll be so glad when payment models just drop right off the news agenda and we can just get on with arguing whether a game is worth playing in the first place.

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 3:51PM Samael said

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Payment model is significant because that usually gives direction to the devs as to how to make a game. "Fun" while playing an MMO is almost completely designed by the developer. Other than Guild Wars, I do not know of any (if there are please correct me) MMO that lets you just pay for the box and you are set.

The developers of a MMO has to think of how to make money from the game. Hence the payment model of the game directly affects the design of the game.

Beau likes to believe that F2P with cash shops give the developers even more incentive to create good content, while I think that cash stores make developers think of how to milk their players more.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 4:07PM Beau Hindman said

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Bhag: As soon as it stops being an issue with the readers here and on my blog, I will stop talking about it. It really only takes one or two glances at some of my past articles to see that, whether I am talking about the payment model or the quality of a game, the payment model will always be commented on.

Why is that? Don't ask me. I'm actually the one that plays games from all payment models, and always have. For many, it is the equivalent of a line they will not cross -- my point in talking about it more. The more players like Sam hear about it, the less they care. It's only human nature to grow used to the sight of a cash-shop or the letters "FTP." In fact, I will wager that his favorite games already have some form of microtrans or virtual goods in it.

All you need to do, in fact, is read Sam's comment. I trust that he's being honest, and even fair -- but he believes that the payment model actually changes how a developer makes a game. Not how he *physically* works out the logistics of the payment model (meaning coding a cash shop or beefing up a website for safe payments) but how he lays out the "fun."

Notice also that Sam says that a FTP game "milks" their players more, meaning that a subscription, with it's forced payments, does not. Often people also forget that not so long ago, the standard price was 10 dollars a month and 30 dollars a box. They also tend to forget that the price can always climb, and players would literally be forced to pay it or avoid playing. Not so with FTP.

In other words, I know exactly what you mean. If you were familiar with my other column and writings you might see that I actually talk about what is good gameplay and what is not -- this column happens to get swamped with concerns about "FTP," so I often address them.

Don't worry, though -- the joke is that soon this will be called "For All" since all games will be FTP soon enough! hehe

Beau
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 4:07PM Graill440 said

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F2P and cash shop, really? Here is your bent spoon.

You would think someone with balls would have stood up at the conference and said "hey look, this is misbranding and deception" Pretty much the norm it seems for developers to look the other way when planning how to make more money, that and being afraid of what they fellows may think of them. True whether you want to read it or not.

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 4:17PM (Unverified) said

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F2P/cash shop games provide for greater flexability in terms of how you are paying. They allow a better pay to play fit for alot of folks.

Subscription games only make sense if you are consistently putting large amounts of time into a game.

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 4:21PM Samael said

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Subs are also great if you want to just enjoy the game and not worry if you want to buy item X or item Y and which one will be less of a rip-off.
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Posted: Oct 14th 2010 12:25AM (Unverified) said

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Except most casual players end up paying for alot of unused time with subs.

Knowing you are stilling paying, even when you won't be playing for a week or more isn't very enjoyable.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 5:02PM (Unverified) said

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When everyone pays the same for a MMO via subscription it puts everyone on the same playing field and everything a player earns for himself is done so by playing the game as it should be. When you see a player with a cool sword, mount or item you know he got it playing the game.

When you introduce items that can only be gotten by paying real world cash the game changes. Now its not about everyone playing the same game its about who has more money. When you see someone with a cool sword, mount or item that can only be purchased with real world cash you ruin the game world you created and reduced a lot of the game to he who has the most cash wins.

I get enough of that in real life I don't want it in my MMO thank you very much.

Posted: Oct 13th 2010 5:10PM Beau Hindman said

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To be fair, Vanguard: most games now have some kind of real-cash "advantage" (meaning that you can obtain something for cash that you cannot within game.) Even your namesake features a system to buy entire characters, loot and in-game currency for real money.

