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Reader Comments (97)

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 11:07AM dudes said

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@Furdinand Or they could take all the money and then do a runner and shut it down anyway.
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Posted: Nov 7th 2011 3:55PM Djinn said

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@Irem: "We're all hastening the heat death of the universe by existing, too"

??!
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:26AM Atlasraven said

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They fully expect some if not most f2p players to never pay. This is still good for f2p companies because it increases population and that player cam still get people interested. "I love this f2p game and i never spent a dime!" -comments GamerDude66 on Reviewspot. Their friends could jump into the game with them but maybe they will pay at some point. It's Win-Win.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:28AM pcgneurotic said

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You'll never get anyone to say they feel bad about not paying a penny in an F2P game, it's just not the way the vast majority of gamers think. Having said that, I've often wondered about this same thing myself, and although I don't mind, it does trouble me a little. Having said that though, any game I like well enough I do end up buying something.

DCUO - I bought the Green Lantern pack before I'd even finished downloading the client.
LoTRO - Spent tons and tons in there, just to keep myself up to date with all the playable content and quest packs.
DDO - Constantly dropping money in there, despite only VIPing once.
EQ2X - Again, tons of money spent on appearance items, xp pots, several classes and races, bits n pieces.
Vindictus - Bought Nexon points to hire an extra bag slot.
Runes of Magic - Quite a lot of money spent when I used to play it, mostly on housing stuff.
WoW - Panderan brewmaster pet, ages ago.
CoX Freedom - Some extra character slots and costume parts.
Champs - loads of money spent in here. Lots of extra costume slots and character slots, the 3 adventure packs, housing stuff
STO - Lots of money spent here unlocking races, ship costumes etc.

I think that's about it. The only ones I really consistently spend money on are DDO and EQ2X. After that, I do like to maintain sufficient 'point balances' with LoTRO, Champs and STO. Everything else is just on a case-by-case basis.

I love F2P because I can play the games whenever I want, even when I'm broke. And when I have some money to spend, so much the better!

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:36AM Pingles said

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@pcgneurotic

There are a few of us who do try to contribute when we like something.

I've paid into the cash shops of three F2Ps.

One I'm currently playing and two that I no longer play. In one of them I never spent one cent of the game-bucks I bought. I just wanted to give them some cash for their fine game.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:29AM Celtar said

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I feel that F2P only exists because studios had to adapt to other game developers implementing this concept, to stay competitive. I feel it is over all a bad business model for game developers, because it feeds into that mind set of "something for nothing".

These games today are incredibly cheap to play, unlike the 1990s and hourly charges. If you like game, why wouldn't you want to support the company that produces that mmorpg? After all the monthly subscription price, expansions and initial purchase tend to be very cheap.

Ever add up the cost of going to a movie with a date or family? For a bit over two hours of entertainment (cross your fingers and knock on wood that hopefully you'll be entertained), I will pay for two if it is just the wife and I over 50 bucks (drink and food included). If I am taking the kids we are talking a lot more cash.

The F2P business model forces a game developer to change "how" they think about game design. Forcing them to design with the intent of getting players to fork over cash to help the game developer support themselves. Employees, expansions, upkeep of software and hardware, building costs and utilities plus insurance if possible are costs a good game company has to consider. Way before they even get into potential profit margins.

Honestly if someone doesn't see the value in the game they are trying out or playing, don't play. For the price of a six pack of beer, you subscribe to a game, the price of a case of beer would handle the cost of initial software.

Btw of all those I've seen, LotRO appears to have gotten the F2P business model about as good as it can get for players and themselves. Though a normal subscriber and have been since June or July of 2007, I even purchase points when what I do isn't genning enough Turbine points. I average 5,000 to 10,000 points extra a month purchased. Mostly because I am an alt-aholic. I end up using most of the points are vault expansion, fancy fluff mounts that come up on the store, daily quest increases and re-sets and occasional faction increases.

That said, I'd rather the system would have never had to have been implemented. I'd rather see a free 30 day trial system be the normal route to go for mmorpgs instead of F2P systems.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:22AM DeadlyAccurate said

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@Celtar I know a lot of people think Turbine has a great F2P model in LOTRO and DDO, but I personally dislike it. We tried playing DDO with some F2P friends (we had subs; they didn't), but we were reaching a point where they were going to have to shell out cash to keep going. They weren't willing to do that, which put the kibosh on our desire to keep playing, too.

I prefer the F2P games that put the limitations on the character, not the content (like slower harvesting, fewer AH slots, etc).
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 1:48PM Spacegrass said

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@Celtar

You're paying way too much for your six-packs.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 11:44PM Celtar said

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@Spacegrass

I don't drink crappy piss water beers. :) Sorry. So yeah, I do pay more.


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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:32AM mindblwn said

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I rather hack/cheat on a game then support a pay2win model. (APB anyone?)

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:33AM Matix said

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Q: "What do you think? Should we feel obligated to pay at least something if we've played a F2P MMO for a good length of time? Or am I totally off my rocker here?"

A: Yes, you are "totally off [your] rocker here" on this one.

