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Reader Comments (97)

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:00AM blackcat7k said

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We're not giving developers and the companies they work for welfare. They made a product, if the customer sees something they want they will buy it.

They allowed the customer to play the game for free because they thought they would make more money. NOT because they felt sorry for charging 15 dollars a month.

Developers need to eat like anyone else, but that doesn't mean giving them money out of some kind of false sense of loyalty. At the end of the day MMOs are a business.

If you can make it through a F2P MMO without paying, and find nothing that they offer to be good enough to buy then you shouldn't buy a thing. As a player in their game you are helping them out since your presence in the world affects the others in the gameplay arena. Even if all you're doing is soloing

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:00AM Aganazer said

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The free players are creating atmosphere and expanding the market. It sucks to play a game that feels empty.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:00AM MMOaddict said

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I could argue the reverse. How about all the games in my lifetime that I have bought that was complete crap or I didn't play past a day. Especially PC games, since I can't trade those back in. At least console games are tradeable so you get some type of compensation. Do those companies feel guilty for making me pay for a bad product? I don't think so. So, no, I don't feel guilty or feel like I'm "cheating" a company out of any money. I didn't force them to make their games F2P.

Besides, I have one F2P I play for longer than a month, and that is LOTRO and I paid the lifetime sub a few years back. Every other F2P just plain sucks.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:06AM (Unverified) said

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Ofc we are not cheating.Its their game they set the terms we play.Since a portion of the game is free we might as well play without paying a dime for months or years,if that is possible.But usually freenium titles make it so you reach a point where you cannot progress unless you pay something.

In my case,i am university student,unemployed atm with little to no cash to spare for online gaming,so i got DCUO and i am having a blast.I will try not to spend a single euro on it.

Ofc there is t he opinion that if you are a fanboy of a company(in a good way) you might aswell support them by buying some stuff from the store.But in my opinion thats not exactly support,its more like paying to have.Supporting a company as a fan and someone who recognises their effort to deliver a good game is when all the game is free exept maybe cosmetic items.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:08AM Paradigm68 said

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"On one hand, we're invited to do so..." End of story.

What are you a sucker? Pay if you want, but to feel morally obligated? You're giving an executive somewhere multiple orgasms.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:14AM Malagarr said

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The F2P model seems pretty successful in many cases, and businesses spend a lot of time and money studying human behaviour. I assure you, there are enough F2P players actually spending money every month to offset the cost of supporting the game for those who aren't buying anything, otherwise the game would close down.

Much like credit card companies that offer free kick backs know that a small percentage of their users will get said kick backs without ever paying a penny in interest, F2P game developers know that a small percentage of their players will use their service for free without ever buying anything. In both cases, the businesses are banking on the fact that, in the long run, they will make more off from you then you will ever get out of them.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:37AM Dumac said

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Short answer no. Money spent on games isn't donated but exchanged for goods and services, so there really is no room for moral dilemmas there. If there is anything immoral about the freemium/f2p model, it's putting players in a position where such issues are raised and peer pressure is employed for the benefit of the company.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:37AM Yellowdancer said

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Nope

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:50AM Lafajet said

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I tend to see F2P games as sort of an inversed long tail (I'll not bore you with explaining the long tail, you can just look it up on Wikipedia if you are interested in the concept), instead of having a huge catalogue of products to sell to people, you have a huge pool of people available to purchase those you have. Even if most of them will not buy anything from a cash shop there will be enough who will for you to turn a profit, since the more players you have the likelyhood of someone actually willing to pay for the items in your cash shop (and in some extreme cases, pay VERY much for them) increases. When you look at it this way, it isn't really a problem if the average revenue per customer is low as long as you have a lot of them.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:50AM Yukon Sam said

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Freeloading is unquestionably tacky. But unethical? I wouldn't take it that far.

On the other hand, I think game companies ought to go further to rub the freeloaders' faces in it with a strong message: "you are a second-class citizen and will remain so until you cough up some dough".

FtP is a bizarro business model, in that it absolutely hinges on that status difference between paying and unpaying customers. If there's no difference, there's no revenue stream, and there's no game. Period.

So you either stigmatize the freeloaders or go put in your resume at Zynga (where they will teach you how to twist the knife in the gut of freeloaders). Or stick with a subscription model, where you can afford to treat all players as equal (because they're all invested in your world).

