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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:19PM h4ngedm4n said

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Yeah Ive suggested various f2p conversion ideas (some similar to yours) on eve forums, only to get badly flamed down by f2p haters.

Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:27PM J45neoboy said

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I hope EVE never goes free to play.

But when did they announced World of Darkness would be free to play? If that's the case, I'm scratching that off my list even though I was looking forward to it.

Posted: Jan 29th 2012 9:53PM Braiks said

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@J45neoboy I have no idea where the conclusion for World of Darkness and f2p came from, I'd also like a source.
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Posted: Jan 30th 2012 5:12AM (Unverified) said

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@Braiks the best I can tell it's a theory that's been hanging around massively for a while but a quick google search didn't turn up anything so it's just speculation.

http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/09/29/this-week-in-mmo-conspiracy-edition/
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Posted: Jan 30th 2012 5:53AM Brendan Drain said

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@J45neoboy You're absolutely right that it hasn't been confirmed, I apologise for giving that impression. The idea that it will use some form of free-to-play or freemium model stems from an assumption that CCP knows what it's doing, as those are the only models proven to produce significant microtransaction income. The leaked Fearless newsletter discussed heavy microtransaction based plans for both WoD and DUST, and it's already been revealed that DUST won't have a subscription fee, so I think it's a reasonable guess.

Then again, the botched EVE cash shop rollout and the fact that DUST will have a cover charge at launch (negating the low barrier to entry) suggest that the guys in charge of CCP's monetisation plans might actually not understand the non-subscription market at all. In that case, we can't really assume anything about WoD's business model.
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Posted: Jan 30th 2012 9:15AM Deliverator said

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@Brendan Drain
Well, then to make your article accurate, you should preface the statement "CCP plans to use a free-to-play model for DUST 514 and World of Darkness" with "I'm guessing, but..." or "I'm making this up, but..." - That one statement about had me cross the game off my list.

Additionally - the only place, ever, that a tripled monthly revenue for LotRO is stated is in one offhand remark Mersky made on a 10 Ton Hammer podcast in December of 2010. The F2P heralds have echoed it to the statement enough to themselves that they think it's fact, but last I checked Blog sites' podcasts are used by devs as a marketing channel, not a place to speak the truth. Though asked repeatedly since that one podcast, Mersky has never repeated the figure. He tweets every time the dev team takes a dump and something as big as "tripled revenues" never made it to his twitter either. Furthermore, if that number were true, then why the addition of Legendary Items to the shop? Why gut the game even further with the recent addition of stat armor? There are only two answers - either the game is realizing tripled monthly revenue and Turbine is disgustingly greedy or the game really isn't doing all that well and they needed more money. Which is it?

Currently, the F2P market consists of conversions and those built from the ground up as F2P. The conversions are all either dinosaurs on life support or failed new games. The "built from the ground up" are either Asian grinders or browser trash. The attempts at good, real games are sub based.

I'm really tired of Massively publishing dis-information and half-statements about the issue. F2P is not good for gamers. The only way to make money in F2P is by keeping people bored so they by XP to rocket through the grind or to create artificial shortages. There's no chance at all of a player run economy under F2P and most of the big open-world features aren't sustainable under the model. The focus of the games is 100% on grind and item burn.

Take for instance players' statements about the last LotRO cash shop release - players were saying "all they had to do was increase mob drops of mats for crafting" Due to the lack of accurate explanations and reporting, the thought that Turbine gimped crafting on purpose to enable the cash shop sale didn't even occur to them. It's straight up logic, yet these people actually considered themselves clever for figuring out what Turbine "missed" or could have done instead. No, this decision was debated and crafted in meeting rooms with specific goals in mind. These people aren't just making games so you can have fun for free. Sheesh.

Drop rate tinkering is only one of the many fine ways players are encouraged to shop the F2P item shop. Others include artificially long distances to quest objective with matching travel buffs, adjusted mob difficulty with matching health potions and increased casting cost with matching mana buffs. The whole objective of a F2P game is to keep the player just bored, frustrated or poor enough that they'll drop cash to "improve" their play experience, but not so bored or frustrated that they quit.

If the converted games were the same games we started out with, just F2P now, then there would be no long conversion process. What is that conversion process? It's the tuning of the grind and adjustment of the mechanics to encourage item purchases.

Some say that F2P leads to more player choice in games - I'd argue that it leads to more choices between schlock games that have been artificially pumped with grind. It certainly doesn't lead to more successful AAA titles.

With a sub game, the objective is to keep players subbed by keeping them entertained. To do this, they adjust the game to remove the boring bits and adding exciting things to do. F2P is the exact opposite - to make money they have to introduce grind - they have to make the game boring, gimp crafting and destroy player based economies to make their money.

While this may lead to record profits for the companies it doesn't lead to quality games for the players. Profit is the difference between expense and income - record profits mean they're doing less work for the same amount of money.This doesn't add value for your dollar, it removes it.

