Evolve or Die

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Evolve or Die

The "free-to-play" subscription model may be the MMO genre's best hope for survival in a post-WoW landscape.

Read Full Article

Well, the F2P used by Conan/WoW/etc essentially makes the low levels an unlimited demo. Which is just fine. Not sure how that will transition into Firefall, which is more a shooter with a marketplace (and quite how a marketplace will fit in to the game remains to be seen).

I'm surprised no mention of Guild Wars in that article - its model is "Buy Once, Play All You Like", with separate expansions. Which is a much better model, as it pushes the company to make better content rather than content you'll want to buy that will just keep you playing.

suggestion... the whole game is free to download free to play free to go anywhere and see anything... but its 10cents for every ammo clip you buy in game xD

How Guild Wars does it is the way forward in my opinion.

You just pay for the disks, the actual game itself just like any other game and that's it.

No sub fee, no "unlimited" demo just simple.

Hmm... This game sounds neat. Maybe I'll give it a shot. Maybe after I give it a shot, I'll toss a little money their way.

Also, "Evolve or die" makes me think of the Warp Spider Exarch in DoW2, since he's constantly saying it. (And I play as him constantly :D)

How about they try making MMO's that are actually games?

Interesting article.

I'll note a few things here though. The subscription based model of MMO gaming is effective, typically, because it holds true to how MMO gaming works. Developers get a constant, reliable revenue stream, and gamers get regular updates to their favorite title. The only reason nobody can pull it off anymore is because gamers typically only subscribe to one MMO title at a time, and WoW is holding the Lion's share (See: almost all) of the gamers who are in that demographic. Free to play games allow subscription holders to play a game as a break from WoW (at least originally, they may eventually go to it altogether), without feeling like they're locking themselves into the game with a subscription.

Both models have their pluses and minuses. It usually comes down to a couple of big points for each. For subscription based models, you need to make sure players feel satisfied that they're getting their moneys worth with updates and reliable service. With F2P games, you need to make sure that you offer the right amount of free content, and carefully select the paid content. That last one can't be stressed enough. If you start selling something that the community takes exception to (usually power items, or anything that takes excessively long to procure), your game will instantly be demonized by the community (I'm looking at you, EVE!)

In the end, I don't think either model is better or worse than the other, they're just appropriate for different games in different circumstances. In terms of A-Quality games as free to play, well, there's not really alot of other options at this point. Without getting into careful measurements about it, WoW is a good game, but it has much more than that going for it. Its got 10 million plus players who have friends and history on the game. Not only is WoW a really good title with lots of time, experience and developers behind it, Its a title that people are grounded in. Its where their communities are. It is incredibly unwise to try to compete directly with it at this juncture. Give it time, and watch it. Based on how good of a job the developers do, time will eventually erode the game, both by limited graphics, and from players tiring of it (this is incredibly dependent on how good the developers do with newer content).

Well, that's enough text walling for one post.

SovietPanda:
suggestion... the whole game is free to download free to play free to go anywhere and see anything... but its 10cents for every ammo clip you buy in game xD

More like... All heavy weapon ammo and special ammo like anti-armor etc. rounds is bought for an in-game currency that can only be purchased for real money. Something not too offensive.

anyhow, there is 1 important thing F2P game needs to succeed: it must be GOOD. A lot of people make shit F2P games and of course they fail.

Being of comparable quality to WoW while not being a re-skinned copy is MMOs best hope. If MMOs can do that, people would pay the subscription fee.

Show me an MMO that is of comparable polish, scope, artistic design, and refinement of gameplay to WoW and if despite all of that it doesn't do very well in terms of sales, then we can talk about MMOs *having* to use the F2P model.

But until we move away from the attitude that "hey, look, I'm an MMO, so I should be making billions over billions of dollars like WoW did," until publishers and developers move away from that attitude and understand there is a considerable difference in quality between WoW and all the others, we'll end of with strings of half-baked efforts and direct ripoffs that aren't particularly fun, at any price.

Definitely in agreement that Guild Wars model of "pretty much how most games work" is pretty damn good. I bought that game first day it came out, I even remember riding my bike after scrounging up the money for it all the way up to my local Gamestop. Never regretted it.

Their cash shop is also more than fair, and rather convenient. If you want to focus on PvP only, then buy the pvp client which comes with free unlocks. If you want instant access to skills from the other expansions, you pay a small bit of cash compared to their actual price to get them, or you just unlock em as normal through the game.
And, even if you bought these skill packs and have the PvE client, you still have to buy the skills in-game, through using skill points and elite tomes, so the morons out there who try to say you are buying power clearly don't know what they are talking about.

