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Reader Comments (33)

Posted: Jan 11th 2012 9:11PM AlienFanatic said

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What I find misleading is the notion that F2P games are somehow cheaper for the majority of players. Perhaps, but then again as others have noted there are questions left behind such as, "Well, how long do the 'whales' tend to play the game vs. the freeloaders?" If the players who aren't paying only stick around for a month or two, aren't the REAL players (the whales) spending tremendously more for the game than if it was a standard sub model?

(I'd read the actual article, but I keep getting a database error. I can only assume that questions like that are glossed over.)

My kids play League of Legends and I can tell you that, without a doubt, they have begged me for FAR more money to buy characters in that game in a manner of months than I have ever spent on WOW in an entire year (heck, more than a year.) I see the "whales" as an extension of habitual gamblers who will spend high amounts of RMT to get everything in the game because they are collectors that have to have them all.

I am still resistant, entirely, to the idea of F2P. It feels so much like these developers are snake oil salesmen who use sketchy numbers and hyperbole to draw in players to their cash shops. (Yes, I can see how it would lead to profits, just like there are a small number of smokers who carry an entire industry on their diminishing numbers because they're too addicted to stop.)

Posted: Jan 12th 2012 7:12AM bobfish said

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@AlienFanatic

The idea of a whale is that they spend an exponential amount more than a standard sub to cover the cost of the free players.

I'm reluctant to give real figures, but you can safely say one whale would more than enough to cover the cost of 100 free players. We're talking thousands of dollars from a single whale over their lifetime in the game.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2012 9:15PM Thorqemada said

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Its stated in different articles about F2P that at least in the games they mention 90% of the playerbase almost never pay anything and 10% spedn huge loads of money.
If you have patience you can play games like i.e. Perfect World, Forsaken World or even Runes of Magic for free at all.
But you have slower progression and maybe you feel underpowered compared to people that pay - then it will show up how serious you take it to outgear your opponents.

Posted: Jan 11th 2012 9:27PM (Unverified) said

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"People get creeped out by the science behind marketing. It’s a lot more pervasive than people think, and an educated consume should definitely learn about it all and learn to recognize it. But there’s nothing happening here that isn’t already happening at your local market. If anything, expect that over time the science will be applied more and more to games regardless of business model. Social-game-style metrics are increasingly in use in console games, for example."

Quoted for truth. Often it's not pretty but that's the increasing trend as video games have become more popular and businesses have learned how to market their games even better. Blizzard is notorious for pushing the boundaries in this regard, no doubt giving many other businesses ideas on how to monetize their product.

Posted: Jan 11th 2012 9:52PM theBeast said

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Eliot, why on Earth would you write, "Raph Koster talks about the evils of F2P"? If he was, I wouldn't be arguing with him!

-Bryan

Posted: Jan 11th 2012 10:07PM (Unverified) said

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I've been playing LOTRO for about 14 months. In that time I've spent maybe $100 (includes the costs for Moria and Isengard expansions). It's the first MMO to which I've devoted any notable time. The cost of items from the store are just a part of the game to me. When I get a notice that I earned TP, I'm happy just as when I'm told I get a title, skill, or some other reward. I don't find the store intrusive. I have access to all but 2 areas and all instances save 3 or 4. I have access to all the traits on my 6 characters and the swift travels.

I don't doubt that there are people who spend much much more and many who are happy with much limited access who pay nothing. But for the relatively low amount of money, flexibility of play, and quality of game it's well worth it. That it's not FREE free doesn't mean I want to go pay $10/$15 month (+expansion costs) for some other game.

Posted: Jan 11th 2012 10:46PM TheJackman said

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I cant do that like I not play Free to play games, I like to pay upfront and no in-game cash shops! For me the bar is set really high right now with full voice overs in SWTOR.
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Posted: Jan 12th 2012 12:02AM (Unverified) said

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@TheJackman

I will say that of all the subscription games on the horizon, Guild Wars 2 looks intriguing ;)
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Posted: Jan 11th 2012 11:42PM Graill440 said

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What utter garbage. This single quote shows the fraud these F2P game are associated with.

"The typical F2P player does indeed play for 100% free. It is not a nickel-and-dime model, as some commenters think. The vast majority of players in an F2P model never pay anything at all."

This guy is a clown and i really hope folks see that. The lesson? If it is to good to be true...it is. Pathetic.

Posted: Jan 12th 2012 12:32AM (Unverified) said

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@Graill440

There are a lot of different kinds of f2p games out there. GaiaOnline is f2p and I suspect most "typical" users don't pay. I don't know exactly which games Ralph is including there.

You're assuming too much and/or too little.

The example of my ability to play LOTRO with very little expenditure shows how it can be a appealing. As I've already purchased most of the game's content, I foresee even less spending on it this coming year, though I will probably continue playing it for a long while still.
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Posted: Jan 12th 2012 1:15AM AltarofScience said

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Once I trained myself to not spend money, the games really are free to play, though they got a few 100$ of me first. But you can't play the game competitively without spending hundreds of dollars. I can compete with almost anyone in the world with regards to time spent, but I cannot compete with the cash people throw out.
I think that RKost makes a half decent argument. When I told him he was naive about marketing and saw he made a post about it I didn't expect such a good response, even from him, but I still think its iffy. I actually know many game designers who charge only enough to keep the servers up, even mmorpg and mmorts games. Not AAA titles obviously.
I think that he has just been around the industry side too long to understand what's wrong with free to play.
I do agree that marketing wise the whole NDA/pre order bullshit is more ethically questionable than free to play, but at least once you pay you compete on an even playing field. I think Arena Net is really the least ethically questionable commercial game owners in MMOs. Some hobby games are actually free and provide awesome content.
It's sad to see the creator of SWG and Ultima lose his way.

Posted: Jan 12th 2012 10:03AM Superman0X said

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For most F2P games, the goal is 90% Free, 8% Spenders, 2% Whales. The reality is that most games are really 95% Free, 4% Spenders, 1% Whales.

The general perception in a F2P game when the % of spenders starts creeping past 5% is that the game is becoming P2P, and once it hits 10% that it is Pay2Win. This is because the spenders are the most competitive players in the game (all free advantages + money spent). As this group becomes more visible, the perception of free seems less realistic. All it takes is for 1 person in 10 to have purchases an advantage (all paid items are an advantage of some sort) for the players to feel that the game is unbalanced by those who pay.

F2P is a bit like magic. As long as you dont see the people that pay, you believe that they dont exist. Once there is enough of them that you can actually see one, then the magic fades, and it is just a trick.

Posted: Jan 12th 2012 2:14PM Borick said

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@Superman0X Nice post.

Global Agenda stands as an example of a Free-to-play/Pay-to-win model that I find tolerable -- even comfortable.

In GA the difference between 'scrub' gear and 'overclocked' gear is about 3% in functional stats, but at five times the price. So, if you go the free-to-play route you have access to all non-vanity content with a bit of a grind, but even the guy who blows $40 and tricks himself out isn't gaining much of an advantage. In the end, skill trumps all.

And if you manage to level all 4 classes to level 50 and buy their boost for a month, you gain enough 'agenda points' to pay for the next month of boost and you never have to pay again.

It doesn't seem like a predatory model to me, but one that provides more options for the players while allowing the dev team to pay for groceries.
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