Business are profit motivated. When a business lays people off or makes 100% legal decisions that make them money, some people may whine but most folks grudgingly acknowledge it's acceptable. Businesses aren't in it for emotions or well wishes (albeit that can help their brand) save to the extent they get your money. Even a F2P game won't give you stuff from its online store for money just because you're having a bad day and need cheering up--no, outside of a special promotion, you must pay for store items.

I'm not trying to either defend or refute profit-centric thinking, merely pointing out that it is the rule of the day. I'd also point out that this is a two-way street.

POINT1 :: If the company fails to entice me to buy their stuff, then that's the business' failure and they need to address their poor marketing strategy. Free is free, and I don't owe them squat anymore than they owe me for broken game mechanics.

Not to get on my own soapbox, but since the late 1990's MMORPGers have had this emotional bond with game companies, putting them in place of the beloved (reviled?) role of Dungeon Master.

That emotional attachment has caused players to turn a blind eye from everything to unkept promises to outright @#!$-poor games. It's so bad that even subsidiaries of multi-billion dollar conglomerates like Sony Online Entertainment are routinely defended by enthralled gamers against the "big bully" of wronged, defenseless players venting on their blogs. To get an idea of how one sided this is, imagine a 100 ton Kodiak Mech fighting against a kid with a squirt-gun--only to have a gang of soldiers come up and jack-slap the kid and take his squirt-gun away because the kid is "a bully" and is picking on the poor Ghost Bear clansman.

Such insanity only makes sense when you realize the emotional involvement of players with the company. Over the past 14 years however this emotional relationship has either proven to be one-sided OR the developers care only so long as they get the money. Don't believe me? Blizzard says it loves it's players and asks for understanding while players wait months for promised game fixes. Ethralled gamers urge their fellow players to be cool since subscription time is "only money" and all. But call Blizzard customer support telling them that you've lost your job and want to play a couple months for free since "it's only money" and all. You'll find out real quick that the company that asked for YOUR understanding when you couldn't enjoy a broken WOW mechanic for 2-3 months doesn't give a kark about returning that understanding.

POINT 2 :: Being emotionally attached to companies is a one-way street that MMO gamers HAVE GOT TO BREAK THEMSELVES OFF OF. Until we do, we won't be able to hold company's feet to the fire to make changes or F2P shop items we want to buy.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:34AM Grinstone said

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@Matix

Precisely. The F2P model is based on the game being good enough and engaging enough that the players will be willing to invest some money it. If you do not feel engaged or entertained enough to spend money on the game then, where you are concerned, the developers have failed with their game.

Not spending money on F2P games is not a failure on the player's part.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:18AM Irem said

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@Matix
"Not to get on my own soapbox, but since the late 1990's MMORPGers have had this emotional bond with game companies, putting them in place of the beloved (reviled?) role of Dungeon Master."

That's a really interesting observation, and would certainly go a long way toward explaining why the developer/player relationship seems to carry the expectations it does. There are some potentially good elements to that, too, though--MMO players are much more vocal about what we want to see in the product we're purchasing than many consumers are, and I think the view of developers and game companies as part of the culture contributes to that.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 5:19PM (Unverified) said

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@Matix & @Grinstone - but the question in the article is really about games that ARE good enough, and DO make the player feel engaged and entertained. He talks about "playing a F2P MMO for months or even years". Not poor or broken games.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 5:55PM Matix said

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@(Unverified) If the cash shop item isn't worth me buying it without adding an element of "I owe them"-style guilt, then it is broken.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:34AM Matix said

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". Even a F2P game won't give you stuff from its online store for money just because you're having a bad day and need cheering up--no, outside of a special promotion, you must pay for store items."

I meant NO money...

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:48AM (Unverified) said

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What Matix said.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:52AM Nerves said

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I don't see a moral reason to pay. Of course, if you're exploiting a free account to harass, spam, bot or otherwise detract from the community, I take issue with that. Like other posters, If you're a contributing member of the community, that's fine.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:53AM Ocho said

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Essentially the business model is designed for more people playing less time, paying less money. Instead of 1 person paying $15/month, they might have 5 people essentially paying that same amount (or more), but since those 5 people don't feel compelled to play all the time, the play less often than someone who is subscribed. That why F2P works. It may be far and few between when I give a F2P game money, but I still give to get a new area, a permanent benefit to my character, or a frivolous vanity item, and its certainly not anywhere near $15/month. I don't have significant time to play to justify the $15 in the first place, so on average I play less anyway, but still getting value from what I do pay. It all works out in the end.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 8:59AM DataShade said

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Should we feel obligated? Nope. Not at all.

By that logic, is it immoral to buy Guild Wars boxes but no microtransactions?

If the publisher/hoster were losing money, they'd shut it down (RIP Tabula Rasa).

The prices in the stores are MBA'd to death to determine the optional pricepoint; there's some guy with at least two diplomas on his wall who can show you a powerpoint slideshow detailing exactly how much more likely someone is to buy the widget at $4 instead of $5 and whether or not that increase in total purchasers offsets the loss of $1 price drop.

If you play the game and like it, and aren't paying for it, are you really "not giving anything back?" You're not telling friends? You're not filling LFG spots? You're not running a podcast or posting strat vids on YouTube? It's improbable that you're a net drain financially without providing some kind of service to the product line.

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