And I'll say this. WoW doesn't make all of its money because its the king, or at least a good king. The current programmers working on the game are all b-c list newbies with no prior experience to the game's archaic code, all the big and original devs are working on Titan. It's "king" because of peer pressure essentially, "All my friends are playing it so I might as well". After one expansion's worth of raids I was bored as hell, and instead of looking forward to Cataclysm, I asked myself "why bother?". It doesn't help that a game 10mill+ strong will have the greatest concentration of dickwads and gearscore-obsessed tweens who will bitch you out of a raid just because you are a few points below what they think is the "minimum", and only roll with those higher than his score (guess whose score is the minimum).

I must be old, I perfer a set payment to get everything rather than having half a game with a pay-to-win store

Great article. I honestly don't blame companies for using the F2P model (considering how lucrative it is), but I really don't think it's what's best for the consumer. F2P games often times have overpopulated and dreadful communities due to its ease of access. I'd prefer MMO's use the Guild Wars model, but I highly doubt that's nearly as profitable.

I like free to play I get a very large demo that last several hours and then I can decide how much I want to give the game paying only when I feel like playing. Yeah some games do over charge on the free to play stuff and you end up paying a hundred dollars by the end of the year but World of Warcraft costs about $180 a year.

I think the bottom line is greed. It's not just about running a successful game that is making money, but a matter of the degree of success. People look at the industry leaders and figure "if we can't match that, we're failing". It's increasingly like that with all generes.

The microtransaction model is increasingly popular because it has more potential to make money, since if it's implemented correctly the company can make more than the $15 a month people pay for subscriptions. No matter how they dress it up with analogies to school and college, the bottom line is that it turns into a "pay to win" situation as anyone willing to pay for the advantages to begin with is liable to be willing to put in the effort. With two players putting in equal effort, the one who winds up spending the most money is going to wind up ahead.

I don't think it's an "evolve or die" thing as much as it is greed. A lot of people supporting the model want all games to go to a similar model, due to the large numbers of gamers who will only play subscription based games in the core market in the US. You see a LOT of comments about this in various games out there, and I think the guys running microtransaction based games tend to overlook all the people who DON'T go to their game due to the microtransactions, or just figure "I'll stick with WoW, thanks".

It's also an important thing to note that the games that became successful in the US off the microtransaction model, are also games that had a substantial built in fan base to begin with. It's impossible to overlook that "Lord Of The Rings", "Dungeons and Dragons", "Warhammer" and even "Champions" were storied properties before the MMOs. Lord Of The Rings is a REALLY popular world setting, and Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer have defined entire generes of non-computer gaming and carried the publication of entire novel series. "Champions" seems to be the loser of the group (though still going) though again, that's another property that has a huge built in fan base... how many books for the Champions RPG were published? Think about it. All of those games have people that are going to keep paying whatever it takes BECAUSE of what the games are about. The guy who constantly re-read things like "Guardians Of The Flame" and the "Gameearth" series and wished they could live in a D&D game can live out that fantasy to some extent with DDO for example. This kind of established/captive/addicted audience can't be discredited, as it's ripe for exploitation, which is something a lot of companies have figured out in other arenas in the past.

When it comes to the Asian games, understand also that the whole situation down there is a lot differant, a lot has been written about it. The pricing is differant, and the goverment is heavily involved in controlling who can do what with games. What's more ownership of personal computers is something that has been increasing, but the business model being looked at was based around people paying for access to games in Bangs (Asian Internet gaming cafes). See, a guy in Asia who doesn't own a computer, and can't login every day, is going to find paying a membership fee kind of pointless... he CAN however maintain a game account and login to it whenever he goes to a Cafe running the game and using his password, and perks attached to his character are something he can ultimatly keep, and a way for these games to make money. I think a lot of people looking at the microtransaction system tend to overlook how this kind of thing evolved, and also the changing face of Asian gaming (which there have been articles about) and how it's going to have to evolve with the population... and of course how things like the way the internet and international business is limited and so on influance communication technologies there.

There are plenty of free to play games making a bunch of money, however I think a lot of companies that can keep a bit of a reign on their short term greed realize that this kind of system is simply a fad, and what's more the very thing that makes it profitable... some idiot paying real money for a virtual item, is not something a lot of people are going to do. What's more it represents a barrier to bringing in new people and expanding the market because someone who has never gamed online is going to rightfully say "I am not going to play a game that requires me to pay constantly to succeed", and MMOs will go from a slow growth to no growth.

