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Reader Comments (64)

Posted: May 30th 2011 8:34AM Legendary3437 said

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Yes and No. I play a lot of these F2P MMOs. DDO, LOTRO, POTBS, GW(even though it is pay to play not f2p), but I do find it hard to find the time to focus and really get ahead in one of them. I find with playing all these games, and still trying to maintain an outside life I move seriously slow compared other players. but I do still enjoy them all and play each one regularly.

So while I might not be able to be a Hardcore player with all these MMOs they are perfect for a casual player like myself who wants to have fun, experience a great story, and change it up a bit whenever I want to.

Posted: May 30th 2011 8:38AM Araxes said

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I think DDO worked so well becuase, simply, it was one of the first. There was no F2P Western market, not in terms of AAA titles, at any rate.

Now? We're flooded.

It will be interesting to see what happens. Like you said, people only have so much time in one day. I can barely manage two games, let alone 5.

Posted: May 31st 2011 10:50AM SnarlingWolf said

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@Araxes

This is what I was saying back when Turbine made the move to F2P. They were so successful with it due to being the only major western MMOs to do so which meant they essentially had the market to themselves.

As more and more and more MMOs go F2P they will realize how hard it will be to make money. More games will fail (even as F2P) and even more games will start charging for items that give an actual stat/skill bonus as opposed to convenience/cosmetic items. They will need to do that more and more to keep making profits. That is the major issue with F2P and always has been. Asian F2P games switched to this method a long time ago and western MMOs will have to too.

Give me a subscription MMO where you don't get to buy an advantage and I'll play that everytime over F2P games.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 8:55AM Yellowdancer said

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Nope. Free is good. You game still has to have good quality to attract money to it.

Posted: May 30th 2011 8:58AM Dumac said

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I don't really think so. The conversion f2p games can and should be played casually at best, they were not meant to be played "seriously" with the limitations.

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:01AM Sephirah said

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It depends on the amount of money you have to spend to stay "competitive" and to have more or less the same feature of a P2P game.
If the amount isn't trivial, playing more than a couple of F2P games would end to be more expensive than playing a couple of P2P games, a thing that many avoid as the "enjoyment per dollar/euro spent" become lower when playing several games.

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:09AM Seffrid said

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Whilst a lot of thepure F2P games are near-identical WoW-clones or Korean cutesy anime grindfest clones, the surplus of such games is a problem due to their cloning rather than to their business model.

LoTRO, EQ2, DDO and now AoC are all significantly distinctive games with the first two especially having a lot more substance than the pure F2P games, and that is why a lot of people still regard them as representing great value on a subscription basis. They're really free trials followed by a choice between cash shop and subscription, and on that basis I don't see why there can ever be too many games for players to choose from provided they each offer something distinctive.

Whether the market can sustain an endless supply of identikit clones which a large part of their playerbase wants to enjoy for free is another matter altogether. I see the future evolving around the more distinctive games based on an endless but restricted free trial followed by the choice between cash shop and subscription.

For those who want a simple game with a single character the cash shop represents a great option, whilst for those wanting a deeper game with several characters the subscription route is a lot better. As always, choice is the critical thing but choice is only ever effective if there are sufficient differences between the options to make that choice worthwhile. Cloning is the current issue, not business models.

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:20AM Tizmah said

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The more AAA titles that go Free to Play, the less benefit F2P is going to have for stagnant game. Sure more players might fill in, but it's just going to boil down to the same numbers in the end, just a bit higher. You just came full circle. Congrats.

In the end, it still boils down to the quality of the game.

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:28AM Lobotomist said

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F2P trend came late for me. I simply do not have the time I had before.

But, how can anyone complain ?

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:31AM DarkWalker said

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I don't think there can be too many F2P games, but I sure would love to have a directory of offerings.

I choose games based on:

- Is there any harsh death penalty? If so, I'm out, mo natter how good the game is. This is why I left EVE and I'm not going back.
- Are there restrictions on the total number of respecs? Are respecs too hard to get in game? Do respecs cost real money? If so, I'm not playing it. Which is the reason I left both CoH and DDO.
- Are players forced to group? Is it impossible to hit max level without grouping, or much harder to get there solo than in groups? If so, I'll most likely avoid the game. Little caveat, I consider fast queues for grouping, where group success is mostly assured in a small length of time (less than half hour), as solo play for this requirement.
- Are groups fixed in size? Does having an extra player force the group to kick someone? If so, I'm less likely to be interested.
- Is loot individualized or subject to group loot rolls? Is loot random, or can we choose what we get in some way (perhaps through the use of tokens)? The less random, and the less potential for group looting drama, the more I'm interested in playing the game.
- How much travel time? Is travel time interactive, or just wasted time? Do we have to stand still while crafting? If I feel tempted to pick my portable videogame to pass time, the game is most likely half way out of my HD.
- How necessary is to spend money in the shop to remain competitive? I'm OK with having to pay a standard subscription to be competitive, but not with having to buy items in the store to do so.

Plus a few other factors. Problem is, it's often hard to get even half this information on a single game, which is why I would love to have some kind of F2P directory.

