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Reader Comments (43)

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 10:40AM akubura said

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There are a few models out there that get to me, Age of Conan and Everquest to name a couple. I don't like the fact that I have to pay for races or classes as it leads to 99% of the game population being one of a couple of classes. I think free to play should be free to play the whole game and not have locked content.

I would much rather spend money on a game where everything is unlocked from the outset, which in case it seems like I'm not getting nickel and dimed and I'm glad to support the company and by a few cosmetic items and xp scrolls.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 11:03AM ntellect said

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@akubura
I tend to agree. Its almost like we need clarification between (what I call) F2P - where you actually play the entire game for free and have a CS and FREEMIUM (what SOE created) - where you take a P2P game and allow 'portions' of it to be F2P in hopes to convert those users to P2P. The FREEMIUM model is what I dont like, but dont fault it either. I am of the belief if you dont like the model, simply stay away from the game. Demand will determine what you will and wont play - not the model.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 1:58PM akubura said

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@ntellect Couldn't of said it better myself. I would like to see a poll on who makes more money. Freemium games that all but force you to shell out money. Or F2P games that you appreciate and want to support the game by giving them some money for minor items.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 10:47AM Azaetos said

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Oh look a F2P company defending the very ethos behind the model, finding ways to gate people into paying. Make leveling mind bogglingly slow so they buy XP boosters. Sell stat boosters giving advantages in leveling, PvP, crafting, etc. Hit a pay wall where areas are locked out. The list goes on and on and on.

If the developers want money they will be facing me with EFT machine in hand and I will gladly pay $15 a month, but don't send me down the rapids in a canoe and tell me later that I need to buy a paddle when you kept telling me the ride was for free.

F2P is a bait and switch tactic, pure and simple.

Pull the other leg Mr Cousins, it plays jingle bells.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 11:09AM ntellect said

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@Azaetos
Thats the whole point. Some of us, like myself, dont like to level fast. I like the slow leveling. If you want to play a game with slow leveling and dont like it, then yes OPT to buy a level booster. I havent seen stat boosters so tell me which F2P game that is. I havent seen it in the ones I play (doesnt mean its not there).

From experience, the ones Ive seen who take full advantage of the cash shop end up having a super buff character but having not invested in the game, have no idea how to use them. I defeat them everytime in PVP. Yes, most F2P/MMO are stat based, but there are edges that are based on pure experience playing the game... even if its as simple as having a good skill rotation.

It sounds like you have never really invested in F2P and if so, not many at all. I dont deny your opinion about wasting your money every month on a game, but dont know the whole F2P model because you dont like it. Im not taking away the option for someone to P2P.. .in fact I encourage it.

You just end up wasting more money in P2P, which i am not a fan of.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 10:58AM AlienFanatic said

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I'm sure that most casino owners would say the same thing. When a business model relies heavily upon those that lack self-control, it's exploitive.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 11:15AM ntellect said

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@AlienFanatic
Casino's are not 'dependent on those who lack self-control' Casino's are dependent on people who like to play games and gamble. I see and have heard this argument countless times, and I am probably the minority, but you I dont feel you should denounce an industry for something that is an individual's responsiblity. One of the biggest issues I have with this country. Everybody feels they need to be hand-held and protected from themselves. Its idiotic. So I shouldnt drink alchol because some people are alcholics? To my previous post. Where does it stop? When are you responsible for you?
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 11:00AM (Unverified) said

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F2P model is like watching network TV, you can watch it for free but if you want to watch it without the commercials you'll have to pay (at least for most). I would not call this exploitative.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 12:02PM Amlin said

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Most f2p games I've played have been reasonable. Nexon's just been a bad example.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 12:45PM Deliverator said

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Any business that says it's doing something purely for the good of its customers is lying. There's more profit in F2P and if their income isn't spread evenly then some people are paying a hell of a lot more.

F2P is unique in that it makes the business model of the game an integral part of the game. Instead of adding more features to attract players they move features to the cash shop to attract buyers. The cash shops aren't full of "add-ons" they're full of things that could have been features.

Whatever, there's more gamers that will close their eyes when they hear the word "free" and not even stop to think about the larger impact on their game world.