Understand also that like it or not there is a certain degree of intelligence and dedication involved in playing ANY real MMORPG type game. Far more than a browser based game like say "Farmville". The people exploited by that kind of model, are pretty much stuck in that cosm of gaming, getting those people to say transition from "I'm going to click on my sheep" to say leveling up characters, engaging in competitive PVP, and optimizing gear, while performing combat operations on the level of military drills (raids), pretty much isn't going to happen. Sure, MMOs *are* being dumbed down, but at the same time there is a certain "floor" they really can't go below while retaining their distinct identity from things like browser based Facebook games.

These are my thoughts, it's about greed as opposed to evolution, and truthfully I don't think it's a sustainable trend. I think Asia is slow to change, but as you see more and more personal computers (which are already affecting the bangs) and changes to the mentality of people there involving gaming, the microtransaction system is going to die... albiet it's going to be slow, and nasty, because it's so heavily entrenched. Trying to root that system in markets like the US might appeal to some very greedy people, and succeed to some extent, but I don't think it has quite the same chance of becoming what some people want it to be due to the differances in the market and what it's going to do to the long term growth of the industry.

As a final note for those that read this far, I will say that I think one of the problems with MMO development right now is that the genere became popular with publishers because they figured that for the same general amount of effort as making a decent hundred hour single player RPG, they could use those maps and game engines... and a similar amount of effort for a persistant world, and make the box sales plus membership fees and then be able to go swimming in giant bins full of money. For a while this was true... but then certain companies started raising the bar and taking an attitude about designing MMOs for MMOs, optimizing them for that enviroment to a huge degree, and putting in enough content to sustain them. As this happened the quality rose, and with it the cost to develop at that area. It got to the point where someone couldn't poop out a game for a few million and charge a membership fee. It went from a few million to tens of millions to even consider it, and as the established games get bigger the price is getting into the hundreds of millions.... with that development fee of course comes an increasingly long term view being required, with publishers needing to wait years potentially to see returns... long term investments being less popular than what was seen as a short term, high return investment. The free to play model *IS* a potential refuge for those short term return games, that are now B and C grade even if just 6 years ago they might have been considered something impressive.

All told, I'm perfectly cool with fewer, higher quality, subscription based games.

... also as I pointed out above, the decent microtransaction games in the US are generally speaking those with big liscences which came with substantial fan bases attached to those liscences before the games were even conceived of. I'm sure there is an exception somewhere, but that is the general rule, and it's not something that can be overlooked.

Thanks to those who read this far.

Really good article. I agree that what current companies (especially turbine) are doing is NOT free to play.

I played TONS of free to play games in the past. Rappelz, Mapple Story, Space Cowboy Online, Upshift, Last Chaos, and to many more to even remember. The one thing they all had in common was that no content was restricted from me even though I had not paid any money. I had access to the entire grind-tastic game.

With Lord of the Rings Online by comparison you run out of stuff to do around level 25-30. Yes you can get the new zones without paying any money thanks to the fact that you get their fake money as in game rewards. But the only way to get enough is to grind EVERYTHING on two characters!

Another problem is that without rested EXP someone with it, will out level you like crazy. A friend of mine ran with me till he hit level 33 as a free player. When he hit 33, I was 37(almost 38) just because I had rested EXP. That fact has made it hard for my friends to continue playing with me.

Furthermore restrict bag space, storage space, and having gold caps in only going to frustrate players, not entice them to spend real world money.

I really hope this works, I think it will come out at the perfect time too. Lord or the Rings online has already began to change the free=bad idea, Team Fortress 2 has gone free to play and Valve are planning to move to free-to-play in a big way. It will be out soon enough to be swamped with competition and late enough to be riding the wave of momentum the free to play idea has

When I tried WoW, my user experience was almost entirely defined by obnoxious encounters with complete idiots. Disgusted, I quit the game after a month and vowed to never go back.

Then, last year, Lord of the Rings Online went "free to play", and I decided to give it a try. "It's free," I figured. "What do I have to lose?" I loved the game, and moreover found that most of the other players I met in-game were much more mature and worth talking to than the players I met in WoW. (I also feel that the story, gameplay, and art are all vastly superior to WoW.) Based on this positive experience, I decided to upgrade to a subscription. In my case, it wasn't about wanting better hats (or whatever); a VIP subscription to LOTRO opens up all the areas, all the content, etc., and I couldn't resist the urge to explore the entire world. Almost a year later, I'm still playing, and I expect to keep giving them my money every month for some time to come.

My point here is that the free-to-play model creates an entry point for players like me: people who aren't sure if they want to play an MMO, or people who played a terrible MMO before and were turned off by it. Free-to-play gives us a way to try the game without fear of wasting our limited free time and entertainment budget on something stupid.