Posted: May 30th 2011 9:40AM Amusednow said

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@DarkWalker The game you described as the perfect F2P would be Asherons Call if they ever got around to doing anything to it. Since I cancelled to goto SWG at the time I've always regretted doing it as it was the right game. Open world, group all you want or not, travel could be fast via portals if if you wanted to run anywhere. Loot totally randomized stats and drops, respecs came later just based off of time to adjust your skills, death penalty was just to work off a debuff and that was it. Sadly everything since then has gone the EQ/WoW model of limited content and forced grouping into the same instances over and over. I'd love to see its' mechanics and systems just bolted into a engine such as Rift runs on without trying to tweak it like they attempted with AC2.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 10:03AM Sephirah said

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@DarkWalker

99% agree (as I usually get a drink while crafting...).
I'm quite curious about the percentage of players with this mindset, that some would define "casual" or even worse, compared to the "hardcore" (harsh death penalties, forced grouping, long travel times).
I don't think that currently any "serious" game cater to the "I just want to have fun for a couple of hours, not to have another job" population.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 12:49PM DarkWalker said

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@Sephirah
It might sound like a joke, but I'm thinking about having a look at Free Realms, since it appears to be geared towards casual playing (including things like having all classes in a single character, instant transportation anywhere, etc). Besides, if I can get my hands on a $15 StationCash card today, I should be able to get a lifetime sub for it (and still have 1200 station cash left) due to the triple station cash offer that ends today.
Although I don't see myself playing Free Realms as my main game, it does seems like a good enough game for when I don't have the time for a more traditional MMO. More so if I can get a lifetime for $15.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 9:45AM (Unverified) said

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There was once a time when the whole idea of a monthly fee to play a video game you already bought was outrageous. It seems we're shifting back that way, and I think it's for the good of the industry. The competition is going to force f2p games to get better, as once cost is removed as a factor to the consumer, the real meat of the game is the only thing that is going to ensure the success of the game when competing against other titles.

So, viva la f2p!

Posted: May 30th 2011 10:46AM Averice said

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@(Unverified) Mmm... I would just rather have more payment options that provide the full game instead of piecemeal.

A pre-paid by the hour subscription for example. Want to put 5 hours of play time on your account? Okay, $2.50. Don't want to play that game for 3 months? No problem, be as casual as you want with it.

I hear in Korea and China a lot of games are offered on by the hour subs, and if true (my sources are basically random forum posters), I wish we could get that kind of subscription option here in the US.

I don't like f2p games, though not f2p itself, but because I hate cash shops and all f2p games have cash shops. I feel that with a f2p game, a dev is making a game full of ways to separate you from your cash, while a sub dev is making a game to keep you enjoying playing. I feel pre-paid by the hour games would do a better job of keeping a developer producing for entertainment as opposed to f2p where they produce for cash.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 11:40AM Furdinand said

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@(Unverified) The only thing that ensures the success of a game is the success of the game in making money. Attracting players is a marginal goal for game companies compared to attracting customers. The players that "shop" for F2P games that let them see all the content they are interested in without spending a dime are players the game companies don't want.
I think another poster has the right idea, having options to buy chunks of playtime.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 1:38PM Space Cobra said

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@Averice @Furdinand

I think both you guys missed his point a little: Before UO, many gamers were hesitant about spending money monthly on a game they bought off-the-shelf. For some players, this idea never really left, even though they would eventually subscribe, and now it's coming back, in a round-about-sense.
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Posted: May 30th 2011 3:12PM (Unverified) said

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@Averice This is something I could see as being successful, sure, but Space Cobra highlighted the core of my post.

To add, attracting players is the only thing that keeps any MMO going, P2P or F2P. I don't know exact figures, but I'd be surprised if 10 percent of a F2P's player base spent any money in a cash-shop. Therefore, the f2p games need to be extra competitive (or, in worse case, pay-to-win) to ensure their survival. It's a fine line, sure, but if the game is good, people will pay for it.
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Posted: Jun 1st 2011 7:07PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

Thats a total fallacy.

As someone who has been involved from the VERY beginning with Online Games let me give you the real history.

FIRST came hourly fee games. That was your only online option. They were on dedicated systems like Genie and AOL.

THEN came the flat fee online services. These were TSN (in its later stages) TEN and Mpath. You paid a monthly fee for access to high quality online play for package games like Duke Nukem 3D as well as online only games like Dark Sun Online.

THEN came the "free online" package games. Blizzard actually started this trend with Diablo. Its online networking was horribly inferior to the monthly services, but it was free. It forced other package games to also go free at a loss of play quality in the process. The pure online games, however, continued to charge a monthly fee.

THEN came the facebook F2P crap, most of which is barely a game, and all of which is designed to drive compulsion to buy their widgets. if it doesn't drive user acquisition (market building) or widget buying (sales), they don't care about it.

Finally, a few dying MMORPGs attempted to follow the F2P games as a hail mary play ro save a dying product.

Thats the true history in the US. Its all documentable if you search the web.
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Posted: Jun 1st 2011 9:05PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

Btw... it IS true that at the time that the server based games and game services launched their were a handful of overly emotional and underly informed articles complaining that they weren't free like Kali... and totally missing the simple facts that both the expense to operate and the value proposition to the consumers were totally different.

An ignorant rant doesn't gain any value just because ist an old one now.
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