Why has innovation stopped? Why do the new games suck? Why is there no longer a feeling of immersion in your worlds? What happened to crafting? Look around you - everyone who wants something for nothing with instant gratification has made the "choice" not to support those features.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 2:26PM ntellect said

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@Deliverator

Been preaching this for awhile. MMOs in my opinion have just begun to hit the mass consumer stage where games are made to accomodate everyone which essentially equals 'casual' (i.e. level fast, less challenge, more hand holding, etc). Exact same thing happened with Consoles. Back in the 80s I dare any hardcore gamer to beat the first 3 megamans :D They were brutal.

Taking graphics, and other evolutionary updates, out of the picture games today are pretty much casual interactive movies, with insta-saves, and with just enough customization to make it RPG lite. But it lacks the serious challenge. I shouldnt be able to beat a new game in around 8 hours.

Hoping some niche developers bring the challenge / sandbox format back. Eyes on Archeage and somewhat on GW2.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 2:59PM Deliverator said

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@ntellect
I agree - I don't even think it has to be a niche developer though. MMORPG players have always been niche. All that has happened now is that marketing got ahold of our label and its definition. Our community is in disarray - the community of those looking for a larger more challenging virtual world experience, I mean. We can now pick up a box with MMORPG written on the front and not really know that there is even a persistent world involved.

We'll get our games back when we get a label to rally around again so we can wave our little flag saying "hey look, there's a market here." I guess I look to the Independent Film Channel as an example. There's a huge market for more cerebral "films" that would be invisible on a forum about mass market blockbusters. It took them some time to regain that definition when Hollywood went all... well, Hollywood.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 3:25PM Deliverator said

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@ntellect
I have my eyes on Archeage too. I did on GW2 and may try it, but I'm ambivalent after they said
"But microtransactions were an afterthought in Guild Wars, whereas with Guild Wars 2, we had an opportunity to integrate the microtransaction system from the ground up" - to me that says "we can adjust the need for the cash shop on the fly"

Well, that and the leaked "treasure finding buff" - that's basically an innovative method for implementing drop boxes.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 12:47PM aurickle said

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Without knowing how much money is being spent per capita, it's impossible to really know whether one company is exploiting players compared to another. For example, we know that LotRO and DDO both became more profitable after switching to the freemium model, but is it because individual players are dropping more money? Or is it because that model attracted a significantly higher population which in turn boosted revenue even though the average player is actually spending less?

We just can't know because we don't know what the populations were before and after and we don't know the revenue figures. We just have no way to know what the revenue per player works out to. So we really can't know if the company is being exploitative.

However, there IS a valid argument to be made concerning f2p's exploitation. It just isn't the argument anyone seems to be making. If 95% of players aren't paying a dime, is it the company that's being exploitative? Or is it the players who aren't paying anything and are essentially freeloading? Yet even here, the counter argument is that the game has a higher population which means that the paying players aren't in a ghost town with nobody to interact with. And the paying players are also getting things that the non-payers aren't getting -- whether it be classes, content, cosmetic items or whatever.

I suspect that at the end of the day, a good number of people who voice hatred of the f2p system aren't really upset at all about a company supposedly taking advantage of "rich" players. In truth, they're upset that there really is no such thing as a free lunch, after all. They're upset that they're only getting served bread and water when someone else is eating steak -- never mind that they're not paying a dime and the other guy is spending $30 a plate. In short, it's envy. But because envy is something nobody wants to admit to, they're shifting the guilt to the company providing the game service

Food for thought.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 2:11PM ntellect said

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@aurickle
I agree exactly!
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 12:53PM Deliverator said

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"Exploitive" is a straw-man argument anyways.

Who's question is he responding to? I've never written about the model being exploitive and I don't think I've read an opinion piece that says F2P is.

It does, however, lead to games designed around a cash shop. It leads to the cutting of anything to do in these worlds besides combat. Look at the most popular line in the sand regarding cash shops - that there be no "game affecting" items. And we're OK with that? What we mean is that there aren't any "P2W" weapons or armor, but is that all these games are about? Combat? Doesn't competing with crafters affect gameplay? It does, just not the combat. I'm sorry, I want more in a virtual world - I want more play-styles held up by the community as "un-touchable" by the item shops. Any aspect of these games dealing with looks or style is currently P2W and you can't argue that.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 1:14PM aurickle said

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@Deliverator
I hear where you're coming from. From my point of view it depends on how you can buy the items.