However, I don't think I would have continued with LOTRO if I had been faced with endless micro-transactions. Upgrading to VIP gave me access to everything I wanted (that is, all the maps and quest content), and while I can always choose to spend money to buy even more in-game upgrades, I don't have to.

I have heard literally nothing about Firefall until reading this. Now I'm really intrigued, I'll be keeping my eye out.

Interesting, I was just glancing over an article linked on Slashdot called The Hidden Evil of the Microtransaction.

Sadly, I have a hard time reading these articles because I just keep thinking about Smurfberries. It's distracting.

Not a single word in this article about Guild Wars / GW2 and its B2P model? I'm disappointed.

In my ideal scenario, MMO developers all switch to employing the Guild Wars model, where you buy the game once and then you have the game. It appeals to our need for "ownership" in a way that a subscription-based title never can, in that no matter whether you downloaded the client for free originally or paid full retail prices for it, if you ever stop paying a subscription fee you don't have the game anymore; if I subscribe to a magazine at least I still have the magazines I've already received when I eventually cancel my subscription. In lieu of that the current F2P trend is a far preferable alternative to traditional subscription-based MMOs.

People's inability or unwillingness to justify treating games as a service like their internet connections is why the new wave of games going F2P have seen so much success - folks like me who won't even contemplate subscribing have no particular hang-up about dropping $10 here or there on content unlocks or the like, because the context has changed. It may be that subscribing rather than purchasing content smorgasbord style is actually more cost effective, in the short term at least, and that we're actually spending more money than we would be if we were simply subscribers.

And that's because the money isn't actually what's important, although it's definitely a contributing factor - what's important is the sense of permanence and ownership one derives from the act of paying for something and then having it, with no additional fees looming on the horizon, or the threat that if you ever stop paying those fees it will disappear; because we didn't have to, we're happy to. I don't abstain from subscription-based MMOs because I'm cheap after all, I don't play them for the same reason I would never partake in a game rental service - games are products, not commodities. When it comes to products, I have this ingrained need to own them, it's the reason I'd much rather purchase books than rely on libraries to access them, even if I could do so effectively for free.

As annoying as I find being "nickle and dimed" to be, when you divorce subscription fees from the equation you've already done the lion's share of the work needed to get folks like me on board - the Guild Wars model is the ideal, but I'm honestly fine with even the "flawed" F2P implementations we see now. And if this trend means the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 MMO doesn't expect me to shell out a subscription fee, all the better!

A note on Age of Conan: Obviously I have only anecdotal evidence available to me, but I got invited to a fairly large and active guild on like my second day of playing it (out of maybe a week altogether so far), and a theme I'm seeing constantly is folks either musing about upgrading to "premium" (aka, subscribing), asking other people if it's worth it, or doing so and then encouraging those on the fence to do likewise. If my experience is in any way applicable on a larger scale, it looks like their lowering the initial bar to entry is generating just a ton of new subscribers, along with folks like me who won't ever subscribe but will probably pay to unlock some stuff at some point down the line (unlike the last F2P title I played, DDO, Age of Conan has rather a lot of content available to the F2P users that I haven't even begun to exhaust, so there's no sense that vast swathes of content was cut out and is now sitting behind a pay gate; my impression might change later of course, but for now there is plenty to do for $0).

In my 20+ years of gaming.. I've never touched an MMO. My main reasoning was that I thought paying a monthly fee for a game after paying the initial $50 to own it was just lame. And no MMO looked good enough for me to sink that kind of money into, when there were plenty of other games our there that didn't require monthly fees.

... also, I prefer single player anyway :/

I think the F2P model is better than the monthly fee... but as most people have already pointed out... The Guild Wars model looks like the best option.

.. As a Bioware fan, I will likely get into TOR... which I expect to be a monthly fee... which makes me feel like an ass.

My only problem with a F2P system is that, in my experience, it always feels like those who don't pay are essentially treated as second class citizens. Take Runescape for example; the game takes every opportunity it has to try and talk you into paying.

Zeetchmen:
I must be old, I perfer a set payment to get everything rather than having half a game with a pay-to-win store

No that is actually a natural reaction to badly implemented F2P models. Go watch the current Extra Credits episode they detail on how microtransactions and F2P should be done. Also mad props to Mark Kern, I am adding Firefall to my MMO purchase list.

Greg Tito:
Evolve or Die

The "free-to-play" subscription model may be the MMO genre's best hope for survival in a post-WoW landscape.

