Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On the Subject of F2P Games and Microtransactions

A few years back I was sitting at the computer bull shiting with a friend on what we could play togather, being whole continents apart the amount of things we can play are very limited. For while we tried "free to play mmos" because it was something we all could run, worked fun over long distances (ie latancy doesn't really hurt a non realtime game as badly) and once more we THOUGHT it would be cheap to play.

Boy were we ever wrong.

Over the years we played many "Free to play" games.

Trickster Online
Atlantica Online

And all of them disappointed, but not in the way you'd expect. The games themselves were very fun and engaging. confused? What could possibly be wrong you ask? well the problem was quite simple. There never was never an end to the spending you were required to get the full game out of a "free game".

Starting with the first game we played, Trickster Online. the game was innocent enough at first. cash only got you some grinding boosts and better drills. (The gimmick of trickster was you could drill anywhere for resources to help your game) nothing too bad, then refining came in where you could quite literally gamble your gear to make it more powerful. now the feature was free to use, but it costed money if it fucked up. sounds fair right? and in the beginning it was, then slowly people noted he failed more and more often. The company in charge of the game dismissed that this was all in people's heads, but it was very obvious they had changed the formula to be very unfavorable so that could gain more money.

Around the same time also the first "GACHA" game launched. similar to Gashapon a person could turn real money into coins they popped into a mini game for unique gear and pets. at first there was no problem with this, all it got you was a unique look. as time went on however only the best stat gear was found in these towns, and content was tailored that unless you wear these items, you would NOT survive.

Back with Trickster I was foolish enough to defend this fuckery. Saying very tired lines like "the game needs to make money or the servers will not be able to operate" or "takes some to get some." but really looking back now that was just foolish elitist talk and I helped companies be told "This is completely ok, continue to rape my wallet please."

Fast forward to my final F2P mmo, Atlantica Online. When I joined at first it was the same formula as before at first their Item mall did nothing harmfull, it was only money for fluff. And the game truely rewarded skilled people in the fact they could save money by playing better. I thought to myself "have the companies learned? maybe the dark age has ended."

I should have known better, around 4 months later, the same trends formed, and even worse skill became completely mooted. Being skilled at the game ended up netting you very little in favor of people just buying everything they needed with cash. However if you don't realize the problem with this yet let me enlighten you.

"Why are you "playing" the game then?"

The general concept of a mmo is to get good gear so you can survive in a higher area to get better gear, repeat the process x 9001. If you can just get the gear guess what? You sit there looking like an idiot cause you've just removed all point to be playing. Which is exactly the route Atlantica went and to be quite honest, the route of all "Fee to play" or "pay to win" mmos go. They become very expensive babysitters rather than real games.

Now I personally think if you are going to play a mmo these days. stick to a pay to play mmo, at least they are honest up front about wanting your money. Also.... to be sickeningly honest a Pay mmo is actually CHEAPER than a "free" mmo in the long run if you want your content :/

Another good option is a business model similar to Dungeons and Dragons online. it does free to play but to get the full game you must subscribe. so it becomes "free 2 demo" which is in its own way fine, cause it lets you still try the game before having to pay in, and is still completely honest about "you wont get anywhere without paying"

Best option however is to find pay once multi player games. Support games like Guild Wars, Diablo and others of its buisness model. You pay once and are done. and you alone decide when the fun ends. not someone else.

1 comment:

  1. KR SDGO does the best in the F2P side imo. Sickeningly fair to both paying and non paying players. Cash gains you not a single ounce of advantage in PvP, only more space to allow more storage of different units for wider variety of gameplay, and perhaps easier grinding, which does not really matter.