Friday, August 03, 2007

Free-to-play... that's good, right?

I don't have much to say on this, because I haven't had much experience with these sort of games. I just wanted to lay out there why I'm still a little wary of "free-to-play" MMOs.

When I read discussions among developers about pricing models, there are two main points made in approval of free-to-play games:
  • If the game is free, many more people will try the game. If only a small percentage of those players purchase additional content, it can still add up to a lot of money. 3% of 1,000,000 players purchasing micro-transactions can be more profitable than 100% of 100,000 players paying subscriptions.
  • Why limit how much the player can spend? $15 per month is good, but many players would spend more than that through accumulated micro-transactions.
In short, the movement behind "free" games isn't about service to the community. It's not about helping gamers. It's about bringing in more dollars.

That's fine, of course, when the games truly are enjoyable without the additional content purchases. I just have my doubts about the free experience being enough in many games.

Some games will accomplish that, but I bet many others won't. At best, they'll end up like my EQ experience following the Luclin expansion launch. I didn't buy the expansion, but my groupmates and guildmates did. It didn't bother me terribly when I found out that the graphical upgrade of Luclin meant we weren't even seeing the same colors (armors and gear looked completely different to me than to my groupmates). It did bother me when I couldn't stay with my group because they could travel by the spires and I couldn't.

Models like Flagship is offering for Hellgate: London may represent a sort of middle-ground.

Anyway, I'm not crying Doomsday. I'm just explaining how this free-to-play movement might not be all it's cracked up to be.

1 comment:

  1. The one thing I really like about the free-to-play movement is that it gives me a chance to truly try out a game before deciding if I want to spend ANY money on it. Since free trials of games are often limited and I often seem to miss them, I consider this very useful in weeding out those games I wouldn't ultimately see as worth the money. I think it's probably worth spending a little extra on the ones I DO end up buying because I expect this would balance out.


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