Read Full Article

Interestingly, it's also a self-researching model. Watch what people are buying, and you now know what works (or what doesn't). You don't get feedback that accurate from reading forum posts, usually representative of a loud minority of your playerbase (the majority of which is too busy playing to patrol the forums, most of the time).

The key to good long-range decisions is constant (and honest) feedback. In the subscription model, you're hearing from your players only once a month (at the most). And when you do get a "downvote," in the form of a lost subscription, who knows what caused it? It's been an entire month, and a lot of changes were made--which one set them off?

A model with a shorter cycle on feedback is just plain better from a development standpoint, in a lot of ways. This is outside the fact that it's better for the customer.

Therumancer:
*snip* for post size.

Well, as the other fellow "monster analytical poster" on the board, I feel obligated to respond with "thanks for the good read".

Onto discussion...
You describe what I've tentatively called the cost:content ratio in the past (which I must since there's no "official" term for it beyond the most vague and generic definition of "Value").

Free-to-play+Microtransaction Models thrive on gullibility and what can only be described as a warped form of "Protection-Racket". Instead of protection, you sell "time" and "convenience".
As time goes on, the Cost:Content ratio for any given content will skew in favor of the developer; this is because past benefits lose their value in comparison to new content (which in MMORPGs, is the *sole* motivator for grind by the player).

Outmoding features/equipment in favor of functionally identical (but better versions to scale with the game) provides the illusion of progress.
The only difference is in the payment plan:
-WoW charges a flat rate of 15 bucks per month.
-F2P MMOs charge per feature, with the total being potentially greater/less than 15 bucks (usually greater; it's easy to get people to spend 5 bucks on a whim unless they're aware of this racket).

There's a much lighter example of this process in a game I actually play today: League of Legends.

When DotA2 launches in retail, I will actually have a firm basis for comparison between the models.

DDO did everything right IMO

A long term trial, the option to either buy or rent content. And a subscription model with perks for the people who prefer all-you-can-eat.

I would never have tried the game unless it was totally free to play but I think I spent $150 on it since launch.

---------------

The opposite was Allods online which is basically a WoW clone. It is really polished, great fun, but ultimately the transaction model broke. They sold "power ups" in the store which a few people bought. But one day a patch change nerfed everyone and the power up brought them back to normal. They lost most of their players and never recovered.

---------------

What is funny is I started playing WoW again because they gave me 7 free days. Then after those ran out I activated the 10 day wrath of the lich king trial. So if they still hold me after 7 days they will have another subscriber again.

Therumancer:
I think the bottom line is greed. It's not just about running a successful game that is making money, but a matter of the degree of success. People look at the industry leaders and figure "if we can't match that, we're failing". It's increasingly like that with all generes.

The microtransaction model is increasingly popular because it has more potential to make money, since if it's implemented correctly the company can make more than the $15 a month people pay for subscriptions. No matter how they dress it up with analogies to school and college, the bottom line is that it turns into a "pay to win" situation as anyone willing to pay for the advantages to begin with is liable to be willing to put in the effort. With two players putting in equal effort, the one who winds up spending the most money is going to wind up ahead.

I don't think it's an "evolve or die" thing as much as it is greed. A lot of people supporting the model want all games to go to a similar model, due to the large numbers of gamers who will only play subscription based games in the core market in the US. You see a LOT of comments about this in various games out there, and I think the guys running microtransaction based games tend to overlook all the people who DON'T go to their game due to the microtransactions, or just figure "I'll stick with WoW, thanks".

It's also an important thing to note that the games that became successful in the US off the microtransaction model, are also games that had a substantial built in fan base to begin with. It's impossible to overlook that "Lord Of The Rings", "Dungeons and Dragons", "Warhammer" and even "Champions" were storied properties before the MMOs. Lord Of The Rings is a REALLY popular world setting, and Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer have defined entire generes of non-computer gaming and carried the publication of entire novel series. "Champions" seems to be the loser of the group (though still going) though again, that's another property that has a huge built in fan base... how many books for the Champions RPG were published? Think about it. All of those games have people that are going to keep paying whatever it takes BECAUSE of what the games are about. The guy who constantly re-read things like "Guardians Of The Flame" and the "Gameearth" series and wished they could live in a D&D game can live out that fantasy to some extent with DDO for example. This kind of established/captive/addicted audience can't be discredited, as it's ripe for exploitation, which is something a lot of companies have figured out in other arenas in the past.