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 9:57AM Ziltod said

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There is no such thing as free-to-play. Free-to-try, free-to-play-limited-content, yes, but free-to play-forever, never.
Free is a marketing concept created to make people thing they owe a company. Nothing is for free.
No. Thing.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:18AM DeadlyAccurate said

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@Ziltod There are F2P games out there with no content restrictions (Runes of Magic, Fallen Earth, and Glitch for example). You can play all three games from level 1 to level cap without spending a dime. RoM would require careful inventory management (the default is respectable, but you'd have a harder time being a crafter without buying additional space), but neither Fallen Earth nor Glitch limits the F2P player's bag space. And the only thing Glitch sells in its store are clothes and teleportation tokens (which aren't necessary, just convenient).
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:10AM Fabius Bile said

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I think you are forgetting the most important part, Justin. The MMO companies are not stupid, and they solved this issue LONG ago.

The game itself is most likely will designed to gently "kick you out" if you are adamant in not spending a cent.

It will put you on really disadvantageous situations against cash shop users. Buyers feel their money was well invested, and non-buyers feel like they are dorks for playing for free, so they either pony up money or leave.
its a double win, you reward your paying customers, and you entice nonpayers to pay or discourage them to keep playing and being a charge for you..

so in a certain sense, yes, If you are the kind of person that is capable of enduring such amount of humilliating experiences and can deal with a gameplay that probably prevents you form doing most of the fun stuff to save up a few dollars, you fully deserve to play for totally free.


Dont think the company will go out of business anytime soon due to people like yhat. they are an extreme minority. Most noral human beings cannot bear being treated like fourth rate citizens for a fraction of that time, so they leave.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:12AM avidlurker said

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No, playing for free is fine, after all the company gives you that option.
You'll just have to live with the consequences.

However if it's a game I enjoy, more likely than not I'll pony up some sensible amount of cash.

I did that for a while with Runes of Magic before cash requirements got out of hand.

When they increased the maximum power level for items to +16 and it became painfully obvious exactly how much cash you were meant to hand over to be in the top say 20% of the content I stopped paying and shortly after stopped playing.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:12AM VikingGamer said

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As PA puts it in this little video on micro transaction, http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/microtransactions Players are content. Free players contribute to the economy. Free players also contribute to having people in the community, that is, they provide people that can be interacted with, grouped with and competed against in pvp. MMOs die without a population. So free players may not provide direct monetary support which is important but they do provide people to play with which is also important. They are not mooching at all.

Also, when they game includes a mechanic to sell in game currency for cash shop currency, it is, by design, the free players who are providing half the transaction. Someone needs to spend the time gathering coins for the time poor/cash rich customer to buy. The $10 he uses to buy those coins is not going straight to the freeloader, rather it is going to the game company and the freeloader is getting credit in the cash shop, paid for by a rich "friend". Company is making money but only because some free player had the time to farm extra coin.

If your going to run a free to play game then you have to be ok with some people actually playing it for free. The mistake of many western companies gone F2P is the assumption that everyone needs to pay eventually. That is neither true nor necessary. It can be enough if simply some pay and not everyone. You just need to structure your game correctly.

And don't forget. Free to play teens and twenty-somethings eventually graduate from their schools and eventually land jobs. That means that free players are likely to become paying customer somewhere in the industry someday.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:50AM Eamil said

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@VikingGamer

I was going to quote that episode too. Love the guys at Extra Credits.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:16AM VikingGamer said

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Another way to put it would be:
Every player contributing to the success of a game is not the same thing as everyone paying for the game.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:24AM KDolo said

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here's a better question, "Is it possible to extensively enjoy a F2P title without spending money on it?"

I submit that it is not. You will always be wanting.

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:24AM Ceridith said

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If developers don't want so many of their players to be "mooches" who don't buy anything, then maybe they should stop advertising their games as "free-to-play".

Posted: Nov 4th 2011 10:27AM nimzy said

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Look at World of Tanks. It's free-to-play to an extent. If you're playing for free you're part of the content being sold to the paying customers--that's why the matchmaking is "broken," and that's why you can pay to win. So no, you're not really costing them all that much by playing for free.

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