The problem is that I do not really like the freemium model. I'm old-school, I guess. I enjoy the model that was imported to the States maybe eight years ago. A free client with a cash shop on top is all I need to steer my fun by. I'd rather skip any sort of tiered service as well.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course.
So let's start with Glitch. In case my non-stop gushing and weekly livestreaming of the game is not enough evidence for you, Glitch is one of my favorite games for many reasons. Not only did the game do some very creative things that we have never seen inside a sandbox before, but it was all done within the confines of a browser. This instant access introduced people to browser-based gaming, people who previously thought that browser gaming was only for "Facebook games."
I was so happy when I found out the game was free-to-play with options, and I was even happier when I saw the details of the plan. Basically a player can sign up and make a character for absolutely zero dollars. That same player can get to the same maximum level of 60, own a house, and pretty much have the exact same experience as a paying player. Tiny Speck, the maker of Glitch, decided to sell conveniences instead of necessities. Normally I do not like to see different "levels" of subscriptions. My dislike for those freemium sort of plans comes from a simple distaste for unneccessary complications. I want to be able to glance at a cash shop or free-to-play model and know what I am going to get. Glitch's multi-tiered sub model is only tacking on more of the same options with each tier level, instead of restricting things or adding on exclusives. There is no restricted chat or lack of customer service with lower tiers. We've already seen models like Fallen Earth's that force players to pay for better customer service, something that just boggles my mind.
For example, if you play to level 125 in the mace skill, you can switch to another skill and another. Even with only half of the total skill levels available to a free player, the number of skills is astounding. Not only that, but each combat, magical, crafting and gathering ability can be edited and tweaked. A typical Ryzom player might have a longe range skill that is tweaked to perfectly suit her playstyle as well as a short-range blast, a healing ability, or a crafting recipe. This flexibility means that even low-level players can make a difference in a group fight or crafting session. And this non-class specific gameplay ensures that one player can take on any role that she has trained for. Even with the level cap of 125 for free players, there are many, many activities to participate in.
Next week I am going to compare two more of my favorite games, Illyriad and RuneScape, to see how they stack up. It's important for me to break these down because how we pay for our games is just as important in many cases as gameplay or lore. There is a sweet spot for payment models, and not very many games hit it. I have found that my favorite games also sport the best payment models, but almost none of them uses the standard subscription model.
So what are some of your favorite payment models, and why?
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to email@example.com!