When it comes to the Asian games, understand also that the whole situation down there is a lot differant, a lot has been written about it. The pricing is differant, and the goverment is heavily involved in controlling who can do what with games. What's more ownership of personal computers is something that has been increasing, but the business model being looked at was based around people paying for access to games in Bangs (Asian Internet gaming cafes). See, a guy in Asia who doesn't own a computer, and can't login every day, is going to find paying a membership fee kind of pointless... he CAN however maintain a game account and login to it whenever he goes to a Cafe running the game and using his password, and perks attached to his character are something he can ultimatly keep, and a way for these games to make money. I think a lot of people looking at the microtransaction system tend to overlook how this kind of thing evolved, and also the changing face of Asian gaming (which there have been articles about) and how it's going to have to evolve with the population... and of course how things like the way the internet and international business is limited and so on influance communication technologies there.

There are plenty of free to play games making a bunch of money, however I think a lot of companies that can keep a bit of a reign on their short term greed realize that this kind of system is simply a fad, and what's more the very thing that makes it profitable... some idiot paying real money for a virtual item, is not something a lot of people are going to do. What's more it represents a barrier to bringing in new people and expanding the market because someone who has never gamed online is going to rightfully say "I am not going to play a game that requires me to pay constantly to succeed", and MMOs will go from a slow growth to no growth.

Understand also that like it or not there is a certain degree of intelligence and dedication involved in playing ANY real MMORPG type game. Far more than a browser based game like say "Farmville". The people exploited by that kind of model, are pretty much stuck in that cosm of gaming, getting those people to say transition from "I'm going to click on my sheep" to say leveling up characters, engaging in competitive PVP, and optimizing gear, while performing combat operations on the level of military drills (raids), pretty much isn't going to happen. Sure, MMOs *are* being dumbed down, but at the same time there is a certain "floor" they really can't go below while retaining their distinct identity from things like browser based Facebook games.

These are my thoughts, it's about greed as opposed to evolution, and truthfully I don't think it's a sustainable trend. I think Asia is slow to change, but as you see more and more personal computers (which are already affecting the bangs) and changes to the mentality of people there involving gaming, the microtransaction system is going to die... albiet it's going to be slow, and nasty, because it's so heavily entrenched. Trying to root that system in markets like the US might appeal to some very greedy people, and succeed to some extent, but I don't think it has quite the same chance of becoming what some people want it to be due to the differances in the market and what it's going to do to the long term growth of the industry.

As a final note for those that read this far, I will say that I think one of the problems with MMO development right now is that the genere became popular with publishers because they figured that for the same general amount of effort as making a decent hundred hour single player RPG, they could use those maps and game engines... and a similar amount of effort for a persistant world, and make the box sales plus membership fees and then be able to go swimming in giant bins full of money. For a while this was true... but then certain companies started raising the bar and taking an attitude about designing MMOs for MMOs, optimizing them for that enviroment to a huge degree, and putting in enough content to sustain them. As this happened the quality rose, and with it the cost to develop at that area. It got to the point where someone couldn't poop out a game for a few million and charge a membership fee. It went from a few million to tens of millions to even consider it, and as the established games get bigger the price is getting into the hundreds of millions.... with that development fee of course comes an increasingly long term view being required, with publishers needing to wait years potentially to see returns... long term investments being less popular than what was seen as a short term, high return investment. The free to play model *IS* a potential refuge for those short term return games, that are now B and C grade even if just 6 years ago they might have been considered something impressive.

All told, I'm perfectly cool with fewer, higher quality, subscription based games.

... also as I pointed out above, the decent microtransaction games in the US are generally speaking those with big liscences which came with substantial fan bases attached to those liscences before the games were even conceived of. I'm sure there is an exception somewhere, but that is the general rule, and it's not something that can be overlooked.

Thanks to those who read this far.

In my opinion, that post should be added at the end of that article by the Escapist RIGHT NOW. That was a damn good post, and addressed well... pretty much everything. I am not an MMO person myself, but to me the idea of pay upfront for the month, and get whatever the hell you can in that time works for the Western World, and it puts everyone on the same level, if you can afford that upfront for the month price, you can be the best and most well armed / skilled / armoured player for miles without spending an extra cent. But having to pay to succeed?! That is just... a gross display of greed on the part of the devs and publishers.

But again, Damn good and well thought out post :)

Atmos Duality:

Therumancer:
*snip* for post size.

Well, as the other fellow "monster analytical poster" on the board, I feel obligated to respond with "thanks for the good read".

Onto discussion...
You describe what I've tentatively called the cost:content ratio in the past (which I must since there's no "official" term for it beyond the most vague and generic definition of "Value").

Free-to-play+Microtransaction Models thrive on gullibility and what can only be described as a warped form of "Protection-Racket". Instead of protection, you sell "time" and "convenience".
As time goes on, the Cost:Content ratio for any given content will skew in favor of the developer; this is because past benefits lose their value in comparison to new content (which in MMORPGs, is the *sole* motivator for grind by the player).