At the very least, this trumpeting of the F2P model is mislead due to a lack of understanding of money and profit motive. I'm assuming it isn't a flagrant shaping of public opinion funded by the industry. Either way, in no stretch of the imagination does it get us better games.

Please stick with facts in your reporting, not assumptions, even "everyone's assumptions," stated as if they were facts.
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Posted: Jan 30th 2012 7:28PM Azaetos said

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@Deliverator
Well said and so so true on so many points. I still find it amazing that people still don't understand the motivation behind the F2P model.

Within a few years the F2P market will become oversaturated and investors simply won't fund new titles as they will be deemed to be to risky of an investment. Ray Muzyka is right when he said that AAA titles will only be produced via the subscription model otherwise that large of an investment will simply not be made for a F2P game.

I wonder which model the people here would invest a substantial amount of their money in, a F2P title or a subscription one with an initial 'box' sale. Interesting to think like those on the other side of the fence isn't it.
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Posted: Jan 31st 2012 12:57PM Deliverator said

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@Azaetos
Thanks. I wonder why he hasn't changed the in-accurate statement?
" Although CCP plans to use a free-to-play model for DUST 514 and World of Darkness, no plans for EVE to adopt a similar system have been announced."
should read
"Although CCP plans to use a free-to-play model for ... , no plans for EVE, DUST 514 and World of Darkness to adopt a similar system have been announced."
Is Dust going to be just downloadable for free? If they're selling the disc wouldn't it be more correctly categorized as P2P with DLC?
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Posted: Jan 31st 2012 1:45PM Brendan Drain said

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@Deliverator Hi Deliverator, I had to run the correction by my boss before putting it up, but the correction has now been made to the article. Thanks for the heads up about the mistake. In future, the best way to get errors in posts corrected quickly is to send them in via our tips form.

You raise some valid points, some I would argue with but most of them I absolutely agree with. While I'd love to sit here and debate those few points, most people won't be reading the comments and won't see it. Instead, next week I will dedicate an entire EVE Evolved opinion piece to presenting the free-to-play versus subscription debate from the pro-subscription viewpoint. While this week's EVE Evolved tackled the question of HOW EVE could potentially be made free-to-play, next week I'll tackle the question of WHETHER it should at all.

I think it's important that issues like this are tackled in opinion columns like EVE Evolved, even if people don't like the ideas discussed, because CCP has almost certainly discussed this very issue internally. There's no way they've overlooked the figures coming out of the top free-to-play games, so it would be disingenuous to think they haven't internally discussed ideas like those I presented above. But that's all done in private, and there are no players there to offer feedback or defend their views.

When we put issues like these in front of the public on a place like Massively, players get to defend their views exactly as you and others have done, and in this case CCP gets a small glimpse into what the player reaction would be to similar plans. That's got to have a more beneficial effect than ignoring the free-to-play elephant in the room and then acting surprised when it's sprung on us.
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Posted: Jan 31st 2012 6:13PM kgptzac said

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@Deliverator

"F2P is the exact opposite - to make money they have to introduce grind - they have to make the game boring, gimp crafting and destroy player based economies to make their money."

the only thing I'm seeing is a biased hated against the microtransaction model. contrary to your obvious flawed statement, all games need to be made fun and interesting to attract players, this is even more true for f2p games because if people first jumped on a game and find it boring, they'll just leave, which is something you can't do with some subscription based games without paying either first month's fee. what f2p games need to show is how much *more* fun the game can be for a paying customer.

companies make and run MMO games for profit. it is delusional to view microtransaction model as a "conspiracy from the industry" as much as to believe subscription model will be phased out in the near future. not all game are created equal; the fallacy of "less crappy f2p games logically induce more higher quality p2p games" is nothing more than wishful thinking of consumerism. even though most microtransition MMO (hell, most MMO in general) aren't very good, but do consider how (ideally) a game can be successful: it not only needs something original and unique to stand out from its peers, but also good implementation of the successful elements adsorbed from these comparing games.

Fyi , wow and eve did not remain p2p out of a principle that seems to be so religiously defended on massively, they do it because a hybird sub and PLEX systems are tried and proven to be working. as you said, there is less invective to convert for games that are doing financially, but the incentive is never zero as both Blizzard and CCP are businesses, and it is only natural for them to expand. that being said, the risk of doing a poor conversion from p2p to f2p (and losing customers) is the main deterrent.

anyway, the argument has already become as tasteless as the XBox vs PS3 or the console vs pc war. there obviously are pros and cons for each model, and it is a matter of taste for different kinds of games. the perceived victory is really irrelevant due to the general direction of the MMO playerbase has become: a wider and more casual audience. newer games going for either model will need to accommodate for this fact.

tl;dr: stop hating, less crappy games don't mean more and better new games.
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Posted: Feb 4th 2012 7:09AM starbuck1771 said

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@Braiks Well the EVE going to go F2P assumtion most likely came from the apology from CCP's CEO which surprisingly has vanished http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/10/05/ccp-games-ceo-issues-letter-of-apology-to-eve-online-players/
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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:36PM (Unverified) said

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@J45neoboy I sure do love people who automatically assume a F2P game is gonna be a bad game, LoL is a perfect example of a game I play to this date that is absolutely amazing as F2P and I wouldn't play it any other way, I admit most of the subscription to F2P games have turned out not that interesting to me but they are still great games, I think that with a proper F2P and not P2Win model would really work well for eve.

Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:46PM J45neoboy said

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@(Unverified)

No no no, I love Free to Play games like LoL, Runescape and Runes of Magic, but I don't tend to like the community in them. I generally find them slightly worse then Pay to Play games. That's many only gripe with games like that.
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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 11:59PM Zyrusticae said

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@J45neoboy

And yet World of Warcraft is P2P and has a community that is pretty much on-par with League of Legends.

The strength of community is a matter of the game's primary audience, not its business model.
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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:37PM Hardcover said

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Never going to happen. EVE players like their "high" barrier to entry. It matches well with the cliff of a learning curve.

But seriously, I don't think it would come about. Remember the riots in market hubs last summer? That would happen again if EVE went F2P, I guarantee, and CCP would have no way to stop them besides deploying their own, CONCORD-proof fleet or simply shutting down those nodes. Those riots happened because players were concerned about a pay-to-win model that was discussed in an internal newsletter. Enough people already equate "free-to-play" with "pay-to-win" that there would be no chance in hell of convincing many of them otherwise.

And if CCP did plow ahead with free-to-play plans, against all player resistance, they would alienate enough of their current playerbase that no free-to-play audience who, I would argue, would predominantly be too casual to replace the flocks of EVE subscribers who would leave for, say, Perpetuum.

Finally, why would CCP even consider taking their flagship product free-to-play? While it can't boast subscriber numbers like WoW, by just about every other standard EVE is a very successful MMO, and CCP's main source of income. Whatever they may do with DUST 514 (which faces a whole other set of problems) or any other game they put together, they are going to be conservative with their golden goose. And especially a golden goose that has bit them in the ass before.

Posted: Jan 29th 2012 7:04PM Scuffles said

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@Hardcover

Hmm I remember that learning curve taking about 40min, then EvE was the most entertaining game EVER ..... for about one week, then it was just boring as hell....

Also because they want more money and F2P/Freemium models ofter yield more money than a traditional P2P model. It also depends on how many new players they can attract as to whether or not the exiting players would have any lasting effect on the game.

To be honest it wouldn't surprise me if they try to go F2P since adding the Plex 'vanity' shop felt like a blatant attempt to ween its existing player base into accepting a F2P structure before dropping the full on F2P bomb.
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Posted: Jan 30th 2012 2:05PM (Unverified) said

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@Scuffles Its quite evident that you only played for a week or two.

While not only does every longer term eve player know that the curve isn't large due to learning actual game mechanics but more about applying such mechanics into practice, for best efficiency and profit, none also want the game to be free.

Altho the f2p/b2p/p2p hydrid suggested in the article isnt that bad really. I mean its only the same as providing a unlimited demo and with current demo restrictions its actually very hard to become even remotely successful at high end activities.. I think if anything, thatll be CCPs next step to improving player population.
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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:38PM Utakata said

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I think their current system of only allowing one character to advance per account would be a more stable generating cash cow because it encorages alta'holics like myself to buy more accounts. Wouldn't making it F2P eat further into that revenue?

To qualify this question: I understand that you can do that with Plex anyhow as an option to pay for your subscription alternatively. And perhaps this was one of the growing reasons of CCP having a revenue generating problems (depending on how easy it is to generate Plex to pay for other accounts) in the first place. So wouldn't making it F2P or even Freemium further cause issues along this line because it give players yet another alternative not to pay for new and/or other acccounts?

Posted: Jan 29th 2012 6:56PM Scuffles said

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@Utakata

Plex never really factored into a revenue problem, since the only way to get it is for a player to buy it from CCP directly. Then they can sell it to another player of tons of ISK. So CCP is always in the loop.....

Hell when they made it so people could transport Plex they also made Plex something other people could steal or destroy in the act of attempted theft. So someone has their Plex stolen they need to buy more or the Plex is destroyed in the raid .... they still have to buy more. So CCP has probably sold Plex that it will never have to honor.

Its sorta like any F2P currency really once they have your money they have your money and it doesn't really matter if you ever use that currency.
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Posted: Jan 29th 2012 7:29PM Kalex716 said

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@Scuffles

Yea, the best way to explain EVE's plex system and how it relates to subscription is to think about it like a "sponsored membership" program.

Player A offers to pay Player B's monthly sub in exchange for in game earnings of a fair sum dictated by the games living world, and supply/demand.
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