Most sub MMOs now feature a limited edition that comes with all sorts of limited goodies that are only available for real money. In other words, cash in exchange for time in-game. It's just the nature of the business, and you normally cannot get away from it. Or, dual-boxing. With enough cash, you can have several accounts running across several computers -- that's probably one of the biggest advantages right there, yet players do it all the time, and have for years.

Beau
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 7:30PM drakon said

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Lets be honest Beau....

First, what collectors edition has ever come with an in-game item that was used beyond the first couple levels? If fact let me rephrase that, is there any collectors edition that has something useful at the max level? I don't know of one.

Second, most MMO's are now designed so that dual-boxing doesn't gain that much benefit. You have to get into the realm of multi-boxing and have the entire raid controlled by the keyboard(s) in front of you to make it worth while. DAoC was one of the last MMO's where you could benefit considerably by dual-boxing.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 8:28PM Beau Hindman said

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Lord Simon:

Thanks for the comment! I think you might be missing my point. The item does not matter -- there is no standard value for anything in something like an MMORPG. The value is set by an individual. I fear that no answer would be satisfying to you unless:

1) I believe that having value in the "end-game" (however you define that) is the only true measure of value or quality

or

2) I believe that there is a set of rules entitled "How to Tell if You're Playing Correctly" -- a set of rules based on how well you "perform" in the "end game."

All the quotes are not meant to be smart-alec, but are meant to show that you are using a very specific set of guidelines to measure value by. That doesn't work for everyone, luckily. I would hope that this variety in values, and in types of gameplay, is something we would want to encourage in the industry.

Beau
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 8:45PM drakon said

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1. I agree there is no set standard of value, but most people would agree that in-game items from C.E. are generally worthless past the first few hours of "oooooh shineyness". The one and only C.E. I have ever bought was for WAR. Two weeks post release I felt like it was $20 wasted (or was it $30 more?). I got a special 'face' for each race of which only 1 was worth using, the rest were lame. (Again, IMO. But I remember reading tons of posts of people that thought the same thing about the CE faces) I got a ring that was quickly outpaced by level 8 - 10 with crappy green rings that were better. I don't remember what else in-game I got, but it left a sour taste in my mouth for buying CE's.

I think that will be my one and only purchase of a CE. I hope some company will prove me wrong and release a CE worth buying.
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Posted: Oct 13th 2010 6:02PM (Unverified) said

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Limited addtions sets usually do not provide any kind of time in game exchange for money.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Collectors Edition offers a bunch of different real world items but only one virtual in game pet. Hardly an advantage in game as your suggesting. At the end of the day regardless of if you buy the regular or the collectiable your game experience will be identical save a pet.

-- Art of the Cataclysm art book, featuring 176 pages of never-before-seen images from the archives of the Blizzard Entertainment cinematics department and the World of Warcraft development team, as well as progressive visuals from multiple stages of development.

-- Exclusive in-game pet: he may not be a breaker of worlds just yet, but Lil' Deathwing will still proudly accompany heroes on their struggle to save Azeroth from his much, much larger counterpart.

-- Behind-the-scenes DVD with over an hour of developer interviews and commentaries, as well as a special Warcraft(R) retrospective examining the rich gaming history of the Warcraft universe.

-- Soundtrack featuring 10 epic new tracks from Cataclysm, including exclusive bonus tracks.

-- Special-edition mouse pad depicting Deathwing menacing the ravaged continents of Azeroth.

-- World of Warcraft Trading Card Game cards, including a 60-card starter deck from the Wrathgate series, two extended-art cards, and two Collector's Edition-exclusive hero cards, marking the first appearance of goblin and worgen heroes in the TCG.

Dual-boxing is an advantage but seeing as most MMO's are soloable there is no real advantage. When playing the game I don't know if its 2 players or one person playing 2 so it really does not effect me. I am definately against using programs to allow a player to play more then one character and would consider that cheating as do most MMO's.

For the most part I don't mind pets but you won't ever see me paying real world cash for a pet. I felt Blizzard crossed the line wtih their horse mount at $25 US. That's a tangible item that definately aids a person in game.

That horse also makes me treat the players riding them differently then I would someone not riding one. ;)

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