Outmoding features/equipment in favor of functionally identical (but better versions to scale with the game) provides the illusion of progress.
The only difference is in the payment plan:
-WoW charges a flat rate of 15 bucks per month.
-F2P MMOs charge per feature, with the total being potentially greater/less than 15 bucks (usually greater; it's easy to get people to spend 5 bucks on a whim unless they're aware of this racket).

There's a much lighter example of this process in a game I actually play today: League of Legends.

When DotA2 launches in retail, I will actually have a firm basis for comparison between the models.

I wouldn't necessarily say that Riot's process of releasing new champions for RP/IP can truly be considered "rackeetering". Yes, the people with RP are likely to receive the newer champions first, however, this does not exactly allow them to buy an advantage over the non-paying players. The new champions are not all overpowered (look at Renekton, Caitlynn and Maokai). Some of them do start off at high power or skill levels, but none of them, not even Vayne or Leona are unbeatable. The fact that they are new means that players have to adapt to their skills. Most people in the lower part of the community can't do that very quickly. The lower to mid parts of the community are also large and quite vocal, thus leading to complaints of overpoweredness and unfairness.

I've never really seen it that way. Riot allows players to most or all of the content with a series of time, skill and dedication. They also allow people to pay for said content, but this is the same exact content a non-paying player can access. There is no real way a paying player can have an advantage over a non-paying one (except skins. We all know that skins means that you are super-pro.)In reality, there is no real way to "buy power" in League of Legends. The main source of this comes from runes. Runes are IP only for this sole reason.

If you want to see an imbalanced variant of this, look at a few of the Nexon games, namely maplestory. The use of "Nexon cash" or "NX" has been corrupted beyond it's original intention. People can use this NX to illegally expand their wealth by abusing the game's already-poor economy. These methods are used by hackers and paying players alike. The main result ends up creating a massive gap between the rich, high power players and the poor normal players. This gap has become so wide that the only way a player can hope to achieve a high-power status and unlock the full potential of end-game content is to, essentially, cheat (Or move to a new world where the virtual, in-game cash has not deflated to such a pitiful level). The company's response to this has been minimal at best, seeing as this has only increased their profit. Similar processes of buying power are begin to occur in their other games as well, such as vindictus' sidegrade system. All of the content above the 5th episode caps out at level 61. The content gets progressively more difficult, and the equipment offered in these high difficulty raids are just as good, or worse than equipment that can be acquired from a boat 3 episodes lower. This leads players needing enhancements runes to meet the gear requirement necessary to progress. While this instance is not nearly as bad as the one in maplestory, seeing as a player of a high skill level can manage to hold their own in the endgame without the fancy enhancements, it is still showing signs, or reinforcing existing ones, of a problem with the F2P model of this company, and displaying an incorrect variant of the F2P models for others to see.

Looking at the picture at the top of the article I find myself noticing something. That womans ass is totally exposed. Interesting choice armor engineers.

I think the reason why games like LOTRO, DDO and AoC are seeing success when going f2p is that these games weren't that great and people don't want to have to pat a subscription to a game that's inferior. subscription games have to be equal in quality and content to their competitors, so in essence, they have to be either better or as good as, WoW. None of the current f2p games can claim that. The real question is, did anyone expect these games to be as good as WoW? Blizzard is the only triple A dev currently with an MMO released. I know this shouldn't be an issue and in other genres being an indie dev or a triple A one doesn't matter, but in MMOs it does. Things like the size of zones, the amount of loading screens, the amount of content, how big the world is, the quest design, are all related to how much money and how much effort the designers put into the game. Which is why i expect SW:TOR to be the only MMO to compete with WoW for top dog, because from what I've seen, they do a lot of the stuff Blizzard is doing, only better.

jcb1337:

I wouldn't necessarily say that Riot's process of releasing new champions for RP/IP can truly be considered "rackeetering". Yes, the people with RP are likely to receive the newer champions first, however, this does not exactly allow them to buy an advantage over the non-paying players.

I disagree. Reasoning inbound.

The new champions are not all overpowered (look at Renekton, Caitlynn and Maokai). Some of them do start off at high power or skill levels, but none of them, not even Vayne or Leona are unbeatable.

I never once said they were unbeatable.
Overpowered does not automatically equate to "unbeatable" (though it does in reverse due to gradient-logic); it just means that the other players have to work harder to win.

You say the new champ is harder to play? It's also harder to counter by the same logic; familiarity swings both ways (to noone's surprise that's exactly what happened just after Vayne was released; even in high-ELO).