Are the items in the store only available by paying cash? Or is there an in-game way to get the items as well via a reasonable amount of actual play?

This is essentially why I hate EQ2's freemium model and like LotRO's. The former locks a lot of items and only provides cash methods to unlock them. The latter locks a lot of items but also provides in-game methods to earn the points with which you can unlock them. But it also doesn't make the in-game methods so onerous that nobody will reasonably be expected to do it. (Unlike Allods' in-game method of getting a larger backpack, for example.)

Also, there is a fundamental item that prevents game developers from only catering to the store. That item is fun. If the game isn't fun, nobody is going to play it and nobody is going to spend money in the store for those cosmetic items or whatever. This means that the company MUST continue to evolve the game in order to keep players sticking around and having enough fun that a high enough percentage are willing to spend money.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 2:13PM Deliverator said

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@aurickle
I understand your point as well.

As a response to your last paragraph, IMHO the F2P model makes "fun" a balancing act instead of the primary objective of the devs. Ie - instead of "more fun" their objective is "enough fun"
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 1:44PM Space Cobra said

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I think F2P is fine and all, but it is the "future" and the "corporate suited bean-counters" you gotta watch out for.

The model Ben Cousins cites has opened some eyes and finally, some detractors who do not like F2P can't deny it, since more companies have joined the "F2P" movement.

But then, from what I see (and can correlate with other industries), "Greed" steps in. I can see company managers/presidents liking their "Whale customers", but wondering how they will get money from the other 95% potential base. Of course, they may get creative, perhaps sell their customer list to other companies and so forth, but they really start thinking, "How do we get money out of that untapped potential?"

I think that is the trend I see and that is what concerns many. We are starting to see "free services" being charged and locked off content. It probably is more acceptable in newer games, but harder to swallow in older games that turn F2P.

As an admitted "Whale", I am concerned about this. I, myself, am willing to pay for something like a new race (especially if no one else can play it), but that can bite me later on (ala Cryptic selling pre-order exclusives). I understand that, from a business point (and a player coming in later), but as a "unique snowflake", I sorta grumble at it.

At the end of the day, companies should consider the *value* of such services. I know the tricks: Price items high and when a sale comes, more people buy, but they really should offer discounted packages that have related things under one price along with the single items. And really, such companies need to keep working on their "goodwill" toward their player/fan-base. They need to throw in "free content" every once in awhile, either separate or along with new cash-shop items. If they can add in something nice for free with every new influx of cash-shop items, that's a good start.

But yeah...I am still concerned, whether I chose to buy/use an item or not, it shouldn't be over done. At the moment, "Lock Boxes" seem to be the "darling" of the movement and really, while some people can take/leave them, it's best if they were not even in the game to begin with. I seem to remember they got their start in some MMOs as "Mystery-Surprise Packages" that one could buy from the Cash-Shop and it would give you a random item: These were things players BOUGHT in the cash shop, not drops in-game. So, companies seem to move the "temptation" even further out. Lock Boxes are troubling and, frankly, I'd rather just BUY whatever RARE drop it is that they were selling instead of a *chance* to win it.

Posted: Mar 28th 2012 2:34PM Deliverator said

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@Space Cobra
"I'd rather just BUY whatever RARE drop it is that they were selling instead of a *chance* to win it."

But if you look at how much you spend on the lockboxes until you get your 'rare' item the price they could slap on it in the cash shop by itself pales in comparison.

Also, the relative 'rarity' of the item is decided by the needs of the cash shop, not the environment of the game world.

I don't think there is a legal definition for the term "random" as it applies to random drop boxes either. So there's nothing to stop them from grouping the drop box randomization - for example, every 5 boxes have a chance for a blue item, but the purples don't kick in until the "reserve" of 11 dropboxes is met. They have full leeway to "keep you feeling lucky" and string gamers along. Then study the results, try it again and optimize the formula.

These games are operating like a casino without legal restrictions filled with fully programmable slot machines refining a Pavlov theory. We're not the players anymore, we're the game. In more ways then one.
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