Think about it this way: If people hear that new Champ X is overpowered, people will feel far more inclined to purchasing that champ immediately before the nerf stick is applied. Unless you happen to have 6300 IP sitting around for every time this happens, you need to break out the pocketbook.

Riot can even sprinkle a few lesser champs into the mix and people would still buy them based on that assumption alone, if proven correct for long enough.
It's smart business strategy.

That said, I'll admit this is all supposition on my part, but fuck me if Riot doesn't keep doing this on purpose. "Overpower now, nerf later" seems to be the way things work.

The fact that they are new means that players have to adapt to their skills. Most people in the lower part of the community can't do that very quickly. The lower to mid parts of the community are also large and quite vocal, thus leading to complaints of overpoweredness and unfairness.

The only valid argument I've heard on the subject, yet this doesn't keep mistakes like Vayne (who has a skill that scales with the game and has a very weak drawback) from happening.
Though I do admit that too many people exaggerate their complaints about certain champs being broken (they sawed Gangplank's balls off a few months back, and now that they buffed him back up to close to where he was before, he's apparently OP now...what the fuck?).

I've never really seen it that way. Riot allows players to most or all of the content with a series of time, skill and dedication.

In other words: LoL does precisely what a free-to-play MMO will do, but to a lesser degree, which was exactly my point to begin with.
They dump a ton of grind directly onto the player's head, but offer a convenient way out of that grind...if they're willing to pony up some cash.
Their emphasis on only releasing champs at the 4800 IP and 6300 IP mark proves this.

As mentioned before, while LoL provides a similar model, they don't exploit it to the Nth degree like most MMORPGs do (as you have said). There could be FAR more abuse slung about than there is, and I will admit that freely.

That said, I have an axe to grind with MMORPGs...especially F2P MMOs with their "Pretend-benevolence" of offering a "free game". And that is more directly related to this topic than LoL...

Now, the argument I see commonly see in favor of F2P-MMORPGs is that you "only pay for what you need, you don't pay for all the content you never use", and this argument is flawed from the very beginning because most of what is missing is something that you would consider critical (a common example: having an adequate sized inventory/bank) for playing the game in the first place.
"I buy power" falls into its own league of bullshit, and is the absolute WORST way to provide content in any game where people compete, but I won't even get into a game with that sort of problem if they're already charging money for absolute necessities.
At that point, you might as well charge a subscription fee.

If you want to see an imbalanced variant of this, look at a few of the Nexon games, namely maplestory.

Oh fuck Nexon. Fuck them sideways with a garden rake.
It took me years to convince one of my friends why I couldn't do MMORPGs with him anymore, and Nexon is a big part of that equation.

Here's why MMORPGs sell the socialization gig as hard as they can (when they can): Why fuck around grinding your brains out when you can drag other/new customers your friends into grinding with you?
It's sickening how they exploit such things for money...

Just gotta say: Project 10 dollar & $15 map packs are a bad thing, very bad.

I realise it might ruin the immersion in something like world of warcraft but in the old republic, for example, selling advertising space in game could be a massive money maker. Especially in central hub areas where literally millions of people will be passing through. Where can you put a billboard in the real world that will get that much exposure?
Or entire space stations sponsored by companies. It would certainly reduce their need to charge subscribers.

animehermit:
I think the reason why games like LOTRO, DDO and AoC are seeing success when going f2p is that these games weren't that great and people don't want to have to pat a subscription to a game that's inferior. subscription games have to be equal in quality and content to their competitors, so in essence, they have to be either better or as good as, WoW. None of the current f2p games can claim that. The real question is, did anyone expect these games to be as good as WoW? Blizzard is the only triple A dev currently with an MMO released. I know this shouldn't be an issue and in other genres being an indie dev or a triple A one doesn't matter, but in MMOs it does. Things like the size of zones, the amount of loading screens, the amount of content, how big the world is, the quest design, are all related to how much money and how much effort the designers put into the game. Which is why i expect SW:TOR to be the only MMO to compete with WoW for top dog, because from what I've seen, they do a lot of the stuff Blizzard is doing, only better.

BioWare really hasn't impressed me as a developer. So far, the only game I have played and enjoyed was Mass Effect, and likely Mass Effect 2. The trailers for their new MMO look more or less like a Jedi skin for WoW. The biggest draw, the voice acting, was something I really don't like in most games, especially MMO's. Blizzard does it to a small level and, except for cut scenes it just annoys me. If you don't like the way they made certain races sound, and you happen to play one of those races, it just becomes a whole new level of annoyance.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here